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How to Market Cannabis in 2023

Restrictions on how we can market products can be countered with focused customer research, trust-building and smart use of tools like digital advertising, social media and email.




MARKETING TO CANNABIS customers in 2023 presents a unique set of challenges due to the ongoing legal and societal complexities surrounding the drug. However, there are still numerous effective ways to stand out from the crowd and reach your audience. A few we recommend include utilizing demographics research, influencer marketing, digital advertising, education, email marketing and SMS campaigns. With these different channels, dispensaries and other industry businesses can effectively target and engage their intended audience while remaining compliant with regulations.

Know Your Audience

Demographics research is a crucial first step for cannabis businesses looking to target specific groups of customers. If you try to be everything to everyone, you usually end up getting lost in the noise. By understanding customer demographics like age, education level, cannabis experience, and pain points customers are looking to solve with your products and services, you can define a more effective marketing strategy. Trying to move forward with marketing objectives without this baseline is a great way to blast through your budget and see meek results.

TIPS: Conduct surveys with in-store customers at checkout or while they are in line, incentivizing participation with a free lighter, matches or discount off their purchase in exchange. Also incentivize staff to get surveys completed! Use Jotform or Google Forms and have an iPad handy for staff to fill out these questions. Keep the length of surveys to 1-3 of the most useful questions you can think of (asking too many questions annoys people!) and rotate them weekly.


Leverage Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for cannabis businesses looking to reach and engage with their target audience. By partnering with individuals who have a significant following on social media, businesses can leverage the trust and credibility that these influencers have built with their followers to promote their products. In addition, influencer marketing can help businesses to circumvent strict advertising policies on social media platforms, which often prohibit the promotion of cannabis products and services.

TIPS: Look for influencers who align with your brand values and are authentic about their use of cannabis. Also, make sure to have a clear contract with the influencer with regards to any content they will produce on your behalf, and make sure to track the ROI of your influencer campaigns. Test working with micro-influencers as well as with those with larger networks to compare the return on investment between each. Note that having a lot of followers can be less relevant than engagement. It’s better to work with someone who has good engagement than someone with tons of followers who aren’t seeing the content. Have samples (copy, images, video) of how you would prefer the content to look along with do’s and don’ts to have a higher chance of success and to preserve your brand identity.


Digital Advertising Is a Tricky Must

Digital advertising, including display ads, search ads and social media ads, is an effective way for cannabis businesses to reach and engage with potential customers. However, it is important to be aware of the strict advertising regulations in place for cannabis. To overcome these limitations, businesses can focus on promoting their brand rather than specific products, or use ad networks that serve ads to cannabis-related websites. With device ID targeting, you can serve ads to customers who walk into certain stores, including those of your competitors. You can also use retargeting ads to stay in touch with customers and build brand loyalty to your business.

TIPS: Google Business listings are free and can be powerful drivers for local traffic, so don’t miss out on incentivizing customers to leave reviews there. Also make sure you have a complete profile with nice images of your business and staff and keep your profile up to date with photos and posts so it gets more views. With any digital ads, A/B test to ensure you have the best-performing ads on your budget

Von Dellinger is director of innovation at The Hemp Collect, an Oregon-based manufacturer working with quality-focused brands, processors and retailers in cannabis and hemp. Want to be at the forefront of quality and innovation? Get in touch.



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