Effective marketing and advertising are imperative to the success and growth of any business, especially in the Cannabis industry. With the launch of Cannabis 2.0 still in its infancy stage, marijuana start-ups and established companies in the space are finding it difficult to navigate the tangle o advertising restrictions from Health Canada. What can you do for your cannabis business to reach and build the audience of cannabis consumers your brand is hoping to attract? Although the industry is severely limited in the type of marketing and advertising it can utilize, there are various tactics cannabis companies can implement to legally increase awareness of their brand. Before diving into them, let’s start by keeping in mind general do’s and don’ts when crafting your marketing initiative.
Don’t market your cannabis business or products to or near minors
Be smart about the branding you use and the locations you choose to advertise at and keep age restrictions in mind. There are several questions being raised on the legalization of cannabis and its impact on minors. To ease those fears, plan and make appropriate marketing a top priority.
Don’t infringe on any existing brands copyrights, regardless of the industry
Established mainstream companies will be diligent about keeping their brands and trademarks from being mimicked by a cannabis company. A great example is when Hershey’s sued a dispensary for trademark infringement after the dispensary began carrying edibles called “Reefer’s Cups.” Companies such as Hershey’s have an abundance of capital to go after smaller companies for infringement and copyright.
Do have a clear message on what your company stands for
How can your company help mitigate the stigmas that years of prohibition and propaganda have placed
on the plant and its use? Maintain fair labor practices and avoiding sexist and derogatory messaging will go along way in building a successful brand identity as your effort will attract a broader and more diverse audience.
Traditional marketing outlets include media like newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV. These mediums are tricky to utilize due to the strict constrains of the Cannabis Act, and these traditional channels will be very limiting. However, that does not mean that these avenues should be discounted all together. Although these avenues often carry high costs, and measuring results is nearly impossible, you might be able to get creative and identify an opportunity that’s appropriate for your business. By finding alternative, non-mainstream publications such as a cannabis focused magazine will allow you to get your message out there. Television ads are a little too progressive for most corporate networks and service providers to be open to partnerships with cannabis companies at this juncture, but with the right approach some companies have begun to successfully advertise in movie theatres. For example, since 2017, Tweed Inc has been running commercials about their company in Cineplex VIP 19+ movie theatre rooms.
Digital marketing encompasses all web-based or electronic communication such as websites, blogs, search engine optimization, advertising and email marketing. Digital marketing is becoming increasingly appealing for several reasons. Because more people are going online for their news, social media etc., making digital marketing a forefront to your marketing campaign is a no brainer. You can better measure the success of your digital strategies using key performance metrics like impressions clicks and conversion rates. You can learn a great deal about your marketing campaign and whether or not your messaging needs to be tweaked. Make a list of cannabis- specific websites and online communities and either list your business there or investigate advertising opportunities. Furthermore, as the old age saying goes, content is king, and that’s especially true for the cannabis industry. As more people become curious about cannabis in the wake of Cannabis 2.0, you can take the opportunity to create blog posts, infographic, videos, and other compelling media for your website or in partnership with a larger industry publication. Lastly, building a list of your customer emails and data base is crucial to successful communication because it will help you build a targeted list that will give you the ability for direct communication.
Social media is included in digital marketing, but it’s a powerful medium that deserves its own set of considerations. Many social media platforms prohibit paid cannabis advertising and thus your business may need to get creative and persistent with organic tactics. For instance, think of your Facebook page as a mini version of your website. Post news updates, articles, deals and specials, questions to your followers and play around with different messaging to see what works with your audience. Instagram is quite popular among the cannabis community, and having an account is key to your marketing initiatives. Share beautiful pictures of your products, your business, and any other imagery that both reflects your brand and will resonate with the community. LinkedIn is great for posting business updates, job openings, and finding business communities in your niche that you can potentially partner or negotiate deals with.
Marketing at events give you the opportunity to connect face to face with your customers, vendors, collect opportunity leads, and build relationships. Look for communities of cannabis enthusiasts and other like-minded interest groups. Take advantage of face to face time with your audience by handing out merchandise and apparel. This can help your customers keep your brand as a part of their everyday lifestyle.
Effective marketing and advertising are imperative to the success and growth of any business, especially in the Cannabis industry. With the launch of Cannabis 2.0 still in its infancy stage, many marijuana start-ups and established companies, no mater which marketing area they choose to focus on, it is important to keep Health Canada marketing restrictions at the forefront of your campaign and adhere to all the regulations.