Build your business’s

Dispensary Marketing Strategy

01. Attract

Market Your Dispensary

Getting Started: Make Sure Your Dispensary Is Market-Ready

You’re no doubt familiar with the adage popularized by “Field of Dreams,” the classic baseball film starring Kevin Costner: “Build it, and they will come.” While that advice may work for building a baseball field, it doesn’t work in the cannabis industry (or any other highly competitive industry). If you’re looking into how to market your cannabis business, you’ll find there’s a bit more to it than that.

Like all entrepreneurs, dispensary owners need to promote and market. Promote or perish, as they say.

Because the Feds (frustratingly) continue to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug (deemed as dangerous as heroin), most major media properties do not allow businesses in our industry to advertise on their sites.

Sure, that presents challenges. But, nothing a little persistence or creativity can’t overcome. Even being in a tightly regulated industry, opportunities abound! Marketers are fortunate to have a wide array of digital marketing tools at their disposal.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses all web-based or electronic communication between you — the brand — and your audience. Given the prominence of digital channels — particularly the importance search, social media, and mobile — people are consuming more digital media and less traditional media.

While traditional forms of promotion are unlikely to disappear (and many continue to be successful for dispensaries), it’s critical that digital strategies feature prominently in your overall marketing plan

How Can It Help Your Dispensary?

Digital marketing can help your dispensary by providing channels to attract and capture new customers, as well as engage with existing customers. Attract new customers by using search engines, directories, social media, display advertising, and other marketing tactics to drive foot traffic to your store. When a customer visits your store, it’s your responsibility to deliver satisfactory customer service, and capture them as a repeat customer.


What's a company without a strong brand?

A commodity. Think about it. What would Apple be without their distinctive brand? Just another electronics manufacturer, right?. Your brand defines your identity. It’s at the heart of what makes you unique, and why customers buy from you and remain loyal.






Effective branding strategy comes from a place of authenticity, about what your dispensary represents. As marketing guru and best-selling author, Simon Sinek, notes: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

Effective branding can give you an edge in increasingly competitive markets, like cannabis. Without an effective branding strategy, you’re just another dispensary. Branding starts with defining who you are and what your brand represents. And, it’s carried through everything you do: your name, slogans, signage, symbols and design.

Why is it important?

  • 90% of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices. They expect a seamless transition between web and device-native applications through color, flow, and overall quality. (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
  • 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand.

Read our Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Dispensary Marketing


What makes a great dispensary site?

One of the biggest myths out there is that you can design your website in isolation from all your other marketing efforts. And, it’s a myth that can cost you dearly. Sure, pleasing aesthetics are part of web design. But, effective design encompassess so much more: from branding to customer acquisition to SEO, the design of your site influences virtually every aspect of your Web presence.






Where do you start? Make sure your website is built for desktop and mobile (so that customers can easily scroll on their mobile devices, and see your store). Provide accurate menus with online ordering (if available). Ensure your contact information is accurate, clearly visible, and provides a map to your location. And, of course, there’s conversion: do you have places where you can capture customer information (like a newsletter or free download)?

Visit Our Learn Section to Hone Your Digital Marketing Skills

Content Marketing

Use Content Marketing to Share Remarkable Content.

Content marketing is about consistently creating, curating, and distributing valuable, relevant content to entice and engage a defined audience — and drive profitable customer actions. As opposed to selling your products, content marketing allows you to educate your prospects with relevant and useful content to provide value.


When it comes to content marketing, there are a few go-to rules for how to market your cannabis business: Create and share “remarkable” content to stimulate interest in your brand. Make sure the information is relevant, useful, and digestible. You can create blogs, infographics, checklists, and guides; just make sure to use images (original if possible), videos, and other media.

Read our Guide to Content Marketing


Blog to Give Your Brand a Voice.

Blogging, you’ve come a long way baby! In the old days (the late 1990s and early 2000s), individuals used blogging to share their feelings, thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Fast forward to today: blogging is used by brands to share their feelings, thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Blogging gives your brand a voice.


Every dispensary should consistently create fresh content for their blog; the fact is, most don’t. Yet, it’s not that difficult. Updates can be simple: from short and sweet (250 – 500 words) to more in-depth, informative pieces (1000-2000 words) known as “epic blogs.”

Do your blog right, and reap the benefits:

  • Improve search results (SEO)
  • Drive more traffic to your site
  • Engage with your customers
  • Elevate your brand as a thought leader in the cannabis industry

Read our Guide to Content Marketing

Search Engine Marketing

Drive organic traffic to your website.

Google is the king of search! Search marketing, defined as the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through unpaid (organic) efforts, allows you to reach customers at the precise moment they’re interested in what you have to offer.





Think about it: a potential customer whips out their phone to search on “dispensary nearby.” Who shows up first? Do you (or your competitor)?

Search marketing can get complex, no doubt about it. But, by following some fundamental principles — the proper use of keywords, meta tags, correct and consistent display of your dispensary name, address, phone number (NAP) — helps ensure search engines can easily find you. In turn, of course, this means so can customers.

Read Our Blog "8 On-Page SEO Techniques
to Increase Cannabis Dispensary Local Rankings"

Local Marketing (Digital)

Get connected with your local customers.

Local marketing targets the community around a physical dispensary. One of the most effective local marketing tactics (which boosts local visibility, SEO, and drives traffic to your dispensary) centers around Google My Business and local business listings.







A local business listing is an online profile that contains your business name, address, phone number, and other details. There are thousands of websites and directories on which local business owners are allowed to create free business listings.

Apps overlap with directories. But, high traffic sites like Leafly and Weedmaps also provide mobile apps that cannabis consumers use to search on strains and dispensaries.

Visit Our Learn Section to Hone Your Digital Marketing Skills


Advertising in the cannabis industry.

Psst! If you haven’t heard, advertising regulations in the cannabis industry are — well — let’s say a wee bit strict. For many — if not most dispensary owners — keeping up on ever-changing laws governing what you can, and can’t do, can feel overwhelming. While advertising may seem daunting, there are actually numerous opportunities available.





See State-by-State Cannabis Advertising Regulations

Display Advertising

Targeted digital advertising.

One of the biggest myths out there is that you can design your website in isolation from all your other marketing efforts. And, it’s a myth that can cost you dearly. Sure, pleasing aesthetics are part of web design. But, effective design encompassess so much more: from branding to customer acquisition to SEO, the design of your site influences virtually every aspect of your Web presence.

Read More on Digital Advertising. Download Our Free "Beginner's Guide to Dispensary Marketing"

Word of Mouth

Marketing's oldest asset - spoken word.

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is one of the oldest and most reliable forms of marketing. Take note: WOMM overlaps but is not the same as “word-of-mouth” (the naturally occurring effect of providing superior products and service).






Why is it important?

  • 985% of small businesses get customers through Word of Mouth
  • 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness. [Nielsen]
  • 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. [Ogilvy/Google/TNS]

Read our Guide to Word of Mouth Marketing

02. Interact

Engage With Your

Customer Service

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

It seems like common sense. And, it is! Communicate with your customers on a regular basis. The more you’re interacting with your consumers, the more they’ll remember who you are, and frequent your store. Use blogs, newsletters, social media, whatever you need to do to communicate on a regular basis with your customers.


Budtenders are your frontline.

Budtenders are your frontline. They interact with customers and patients more than anyone. In fact, they have the power to make or break a sale (and, of course, influence customer reviews). No doubt, it’s vital they are well-trained on the essentials: product knowledge, software, providing exceptional customer service, and asking satisfied customers for online reviews.






Using reporting data in your POS system, you can determine customer product preferences and buying patterns. Use this data to understand customer buying motivations better while empowering your budtenders to serve customers more effectively. Remember, you’re not just selling products; use your expertise to improve their purchasing experience.

Bud tenders training session should include:

  • Company values: branding, mission, vision
  • Customer service: communication, respect, processes
  • Product knowledge: strains, brands, categories, deals
  • Technology: POS system, mobile applications, website, social media

Read our Budtender Training Blog


Engage socially - and reliably.

Don’t underestimate the importance of social media for your dispensary. Sure, recent crackdowns by some social media channels — here’s looking at you Facebook! — have made social media engagement a little more challenging for cannabis businesses. Nonetheless, there are plenty of social media opportunities you can use.

A social media strategy defines how the organization can better “relate and communicate” with all its constituents. Constituencies includes people (markets, suppliers, customers, investors, society and employees) who interact with the organization, internally and externally.

Why is it important?

90% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. (Social Media Examiner, 2015)

By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media. (Social Media Examiner, 2015)

Read our Social Media Marketing Guide


Surpass the competition with video content.

Not to be “Captain Obvious,” but you’ve probably noticed: audiences have short attention spans — which in our hyperkinetic content-saturated world only seem to get shorter. So, unsurprisingly, we’ve witnessed a surge in the popularity of video since 2016.


Count on video — if it hasn’t already — to dominate your audience’s online activity.

Don’t believe us? Consider this:

78% of people watch videos online at least once a week
55% watch videos online daily; yes, daily.

Think beyond the blog — from Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook Live; you can’t escape video! Consider producing live videos (streaming), explainers, funny videos, customer testimonials, and more. 

Read our Video Marketing Guide


Build loyal, repeat customers.

News flash! A successful dispensary relies on building a base of loyal, repeat customers. They keep the lights on, the doors open, and serve as your brand ambassadors. And, let’s not forget: the cost of acquiring new customers is much higher than retaining (and nurturing) existing ones.


A loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a dispensary to customers who frequently make purchases. A loyalty program may give a customer advanced access to new products, special sales, coupons or free merchandise.

Why is it important?

A successful dispensary — relies on building a base of loyal, repeat customers. They keep the lights on, the doors open, and serve as your brand ambassadors. And, let’s not forget: the cost of acquiring new customers is much higher than retaining (and nurturing) existing ones.

81% of consumers agree that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with a brand (Bond)

89% of American consumers say they are loyal to brands that share their values (Wunderman)

8 out of 10 consumers are willing to pay more for better customer experience (Capgemini)

Read Our Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Dispensary Marketing

Event Marketing

Using exhibits & displays to promote your brand.

Put simply, event marketing refers to the process of using exhibits, presentations, or displays to promote your brand or products. Events can occur online or offline; you can choose to participate, host, or sponsor events. You can promote these events through various inbound (e.g. blogs) and outbound dispensary marketing activities (e.g. email, newsletters and SMS).


Why Does It Work?

  • 74% of event attendees say that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted after the event. (EMI & Mosaic)
  • 87% of consumers said they purchased the brand’s product or service after an event at a later date. (EMI & Mosaic)

Event Marketing Success

  • Example 1: Meet and greet with Snoop Dogg this Friday at MediaJel! Get an autograph and picture with your favorite west coast rapper.
  • Example 2: Join us on 7/10 for live music, food trucks, and educational seminars on different types of product.
  • Example 3: Join us at Ocean Beach for a all-day clean up. Support the environment, network with fellow cannabis enthusiasts, and do good for your planet.

Learn More About Event Marketing.
Read our Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Dispensary Marketing

03. Nurture

Create Lifelong Customers

Mobile Marketing

Promo's designed for delivery to cell phones.

Mobile marketing is promotional activity designed for delivery to cell phones, smart phones and other handheld devices, usually as a component of a multi-channel campaign.


Effective mobile tactics may include:

  • Website: Invest in responsive web design that achieves: flexible grid design, responsive images, mobile navigation, short and concise product descriptions, personalized, location-specific content, and a responsive footer navigation.
  • Email: Recognize that you have a smaller screen size to work with and need to be concise with the information you’re delivering and place your most important information towards the top.
  • Text Message Marketing: Also referred to as SMS marketing, text message marketing can be an incredibly effective method to maintain contact with customers as they are more likely to read a text message than an email.
  • Search Engine Marketing: Customer’s often use their phone, Siri, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc to find a dispensary nearby. Search engines use location services to show you the most relevant stores nearby based on your geographical location.
  • Mobile Applications: The opportunity of marketing through mobile apps is available to both dispensaries who have their own live app in the app store and those who don’t.

Read the Text Message Marketing Guide

E-mail Marketing

Influence consumers directly in their inbox.

Email marketing is a well-choreographed symphony of subject lines, content, automation, and information hierarchy and is still considered to be on the of the most efficient channels for marketers today.




Consider this fact: 90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox; whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed (Source: Forrester Research).

Build your email list through your website or point-of-sale. A well-compiled email list ensures you need not become beholden to evolving social network algorithms; your email list will allow you to target a customer exactly where they’re at, in their inbox.

Learn More on Email Marketing.
Read Our Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Dispensary Marketing

ORM & Reviews

Online Reputation Management & Reviews.

A commodity. Think about it. What would Apple be without their distinctive brand? Just another electronics manufacturer, right?. Your brand defines your identity. It’s at the heart of what makes you unique, and why customers buy from you and remain loyal.


You’ve no doubt you’ve come across some bad reviews of your competitors, or you’ve seen negative comments in forums, social media, or other places about various brands in the space. Your reputation is everything and affects everything from word-of-mouth to search strategies. So it’s important you closely follow your brand’s reputation online by monitoring and responding to reviews, tagged photos, blog posts, and other social media interactions.

Why is it important?

  • 68% trust online opinions from other consumers, which is up 7% from 2007 and places online opinions as the third most trusted source of product information. [Nielsen]
  • 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. [BrightLocal]
  • 72% say reading a positive customer reviews increase their trust in a business; it takes, on average, 2-6 reviews to get 56% of them to this point. [BrightLocal]

Online reviews have changed the face of online dispensary marketing. Reviews bridge the gap between word-of-mouth and the viral form of feedback that can make you (or break you). A well-thought strategy will help you develop active, positive participation among your customers while increasing brand awareness an

Deals & Discounts

Creating promotional price structures.

Such a deal! Who doesn’t love a bargain? Uh, let’s see: no one! There’s no way around it: price point and discounts motivate dispensary customers. And, what better way to bring customers back into to the store than deals

Deals are a great way to engage past clients, attract new ones, and retain and upsell existing customers– not to mention.






We encourage setting up daily specials that are consistent every day of the month, as well as special deals for vendor days, or holidays like 4/20 or 7/10.

Here are a few clutch ways to entice your customers with deals:

  • Use exclusive mobile deals to entice customers to visit your store on specific days of the week.

    Example 1: Foodie Fridays: Show us this text message to receive 10% any edibles in the store every Friday!
    Example 2: Two for Tuesday, buy any two items and get 10% off your entire order at HERB! See you soon!

  • Take advantage of holidays to drive foot traffic.

    Example: Happy Independence Day from HERB! To celebrate we’re offering 10 deals on flower, concentrates, edibles, and glass.

  • Notify customers about new products and services with text alerts

    Example: Chocolate Lover’s Alert! Bring in this coupon throughout the month of September to receive 10% off of newly stocked chocolate edibles.

  • Announce sales events with SMS Blasts

    Example: Learn and Earn! Visit us this weekend to learn about the newest vape technologies. Earn 10% of vapes and accessories this weekend only!

    Tip: When creating your deals, be sure to promote them on all marketing avenues: email, text message, website, in-store flyers, and in-store tv screens.

Want more information on how to market your cannabis business?
Read Our Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Dispensary Marketing

Let’s take an in-depth look at each digital marketing channel.

Given the unique position of the cannabis industry, we’re only covering the digital marketing channels that are permitted to use by ancillary businesses, brands, dispensary owners, mobile applications, producers, processors, and websites. There is a legal gray area when marketing cannabis companies, and you should regularly reference the laws within your state before starting any campaign.