Cannabis Dispensary Local Marketing

Also known as “neighborhood marketing” or “local store marketing,” this marketing strategy refers to employing various tactics dependent on the consumer and your local dispensary characteristics and offerings. It’s a highly specific plan targeted to your potential customers in your local area.

Why Local Marketing?

More than 90% of retail spend still happens in stores, with 70% of consumer spending taking place within 15-20 miles of home or work. There was $4.8 trillion spent in-store vs. $300 billion online in 2015 (Local Search Association). This is great news for dispensaries, while many of you may have restrictions in your state or county for selling products online. As you may realize, dispensary local marketing is of crucial importance. Customers are online searching for nearby businesses to pick up their goods, and if your strategy isn’t in place, that person will be going to another dispensary, and it won’t be yours.

Local Marketing Strategy

4 billion desktop queries per month in the United States have local intent while more than 50% of mobile queries have local intent. Attracting new customers via local search holds incredible potential.You’ll want to read the below sections to decide on which channels are best for your business. The need and value for building out a plan for your dispensary are evident. So, how do we get started?

Understanding the Landscape

First, you need to understand the hierarchy of search engine results pages (SERPs). If you search for a dispensary in your area, you have your paid results (PPC and Adwords), then possibly Google’s knowledge card (Places – Maps, reviews, events, contact info, pictures, and directions), then your local 3 pack highlighting 3 local results, then your organic results (Organic/ SEO), and then your local results.

To succeed in crafting a successful local marketing campaign, you’ll need to make efforts to include both organic SEO and social media. Because your dispensary offers products from a storefront more often than not, optimizing your local marketing plan in imperative to your strategy.

Organic Search vs. Local Search vs. Social Media

Take a look at the graphic to better understand the influence of organic search vs. social media. Both carry a great deal of weight while both also overlap to build out the general local search. Organic search is considered to be Google and other search engine’s algorithm to rank websites and content. Local search involves your increasing your dispensaries visibility with Local SEO – Utilizing keywords specific to your given geographical area. Social media is user-generated content or reviews on your dispensary – this is the digital form of word-of-mouth marketing.

Your Dispensaries Best Options

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer availability of so many platforms and databases. So where is your best investment? Take a look at the graph below to estimate time and finances needed for each option:

Best Practices

Optimize for Mobile.

With a high percentage of online users using mobile more often than a desktop, it’s important to ensure that your user experience is in place for the mobile user. Is text sized correctly, can you see your CTA button clearly, how do your product images display on mobile? We’re accustomed to looking at all of this from our desktop monitors, but it’s becoming even more important for local businesses to double check mobile first.

Offer Promotions for Check-Ins Through Apps Like Yelp! Or Foursquare.

Sites like Google Reviews and Yelp are platforms for consumers to share their experience with your local business online. While you may view this as a headache, we urge you to see it more as an opportunity to grow your brand and to do it well. First, identify which review sites are being used by your target customers. Have budtenders poll incoming customers and ask your happy, repeat customers if they could write a review for you! Use this budtenders script we created to ask for reviews. Having great ratings not only reflects well on your SERPs, but it’s also a great way to attract new customers. Quantity and quality do both come into play for this. Lastly, offer promotions for check-ins! They are a great way to incentivize someone simply flipping through reviews to come into your store that day.

Optimize Your Business Listings.

Ensuring that you have a consistent business listing is beneficial for both your SEO and customer experience – You don’t want them getting lost along the way. We recommend that you build or claim your listings on Google My Business and Bing Places. There are other business listings as well, so sit with your team and discuss whether or not they’re worth your resources. We’ve spoken of this countless times throughout MediaJel content, but if you missed it – Whatever listing you use to make sure everything matches; Business name, address, phone number, website, etc. This is not a place to get creative.

Use Hashtags for Your Business.

Hashtags are extremely useful and may even surface in SERPS in the Google’s tweets card. Include hashtags across your social channels are both general and local specific to attract local customers as well as those outside your local area.

Invest in Your Top 20%

It’s common knowledge in marketing that 80% of your results come from 20% of your marketing. So, if you’re on a budget, identify which channels and local marketing tactics are working for you and transition your resources to focus on that 20%! Every business is different and something that is working for another dispensary.

Local Business Listings

The core asset in any local marketing campaign is your local business listing you’re on Google LocalYelpBing PlacesYellow PagesYahoo! Local or any of the other thousands of directories, the purpose of your listing is to gain visibility for local search.

Important Attributes

For your listing to add value and help you, not hurt you – You need to add these seven attributes:

Your Business Title

If your dispensary calls itself “MedLeaf Dispensary” in one place and “MedLeaf Herbal Medicine” in another – You are imposing on your ranking potential. Your title should reflect one version of your dispensaries real-world title and a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand your offerings (Include keywords). Your title should NOT include marketing taglines, store codes, website URLs, or phone numbers. Although keywords should be used, don’t ‘stuff’ titles; it’s a balance.

Links and Citations

Citations are “mentions” of your business on web pages and other authority sites. Today’s largest search engines aggregate data about your business from 2 main ways: visiting links that point to your website and tracking citations of your business.


Many local search engines allow you add 2-5 categories to help describe your business and its offerings. If you are uncategorized or miscategorized, search engines will not display your dispensary. We’ll speak more on this below.

Reviews and Ratings

Reviews and ratings are displayed and repurposed in so many different ways across search results, so it’s important that your not only monitor these reviews but also invest in a strategy to encourage good reviews from loyal customers. While Google doesn’t have any rules on soliciting reviews, Yelp does, so double check to make sure you’re not crossing any lines.

Photos and Videos

Adding multimedia to your listing has been well-documented as increasing your click-through rates on your listing. While it doesn’t necessarily affect your ranking, it does attract more customers to learning more about you. Choose your photos wisely – Even our smartphone takes high-quality photos. Take a moment to edit them to make them more compelling!

Social Factors

As each year approaches, the weight that social factors hold in local SEO is growing. You’ll want to interact with reviewers by responding to reviews, both good or bad. This will benefit you regarding SEO and demonstrate a good customer experience.

Other Attributes

Lastly, in addition to ensuring consistency across all business listing databases, don’t forget about your website. Include complete contact information in a format search engines can read.

Category Importance

Considered to be one of those most important attributes, take the time to add categories your business listings. “Categories are a critical piece of how Google determines the relevance (not rank) of a listing in local search … ” said Mike Blumenthal, local search expert. Choosing the best categories for your business will significantly improve your relevance score and ranking.

Claiming Your Listings

Be prepared when claiming your business listings online. Each listing site has its verification process whether it be via phone, mailed postcard, or email. To clarify what the process will look like, we’ve broken it down into three steps for you:


Most listing sites will first ask you if your business already exists in their database. Even though you may not have made the listing, they may have already aggregated data from your website or another one of their sources. Enter your business name and phone number and take a look for yourself. They’ll prompt you to do so regardless.


Next, review any existing information make any corrections necessary. We know you’ve now heard it a thousand times, but consistency is imperative.


Lastly, once you’ve completed adding/ editing your dispensaries information online, you’ll be asked to go through their verification process as we mentioned above.

If you need to make any future changes, just know that you may be asked to re-verify. The process can take hours or months – It varies across listings websites.

Local Search Citations

Local citations are mentions of your business name, website, and location on other authority websites. These listing add credibility and qualify you as a real business to Google. Businesses with a greater number of citations will most likely rank higher than similar businesses with fewer citations. Citations are particularly important in your niche because many of your competitors currently don’t have quality websites.

Where to Get Citations

To gain ‘trust’ online from your search engines, you need to build out your business citations. Below, we’ve listed some potential sources for you to get started:

Data Aggregators

Here in the U.S., there are four main local business data aggregators: InfogroupNeustar Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. Together they’ll compile unique indexes of more than 20 million businesses nationwide, and they license their data to our local search engines.

Local Search Engines

Engage your dispensary in a campaign to ensure that you are listed in as many relevant, quality local business directories as possible.

Local Blogs

Unique to your business, you’ll want to identify quality local blogs where you can get your business listed. These local blogs are well-indexed by search engines everywhere.

Locally Focused Directories

Similar to local blogs, getting listed on local directories is another factor in increasing your ranking. You can search for these by Googling “[enter your city] directory” or “[enter your state] directory.”

Industry-Focused Directories or Blogs

Read our extensive guide on the top cannabis business directories in the industry.

Top Citations by Category

Below is a list we’ve curated of the best places your dispensary may be able to secure a citation.

Top 5 Citations for Medical Services

Top 5 Citations for Shopping/ Retail Stores

Duplicate Listing Issues

Duplicate listings is a loud and clear ‘no.’ They will impede on your efforts to ranking well and gaining visibility online for new customers. Aside from this, here are a few other negative implications of duplicate listings:

  • Your incorrect business listing may outrank your correct, well-formatted listing
  • You risk your ‘review equity’ being split between your duplicate listings
  • Major search engines won’t know which listing to trust and may not display either one of your listings
  • Managing a single business listing is resource-intensive as it is; If you have duplicate listings, you risk editing the wrong one or having to edit multiple ones
  • Due to data aggregators, one duplicate listing (with incorrect or incomplete information) may be syndicated to all the other databases across the internet. One incorrect listing could multiply into a thousand of them.

Cleaning Up Duplicates

Now that we know that duplicates are detrimental to progress let’s clean them up. Did you change locations of your dispensary? Make sure you update your listings so your customers can find you. Simply going in and changing your business information is not enough to update the information your listing displays. As we’ve said before, Google and other search engines pull this data from a variety of sources.

To initiate the cleanup process, we’d advise you to start with Google and enter any correct/ incorrect variations of your dispensary listing to see which top ranking sites surface. You’ll want to take note of these in a spreadsheet. You’ll also want to do a search on Google Maps and if you see any incorrect information, click on the option to ‘Report a problem.’ One more step, though it may seem obvious, is to check to make sure the updated information is also reflected on your website and social platforms. Lastly, we’d suggest you update your information on Acxiom, Infogroup (ExpressUpdateUSA) and Localeze.

Overall Ranking Factors

The verdict from Moz’s comprehensive local marketing strategy? Pay attention to your best practices – Use keyword research in your business title, ensure you’re consistent with your NAP listings, pay attention to on-page SEO, and invest in link building.

Top 5 Localized Organic Factors

The verdict? Your website is still your number one asset. Build more pages with great content specific to your local area to gain more online traffic. You’ll want to enlist a strong focus on on-page and off page SEO. What content does your competitor have that you don’t? How can you set yourself apart as more of an authority? Here’s how to tailor your dispensary local marketing strategy to engage and instill trust in your audience.

Domain Authority of Website

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain

City, State in GMB Landing Page Title

Click-Through Rate from Search Results

Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content

Top 5 Local Stack / Snack Pack Factors

The verdict? After the Pigeon update, Google is taking more organic signals, so while domain authority is still important, your link building authority is gained from the website attached to your Google My Business listing.

Physical Address in City of Search

Consistency of Structured Citations

Proper GMB Category Associations

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search

Quality/Authority of Structured Citations


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Top 5 Negative Ranking Factors

The verdict? Monitor your Google My Business listing. Should any problems arise, you’ll want to resolve the issue quickly to regain your ranking. Also, maintain that all your listings are consistent across all directories – Crucially important.

Incorrect business category

Listing detected at false business address

Mismatch NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem

Presence of malware on site

Reports of Violations on your GMB location

Top 5 Difference-Making Factors in Competitive Markets

The verdict? Implement the basics of SEO site wide and then focus on links and anchor texts. Also, invest in an outreach strategy to secure links from local sites. If you are trying to gain authority in a nearby city you are aren’t physically in, create an on-site silo where you publish content and get local links for that content specifically.

Consistency of Structured Citations

Domain Authority of Website

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domai

Quality/Authority of Structured Citations

Proper GMB Category Associations

Other Ideas to Consider

  • Customized direct mail announcing openings, sales, and promotions, or containing coupons
  • Promotion through the local chamber of commerce
  • Major search engines won’t know which listing to trust and may not display either one of your listings
  • Hosting events
  • Sponsoring local sports teams (school or league teams) and clubs (biking, book, etc.)
  • Purchasing local ad space (such as at bus stops and other outdoor spaces)
  • Participating in community fairs, social gatherings and meet-up’s

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.


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