Cannabis 101: Building the Marketing Section of Your Marijuana Business Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed legalization to the back burner for the moment, but don’t fool yourself: Already legal or semi-legal in a majority of states and Canada, cannabis is here to stay. And while the process can sometimes feel chaotic, at heart, the cannabis industry is like any other: It demands careful planning, hard work, and a firm grasp of some elemental business principles. In other words, you need an airtight marijuana business plan, and you need to devote serious resources and thought towards building its marketing section.

Yes, you’ll need to understand some of the peculiarities of the cannabis industry. And you’ll need to be sure you’re compliant with the many restrictions on cannabis advertising, many of which are state or province-specific. But you’ve got all the tools at your disposal, and you’ve got someone on your side: Us.

We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve helped countless dispensaries chart a course to success. Today, we’ll outline a few of the key steps in building the marketing section of your marijuana business plan. And if you’ve got unanswered questions, reach out.

We’re here to help.

Marijuana Business Plan: How the Legal Landscape Supports Digital Campaigns

One of the most important facets of entering the sphere of cannabis marketing is knowing the laws governing how you advertise a cannabis business. Because of cannabis’ complicated legal status, the statues vary state-by-state, often from municipality to municipality.
Traditional advertising through billboards and posters is often heavily restricted; in response, cannabis marketers all across North America have learned how to leverage the exponential power of digital marketing instead. While we advise our clients on the use of traditional advertising techniques, increasingly, we put our focus on digital campaigns instead.

Why? Simple: They work. As we reported last year, according to a then-recent survey, businesses made an average of $2 for every $1 they invested in Google Ads. Additionally, 37% of shoppers then reported that social media content inspired their purchases. The numbers don’t lie: Digital marketing isn’t the wave of the future; it’s already here.

Marijuana Business Plan: Let’s Get Physical (with Locations)

If you’re marketing a physical dispensary (as opposed to an online store), there are some special considerations to keep in mind. For one thing, it’s time to get comfortable with local search engine optimization (SEO). By optimizing your website for local search results, you are ensuring that potential customers in your area can find you quickly and effortlessly.

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Because browsing online—and on the go—has become so prevalent, it’s crucial that your website is optimized to reflect its physical location: Its city, its neighborhood, local happenings and more. You can do this by performing a local SEO audit, and by engaging in smart content marketing, like writing pointed, engaging and highly clickable blog posts that build authority by referencing the hyperlocal aspects of your dispensary.

SMS Marketing

Especially if you’re launching a dispensary on a tight budget, SMS marketing is one of the most cost-effective places to put your advertising dollars. That said, it’s not free: It hinges on targeting customers who are further down the funnel, like those who have signed up for your loyalty program (don’t even think about telling us you don’t have one in place). And text messaging is easy to abuse: Use it sparingly and wisely, and it should deliver you outsize rewards.

Email Marketing

Don’t forget email. While it may not be the new kid on the block anymore, it’s still an effective way to maintain a deeper engagement with your customers. And while you may dread clogging their inboxes, the fact is that smart, targeted email campaigns—like the ones we help you design—work quite well. As a recent study demonstrated, those customers who received email offers spent significantly more than those who didn’t. In other words: Make sure you keep email campaigns like newsletters in your marijuana business plan toolkit.

Marijuana Business Plan: In Summation

There’s more to the story; much more. We haven’t even touched on social media—check out our guide to using Instagram, a platform tailor-made for the enticing and evocative imagery of the cannabis industry—or the value of Google My Business (GMB), a powerful (and free!) platform designed to boost your visibility on the largest and most capable search engine in the world.

But we hope our point is clear: Before you even think about opening your doors, make sure your marijuana business plan has a strong marketing section baked in. We literally wrote the book on cannabis dispensary marketing, and we’d love to tell you everything we know. Reach out anytime.