Digital Marketing & Cannabis — How to Navigate Through a Restrictive Industry
Digital marketing is the future of cannabis. It is the standard for every other industry, but cannabis is reluctant to adopt it due to the lack of traditional advertising options. Maximize on influencer campaigns, digital P.R., and email marketing. If you can provide your fans with enough digital quality, they will look into your brand, and you will stay on their mind.
I attended the University of Arkansas for a few years to study marketing. Really, digital marketing specifically was my passion. During college, I had experimented with branding & marketing a few of my own businesses, & eventually had amassed enough knowledge to become the Director of Marketing for a retail jewelry chain.
Over the next few years I refined & honed my Facebook ads skills, enough to bring a constant supply of high ticket leads to the store. Long story short, I realized that I could scale this beyond belief.
In 2016/2017, I started my first digital marketing agency — our niche was specific, our offerings were clear. Our branding, message, & audience were all in tune. Business was rolling in within a few weeks of opening our doors. Within the first year, we spent around $3MM in Facebook Ad spend for our clients. They had the results they wanted: leads & sales pouring in the door of their brick & mortar storefronts. Our clients were happy, & we were living good.
After a few years of doing this- my partner & I were very unhappy. We ultimately came to the conclusion that jewelry was not our passion. In order to lead fulfilling & successful lives, it was time to move on. Retaining a few clients, & dropping others, we began our transition into the cannabis industry.
Our first problem was major. Our biggest business model: managing Facebook Ads would no longer work in this industry. Because Google, Facebook, & Instagram actively ban cannabis & CBD ads & pages from running on their platforms, we were forced to stop doing one thing we do really well: bringing targeted leads to brick & mortar stores.
We decided to head back to the drawing board, & figure out what we could do that would help dispensaries & cannabis brands be discovered, & sell more weed.
It was almost like a sack of bricks hit us at the same time.
Content marketing was something we had been doing exceptionally well for our own brand, & as a trial run for our clients & SEO is king when it comes to driving targeted traffic.
We revised our offerings to be based solely on content marketing, branding & web design. — the triad of digital marketing success. These options aren’t able to be banned, barred, or burned. We found our niche.
Within just a few weeks of refining our mission, plan, & offerings, we landed our first client. After that we had more prospective leads flooding in.
Guess what we never did?
During the first few months of launching, we never once did any cold outreach. Everyone that contacted us, did so because of our Google ranking for certain cannabis marketing related keywords, or from reading or seeing our content on a social media platform.
They already knew everything about us, what we did, & who we were. We didn’t even have to sell.
We soon found out that SEO would be our bread & butter. We also found out that SEO is one of the only ways to market & advertise safely, effectively, & efficiently for the cannabis industry.
Digital marketing is the future of cannabis. It is the standard for every other industry, but cannabis is reluctant to adopt it due to the lack of traditional advertising options. Maximize on influencer campaigns, digital P.R., and email marketing.
If you can provide your fans with enough digital quality, they will look into your brand, and you will stay on their mind.
The 3 things that excite me the most are:
- The Future
Cannabis went recreational in California in 2018, it’s been one full year since the market has been allowed to breathe. Even with intense regulations, the market is off to a sprint. Once regulations ease, more states become legal, and federal regulations are dropped, the sky is the limit.
Right now the market is supply driven. Dispensaries hold all the power because ultimately they are the only ones allowed to sell the product. Once companies can develop their own forms of e-commerce cannabis will enter into overdrive. That’s when we should expect to see the “Amazons” of the industry start to overtake the market.
2. The Competition
Cannabis is getting top talent from fashion, cosmetics, sports, and other modern industries. The competition creates a need for high-quality products. The competition adds to a forever changing landscape that keeps getting better. As a marketer, this is fun because there are always new ideas. As a consumer, it’s great because there are so many new brands coming to the market every month.
3. The lack of established guidelines
In fashion, a luxury brand can only be portrayed in so many ways. Every industry has unwritten rules you have to follow to be successful. Cannabis has some, but there are few because the market is still scrambling to find its final identity. We see brands taking minimalistic approaches, colorful approaches, retro approaches, it’s amazing. It allows for much more creative freedom, and riskier marketing campaigns.
Your brand will go belly up quickly if your branding isn’t right, or your marketing is weak. Right now the top brands also have creative branding and marketing. When you take a look at Canndescent, their product is quality, but what takes them to the next level is their branding and packaging.
This is the future of the market is this. If you can’t keep up with this, you won’t last.
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