A Guide to Marketing in the Cannabis Industry
Cannabis became legal in Canada in late 2018 and has since grown to become a 6 billion dollar industry. Since its legality, the market has been flooded with a large number of retailers, growers, and most importantly, consumers. Like any other industry, in order to succeed in the cannabis industry, a company must plan, create, and execute on a cannabis-specific digital strategy. Before we dive into strategy, it is important to note the guidelines for digital marketing as set forth by the government. Companies operating in the cannabis industry should not engage in the following marketing endeavors:
- Marketing materials cannot promote people or events
- Marketing materials cannot contain celebrity endorsements
- Marketing materials cannot contain promotions of glamour, recreation, risk, excitement, or daring behaviour
- Marketing materials cannot promote positive or negative emotion associated with cannabis use
- Marketing materials cannot show cannabis plants
- Marketing materials cannot show people smoking cannabis
With legislation out of the way we can focus on what works and what doesn’t in terms of cannabis marketing.
1. Organic, organic, organic
No, not the buds, the marketing strategy! Pushing your company via organic mechanisms should always be the first item on the marketing checklist. Ensure your website is optimized for SEO, and backlinks are plentiful. This will help organically boost your site to the top of the SERP without the need for any paid advertising or black hat methods.
2. Use your platform to educate
Good content is the be-all and end-all of digital marketing. With an industry as contemporary as the cannabis industry, you should absolutely use education as a means of content marketing. The demographics of Canada are scattered between age, ethnicity, and gender. This means that certain stigma’s around cannabis may still exist. It is your job as a company in the cannabis industry to use your platform to educate current and potential consumers on all things cannabis.
3. Creative campaigns
As stated before, the cannabis industry is in its infancy. Use creativity as leverage to build and mantain a customer base. Through mediums like graphic design, webinars, rich media and so on, consumers can become more informed, aware, and interested in the cannabis industry.
4. Comply with regulations
Businesses need to be careful when developing and executing on a marketing strategy. Follow all regulations whether they be municipal, provincial, or federal. Undertake legal consultation if you are unsure or have a tough time understanding the rules in place. Failure to comply with regulations could have devastating effects on any business operating in the cannabis industry.
5. Proper agency
If you do indeed plan to outsource some or all of your digital marketing, ensure you are hiring a company who has knowledge and or previous experience in the cannabis industry. This can help save headaches along the way as these companies will have a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t, regulations, and restrictions.