Marketing is both essential and confusing for any business. Without marketing, you are missing out on potential customers and revenue. But marketing only benefits you when done right. This is especially true of cannabis dispensaries. They struggle to gain new customers more than most businesses, mostly due to the popular opinion of the industry. Online marketplaces and websites, which may allow advertising from other industries, may turn away cannabis dispensaries due to their reputation. But this doesn’t mean marketing is impossible. This is your ultimate guide to marketing your cannabis dispensary.
Dispensary Marketing: Is Your Dispensary Ready?
There are many steps involved with marketing your cannabis dispensary. The first step should be building your brand and developing a target audience. This is essential for any business and makes marketing that much easier.
Branding involves developing the voice of your company. This is done through visual images and interactions with customers. When you first start creating your marketing strategy, you need to figure out how you want your brand to appear to your audience. Consider the design and colors used on your website and marketing materials. You’ll want to be consistent here. Use the same colors across all online and print materials. If you use a logo for your company, use the same one across all materials, and use it often so your audience can get to know you and recognize you.
Also, develop the voice you will be using in all interactions with your audience, such as emails, social media, blogging, etc. Do you want to appear friendly and casual, or professional and business-like? Do you want to appear as a health expert? Use the language and tone necessary to accomplish this goal, and be consistent.
Branding goes hand-in-hand with developing a target audience. You need to determine who you are trying to serve – cancer patients, individuals with anxiety, younger individuals, older patients, career professionals, students, etc. Create a profile of your ideal customer and include age ranges, reasons for buying your product, regions where this customer might live, and other considerations. Knowing exactly who your audience is will help you understand them better, which will help you market to them effectively.
How Digital Marketing Can Help Your Dispensary See Higher ROI
In today’s digital world, you are missing out on tons of opportunities if you are only using traditional advertising. If you don’t have a website, you are far behind everyone else. Though you may be barred from advertising on certain sites, there is nothing keeping you from creating your own website. This is actually the better of the two strategies since you have complete control over the design, content, and advertising on the site.
The cost of digital marketing doesn’t even come close to the revenue you will see in return. You can eliminate costs altogether by going with a free website, though you will not have as much control. You will not have a professional, custom domain name and will be barred from using strategies such as email marketing, affiliate marketing or partnerships, and placing ads on your site. To really reap the benefits, you should go with a managed hosting service. This type of website doesn’t have to be expensive, and the boost in revenue you experience from your marketing efforts will more than pay for it in the long run.
What Makes a Dispensary Site Great?
Before you can do any other digital marketing, you need a website. Again, going with a paid hosting service from the start will pay off later. You could start with a free website and then transfer it, but you will save yourself considerable time if you do it right from the start.
You should buy your domain name separately, and before you purchase hosting. Make sure it is memorable but easy to remember. Stay away from long, complex names or names that are hard to pronounce. Go for simple names. If your chosen name is taken, you may need to add something to it, such as “dispensary”, “collective”, or another related word.
When it comes to the design of your site, there are some guidelines that you might want to consider:
- Install an age-gate. This is simply a box that asks visitors if they are 21 or requires them to enter their birth date. This will guarantee that visitors to your site are actually able to purchase your products. It also gives the impression that you care about protecting children and teenagers.
- Choose fonts carefully. Don’t use curly, elaborate fonts that people will have to squint to read. You don’t want your visitors getting a headache before they even get to your content! Use simple, classic fonts that everyone can read and won’t distract from your products.
- Avoid cliches. Don’t feature flashy graphics or cannabis leaves everywhere, since those are the images most people associate with dispensaries. Be creative with your site’s design and keep your company’s branding in mind. Use consistent colors and images that promote the image you’re trying to present (casual, professional, medical expertise, etc.).
Once your site is set up, you’ll want to optimize it for search engines using SEO techniques. This will ensure that your visitors can find you when they are searching online. Improving your SEO ranking should include:
- Making sure your site is fast.
- Making sure your site is easy to use.
- Credit photographers and other sources for images.
- Enter titles, tags, and descriptions for each image and page on your website.
- Use the right keywords on every page so people can find you.
- Optimize your site for mobile devices. Most people search for things on their smartphones or tablets, so you’ll want your site to adapt to the smaller screens of these devices to avoid losing visitors. Most WordPress themes have a responsive design, but make sure you check just in case yours doesn’t.
Engaging With Your Customers Through Social Media
Social media is the best way for a cannabis dispensary to reach millions of people at once. There are a variety of social networks to choose from, and it seems like a new one pops up all the time. However, just like advertising on other sites may present an issue, cannabis dispensaries may experience problems with social media. For example, dispensaries cannot advertise on Facebook or its subsidiary, Instagram. To avoid potential legal issues, Facebook has elected to prohibit all advertising from dispensaries that sell direct to consumers, although it does allow content from companies that sell business-to-business, such as labs. The organic reach of content is also experiencing limitations on most social networks, in order to encourage paid advertising.
This doesn’t mean that social media can’t help your dispensary. Here are some tips for social media marketing:
- Work with an agency that specializes in cannabis marketing. An agency can help you develop a strategy that will work for you. But make sure they specialize in your industry so that they can advise you on the regulations, limitations, and strategies that specifically apply to cannabis dispensaries.
- Partner with an influencer. Influencers can greatly help a dispensary reach a large audience in their target market. But be selective about the influencer you choose. They should be someone that your target audience would follow. The top influencer in your industry may not be the right choice for your specific audience.
- Post high-quality content. If you do focus solely on organic content, you’ll want to make sure that content is high-quality and optimized for conversions. Post stories, testimonials, and advice. Try to stay away from cliches which might hurt your brand’s reputation, such as memes. Make sure each post adds value for your audience.
- Don’t restrict yourself to one platform. Try out different platforms. Take note of the engagement you achieve on each platform. This will inform you about the channels to focus on. Ultimately, you should focus on two or three platforms. This will expose your brand to new audiences without overwhelming you.
How a Blog Can Help Your Dispensary See Higher Quality Traffic
A blog can help you promote your brand and build your audience. Unlike social media, the purpose of a blog is not to promote products, but to educate your readers. However, you could promote your products as well, as long as it is done in a way that provides value. With a blog, you don’t need to conform to standards and regulations set up by a platform, because it is hosted on your own website. You can include your blog as a page on your site or create a new site specifically for the blog. Here are some tips for starting a cannabis blog:
- Stay on topic. Though you could blog about anything, it’s best to keep your content focused on cannabis-related topics.
- Utilize SEO tactics. This includes entering tags for any images you use and using appropriate keywords in your content.
- Gain inspiration from your dispensary’s day-to-day operations. Your audience will trust you more if they get to know you. Offer “sneak peeks” inside your business, such as how you manufacture a certain product, how you test for quality, or how you came up with your newest product.
- Consider adding video content. Let’s face it: not everyone is a terrific writer. Some people are more visual. That goes for your audience, too. If you notice more engagement on social media for videos and images, you might consider making your blog more visual, too. This could mean posting video tutorials or product demonstrations on your website, or you could start a YouTube channel. You could even switch over from blogging to vlogging, if that medium seems easier for both you and your audience.
Managing Your Dispensary’s Online Reputation
Your online reputation can make or break you, sometimes quite literally. Unfortunately, cannabis dispensaries have a disadvantage compared to other industries, in that they start out with an unsavory reputation before they even begin. Popular opinion of dispensaries is not very positive, and this is reinforced by the bans enacted by social media platforms, such as Facebook, and other sites which ban cannabis advertising. To overcome this, you’ll need to show your target audience that you are trustworthy. You did some work on this during branding and social media marketing. Here are some additional tips to help you continue to improve your brand’s online reputation:
- Always be honest. If you are caught in a deception, you will lose all the ground you’ve gained. Always give honest answers when potential customers ask questions since they are only a step away from a purchase at that point. Also, give honest information in social media posts and blog articles.
- Reply to your audience promptly. In order for social media marketing to be successful, you need to engage with your audience. This is especially important when you receive questions and comments. Reply to comments right away, even if they’re not asking a question. If you seem distant or hard to reach, it will hurt your reputation.
- Don’t sell too much. If you provide valuable, engaging content, you won’t have to sell – your audience will see the value and come to you. Appearing as a salesperson all the time will lead people to distrust you.
- Consider working with farms. This will help you to appear as a member of a community. It will also help you to educate your visitors better.
Get Some Help With Your Marketing Efforts
51Blocks can help you develop a strategy and manage your reputation. We are experts in marketing who can help you create your website and market your brand. We can help you with white label SEM services such as SEO, paid search, social media, and content, as well as technical areas such as hosting, email marketing, and WordPress. We are transparent and won’t lock you into a contract. Contact 51Blocks today to get started with marketing your cannabis dispensary.