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Marijuana Marketing: How to Market a Cannabis Brand in 2020

Marijuana marketing may well be a taboo topic forever. After all, we can’t deny that cannabis is a drug that shouldn’t be sold to minors. But Canada and many of the United States have made illegal cannabis a part of the past. That means someone needs to sell it, and to make sales, you need marketing.

The question is, how do you market such a plant effectively while obeying all the rules, and staying off the platforms that forbid it? That’s exactly what this guide will explain. We’ll examine some of the best tactics for marketing a cannabis brand, as well as common pitfalls to avoid.

If you’re looking to take the Do-It-Yourself route to marijuanas marketing, this article is a great place to start. If you’re ready to invest in your cannabis business, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

What is marijuana marketing and what makes it difficult?

As much as the team at 2Marketing loves our work, even we must admit it can be difficult at times. In the world of digital marketing things are constantly changing, and as industry experts we have to move fast to keep up. Running successful marketing campaigns is not an easy task, so imagine how much more difficult it gets when you’re fenced in by laws and restrictions.

Why is it important to market a cannabis brand?

You might be thinking that marijuana would sell itself, and that could be true in some cases. But the truth is that the cannabis community is a competitive market. To make an impact in it, you need to do something to stand out… just not the wrong thing.

How do you get started marketing a marijuana company?

The first step is to focus on your target audience – your ideal customers. Will you be selling primarily to consumers in their twenties, forties, or seventies? Will your customers be primarily one gender, or an even mix? Will you target existing cannabis users, or those who may be interested in trying it? Will you sell for medicinal or recreational purposes?

Answering these questions will give you an idea of who your target audience is and what it’ll take for them to fall in love with your brand. In most cases, some combination of the following strategies will be effective.

Start organic and local

Much like the best vegetables (and the best cannabis), the best marijuana marketing campaigns will have powerful organic and local elements. By “organic” we mean a focus on content creation vs. paid traffic. By focusing on your local area first, you’ll be able to find more support and save on some shipping expenses.

How to market marijuana locally and organically

Content creation is the cornerstone of most organic campaigns, but it’s important to get creative in the cannabis space. It’s also important to consult a lawyer / legal counsel and make sure you’re doing everything you can to be in compliance with legislation. Here are some great ways to get started locally:

    • If you have a physical storefront, hold an open house event
    • Run a limited time promotional campaign focused on customer acquisition rather than profits
    • Give your customers reasons to come back, and tell their friends (word of mouth marketing still works!)
    • For your digital approach, here are some easy ways to get started organically:
    • Lock down your brand social media accounts – Facebook may not be the best idea, but Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram all have thriving cannabis communities. Social media is an easy (and free) place to get started with content creation
    • Create a blog and/or podcast and upload educational content as well as updates on your business’ progress
    • Collect email addresses from people who visit your website and remarket to those who sign up

These are some of the most effective methods we’ve witnessed and used for marijuana based businesses. Whether you focus on one of them or create a plan based around all six, they should give you a running start when communicating with the cannabis community.

Grow your business like (a) weed

Cannabis is a hearty plant that can persist in harsh environments once it sets down its roots. Your business should be the same way. Once you have found a niche to fulfill and built some local organic momentum, grow into new spaces and weather any storms. This is when it may make sense to delve into paid advertising, influencer marketing, and affiliate/referral marketing.

Where and how to advertise a cannabis brand

Right now popular ad networks like Google and Facebook are not allowing ads related to cannabis. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use paid media to supplement your organic reach. Here’s a list of platforms that not only permit but encourage cannabis and CBD marketing.

    • Safe-Reach
    • Mantis
    • Outbrain
    • Taboola

Let’s take a quick look at each of these advertising networks and examine their potential pros and cons.

Advertising with Safe-Reach

Safe-Reach is a full service media buying group and a self-serve ad platform rolled into one. Their entire business model is based around advertising Cannabis and CBD in full compliance with legislation. Safe-Reach can help you put your ads in front of interested potential visitors on relevant cannabis and CBD websites. They currently don’t have a system for advertising on mobile apps, but are fully integrated with many marijuana oriented websites.

Advertising with Mantis

Mantis is a cannabis friendly advertising network whose goal is to connect media buyers with media sellers at the lowest possible prices. They offer services to businesses and brands, agencies, and website owners looking to earn some ad revenue. While Mantis may not be as marijuana-focused as Safe-Reach, it could lead to a lower overall ad spend and more reach for your budget. 

Advertising with Outbrain

Outbrain is an ad platform that uses programmatic advertising (as well as other forms of smart ads) to maximize your spend. They permit cannabis related ads and can help you target the right kinds of websites to attract the audience you need.

Advertising with Taboola

Taboola and Outbrain actually merged in 2019, but continued to operate as separate brands. Taboola is known for their “recommended for you” type ads appearing around articles on a variety of niche websites. Taboola’s purpose is to help people target “what’s interesting and new in the moment of next.” Naturally ,this includes cannabis ads.

Find new audiences through influencer marketing

If you can identify an influencer in your niche with a highly engaged audience, it may be worth approaching them. While there are a number of approaches to take and strategies to use, the common thread among all of them is that you need to be prepared to handle a spike in traffic. If an influencer sends 1000 visitors to your website and it crashes or your optin form doesn’t work, you’ll have wasted any effort and money you put into working with them.

A last look at marketing to the cannabis community

Marijuana digital marketing is still in its infancy, and the green gold rush for marijuana marketers is likely just getting started. As the laws and regulations surrounding cannabis sales and marketing are relaxed and/or become more familiar, more strategies will become available. In 2020, the techniques we mentioned above are the ones we’ve found to be most effective. Let us know if you want help implementing them in your business!

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