4/20 Marketing Prep: Get Ahead of the Biggest Cannabis Sales Day Of The Year

by | Feb 16, 2024

If you’re first thinking about your 4/20 marketing strategy now, you may feel a bit behind the ball. But with a bit of quick thinking, you’ll find enough time to build and execute an elevated 4/20 marketing campaign.

Why is it an issue to wait to make 4/20 plans?

If you’re reading this article, you likely already know that 4/20 is the biggest sales day of the year — busier even than Green Wednesday, Black Friday, or 7/10. On 4/20, among your loyal customers and casual shoppers are people who’ve never been to your dispensary before, who are encouraged to shop by the novelty and cultural significance of the day. It’s an opportune time to put your best foot forward and make a good first impression, which can be difficult to do when your store is more chaotic than usual. 

When you plan in advance, you can tackle some of these big questions early, from managing a big line to shortening longer-than-normal wait times as much as possible. While these aren’t the responsibility of the marketing department, per se, a positive dispensary experience is marketing in and of itself. After all, a good experience reflects well on your brand and encourages folks to come back throughout the year. 

A successful 4/20 is not just about what you plan to do, but it involves many stakeholders to make it happen, and those stakeholders need time. For example, you need to make sure there’s enough product to sell. That involves talking to vendors early and often. A delay in setting your 4/20 plans in motion can put pressure on the entire supply chain as vendors ramp up production in time for the big day. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get the products you want in the quantities you need. And without product in hand, you may disappoint customers who chose to spend their 4/20 with you.

Don’t have a 4/20 plan yet? Start here:

Step 1: Decide what you want to do

It’s a broad question, but an essential one to answer before you take another step in planning. Without a basic framework for your celebration, you’ll have a hard time obtaining what you need to make 4/20 a success. 

What you want to do can look quite a few ways, as long as your goals are attainable and actionable (AKA SMART goals). You can base your decision on: 

  • A theme you want to rally around
  • An event or activation you want to have
  • A promotion you plan to center

Don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon here. You can always scale back as you drill into the details. Better yet, as you decide what you want to do for 4/20, spend a few minutes discussing a contingency plan. With this plan ready and waiting, if you don’t have enough time or budget for your dream celebration, you won’t have to spend extra time deciding what you’ll do instead.

Step 2: Determine your budget and resources

You can’t plan a campaign without knowing how much you have to spend and whether you have the people-power to get it all done. Review your marketing budget to see how much you can allot to 4/20, if you didn’t plan for that already. You can use last year’s spend as a baseline estimate.

Didn’t make a marketing budget, or don’t have one? Take time to price out the components you need to make 4/20 a success. As you calculate the numbers, plan for a bit extra — you’ll almost always need something at the last minute, or something will come at a higher cost than you thought.

Step 3: Get buy-in from stakeholders

You’re ready to get approvals with an idea and budget ready to present to whoever in your dispensary has input in your marketing activities. This looks different from dispensary to dispensary: some marketing departments operate on their own, while smaller operations may have the CEO, COO, and other C-suite executives involved. Whoever the decision makers are, get their sign-off before you take another step.

Step 4: Brush up on compliance

This is a great time to refresh your knowledge on your state’s (or states’) cannabis marketing regulations. You don’t want to spend weeks planning just to find out the state boards that oversee marketing won’t let you proceed. That puts you back at square one. Speak with your compliance officer, state compliance representative, or legal team and get their input on your plans. 

Step 5: Set a deadline and take action

With an approved plan in hand, you’re ready to set the campaign into motion. That involves reaching out to the staff, companies, and teams that focus on the components you need, from ensuring payment processors are in place to getting your graphics made. As soon as you’re able, book meetings with them to review the plans and start getting these teams what they need to get the job done.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the teams you may need to loop include your:

  • Inventory management team
  • Dispensary staff
  • Promotional product providers
  • Marketing agency
  • Webmaster
  • Creative freelancers
  • Event planning team

As for the deadline: This is the hardest question to answer. While “ASAP” is certainly ideal, it’s not a hard date. We recommend finishing all assets by March 31st, so you don’t have to rush when it’s go time.

Time is short, but not too short, to kick 4/20 into high gear

Whether it’s your dispensary’s first 4/20 or you’re stuck on ideas, our team at CannaContent is here to help. Book a brainstorm with our executive team and get your plans going for the best 4/20 yet.