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

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

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.

Gearing Up For The New Year: How To Get Your Marketing Right

Gearing Up For The New Year: How To Get Your Marketing Right

Got big goals for the new year? Now’s the time to get ready for rollout. Proper master planning and detail-driven introspection are equally essential when it comes time to revitalize your marketing plan. Whether you’re overhauling your dispensary’s entire marketing plan, entering an emerging market, or launching a new edible, a careful look under the hood now will save you tons of time and trouble down the road.

Tuning up your cannabis marketing plan for 2024

Marketing is like a car. There are a whole lot of moving parts that work together or influence each other in some way. If even one piece is off-kilter or not performing at its best, it can have a domino effect that can be a real drag on your big plans. That’s why each component needs to stay in top shape for best results. Here’s how to comb through your current strategy as you plan for the year ahead.

Maintain your engine: Revisit your marketing plan

Without an engine, you won’t get anywhere, and the same is true if you don’t have a well thought out marketing plan to guide your cannabis business. 

A marketing plan is a detailed roadmap for your cannabis brand that outlines your marketing goals and how you intend to reach them. The plan contains measurable and actionable goals (also called SMART goals) for each aim you set. It should also include key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics that can help you monitor your progress, see when things are working, and when you need to make a change.

When developing a marketing plan, keep in mind the difference between strategy and tactics. A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines what you hope to achieve and the key elements to consider throughout the year. Tactics, the concrete steps you’ll take to fulfill your strategic goals, should come next.

Check your brakes: Review your compliance procedures

Before you can burn some serious rubber, you’ll need to make sure your brakes can handle the heat. In cannabis, regulatory compliance is paramount, so make sure your best practices are up to date and in line with your local and state regulations. While it’s helpful to take a look in your own garage, this critical component may need the assistance of an attorney, so don’t be afraid to seek outside legal counsel.

It’s a good time to pay attention to social media regulations too. If you haven’t looked at each platform’s terms of service in a while, it’s time for a refresher. This ensures that the content you’re planning for the new year is less likely to get pulled over via shadowban or suspension.

Adjust the alignment: Leverage data to track progress or change direction

Your engine is built and your brakes are good, but you need to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. Your marketing plan can help guide you here, but as you get rolling it’s important to regularly monitor your progress to ensure longevity and good mileage on your efforts.

Is your target audience active on the channels you expected them to be? Is your content driving engagement? What is performing best and on which channels, and what can use a tuneup? Use these insights along the way to adjust your direction and improve the efficacy of your marketing tactics. 

Build these adjustments into your marketing plan, either on a monthly or quarterly basis  — whichever best suits your team. Although your marketing plan serves as the engine that powers your brand, adjusting the alignment can help you stay on course as conditions on the racetrack change.

Rotate your tires: Give your brain a break

As the race drags on, everyone needs to make a pit stop now and then. Avoid burning out by building in time for team members to rest and recuperate. Your marketing plan and creative calendar should account for this by planning content in advance and scheduling posts to your blog, social media channels, and email marketing lists.

Keeping things moving is essential in cannabis marketing, but a bald tire can’t gain any traction. Make sure your plan is proactive and flexible enough to account for members of your marketing team taking time off. When they come back, they’ll be all the more ready to get back on the road.

Clean your spark plugs: Get fresh ideas in circulation

Rusty spark plugs keep your car from starting, and stale ideas hold back your marketing plan. Host regular brainstorming sessions with your team to tease out fresh ideas and, to really push the metaphor, spark some creativity. Customers like fresh ideas and new types of content, so use these brainstorms as ways to drum up something that folks will be eager to watch or read. As always, make sure your ideas comport with your brand identity, but don’t be afraid to get a little out of the box. After all, race fans love a bit of excitement. 

Change your oil: Refresh your content

Like father always insisted, regular oil changes are critical, and so is maintaining the existing content you’ve already created. Check your blog to see if any old content can be refreshed with new statistics or timely framing. Consider how social media algorithms have changed and whether you can tweak your approach to improve your odds of going viral and driving big engagement. While much of your focus may be on developing new ideas and new content, you can’t forget to show some love to what’s already out there. Your cannabis brand and marketing efforts need to be cohesive, and sometimes that takes a little bit of preventive maintenance as your approach evolves.

Trick out your ride: Find ways to stand out

The best way to stand out from the crowd is to build something truly unique that shows off your personality and style. Cannabis branding is much more than just creating a logo and color scheme; it’s about establishing a vibe that encompasses your entire company. Make sure your marketing plan is tied to a brand identity designed to resonate with your target audience, giving them more than just a product or service to buy but a relationship to build. Strong brands drive customer loyalty and repeat business, so craft yours with this in mind.

Cannabis marketing made easy

If this checklist sounds like a lot, you might consider choosing a cannabis marketing agency to help you out. If so, CannaContent is ready to serve as your pit crew chief. Our team of award-winning journalists, big brand creatives, and dedicated marketing professionals can help you craft a unique and effective approach that will help your cannabis brand cut through the clutter and make a name for itself. Request a quote today to learn more about how CannaContent can help you succeed in the rapidly growing cannabis industry.

Digital Goes IRL: How Retail Design and Internet Marketing Unite to Elevate Dispensaries

Digital Goes IRL: How Retail Design and Internet Marketing Unite to Elevate Dispensaries

As your dispensary barrels into the next busy season, digital marketing alone can’t do all the heavy lifting. Connecting your efforts to the retail experience is paramount to winning over new happy customers who intend to return time and again. How are you leveraging all the tools at your disposal before major shopping events like Green Wednesday, Black Friday, and 4/20?

Budder Creative Co-Founder and Principal Creative Michael Marra joined CannaContent Founder and Content Strategist Stella Morrison for an in-depth conversation about the many ways digital marketing goes IRL.

The retail experience in cannabis: What lessons can we learn from other industries? 

Marra, who has prior experience working with brands like DKNY and Estee Lauder, walked viewers through the essential components of the retail experience and what marketers consider as they design a space.

“All these [interactions with customers] happen in different places and it’s important to have a plan for the path to purchase to ensure that the customer journey is meaningful and intentional,” Marra said. “This allows for a more robust and memorable retail experience.”

Some of the areas Marra highlighted include:

Promoting hero products

Where are your best-sellers, top products, or seasonal products located in the dispensary? Where and how they’re displayed is key to giving shoppers what they want, steering them to what you want them to buy, or guiding them to walk a certain path through the store.

“The first thing that we would consider in traditional retail would be an opportunity for promoting new and notable,” Marra said. “And this shouldn’t just be new things — often, there are seasonal promotions and cross-merchandising opportunities to highlight, too.”

What these opportunities look like depends on what you want to accomplish. A marketing campaign to promote vaporizers alongside flower has different aims than showcasing gingerbread-flavored edibles for the winter holidays.

Educating shoppers

The more information you can provide about a product, the more likely customers are to understand its purpose and use — and they’re more likely to be satisfied with it when they buy. Signage accompanying a product display can offer supporting information that doesn’t fit on a product package. You may want to consider leveraging QR codes for this as well.

“Not only does it give you a better opportunity to sell that product and present it in a meaningful way, but it creates a cohesive experience that helps build trust with customers,” Marra shared.

Marketing opportunities

The many touchpoints between shoppers and products throughout the dispensary creates opportunities to involve brand partners, something quite common in traditional retail. Marketing and brand activation initiatives often found in traditional retail can and should make their way into a dispensary’s marketing plans.

“There are opportunities for supporting your brand partners to consider,” Marra said.

Signage and flyers are two common examples you’ll see in dispensaries. You’ll find some other examples throughout this blog. Notably, Marra said, window displays common in retail are off-limits or quite restricted for most dispensaries. 

How do digital marketing and the retail experience converge?

The lines between online and brick-and-mortar experiences are blurring, both in the literal sense like the Metaverse and figurative, yet still equally real, ways.

“When we approach retail, we think… that your first point of contact is probably one of those streams of social or web,” Marra said. “How do we continue that conversation in a meaningful way?”

The shopping experience starts before customers step through the door

The internet has profoundly changed how consumers shop. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, the overwhelming majority of customers Google your dispensary, a particular strain, or a brand before they step foot in the store. (And once they’re in the store, there’s a chance they’re looking up brands or strains while standing in front of the products, too!)

With so many folks interacting with your dispensary before their visit, it opens an opportunity to meaningfully engage with customers before that first visit to your shop. This sort of reputation-building can lay the foundation for repeat visitors well before consumers come to the store. 

Digital marketing helps shape in-person shopper expectations

In many ways, a dispensary’s digital marketing primes customers for the retail experience. Shoppers see pictures and videos of the store on social media, in emails, on your website, and on your Google Business Profile. Through these touchpoints, they become familiar with your store layout and your product displays. This means they’ll have a general idea of what they need to do and where they need to go when they arrive. If the real-life experience deviates from what customers have seen online, it may not leave a favorable impression.

Take NYC dispensary Union Square Travel Agency as an example. When the store opened its Union Square location, CannaContent produced blogs that illustrated the experience shoppers can expect in the dispensary’s Flower Lounge, its Eero Saarinen-influenced-inspired interior, and what you can expect when interacting with budtenders. This type of content not only engages first-time visitors, but sets them up to expect an enriching experience.

Continuity between digital and retail messaging can shape customer behavior

You want your dispensary’s messaging to strike the same notes across all customer touchpoints. This is called omnichannel merchandising, and it’s key to locking in sales. This strategy ensures you can steer as many customers as possible to take the actions in store you want them to take. This requires tapping into retail marketing best practices, understanding how shoppers move through a store, and how they interact with the options in front of them.

4 ways to use digital marketing to support the in-store experience

Retail and digital marketing strategies are part of the same equation. Working together creates a best-in-class brick-and-mortar experience that begins way before that first visit. Here’s how you start. 

1. Email marketing, text message marketing, and in-store product placement

The close collaboration and communication between digital marketers and the retail experience ensures the customer journey is seamless. A key part of this is product placement itself. Customers get an email or a text message about a special promotion or sale, and they come into the store to take advantage of the deal. Where are you displaying those products, and how? Utilizing your retail space helps draw in shoppers and encourages them to take the actions you want them to take.

From cash wrap product displays to a brand’s shelf presence, digital marketing teams can check in with retailers to make sure those sale products are easy to find. Even details as simple as lighting can make a world of difference in drawing shoppers’ eyes where you want them to go.

“You’re presenting products in a way that should feel precious, interesting, and something that you want to take home,” Marra said. 

2. Social media marketing and setting customer expectations

Use TikTok, Reels, and other social media platforms to show customers the kind of experience they can expect when they come to your dispensary. From practical advice to sexy marketing videos, use the power of the customer’s feed to start the conversation way before the viewer types “dispensary near me” into a search engine.

“You want the conversation to continue in a natural way,” Marra said. 

Some ways you can leverage social media to support the experience in the physical store include:

  • Showing customers where in the store they can find a new product
  • Prominently featuring budtenders and staff members in social media content
  • Sharing messaging on social media that can be seen or experienced in the dispensary

3. Content marketing, consumer education, and store organization

Each shopper’s relationship with cannabis is unique and individualized. Many are learning to look up products beyond the indica/sativa divide, which is a classification of the plant’s appearance and not its effects. 

One such way to organize products is by effect. Shoppers know that different product types are best for certain desired outcomes, like energy, focus, relaxation, or creativity. This is supported through search engine data, which shows consumers are increasingly aware that different types of cannabis products and cultivars have different effects. This opens an opportunity to create content and build a marketing campaign around effects, which is further emphasized by effects-specific displays in the store.

“Cannabis affects different people in different ways, but there are certain aspects to the effects of different strains that can be promoted,” Marra said. “If you have a place to start the conversation, it makes this uncertain experience better. If someone comes into the store and isn’t sure what to buy, but they know they can’t sleep and they see a sleep section, this gives them a place to go.”

Marra emphasized how this retail design can also give customers “talking points” to explore other products and answer the most common question customers have: “What do you recommend?”

“That sale is very dependent on the budtender’s response,” Marra said, adding that the effects-based displays encourage more specific conversations with dispensary staff. “With this approach, the conversation [with the budtender] has already started.”

4. TV displays and product marketing

Considering how many other menu touchpoints there are — from online and app-based menus to in-store kiosks — Marra encourages retailers to think of other ways to leverage that valuable space behind the budtenders to educate customers and share other important information.

“The area behind the [point of sale] is often underutilized,” Marra shared. “People often focus on putting menus up, and maybe they’re all repeating or scrolling the same content.” 

Marra encourages retailers to get creative with what goes on these screens.

“The TV screens don’t need to display menus all the time,” Marra said. “This could open up a cool opportunity to talk more about your dispensary, promoting a particular product, or cross-promoting multiple products … Now, maybe, a shopper is interested in a different type of product they wouldn’t have considered before.”

Align retail and dispensary marketing in time for the busy season

Whether you’re preparing for Green Wednesday or gearing up for 7/10, retail and digital marketing efforts are dependent on one another for success. These omnichannel marketing opportunities create an experience that can turn one-time shoppers into enthusiastic, repeat customers. With a strong customer focus that takes both retail and digital marketing into account, your dispensary marketing becomes an unstoppable force as you head into the most important sales seasons.

Turn to digital marketing experts who know the importance of involving all stakeholders. At CannaContent, our team prioritizes working closely with everyone on your team, from store managers to CMOs and everyone in between. When everyone is on the same page, your marketing plans level up to an unstoppable force.

The Bones Of A Good Cannabis Marketing Plan

The Bones Of A Good Cannabis Marketing Plan

Whether you’re focused on one marketing campaign or a broader strategy, a strong marketing plan is the necessary backbone for success. This essential document — or set of documents — keeps your marketing team on track. Whether you’re a small business owner wearing all the hats or you have a marketing team, a well constructed marketing plan is an indispensable tool for getting the word out.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan describes the tangible steps a company intends to take to achieve the goals outlined in its marketing strategy. These goals can include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Nurturing leads
  • Driving sales
  • Launching products or services
  • Data-gathering for future planning

Depending on your goals and workflow, you may choose to create marketing plans on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Regardless, your marketing plan should be an evolving document that’s constantly revised and updated as you gather additional data from each of your campaigns.

For smaller businesses and nimble teams, one overarching marketing plan should be plenty. For larger operations, a marketing plan may consist of additional smaller plans, such as a social media marketing plan, content marketing plan, or a new product launch plan. This can help separate teams move in the same direction in their respective focus areas.

What do the bones of a good marketing plan include?

Executive summary

This section is an overview of your marketing plan. It’s useful for communicating what your plan covers to those who are not in the marketing trenches. 

Target audience

Describe in this section the types of customers most likely to need your product and services. If you have it, use data if you can to back up these ideas. You can also develop buyer personas, which are detailed characters that represent each type of customer. These profiles help you zero in on the right messaging.

Objectives

In this section, set some clear, measurable goals you would like to achieve. These should be goals that easily link to a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Consider metrics like impressions, conversions, and sales that can be tied back to your marketing activities. If you can’t quantify your goal to monitor success, it might not be the best target to include.

Competitive analysis

The best marketing plans include a competitor analysis so you can see what works, what doesn’t work, and what you can do to be different. There are many ways to conduct this analysis, including a SWOT analysis, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Whichever method you employ, be sure to analyze your top competitors to get an understanding of what they’re doing (and what they’re not) and how that creates opportunities for your marketing team to cut through the noise.

Budget

Staying on budget is critical, as your marketing campaigns should ultimately drive an overall return on investment (ROI). Your budget should outline anything you plan to spend money on, including:

  • Expected labor costs
  • Ad spend
  • Tools and subscription costs
  • Merch production costs
  • Event marketing costs
  • Sponsorship fees

It should also include anticipated revenue from your marketing activities. 

12 strategies a cannabis marketing plan should consider

Whether you’re opening a dispensary or launching a new product, the below 11 strategies may find a home in your marketing plan as you build out its structure. Not every strategy is applicable for every marketing plan, but this list gives you things to think about.

1. SEO

Short for search engine optimization, SEO is an umbrella term that includes all the tactics that help your website reach customers on search engines. In cannabis, SEO is one of the few channels not subject to restrictions in itself, although any activities done to enhance SEO, like content marketing, must still adhere to your state’s rules.

Paid advertising is a sticky subject in cannabis, as platforms like Google Ads technically do not allow cannabis content. However, many dispensaries and other types of cannabis companies attempt workarounds, sometimes successfully.

3. Social media

TikTok, Instagram, Linkedin, and other social media platforms are another tricky one for cannabis, as many of these platforms have policies prohibiting cannabis content. But the fact is, customers still look for your company on these platforms. Getting creative with out-of-the-box ideas, influencer partnerships, and other tactics can help you excel on these platforms.

4. Content marketing

Tied closely to SEO, social media, and email marketing, a robust content marketing plan provides readers with the information needed to make good decisions about their choices – and ultimately, the choice to buy from you. Depending on your sector, this can include:

  • Cannabis education
  • In-depth gated content
  • Case studies
  • Product reviews
  • Interviews and spotlights

5. Email marketing

In the cannabis industry, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach customers. Reaching a customer in their inbox is a powerful thing. There are many cannabis-friendly email marketing platforms that you can use to set up email lists, design and send emails, build drip campaigns, analyze data, and more.

6. Text message marketing

Text message marketing may be very effective, but it doesn’t come without its headaches in the cannabis industry. It’s not uncommon for cannabis companies to be kicked off messaging platforms or by the networks themselves that do not want to disseminate cannabis-related sales information. It’s still a valuable and powerful avenue to leverage for many cannabis companies. Many of the cannabis-friendly tools for email marketing also include a text message marketing component, so be sure to look for that feature when evaluating vendors.

7. Video marketing

Video is one of the most powerful ways to connect to and build relationships with customers. Whether your campaign calls for a full video production or just some quick clips captured on a quality smartphone, this tactic can be used to enhance many strategies on this list.

8. Out-of-home and digital out-of-home

Out-of-home and digital out-of-home (OOH and DOOH) refers to ads like billboards that your customers encounter while out and about. Depending on your state’s regulations and the policies of the company that owns the property, cannabis advertising may be allowed. Some companies have restrictions, such as not showing a pot leaf, while others have few to no restrictions.

9. Programmatic advertising

Generally regarded as a safer alternative to paid search because they are designed specifically for cannabis, programmatic advertising uses advanced targeting and automated media buying technologies to reach your target audience. Be sure to work with a company that is cannabis-friendly, such as Surfside.

10. Retail marketing

This strategy involves tactics you may leverage to bring people into your shop and how they navigate your store once they step foot inside. Many of these strategies are regulated by state or local law, so be sure to brush up on what’s allowed in your state before making your marketing plan. Some common retail marketing elements include:

  • Pop-up events, commonly leveraged by brands in dispensaries
  • Loyalty programs and promotions
  • Retail design
  • Window displays

11. Trade shows and event marketing

Trade shows remain an effective and popular way for cannabis companies to get in front of an audience of interested customers. Whether you have a booth, sponsor a trade show, or simply go to enjoy the scene, it may be worth investigating trade show marketing options in a desired geographic region or by specialty.

12. Cross-promotion

Cannabis companies are better together! Opportunities for cross-promotion can expose new audiences to your products or services. Your marketing plan may want to include opportunities for alignment with other brands and ways you can work together to elevate one another’s profile.

4 challenges for creating a cannabis marketing plan

If you want to ensure your cannabis marketing plan has legs, there are some realities to take into account. 

1. State regulations

Because cannabis remains federally illegal, each state sets up and regulates its own supply chain. That means the rules vary from state to state. Even in places like New York and New Jersey, which are right next to one another, the marketing rules can be quite different. The bottom line: you need to be intimately familiar with the marketing regulations in your state when crafting your marketing plan. 

Common state regulations for plant-touching companies like dispensaries and cannabis product brands include requirements to avoid marketing to underaged people, restrictions on how and where you can advertise, and packaging requirements. Some states also prohibit tactics that non-cannabis companies take for granted, such as sales and discounts. You may want to take the extra step of showing your marketing plan to legal counsel or a compliance specialist to ensure everything you’ve included is in line with your state’s regulations.

2. Channel restrictions and limitations

There are some marketing channels that don’t like to provide a platform for cannabis. Some social media platforms frequently suspend cannabis accounts for terms of service violations. Marketing and advertising on some conventional media outlets, like television or radio, may violate regulations. Understand where you can safely market and what type of content is permitted on each platform to avoid wasting time and money on an effort that ends up being counter-productive.

Want to learn more about social platforms and how social media algorithms work? Check out our guide on how to succeed at social media marketing.

3. Evolving audience demographics

The cannabis industry is a rapidly changing place that serves brand-new customers and seasoned veterans at the same time in the same markets. As new product types become more common, the way existing consumers shop changes as well. It’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of the market by staying apprised of the latest headlines, hosting focus groups, and issuing customer surveys.

4. Overcoming stigma

Although most Americans can access some form of legal cannabis, traces of stigma still remain. This can have an effect on your marketing plans and even change course on some of your ideas. For example, some communities may not want a dispensary to sponsor a community cleanup or health fair due to optics. Such a denial means you would have to go back to the drawing board. It’s a good idea to have backup ideas and contingency plans in place for these instances, especially when trying something new.

Cannabis marketing plan mistakes to avoid

Avoiding fractures in your cannabis marketing plan is as simple as conducting your due diligence early. Avoiding these mistakes ensures your marketing plan has strong bones that won’t bend or break under pressure. 

  • Skipping over research: Your marketing plan should be grounded in real data and research whenever possible. Don’t make assumptions about your target audience or your competitors when working on these sections of your plan. Whether you’re incorporating historical sales data, customer feedback, or granular competitor analysis, make sure it’s based on verifiable facts to the greatest extent possible.
  • Unrealistic budgeting: Trying to make your budget look pretty on paper sets you up for disappointment when the actuals come in. Be conservative in your estimates and do your best to stay as close to your true expectations as possible. Underestimating expenses and overestimating revenue is a recipe for disaster, but it happens more often than you might think.
  • No specifics: When you don’t include enough detail or measurable goals in your marketing plan, it can leave you unprepared for the fast-paced, ongoing realities of marketing. If your plan is focused on social media marketing, for example, it should identify which channels you’re pursuing, which types of users you’d like to reach, and an estimate of how much content you’ll need on a weekly basis to reach those goals. Try to get as specific as possible in each section, and remember the importance of quantifying your activities. If you can’t tie it to a number, it may not be detailed enough.

How to prepare to launch your cannabis marketing plan

Audit the basics

Cannabis marketing plans are all about good bones — they’re foundational and keep your strategy upright. The same goes for your daily operations. Take the time to check the major components of your campaign for form and function before you begin.

Some elements to audit include:

  • Website load times, user experience, and overall functionality, including proper form and lead collection setup
  • How you’re collecting customer information, organizing it, and leveraging it across multiple strategy types
  • Conducting an inventory of the content on your website and using that as a base to create more content or build educational campaigns

Know your audience

We talked about it before, but it bears repeating. Spreading the word involves knowing who you’re talking to. “Anyone with a wallet” isn’t helpful as consumers become more nuanced and discerning in this rapidly-maturing market. Take the time to learn about your customers, whether through their past purchasing behaviors, market trends in your city, or through developing personas and tailoring your marketing plan to specific audiences. 

Map the customer journey

Put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes. Is it easy for them to sign up for emails, receive texts, or enter into an Instagram contest? If you or your team find it difficult or annoying to go through the motions, chances are, your audience will, too. Refine this process before launching any campaign.

Solidify your budget

This is another point that deserves multiple mentions. Burning through the budget can be detrimental to a campaign, especially if it’s working and you can no longer afford it. Think conservatively before any launch, and always account for any extras or incidents that may pop up along the way.

Develop a top notch cannabis marketing plan with CannaContent

No bones about it, a well thought out marketing plan is essential for reaching your target market effectively. Unless you’re a professional marketer, it can be tricky to make sure you’ve checked all the right boxes. That’s where CannaContent can help. Our team of experienced creatives and project managers have years of experience serving all market segments of the cannabis industry. We can develop and execute upon a comprehensive marketing plan that connects your business to your target market. If you’re ready to take command of your cannabis brand, contact us for a quote today.

    Email Marketing for Cannabis Brands: Best Practices and Content Ideas

    Email Marketing for Cannabis Brands: Best Practices and Content Ideas

    From social media to digital ads to your blog, there’s no shortage of ways to touch base with customers throughout the day. One of the most valuable of these methods is email marketing, reaching customers in their inboxes with news, information, and great deals. But just like any type of cannabis marketing, email marketing for cannabis brands takes a bit more discretion and planning. Here are our tips, best practice suggestions, and some content ideas for your cannabis company’s email marketing strategy. 

    Which email marketing platforms are cannabis friendly?

    Before embarking on email marketing for your cannabis company, you need to get a sense of which platforms are willing to distribute your content. Unfortunately, not every platform is willing to welcome the plant with open arms. There are varying degrees of acceptance too, with some platforms allowing only CBD, while others will work with ancillary companies and others yet will work with any cannabis company. Here’s what you need to know about your options.

    Cannabis-centric customer data platforms

    Many plant-touching companies like dispensaries and delivery services opt to run their marketing, loyalty, and analytics with platforms that specifically cater to the cannabis industry. Not only do these companies specialize in the nuances of the growing cannabis industry, but since they’re built specifically for the industry, you can lean on their reliability. You won’t wake up one morning to find your account suspended or mysteriously deleted — and all your hard work along with it.

    Some platforms to consider include:

    • Alpine IQ, which offers tools to manage loyalty systems, mobile apps, marketing messaging automation, and more
    • Springbig, a customer loyalty program with its own SMS and email marketing tools
    • Happy Cabbage Analytics, a retail optimization platform geared toward dispensaries and delivery operations

    Not sure which is right for you? Evaluate each vendor based on their:

    • Flexible pricing tiers that can scale with your company as you grow
    • Available tools for segmenting your customer base
    • Integrations with your website for building your subscriber list
    • Ability to integrate with your tech stack for seamless operations
    • Additional features that enhance and improve customer engagement, such as data collection 

    Customer relationship manager (CRM) software platforms

    Some CRMs that dominate the market and have email marketing tools built in, like Hubspot, are now servicing the cannabis industry in all its forms. These platforms allow use of both their email marketing tools and their sales management software in the cannabis industry. The answer will vary from company to company, so if there’s a CRM software you have your eye on, it’s worth reaching out to customer service and asking some questions before committing.

    Mainstream email marketing platforms

    The content policy of various mainstream email marketing platforms varies widely from provider to provider. Each one maintains its own standards and terms of service (TOS).

    Understandably, marketers may want to turn to platforms like Mailchimp, Klaviyo, and Constant Contact due to their ubiquity, popularity, and familiarity. But they’re not always the best solution for all cannabis companies or CBD brands. You have to do a little homework before committing to one of these platforms.

    For example, Mailchimp’s terms of service doesn’t explicitly ban cannabis (THC) or CBD products in its acceptable use policy. However, it could easily be interpreted that cannabis is an “illegal good” under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and therefore not allowed on their platforms. CBD, while no longer federally illegal, may fall under herbal supplements that call for greater scrutiny from the platform. This would likely apply to “plant touching” companies and not necessarily ancillary companies. Anecdotal experience falls in line with this as well, with some dispensaries facing suspension or bans from Mailchimp, but ancillary companies not having the same struggles.

    If your chosen platform allows cannabis — great! Forge ahead. If they don’t or their responses are wishy-washy, it may not be worth the risk. And even if your chosen provider has given the green light, it’s always worth brushing up on terms and conditions. Policy changes can happen at any time, so make it a point to read up on the fine print. And keep an extra close eye on these policies in the event of a sale or acquisition in the event that the new owners implement changes.

    The long and short of it is — read the terms and conditions of any mainstream email marketing platform you want to use. If you’re unsure about a company’s stance from their documentation, reach out to customer service. If the answer is anything but an enthusiastic “yes,” it’s worth rethinking use of those platforms, especially if you’re with a plant-touching company like a dispensary.

    The power of email marketing — and why it’s worth your time

    Email marketing has a high return on investment (ROI)

    While the precise amount varies between industries, it’s estimated that every dollar spent on email marketing can get anywhere between $36 and around $45 for the company. Not only is this a higher ROI than other marketing strategies, but email marketing is a lower-cost program to implement, manage, and tweak along the way.

    Your email list is yours

    It’s hard work growing an email list, but the power of having these data in your hands is unparalleled. With customers’ email addresses, you can address them directly without any intermediary standing in your way. If your social media accounts get deleted tomorrow, you lose all your hard work and all those eyeballs. Not so for email marketing — once you collect an email (unless someone unsubscribes, of course), it can’t be taken away from you.

    Customers want your emails

    Sure, nobody wants to sort through 500 spam emails in a day. But when a customer opts in, it’s a green light that they want to hear from you. While you should certainly be measured with this method of marketing — nobody wants 10 emails a day from anyone, let alone a company — you can plan campaigns knowing that your audience is attentive and interested in what you have to share.

    Best practices for creating good email marketing content that performs

    • Strike a balance between clickbait and boring. There’s a lot of room for creativity here. Your subject line needs to strike a balance between enticing readers to open — and driving up that key open rate — and hitting the snooze button. Too much in either direction, and your email is headed for spam or trash.
    • Always include a call to action. Do you want visitors to fill out a form, sign up for a program, or look at your menu? Include a call to action that encourages readers to go one step further. And don’t forget to set UTM parameters around the URL in your call to action, so you can better track where clicks are coming from. 
    • Track your open rates. Keep an eye on which emails get the most clicks. Whether sales emails get a surge in open rates or people clamor to read your latest blog, open rates are an indicator of what your customers actually want to see in their inboxes.
    • Don’t forget about A/B testing. To help improve open rates and click-through rates, you can use a sample customer group to test which version of your email gets the best feedback. If you don’t have access to A/B testing, it’s a good idea to run your prospective subject line and content ideas past other people on your team to get their feedback. 

    5 content ideas for your next email marketing campaign

    1. Highlight the latest news about your business. Was your dispensary recently in the local news, or was the owner of the company interviewed on a podcast? Uplift the latest and greatest your company has to offer, no matter which medium it takes.

    2. Showcase a product review. Fold a cannabis product review into your latest email marketing campaign. These reviews are not only great for SEO and social media, but help leverage brand recognition to bring a customer one step deeper into your marketing funnel. With the right review in their inbox, it may be just the ticket to bring them into the store.

    3. Offer an enticing deal. Certainly, a good deal will turn heads. Consider creating specials just for email subscribers as an incentive for them to both sign up for your list and to keep opening your emails.

    4. Promote a blog post. Call attention to the great information on your blog by adding a summary of its main points and a graphic to your email. Add a call to action to lead the reader to finish the blog on your site, increasing your web traffic along the way.

    5. Add your latest video. Interactive content helps break up blocks of text and helps catch the eye of different types of learners. It’s also a great way to leverage omnichannel marketing by promoting video content hosted on YouTube or TikTok to a new audience. 

    Additional ways to leverage email marketing

    Use drip campaigns to simplify email marketing

    Drip campaigns are automated emails that are sent to someone who takes action on your website. For example, if someone signs up to download a white paper on your website, a drip campaign can send them an email with the attachment, an email with a summary of the white paper with some eye-catching graphics, and a survey to solicit feedback on the white paper. Those campaigns can be set up relatively quickly and easily with the right email marketing platform and website integrations, and it takes all the follow-up work off your shoulders.

    Get personal to encourage open rates

    Personalization tools, such as addressing subscribers by name in the body of an email, have a significant impact on email open rates. Types of personalization include tailoring the content of an email to a specific audience, leveraging a customer’s data to show them how many loyalty points they have, or as simple as adding the subscriber’s first name to the subject line or the body of the email. 

    Consider abandoned cart emails to bring back customers

    Just because dispensaries in the U.S. can’t ship products to a customer’s house doesn’t mean what they’re doing doesn’t fall under ecommerce activity. And just like any other big-box store you might shop online, customers might put some items in their cart, get distracted, and forget to check out. 

    Recapture them with abandoned cart tools that send a notice to the customer’s inbox with a reminder to complete checkout. These are called win-back campaigns, and they’re easy to implement with the right software. You can even include a special incentive for completing the purchase, like extra loyalty points or a coupon — whatever is allowed by law in your state. Abandoned cart emails have a high open rate, as much as 43% by some estimates, and a high level of conversion, too. This means more revenue for your business.

    Cannabis brands: contact your customers with email marketing 

    Take this important task off your hands. With CannaContent, you work with a team of award-winning experts who have years of experience building email campaigns that get results. We spin up great copy and have the technical know-how to implement your program, all while taking the rest of your marketing strategy into account. Our holistic approach makes the difference, ensuring no element of your marketing operates in a silo. We love what we do — contact CannaContent to learn about how we can put our skills to work for your company.

    How To Get Customer Reviews For Your Cannabis Business

    How To Get Customer Reviews For Your Cannabis Business

    Customer reviews and word-of-mouth advertising can make or break a business. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a passive participant when it comes to customer reviews just because you’re a cannabis business owner. There are plenty of things you can do to gather more positive reviews, demonstrate your commitment to your customers, and show the world that your business provides a top-notch experience. Improve your customer review game with our guide.

    Where are customer reviews usually posted?

    Customer reviews generally live on a third-party platform or on a reseller’s website. Here are some common places you can expect to find customer reviews — places where you might want to set up a profile for your business.

    Google Business Profile: A must-have for any cannabis business, your Google Business Profile includes all the key information about your company at a glance, including contact info, location, hours of operation, and images.

    GBP listings also include customer reviews, complete with a starred rating that totals the cumulative of all your reviews. Around 60 percent of people read reviews on a company’s GBP. It offers a powerful source of social proof right on the search engine results page.

    Yelp: You can’t think of “customer reviews” without thinking of Yelp. Yelp remains a go-to source for customer reviews of all types of businesses, including cannabis businesses. Most Yelp reviews are focused on the business generally, rather than specific products or services, though it’s common for users to reference their individual experiences in detail.

    Leafly: Leafly allows users to leave customer reviews on particular strains, cannabis products, and even cannabis dispensaries. It includes a detailed list of cannabis dispensaries by location, which is important for retailers to take advantage of.

    Weedmaps: Similar to Leafly, Weedmaps maintains a directory of cannabis dispensaries and enables customer reviews on its platform. As a well-respected name in cannabis, Weedmaps is another important stop for any cannabis retailer.

    Reddit: Reddit is a top social channel for cannabis consumers and a more informal source of reviews, which can also make it especially powerful for your brand or shop. Cannabis enthusiasts often take to Reddit to review everything from individual products to product categories to cannabis businesses. This thriving cannabis community may be difficult to tap into, as much of these customer reviews are anonymous, but getting a thumbs up from this discerning crowd can be a big boon to your business.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you’re not sure where else to look for customer reviews about businesses like yours, ask some of your customers where they go for reliable information. You may find a new platform that suits your business perfectly.

    Customer testimonials and how they differ from customer reviews

    A customer testimonial is a positive story that’s deliberately requested for marketing purposes. When a customer testimonial is offered, it’s with the knowledge that the business plans to promote the story to grow their business. Customer testimonials are usually posted on a business’s website, rather than a third-party site.

    Customer reviews are generally offered spontaneously and can be either positive or negative, reflecting a customer’s personal experience with a particular product or service a company offers. Incentivizing customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile or on sites like Leafly or Weedmaps doesn’t make them a testimonial. 

    How to ask for customer reviews

    Some customers are motivated to leave a review on their own, but most will simply complete their transaction and go about their day, even if they were totally satisfied. Around 37 percent of customers leave reviews after a positive interaction with your company, while a much smaller percentage — around 6 percent — are motivated to leave a review after a bad experience. 

    If you’re stumped as to how to get customer reviews from more of your customers, consider the following tips to make it easier.

    • Simply ask: Most of your customers would be happy to leave a positive review of your business. All you have to do is ask! If you see a frequent customer or think a customer is particularly satisfied, ask them if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review. Explain how this helps your business refine its service and make it even better, as well as how important it is to your business to demonstrate its dedication to quality service. In many cases, customers will understand — and may even want to help out.

    • Make it easy: Simplifying the process increases the likelihood that a customer follows through. Consider displaying QR codes that link directly to your Google Business Profile or another review site of your choice to help customers quickly navigate to where they need to go to leave a review.

    • Offer an incentive: If you really want to increase the amount of customer reviews your business receives, offer an incentive and let people know about it at the point of sale. Consider providing a small discount or a freebie to customers who can show that they left a review. Even modest incentives can encourage more people to leave customer reviews. 

    • Give out free samples: Do you have a new product that you want more customer reviews for? Try handing out free samples at the point of sale and asking customers to leave a product review if they like it. Everyone loves a free sample, so you’ll already be starting off from an advantageous position.

    Most customers will be happy to offer their thoughts and feedback if you only ask. The key is to give them multiple, simple avenues to get online and put those thoughts into writing. Once you do so, the customer reviews are bound to start rolling in.

    5 customer review tips to keep in mind

    1. Set up detailed profiles on review sites

    Before you can expect to gather a bunch of customer reviews, you need to make sure your profiles are set up and thoroughly completed. That means including contact information like your phone number, email, and website URL, as well as photos that help to identify your business, products, and services. If you can include more personal information, like the names of particular managers, that can help build a stronger connection with customers as well. 

    You can’t expect people to engage with a profile that’s half-finished, so take the time to make sure yours looks great before you start asking customers to leave reviews. Remember, as circumstances change for your business, you’ll need to update these profiles too. Leaving outdated information on review sites may confuse customers and lead to a negative experience.

    2. Engage with reviewers

    Don’t just let customers send their reviews into a vacuum — engage with them by replying and keeping the conversation going. When reviewers leave positive feedback, be sure to thank them and invite them to come back. The more personalized your responses, the better. After all, these customers have gone out of their way to review your products and services. Acknowledging them and showing appreciation for their effort can go a long way to boosting loyalty and encouraging others to leave reviews as well. 

    3. Leverage negative reviews, too

    Negative reviews are also good, in moderation. Having some negative reviews can make your product look more authentic. Think about it: if you see a product with a handful of reviews and an average score of 5 stars, you may wonder how legitimate the feedback could be. However, if you see a product with many reviews and an average score of 4.7 stars, you’re more likely to accept that the feedback is authentic and the product is actually good.

    The way you respond to negative reviews can also demonstrate your commitment to improving service quality and your transparency with customers. By proactively replying to negative reviews and seeking ways to improve customer experience, you can actually build brand loyalty. And, if you’re able to offer a discount or otherwise make amends with the negative reviewer, you may even turn them into a repeat customer.

    4. Promote reviews on your website and social media

    Once you have a robust profile set up and the customer reviews are rolling in, you can promote them elsewhere as part of an omnichannel digital marketing strategy. By directing users to your review pages, you can demonstrate the valuable social proof that shows you offer quality products and services. What’s more, this can have a compounding effect that drives more customer reviews, increasing the archive of feedback you’ve already gathered. 

    5. Outsource customer review management

    If you’re thinking this all sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. Properly managing review site profiles, gathering customer reviews, and engaging with reviewers can be a full time job, especially as your footprint grows. So, if your digital marketing budget allows for it, consider outsourcing the customer review management process to a marketing agency. 

    The best marketing agencies will handle everything for you, from setting up review site profiles to gathering customer reviews to engaging with users who provide feedback. You should still collect customer reviews at the point of sale, but you won’t have to do the work behind the scenes to make sure it all comes together. Instead, you can just focus on keeping your business running.

    Demonstrate customer satisfaction with customer reviews

    Your customers want to give reviews and have their voices heard, and luckily for you, their feedback can be a powerful marketing tool. By using the tips above to get more customer reviews and showcasing them in the right way, your business can become a social proof machine. Nothing convinces a new customer to buy from you like independent, authentic customer reviews that validate your products and services. Don’t sleep on customer reviews — start gathering them today.

    If you’re looking for support when it comes to customer reviews or any other aspect of cannabis digital marketing, CannaContent can help. Check out our services to learn more about what we can do for your business.