Although recreational marijuana is fast becoming legal in more and more states, federal restrictions make promoting even medical marijuana a tricky and complicated undertaking.
Cannabis is listed as a Class 1 drug by the federal government. Most mainstream advertising platforms design their own restrictions around that classification. That is to say, Google and Facebook don’t care if your PPC ad is targeting users who live in a state where marijuana has been legalized. Their algorithms only take federal law into account, and if they catch any of the forbidden keywords (“cannabis,” “marijuana,” etc.) in your ad, your campaign will be denied.
So what do these restrictions mean for you as a business? It’s impossible for any business in the modern world to see any real growth without the aid of digital marketing, but what are you supposed to do when your industry is so heavily policed?
Don’t worry; there are plenty of options beyond trying to slip past the algorithms with some clever wording. And not only do these options exist, but they represent some of the best avenues for connecting with your target buyer, anyway.
Here are some tips for promoting your medical marijuana dispensary online.
Promoting Your Cannabis Business on Social Media
Any business hoping to succeed in the modern world must have a social media presence. Social media has quickly become a culture-defining experience, and your involvement on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is absolutely crucial for centering your brand in the conversation. But here’s the challenge for medical marijuana dispensaries:
Most platforms like Facebook will not allow you to advertise cannabis products through their PPC ad platform. This takes away a significant edge, as PPC advertising is the quickest way to get your brand in front of a large population of potential buyers who fit your exact customer persona.
The good news is that Facebook did finally lift its ban on cannabis-related pages, which means you can still connect with buyers by posting useful and entertaining posts and videos, engaging with comments, sharing user-generated content, and promoting in-store events. It takes a little more work to make headway with organic social media advertising, but trust us: it’s worth it. Just be careful that you’re not posting exclusively promotional content. Give the people something useful, something entertaining, or something that speaks to their values.
Email Marketing For Cannabis
Did you realize email marketing is among the digital marketing channels that offer the highest ROI? If you own a medical marijuana dispensary, this is excellent news, because email offers an easy and direct way for you to make your sales pitch without having to worry about algorithms.
That said, you still have to be smart when you send your next email blast. Save email marketing for announcing big news that creates credibility for your brand or for sharing exciting deals your customers won’t want to miss out on. Another smart move is to encourage customers to think of you as an authority and visit your site by sharing information that is relevant to them. Which brings us to . . .
We probably don’t need to tell a medical marijuana dispensary that interest in cannabis is at an all-time high. The question is: are you taking advantage of it with content marketing?
While you may be at a disadvantage when it comes to Google Ads, you do have the benefit of being an expert on a topic thousands of people are talking about. From the medical benefits of marijuana to understanding the differences between strains, potential buyers are out there searching for answers you have. Help them find you by regularly creating search engine friendly blog posts, infographics, and videos.
The added benefit of content marketing is that everything you add to your website gives you an opportunity to further optimize your other marketing channels. When you post a blog, you can share it on multiple social media platforms and email a link to your subscribers. The more you generate, the greater your visibility and the more quickly you become recognized as an industry authority.
Search Engine Optimization
Speaking of content marketing, a strong search engine optimization strategy is also essential for any medical marijuana dispensary hoping to gain more ground online.
What’s great about modern SEO is that search engines have been refined to the point where they can identify whether web content is actually user-friendly—not just whether or not it’s relevant to the search terms. Your Google rankings may get a boost when you:
- Post more video content and images
- Use short, easy-to-read sentences and transition words
- Break text into clearly labeled subsections
- Use keywords in a natural way
- Increase page loading speed
- Optimize for mobile
And these are only a handful of the many, many ways that SEO and UX go hand-in-hand. In other words, SEO does double duty of helping your medical marijuana brand show up in searches while also ensuring that users discover a quality site when they click on your page.
Cannabis Influencer Marketing
Even if platforms like Facebook prevent you from promoting your dispensary through PPC ads, you can still pay for visibility with the help of a social media influencer. With influencer marketing, a well-loved social media personality with a large following sings the praises of your brand or products in an agreed-upon number of posts or videos. In order for this marketing technique to be effective, you have to be extremely deliberate in selecting influencers to reach out to. Make sure their audience is largely populated with followers who align with your customer persona. If you get it right, the benefits can be huge, because you’re getting your brand in front of your target audience through a voice your audience already trusts and wants to emulate.
Whatever You Do, Make it Count
As the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, you do face some aggravating restrictions when it comes to marketing. The good news is, you still have plenty of options. But you have to make those opportunities count.
Because you don’t have easy access to mainstream PPC platforms, you can’t afford to be careless with the marketing channels that are available to you. Everything you do should be part of a larger, carefully constructed digital marketing strategy based on your business goals, analytics, competitor research, and audience research. You need to know exactly why you approach marketing the way you do, and you need to have a system in place to monitor your success so you can continually optimize.
It’s admittedly a lot to take on, but it’s absolutely essential to your success. If we can help, please let us know.