Nearly every business on the planet must devote some time and resources to marketing, and MMJ is no different. Unfortunately, there are stricter guidelines for the MMJ community, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put yourself out there and be found. Here are a few tips for marketing your cannabusiness.
1. Get on the map
Weed Maps, that is. Websites like Weed Maps and THC Finder help patients find quality medications from store front locations. Most marijuana dispensaries open in the 20 legal MMJ states are advertising on these sites, and so should you! Dispensaries can list available products, earn yelp-like reviews and be discovered via gps-based apps that allow users to find the closest dispensaries.
2. Know what you can't do
In early September, Colorado released a set of rules for it’s retail marijuana business. While these rules do not necessarily pertain to the state of Illinois – we will know in early 2014 – it’s a good idea to consider them as gold. Why? Since Colorado is the first state to declare these rules, it’s likely that others will follow suit – on all forms of cannabis.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what will not be allowed in Colorado:
- Mass media, including TV, billboards, radio and print ads, visible to audiences that might include 30% or more minors.
- Internet videos, radio shows, and podcasts that can’t be blocked off from minors
- All pop-up ads online Flyers or leaflets handed out or distributed to anyone in public – including on cars and door-to-door flyer drops
- Mobile ads or apps that anyone under 21 might download or see
- Signage or sponsorships at events where 30% or more of the audience — or passersby who could see the signage — might be minors
- Any ads whatsoever run on media outside of Colorado, including tourism publications
If it seems like that wipes out a lot of options, that’s because it does. This is where it’s important to be proactive and…
3. Build your list
Email is still a marketing kingpin, and especially so in the cannabis industry. So long as your users have opted-in (given their permission to use their email), you have free reign to load up their inbox. Resist that urge however, and send messages at key, strategic times. Keep your customers in-the-know with industry updates, products in-house, and knowledge that will help them be more informed – and loyal- customers.
When you’re ready to branch out, sponsorships are a good way to go. Find a few events that cater to the industry, and find out how you can help. Look for events that specifically target the approved conditions for medicinal marijuana use as well. Sponsorships often come with booth space, speaking engagements and panel opportunities, so the more face-time you can get with your audience, the better.
5. Branded Merchandise
When people love you, they want to show it. This may not be a big opportunity right off the bat, but once you’ve established your cannabusiness and feel out your market, a t-shirt or bumper sticker can do wonders to spread the news about your whereabouts. After all, some of the best marketing is word-of-mouth.