Every company, from early-stage startup to well-funded businesses require marketing. But what do you do if the business in question is related to cannabis?

Cannabis has a social stigma attached to it, so much so that more than half the world’s countries still classify it as a  class B drug. With this being the case, most cannabis industry entrepreneurs are in a dicey situation.

Make no mistake. The U.S. cannabis industry is here to stay. It’s one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries. Over 50 percent of the states now allow for medical cannabis.  Nine states permit its use recreationally. Four more states are anticipated to allow for medical or recreational cannabis by the end of 2018.

To give your cannabis venture’s marketing plan a winning edge, we’ve put highlights that will help you navigate these treacherous waters.

ABIDE BY LOCAL LAWS

Always abide by the law. This should constantly be at the back of your mind, especially when dealing with something like cannabis. Make sure you set up your business only in a state that has made cannabis legal. Get yourself an attorney to guide you through any procedures that will be required. This holds good for both cannabis as a recreational drug as well as for its use as a medicinal drug. The last thing you need is a court case or lawsuit slashed over your company, or worse, the complete shutdown of it. Provide all the necessary legal documents. No one is above the law, there are no two ways about this.

There are people who love cannabis. It has changed their lives for the better, making them more creative and introspective. There are people who need cannabis. Like people who are suffering from depression or anxiety. And then there are people who must simply stay away from cannabis because they have no idea what they are dealing with. These include people like minors, who, according to law, need to steer clear of drugs. There are a lot of people out there who are raising concerns over the use of marijuana and addiction of the same among minors. Your marketing strategies have to be far from the reach of minors. You don’t want people questioning your ethics.

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UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL MEDIA LANDSCAPE

The digital marketing advertising landscape presents its own challenges – particularly when such advertisements cross states lines triggering federal laws. For example, the Controlled Substance Act specifically prohibits any advertisement that promotes the sale of a Schedule I substance, such as cannabis.  Therefore, in the eyes of the federal government, all cannabis advertising is illegal.

Each social media channel also has its own internal regulations as it relates to cannabis. Instagram, for example, prohibits any cannabis seller from promoting their business by providing contact information (phone numbers, street addresses, e-mail) or by using the “Contact Us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. It does, however, allow cannabis advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug.  Conveniently, the policy does not prohibit the listing of one’s website which would – theoretically – allow you to drive customers directly to your website where all of your contact information is provided.

Facebook’s policies are also incredibly vague. Advertising for drug-related products falls under the prohibited Content (section four) of the guidelines that you can see here: https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/

Ads may not directly or indirectly link to landing pages where people can purchase drug-related products. Your Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs. Keep in mind that you always have the option to appeal a disapproval using this form.

Meanwhile, social media platforms like Weedmaps and MassRoots, which cater exclusively to marijuana enthusiasts, have emerged, ready to take the ad dollars that Facebook, Instagram, and others are so ready to give up.

BE DIFFERENT

Your business or startup needs to stick out like a sore thumb – but in a good way. The cannabis industry, in spite of the taboos that shroud it, is picking up at a fast rate. Why should your target audience or customers choose you over other marijuana companies?

What is so good, or so different about your brand? Make sure your marketing strategies stress on how you are the differentiator. Cannabis is looked down upon by people who don’t understand it. Maybe your company can change that mindset. Or maybe your company can be the one that has the best innovative cannabis products in the market. You need to find what it is that is unique to your company – your very own Unique Selling Proposition.

RESPECT COPYRIGHTS

You would not like it one bit if someone infringes on your copyrights. The same holds good for everyone else. Come up with your own ideas. Don’t steal the intellectual property of any other industry.

CONDUCT RESEARCH AND MARKET ANALYSIS

You need to know what you are dealing with and who you are dealing with. You should be aware of what the market looks like, on any given day, especially considering that things can change overnight. Knowing where you stand with respect to your competitors gives you an edge as you will focus on your pitfalls and work on them. I cannot stress enough on the importance of knowing who your target audience is. This is easily one of the fundamentals of marketing. Know who your target audience is, and hit the bull’s eye.

CAPTURE ATTENTION WITH A GREAT BRAND AND STORY

Big companies don’t need anything – their logos do all the talking. Make sure you settle for nothing but the best when you come up with a logo for your company. Your logo should speak volumes. Try to make it meaningful. A story behind a logo adds to the human aspect, making people respect and relate to your company.

Keep these marketing tactics in mind and kickstart your cannabis business.

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