Do you even need to market cannabis? Surely once it became legalized in your state (for recreational and/or medical) people flocked to your dispensary to buy. But do they continue to come back? Are more competitors popping up? Is your customer base bigger than just 18 to 35-year-olds?
The obvious answer is yes, you need to market your product(s). Consumers are educated and often strapped for cash. They need marketing to play the role of influencer and push them toward what they decide to spend their money upon.
We’re going to break this topic down into two segments.
First, defining and targeting your customer base.
Second, connecting and motivating your customer base.
Understanding Who Your Audience Really Is…
Cannabis marketing is unique. While it falls into a similar vein as alcohol, it is presented with several disadvantages compared to its boozy counterpart. Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it is wrapped in centuries-old negative stigmas, and faces often confusing regulations regarding promotion.
These setbacks make cannabis advertising difficult to get off the ground, and further highlight the importance of positive audience identification and targeting. As with alcohol, the consumer market just remains bigger. Therefore, the popularity associated with alcohol allows their industry sellers a leg up when marketing to consumers. With a considerably smaller pool of potential customers, dispensaries must zero in on who is and who isn’t the right audience to target.
To understand who your target audience is, you’re going to want to start with age. This factor plays a large role within the cannabis industry as younger people are far more likely to engage with cannabis-related products. However, this does not exclude older generations from being a part of your desired target audience — they just need to be examined and segmented based on what you believe best fits your business model.
There are five generational age groups to look at:
- The Silent Generation (75 to 95-years-old)
- Baby Boomers (56 to 74-years-old)
- Generation X (41 to 55-years-old)
- Millennials (26 to 40-years-old)
- Gen Z (21 and up)
The raw outlook and perception of these five age groups vary widely and therefore pose different obstacles and necessities when attempting to market to them. It is important to start with age brackets in an effort to best categorize what type of content and platform tactics will be needed.
Once you have your audiences’ age determined, you’re going to want to dive deep into some research and build out profiles for these different groups. You’re going to need to search for answers to questions like:
- What type of Instagram accounts do female cannabis consumers follow?
- Where do Millenials like get their cannabis-related information from?
- Do men consume more cannabis than women?
- Is cannabis use a social or individual activity for middle-age users?
- What passions and interests do the youngest Gen Z consumers have?
Engaging in market research like this helps you gain a more personal view of who your target audience is. Good marketing in the modern world isn’t necessarily about having the best product or service, but instead having the right messaging that makes ad impressions feel individualized to who consumers are as people.
You’ve got to start here. Research and analyze, and then do it again. Compiling a list of identifiers for cannabis consumers and your target audience will help better improve the likelihood that when you do launch your ads, that they are reaching the right demographics.
Knowing How to Sell Your Product…
Off the bat, it begins with knowing your state and federal laws. Without this knowledge, it’s going to be more than difficult to properly market your dispensary to the public. Once you’ve got a handle on these regulations, you’re going to want to start brainstorming the type of content and advertisements that will align with your hand-selected audiences.
At this point, if you’ve properly identified your target market(s), it all boils down to content.
“Content is what connects customers to businesses. It has become somewhat of a buzzword, but content creation is the driving factor to marketing in today’s economy. Consumers are looking for informative value, and businesses need to differentiate with unique, useful content.”
- Zachary Shaw, Venta Marketing Content Marketing Specialist
So how do you devise what type of content will accurately and effectively advertise your dispensary within the industry? Well, there are a few strategies contingent upon your company and goals.
First, start by answering questions such as: “What am I trying to achieve?”
Marketing campaigns are fluid. They are never cemented in place. But from the get-go, you need to have an idea of what the singular goal of what this campaign is trying to achieve (brand awareness, lead generation, email sign-ups, etc.). After this is settled, it is easier to understand what content is need to attract your campaign-specific audience.
Next, some tactics include SEO, organic social, programmatic, email drip, influencer marketing, video, and more. The science behind this centers around the consumer — what do they like and how do they like it? A dumbed-down way to look at it is, what puzzle piece fits with the other?
Sometimes this isn’t a clear answer and requires A/B testing, but most often the educated guess is right. Is reaching the Silent Generation via organic Instagram posts about cannabis flowers going to work? I’ll bet $1000 not.
Nearly every marketing method used today is useful, but only when paired with the right consumer base. Therefore, understand how your desired customer consumes information is KEY. Video is the most popular form of content consumption today, but cannabis businesses can’t run video ads on Facebook and Google, how do I meet my target audience with this content? Maybe it is programmatic ads via Hulu or websites like CNN. Either way, content marketing is just as much about creating the right content, as it is about knowing the right way to deliver it.
Need Help Marketing Your Dispensary?
Elevato Marketing is a full-service digital agency specializing in cannabis advertising. With a team of experienced professionals, we are ready to help connect your products and services with the right clients. Contact us to see how together we can benefit your business!