So far we have talked a lot about marketing techniques, tips, and strategies. Things you can do to better the marketing component of your cannabis business. In this article we are going to focus on things you should not do. Pitfalls to avoid, presumptions to watch out for, as well as things that just might get you in trouble with the law even though marijuana is legalized in your state.
Marketing is almost as much about knowing what NOT to do as it is knowing what TO do.
So with all that in mind here are 6 Marijuana Marketing Mistakes to Avoid. Some points listed below pertain specifically to the marijuana industry. There are also some below that come from the wider world of marketing in general but are nonetheless applicable to marijuana marketing. In addition we also offer some solutions to keep in mind to help you avoid the below marketing mistakes.
1- Do Not Make Assumptions of Your Audience
Some in the cannabis industry still operate on the presumption that their chief clientele are the stoners as stereotyped by decades. Or at the very least people enjoy the aesthetic and humor associated with the stoner stereotype as it has long been depicted in entertainment media. Though there might be some cannabis users who can be generally recognized as fitting such stereotypes the truth is of course far more nuanced.
In truth modern cannabis users (in other words your potential customers) are an incredibly varied crowd that comes from all walks of life, preferences, and social groupings to varying ratios depending on region and countless other factors. Thus the “stereotypical stoner” is in fact a mere portion of the cannabis using population. By restricting yourself to catering to a limited (possibly dated) demographic you are simultaneously cutting yourself off from a much wider pool of possible clientele.
If you are or are getting into the cannabis business make sure you do your research. On a great many things but including (and as a high priority) your audience. Use that research to figure out who you want your target audience to be. Try to see what people are looking for and if they are finding it in the current market. What do people want and how well are they getting that want fulfilled? Is there a service or customer experience people are not getting that you have the capacity to offer? Make sure to ask yourself these questions and others like them instead of basing business decisions on assumptions.
2- Lack of Social Media Planning
Despite the ubiquity of social media in our daily lives and the obvious marketing opportunity it offers it is regardless an opportunity many companies (in all industries) miss out on. This is not to say they do not have social media presences. They certainly do but they do not use it. They simply post random or trivial things without having a real plan or strategy in place. The digital equivalent of posting a sign beside the road that says “I am here.” Just as you have a plan for digital marketing and print marketing you should have a plan for social media marketing.
Create a plan. Start by establishing your objectives. Plan out your goals as well as time frames to try and reach them. A good part of having a plan is knowing where you are going. Otherwise you’re just flinging ideas (and resources) at a wall to see what sticks.
Formulate a budget so you know what resources you are willing to commit to social media campaigns and what tools you will be able to afford. Always pay attention to your spending so you do not go over budget or- if necessary and financial circumstances have shifted since you started- can decide to make adjustments to the budget.
Construct a straight-forward and uncomplicated plan based on your objectives and the resources at your disposal. No need to make things overly complex.
3- Not Standing Out
While relatively young the cannabis industry is one that has exploded over the past decade with increasing regulations making recreational cannabis as a legal product more viable. This also means a high degree of competition. As with so many other fields and industries one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not standing out from your competitors. This will be an even more important issue to address as the years go by and more competitors enter the market.
While it is certainly possible you offer products of a quality or variety rarely found in your area the truth is this will be unlikely. Available cannabis products tend to have limited variety within a state as federal and differing state regulations restrict cannabis retailers to relying on growers and producers within their state.
But there are other ways you can stand out from the pack.
- Offer a retail experience like no one else does.
- Maintain budtenders of high quality and renown.
- Cultivate a unique atmosphere and culture both in real life and digitally.
- Promote educational and social events.
These are just a handful of ideas you can play around with as you look for things to make you stand out.
4- Losing Sight of Cannabis Regulations
A major marketing mistaking you can make is losing track of the laws and regulations pertaining to your industry. Even though a number of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use this still means there are mountains of regulations you will have to abide by. These regulations apply to the growing, procurement, selling, and of course marketing of cannabis.
Because of these regulations- especially on the federal level which still makes marijuana share space on a prohibitive list that includes marijuana and crystal meth- most major advertising firms will not touch cannabis. The most predominant digital platforms- Facebook, Twitter, and Google to name a few- will at best heavily restrict to outright ban cannabis advertising. Then there are whatever restrictions a state might impose on the advertising of cannabis.
Whether or not you are aware of these regulations they will impact you. Failing to abide by them could have severe negative ramifications for your cannabis business. Possibly even the loss of your business license.
Thus it behooves you to stay abreast of cannabis-related regulations and laws at every level. While it is still unlikely much change will occur at the federal level that still leaves state level regulations which can be much more fluid and changeable. Always keep an eye on the news regarding cannabis regulations and make sure all of your employees do so as well.
5- Not Engaging
When we say engage we mean connecting with your customers. A recurring issue with many companies across multiple industries has been one of disconnect between them and their customers. Too often customers feel their voices have gone unheard and too often they have been correct. A company that does not listen to their customers is not a company that will do well for much longer. You see it especially with older companies that have ossified and run purely on momentum from more successful days without changing in any significant way.
There are many ways you can avoid this mistake. Incorporate engagement into your social media campaigns. Host forums and chat rooms talking about cannabis. Maintain a constant social media presence so that when people post things or message you on your social media pages you respond promptly in such a way that shows you are listening to what they are saying (no one likes seeing a response that feels like it was automatic or even worse condescending to their concerns).
Outside of social media, create ways on your own websites by which people can engage with you. Set up ways for people to share positive reviews (that you can post) or voice their concerns (as well as complaints) that you can respond back to. When it is safe and feasible host events (though you can also digital events) wherein customers get to interact and talk with you.
6- Marketing with Misleading Content
A major issue with marketing in various industries has been that of misleading claims. Overpromising with possibilities or even near-to-outright lying. This can be especially problematic with marijuana products. First there are regulations as handed down by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (the FDA). Then you have the regulations from the state governments (including ones that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes). Both sets forbid any claims that can be construed as misleading or outright false regarding cannabis’ medical properties.
Any business that tries to market cannabis products in any form based on its possible health benefits does so at grave risk to itself.
To avoid such risk always check the language you use in all your marketing material including blog content, labels and descriptions of products, social media postings, as well as any advertisements.
You can still be honest about the physical effects of your products but do not in any way sound like you are trying to give a medical opinion or recommendation. Especially if it sounds like you are offering your product to treat things like insomnia, anxiety, and various other medical maladies.
Everybody makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. Hopefully with these tips you can avoid some of the worst of them when you are marketing your own marijuana product. Good marketing is about knowing your customers and then connecting with them in a way that is both honest and convincing.