It’s no surprise that businesses across British Columbia are jumping at the opportunities being presented by new laws surrounding cannabis production and consumption.
From growing the product itself, to inventing and selling creative paraphernalia, to offering educational services, the possibilities of this burgeoning industry are endless.
The problem that many cannabis-related businesses are running into is how to get their name out there and stand out in an industry that is still heavily regulated.
In this article, we are going to discuss some popular digital marketing mediums and whether or not they are viable options for cannabis businesses.
Cannabis and Paid Digital Advertisements
Let’s start with the marketing medium that seems to be causing the most grief for cannabis business advertisers - paid online advertisements.
So far, paid ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t really an option for those looking to promote products or services in the marijuana industry as it goes against their ad policies.
The fact that cannabis is becoming legal in many areas doesn’t change the fact that the subject is still taboo for most paid ads.
Facebook (which also owns Instagram) states in their policies that ‘ads may not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs’. This includes ‘drug-related paraphernalia, such as bongs, rolling papers, and vaporizes delivery devices’. Businesses must also be cautious of the photos they use, as ‘photos of smoking related accessories, marijuana, images that imply the use of a drugs’ are prohibited.
LinkedIn isn’t too different, as their policy prohibits advertising drugs, illegal substances and related products and states ‘even if legal in the applicable jurisdiction, LinkedIn does not allow ads related to prescription pharmaceuticals, drugs or any related products or services. Ads that promote illegal drugs, highs, herbal medicines and treatments, psychoactive effects of substances, or aids to pass drug tests are all prohibited’.
Similar to paid ads on social media, Google AdWords’ advertising policy prohibits ‘recreational drugs (chemical or herbal); psychoactive substances; equipment to facilitate drug use’, making it a tough platform for cannabis marketers.
Although the lack of ability to use paid ads in the marijuana industry is a bit of a buzzkill for growing companies, there are many other ways that these businesses can spread the word and gain customers.
Despite the fact that paid social advertisements aren’t currently on the table for cannabis-related businesses, that doesn’t mean that social media can’t still be used as a great marketing tool. Many companies are building strong organic followings on their social platforms, where they are able to connect with and engage their target audience.
Content marketing is a great way for cannabis businesses to create brand awareness and connect with customers. Sponsored content articles, blogs, videos - there are tons of options out there and if you choose wisely you should be able use them to target your ideal audience and encourage them to learn more about your brand.
Cannabis companies can use earned media, like press releases and news coverage, to expose their brand to the masses and attract attention. Are you doing something newsworthy? Make sure that people know about it!
Some other ways that businesses in the marijuana industry can get noticed is by attending events, becoming a sponsor and networking.
Remember, there’s a big world out there with a growing acceptance towards cannabis, and they’re interested in hearing what you have to say! The trick is getting the right message, to the right people, at the right time.
A social influencer is someone with a strong social following, usually on a social media platform like Instagram, who is paid by a company to promote its brand or products. Typically, influencers choose to team up with brands who represent their own values and interests.
There are tons of cannabis advocates out there with a strong social influence who are ready to support growing businesses in the industry. By teaming up with them, businesses are able to expose their brand to that influencer’s loyal following.
Third Party Advertisers
Just because you can’t purchase them on Google or social media platforms, that doesn’t mean that ads are a wash. There are lots of other websites and online publications that are happy to promote cannabis products with display ads or features, many of which are dedicated to marijuana-related topics.
How Should You Market Your Cannabis-Related Business?
This list is just an overview of a handful of options for marketing your cannabis-related business. Which options to choose and how they should be implemented vary greatly depending on the nature of your business.