Spreading the Buzz: What You Need to Know About Advertising Your Cannabis Business
By: Annie Kiely
As the cannabis industry evolves, a major challenge entrepreneurs have faced are the complicated advertising restrictions.
In the United States, legislation varies from state to state. This, of course, makes it very confusing for entrepreneurs when promoting their business. What may be legal in one state may not be in another. Let alone the online marketplace.
It can be difficult to know where to begin in advertising your cannabis business.
Here are a few key points to consider when creating an advertising plan:
Each state has a set of restrictions on how and when you can advertise cannabis and related products. Generally, states with decriminalization have more lax, but more complex laws regarding advertising. Leafly has put together a great list of state-by-state restrictions on cannabis advertising. This is a good place to start your research. But, these laws are ever changing. It's important that you keep up-to-date on the changes.
In advertising cannabis products, you must be very careful about the claims you make regarding their medical impact and use. Craft your language carefully so you are sure not encouraging excessive use. Also, avoid making medical claims you cannot verify, and of course, cross reference any advertisement you are planning to run with state and local laws to make sure you’re operating in compliance.
Local and Unofficial Restrictions
Whether official or not, you also need to be careful about placing ads in local networks. Your community transit hub and local papers are a great place to advertise, but even if you’re not breaking any by-laws, you may face some community backlash, and no one needs that headache. Unofficial restrictions may not cause you legal problems, but can cost you a lot of time and effort your business can’t afford.
Tips for advertising your cannabis business
While it can be difficult finding effective options for marketing your cannabiz, with creativity and ingenuity, you can find a way. As in the past, access to cannabis tends to be best promoted through reputation and word of mouth. However, in the digital age, this means many virtual platforms have become important as well.
Word of Mouth
This antiquated notion is true, sometimes the best way to spread the word about an emerging cannabis business is to rely on word of mouth. Your strategy can be anything from offering discounts for referrals to providing free samples or even offering a special experience to influencers who can help you reach your target audience.
We all tend to think of social-media as a free for all. But there are advertising restrictions that apply to cannabis brands on social media, so be cautious. For now, give up the idea that your business can participate in paid advertising opportunities. Cannabis brands are pretty much restricted across the board. That said, social media does provide an outlet to tell your story, make connections worldwide, and promote your brand.
There are many apps such as Weedmaps that can help your cannabis business get on the map in your local city while also driving traffic to your website. Keep an eye on opportunities to be listed on these apps along with other similar data-merging technologies. By listing your business, the customers who are searching for your products or services will be more likely to find you.
Even if you have your own ecommerce site, don’t forget about affiliate sellers like Amazon and Etsy. These markets give you the ability to have your product searched by keyword. Plus, the review systems will help your popularity grow. Keep in mind though that your opportunities here will be limited to primarily cannabis accessories, educational materials, and apparel.
Though these digital outlets do provide some freedom in making a connection with potential customers, they also add some complexity.
In an age where so many successful green businesses have developed, advertising businesses has become an incredibly important aspect of a successful business. The potential boom to business means this market will soon be packed with entrepreneurs who are competing with you to develop a loyal customer base.
Familiarize yourself with local laws, and act with tact and consideration, and with a little experimentation, you’ll find the perfect medium for your business.
But always remember, with rapidly changing laws, norms, and businesses, advertising standards are something you will need to regularly research as your business develops.
Author: Annie Kiely
Annie Kiely is a freelance writer, editor and researcher who lives in the 'burbs of Toronto with her partner and too many pets. Annie is an advocate for wellness, mental health support and literacy, and spent many years working in the charitable sector. In the past few years, she has built a successful freelance business conducting research and writing services for cannabis businesses all over the world.