By Austin Kenyon
The 4-Step Dispensary Marketing Plan
Process-based article defining key steps for building a digital marketing and advertising strategy for a brick-and-mortar Cannabis dispensary.
Projected to reach a market value worth $66.3 billion by 2025, legal Cannabis is transforming the pharmaceutical industry. At the forefront of the anticipated 23.9% forecast growth are brick-and-mortar dispensaries. Yet to be introduced to e-commerce, medical and recreational use of Cannabis across the United States has gained favorable attention for its acclaimed health benefits and psychoactive effects.
Currently, users in states where cannabis is legal can purchase the product at dispensaries, locations where medical marijuana is prepared and provided. With more than 1,500 dispensaries located across the United States as of 2017, the question is how, in such a saturated, highly regulated market, do dispensaries develop their marketing plans safely, legally, and effectively.
1. Position Yourself for Success with a Confident Brand Identity
Before developing your brand’s dispensary marketing plan, your brand must be developed and organized. Ask yourself: does your brand have a flawless web design, catchy business name, and most of all, distinct storefront?
Take a note from successful pot purveyor MedMen whose, “Los Angeles-based Cannabis retailer MedMen has been leading the charge to bring marijuana into the mainstream” (AdAge, 2018). The Apple of dispensaries, their brand has grown as the leader in the Cannabis market over the last few years with confidence and poise, which prepared them to launch one of the most sweeping “A-List” marketing campaigns for the industry so far.
2. Choose Your Marketing Strategies Wisely: What to Avoid and Where to Invest
When it comes time to determine how you will reach your desired audience, specifically with Cannabis, there are added difficulties because most major platforms reject marijuana advertising. To bypass the strict regulations and restrictions to marketing a DEA classified Schedule 1 drug, dispensaries should look to the following techniques to achieve their KPI goals:
The strategy of content marketing lies in how you curate content to share with your audience. As important as it is to sell your product, education about the health benefits of cannabis to a consumer can assist in the foundation for sustained loyalty and robust brand positioning.
SEO is crucial to any business striving to gain visitors to their site or store locations. With the added restrictions from larger platforms, SEO is a permitted and legal bypass to take advantage of while abiding by the rules. Positioning your brand at the top of a user’s search query will drive engagement and store visits.
Targeted Display Advertising
A profound way to reach the largest audience is through Targeted Display Advertising. Consider the opportunity to work with a team that offers programmatic buying and take advantage of the growing trend in Out-of-Home and Audio Ads.
Each strategy you choose will come with its own set of restrictions, and it’s vital to understand your limitations prior to creating your campaign. For a full list of restrictions state-by-state, click here.
3. Interact with Your Customers on a Personal Level
As important as it is to acquire customers, businesses with the greatest prolonged success are those that invest in their interactions and loyalty programs with customers. As part of your marketing plan, you can surely use traditional methods of retargeting and contextual targeting. However, to expand and stand out, your brand should incorporate creative tactics for capturing their attention. One method that has shown success is Text Message Marketing, where brands and customers connect and interact via SMS or a designated messaging platform.
For brick-and-mortar dispensaries, integrating these features can be challenging. So, consider using a CRM such as Spring Big, which specializes in the Cannabis industry and has a proven record of performance.
4. Nurture Your Relationships for Lasting Growth and Success
By this point in the funnel, you as a brand have an established relationship and community of loyal customers, congratulations! Now, to nurture that relationship, you must continue to interact with your customers, keeping them up-to-date on your products, services, and deals.
The optimal way to connect with your customers is through email marketing. Delivered directly to all their screens, brands can showcase new products, promotions, and brand updates knowing that the recipients are captured and invested, reducing waste. Take advantage of this effective solution and collect customer information upfront and with permission; Zero-Party Data is going to be increasingly valuable as data concerns create stricter privacy policies. Having the upper hand on an already strictly held market will position your brand for the greatest success.
Unfortunately, due to restrictions on advertising cannabis, major email-marketing platforms such as MailChimp and Constant Contact strictly reject any form of marketing via their platform, this goes with many other leading Email Marketing Services. If your dispensary is interested in using email as a part of your marketing plan, consult your preferred agency, and review their rules and policies. Alternatively, you can consider using services like Reefer Mail, which offer full-service options for dispensaries.
What do I do now?
As you begin to design your plan and check off steps, understand that all stages presented may not be within reach to execute on your own. You may need a strategic partner to aid in accomplishing your marketing goals. If it were easy, organic growth would occur at the start of opening your storefront.
The Cannabis industry is rather new and still unstable, with varying federal and local legislation restricting its use. That’s why there are going to be added challenges to initiating your campaign strategy. But there is also a plethora of opportunity for you to connect with consumers. Remember, success takes a well-thought-out strategy, a smart and organized plan, plus time.