Do you own a cannabis-related company? Or maybe you run a medical marijuana dispensary? Do you sell or distribute cannabis products or provide cannabis related services? If yes, then you are probably already aware of how difficult it is to advertise your business. However, as the medical marijuana and CBD business continues to explode, entrepreneurs new to the industry want a piece of the pie. But what they may not realize is how difficult it is to advertise a medical marijuana business. We break down how to navigate the world of marijuana marketing and advertising.
When most companies open their doors for business, the usual route to market is to create a website, build an online presence and start running ads to generate traffic to the website and grow brand awareness. While some of these steps such as the website and social media are the same for marijuana-related businesses, paid advertising is not an easy option. In fact, you could say it is a minefield.
Just like the alcohol and tobacco industries, the cannabis industry is heavily restricted when it comes to paid advertising and marketing. Even if your business restricts itself to selling within a state where both recreational and medical use is legal, for example, Colorado, the laws are still strict. Why? Because, despite medical cannabis laws in most states, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. This means that many businesses fear violating federal marijuana laws, which remain serious and unforgiving.
So, just how do you advertise something that is against Federal law? What options, if any, are open for a cannabis-related business?
Facebook and Instagram have very strict policies about what’s allowed and what’s not:
Google also strictly prohibits the advertising of “recreational” drugs. According to Google’s policy, it does not allow:
Restrictions like this that group marijuana in the same list as Class A drugs can be very frustrating to a legal cannabis-related business that want to share their legitimate product or service with those who need it.
Besides paid ads, there are many ways to promote your cannabis-related business.
Google does not restrict the sharing of information when it comes to medical marijuana so SEO is a great place to start to help your business get noticed. Create tons of great content that educates and informs with articles using both competitive and less-competitive keywords. Remember that people who are looking for your products or services are more likely to search in more detail than they would for other consumer products, such as shoes, for example. Therefore, do lots of keyword research and craft well-written articles around these subjects. Google rewards blogs that have depth so don’t be shy about writing long articles over 1000 words or more.
Research your target market and find out where they hang out. If you are selling a CBD product that helps sufferers with arthritic pain, join groups on Facebook or forums that attract people who may suffer from this condition. Don’t go for the hard sell as this may get you banned from a group. Make sure to contribute to discussions by sharing your knowledge and expertise and when the time is right, you can share information about your business.
One of the best places at this point to share your knowledge. Create a great video that entertains or informs and chances are people will share it.
While Facebook and Google have very strict policies, it doesn’t mean to say it’s impossible to advertise your product or services. You will need to get creative and be subtle with your wording and captions. Avoid using the word “marijuana” in your ads. Some ad companies found that by adding a hyphen between “medical” and “cannabis” allowed their ads to get approved by Facebook’s algorithm. Choose images carefully. PIck ones that are subtle and recognizable to your target market but don’t violate Facebook’s ad policy. Be prepared to spend some money while you test out different ads and combinations to find a formula that works for your business. It requires patience and a willingness to experiment.