How Does Marketing for Cannabis Work?

Public Relations
cannabis marketing 04.28.22

Marketing is an essential function of any industry or business. A business can be a small one or a giant conglomeration – they need to prioritize marketing, irrespective of size. The cannabis industry is no different.

Does the Cannabis Industry Need Marketing?

In recent years, the cannabis industry has seen a pointed increase in demand. With many of the states in the U.S. legalizing the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, the cannabis industry is an emerging market. And similar to any other industry, the cannabis industry can benefit from marketing.

Marketing is how a business communicates its value and importance to its potential customers. It is through marketing that a business can rise above the rest in its industry. With the rapid expansion that the cannabis industry is seeing, the competition is bound to get fierce. By upping its marketing strategy, a business can build rapport with customers, ensure that potential customers become customers who keep purchasing from the business.

Therefore, marketing in general, and implementing a marketing strategy in particular, can help a business grow in the emerging cannabis industry.

Why is Cannabis Marketing Important?

While the use of cannabis and other cannabis products may be legal in several states, its legal status still remains questioned. Selling or using marijuana is illegal federally and also in several states. In certain other states, marijuana can only be sold for medicinal purposes.

The businesses operating in legal states, where marijuana can be sold for medicinal and recreational purposes, need to focus on their marketing strategies. A business in the cannabis industry can benefit from marketing in the following ways:

Educate the Public

Marijuana has been vilified by the federal government and the media for decades. It has been touted as the gateway drug to worse substance abuse. The research on cannabis and its medicinal properties still remains unknown to many people. The misinformation regarding cannabis is widespread. Therefore, the first task that marketing can help with is educating the public and correcting false facts.

Tap into Potential Customer Bases

Marketing can help businesses reach out to potential demographics. While cannabis is often used recreationally, it has several medicinal properties – including pain relief for chronic pain sufferers. There are several demographics that may not consider marijuana as an option because of the taboo that has been associated with it for decades. Marketing may help clear any apprehensions people have regarding cannabis products and the industry.

Help Potential Customers Make a Choice

One of the fundamental functions of marketing is to help the customer make a choice. Marketing helps businesses communicate with their audiences. By letting potential customers know what the cannabis business offers (CBD oil, marijuana buds, edibles, etc.)  and what sets it apart from its competitors, a business can help customers make a decision regarding the product or products they want to purchase.

Fundamentals of Cannabis Marketing

The cannabis industry has the potential to grow exponentially. Over the last several years, the cannabis industry has not only seen a rise in demand – it has also seen a change in perception. For decades, marijuana was perceived negatively by people. Currently, with a number of states legalizing the use of cannabis products, this perception is changing.

With the growing number of businesses in the cannabis industry, it makes sense for a business to focus on operating efficiently. They will need to ensure that their product meets the stipulated quality while cutting costs and improving productivity.

In the present landscape, the cannabis industry faces a unique challenge regarding its regulation and legal status. Marijuana remains federally illegal, and also illegal in several states. In other states, marijuana can only be sold for medicinal purposes. On top of these roadblocks, there are guidelines and regulations that any marijuana company will need to comply with.

In order to have an effective marketing strategy, businesses will need to focus on the following things:

Business Preparedness

Before executing a marketing strategy, a business needs to have a proper foundation. Their website, social media accounts, and content should be in proper order. It is through digital media channels that a business can generate viable leads. So their content should be optimized for search engines, and their social media handles should be engaging for potential customers.

It is not only the digital media channels that are important – the teams working for the business are crucial as well. The content may generate leads, but the team should be well-prepared to follow up on them.

Focus on Content Marketing

Content marketing is crucial in getting leads to the sales stage. By providing the audience with consistent and credible content, a business builds its brand and legitimacy. A brand that people trust can help educate the public and clear up any misconceptions about the cannabis industry. With content marketing, a brand can boost its SEO ranking, establish itself as an authority on the topic, and attract new leads.

The focus of content marketing should be on creating engaging content in the form of blogs, white papers, e-books, YouTube videos, podcasts, and various other digital media channels. With relevant and consistent content, a business can build up its reputation and improve its prospects.

Using Social Media to Extend Reach

When a business has a solid foundation to promote marketing and credible high-quality content, it should prioritize reaching out to a bigger audience or getting the word of the business ‘out there’. If the business cannot focus on multiple media channels at once, then it should focus on the channels that its prospects care about.

While creating content and posting it across multiple platforms may seem like an effective idea, it may backfire. Different media channels have different modes of operation. They have different character limits, media restrictions, and guidelines. Instead of creating a lackluster post and sharing it on all platforms, a business should focus on the platforms that can actually generate leads.

Roadblocks in Cannabis Marketing

Recent years have seen a surge in the demand for marijuana and cannabis products. With

the legalization of cannabis for medicinal as well as recreational use in certain states, the cannabis industry is a growing one. However, the industry is still quite new, and the businesses in the industry face unique challenges. Marketing is a complicated process for businesses in the industry, and they face multiple roadblocks and hurdles.

Constantly Changing Regulations

The law regarding the sale of cannabis products remains the biggest hurdle for the industry. Even though several states have legalized the use of cannabis products, there are other states that have not moved towards the process of legalization. One of the main reasons for this is pressure from the public, the government, and religious or cultural organizations. Additionally, certain states have a few caveats in place regarding the cannabis industry, including that cannabis products can only be used for medicinal purposes.

Fierce Competition

The cannabis industry is growing rapidly, and with growth comes competition. In 2019, the global market for cannabis cultivation was valued at $129 billion. In the next few years, the industry is expected to grow at a steady annual rate of 14%. With ever-increasing demand, there comes an ever-increasing supply. The future will see more and more businesses offering cannabis and associated products, and the competition is bound to get fierce.

Fear

There is considerable fear surrounding cannabis products in the minds of the public. For decades, marijuana was touted as the gateway drug to worse drugs. Research conducted since then has disproved this belief.However, people seem to still hold on to the beliefs that were widely propagated by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the early twentieth century.

Negative Perception

Through the years, the media has portrayed marijuana in a negative light. From the DARE program in schools to the vilification of people using marijuana, the culture has entrenched an anti-cannabis sentiment. The several decades of propaganda against cannabis has resulted in widespread misinformation that makes people less receptive to marketing in the cannabis industry.

Businesses face the challenge of counteracting the negative perception that people have, and of educating customers about cannabis.

How The Legal Status of Cannabis Impacts Marketing

In the U.S., individual states can create their own laws while the federal government regulates laws for the entire country. This has created a complicated situation for cannabis businesses operating in legal states.  While selling cannabis may be legal in their state, it still remains illegal federally.

Currently, the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which puts cannabis in the same category as highly addictive drugs with no medicinal value, including heroin and cocaine. However, there has been considerable pushback about the classification of marijuana, where there have been attempts made to reclassify it as a Schedule 2 drug instead. The federally illegal status of cannabis means that businesses will have to navigate a unique situation to make sure that their marketing strategies are successful.

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