Brand Experience

Crafting Creative Strategies for Cannabis Marketing Amid Strict Regulations

11 September, 2023

The cannabis industry is in its infancy, and the marketing challenges it faces are unique. From stringent advertising regulations to social media censorship, cannabis brands are forced to rethink their marketing strategies to gain visibility and build brand awareness. In this evolving landscape, Rai Cornell, Director of Marketing at Higher Yields Consulting, provides valuable insights into the world of cannabis marketing and shares strategies for overcoming these challenges.

The first step in building a successful cannabis brand is creating a unique identity. Cornell advises companies to look beyond the cannabis industry for branding inspiration, highlighting the craft beer industry as a potential source. She warns against resorting to stereotypical cannabis imagery such as the color green or a pot leaf, as these can make a brand blend into the crowd rather than stand out.

Another important factor to consider is packaging. Despite regulations around child resistance that may limit design options, packaging can play a crucial role in attracting consumers, with 36% of them choosing products based on packaging alone. Thus, it’s essential to strike a balance between compliance and creativity when designing product packaging.

When it comes to choosing marketing channels, Cornell emphasizes the importance of understanding your target audience’s preferences and needs. Instead of deciding what message to send out to the world, businesses should focus on what their audience wants to hear. She suggests creating a Venn diagram with one circle representing where your audience is most receptive to your messaging and the other circle representing your capabilities and budget. The overlap between the two circles should guide your choice of marketing channels.

In the realm of cannabis marketing, demand generation is a critical strategy. This data-driven approach aims to create a demand for your product or service by guiding potential customers through a sales funnel. Demand generation tactics may include pay-per-click ads, social media campaigns, blog posts, or lead magnets like free e-books in exchange for email sign-ups.

A segmented email list is an essential component of a successful demand generation strategy, as it allows for targeted messaging based on a customer’s place in the sales journey. Text-based marketing is also a viable option, particularly for cannabis retailers. Cornell recommends tools like Klaviyo for B2B brands and SpringBig for consumer-facing and e-commerce brands.

Traditional advertising may not always yield the best results in the cannabis industry. Instead, Cornell suggests focusing on organic strategies that build momentum over time and continue to drive results even after initial investment. This approach involves building out every stage of the sales funnel, including customer retention, which is often overlooked.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another crucial element of cannabis marketing. It’s key to ensuring your business page ranks high on Google search results, enhancing your brand’s visibility. Factors such as your perceived authority on a subject, the quality and originality of your content, and backlinks from other websites all influence your SEO ranking.

While there are various tools available to optimize content for SEO, including SEM Rush, Moz, and Conductor, Cornell advises caution when using these platforms. She explains that SEO data for cannabis-related keywords may not always be accurate due to the industry’s unique challenges.

In conclusion, while the cannabis industry faces unique marketing challenges, innovative strategies can help brands navigate this landscape successfully. By thinking outside the box, understanding their target audience, leveraging demand generation strategies, and optimizing their online presence, cannabis brands can overcome these hurdles and make a lasting impact in this burgeoning industry.