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What Cannabis Businesses Can Learn from the Sex-Toy Industry

Social media won't accept advertising from either industry. Here's the work-around.

This story appears in the December 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Any green entrepreneur knows the problem well: Major social media platforms won’t run cannabis ads. They’re shut out of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and even spammy services like Taboola and Outbrain -- the places most startups rely upon to drive sales. In response, cannabis companies often throw money at influencers, hoping to at least gain some presence on the sites. And at conferences, people in the industry ask each other, “How are you growing in a Facebook-less world?”

Sarah Grady

But the best answers may not come from other people working in cannabis. They may come from someone like Polly Rodriguez, whose company, Unbound, sells sexual health products -- another industry shut out of social media advertising, but one that’s been around longer than most cannabis companies. That means she’s had more time to work on a solution. “We all face the same barriers,” said Rodriguez, which is why she’s often invited to speak on panels with people in the cannabis business.

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