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4 Proven Strategies For Marketing To The B2B Cannabis Industry

To stand out, your company needs a strategic, thoughtful, and targeted marketing approach.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The cannabis industry is maturing. In most Americans’ eyes, it’s no longer the reviled “gateway drug” of the Reagan years, nor is it the terrifying menace of Reefer Madness. It has entered the mainstream as an effective way to manage pain, get to sleep, de-stress, focus – just to name a few of its touted benefits – with two-thirds of Americans supporting legalization.

Jeffrey Rotman | Getty Images

For the countless business-to-consumer, plant-facing companies, there are even more ancillary businesses critical for making the industry’s sustainable, long-term growth possible. With this crowded playing field comes fierce competition as business-to-business (B2B) industry brands vie for attention and clients. 

RELATED: 5 Cannabis Industry Hiring Trends To Watch In 2020

How can these technological, manufacturing, and professional services truly stand out?

The answer lies in thoughtful, targeted marketing and PR that reflects what the cannabis industry has become and where it’s headed. Here are four proven strategies for cannabis ancillary businesses hoping to catch the eye of industry heavyweights. 

1. Post with caution, but don’t shy away from social media

Ignoring social media in today’s marketing world is akin to a construction worker leaving his hammer and nails and home. It’s a necessary channel to reach target audiences. Over 70 percent of Americans today use social media to connect with one another, digest news content, interact with brands, and be entertained.

RELATED: What Does Instagram's Ban On Vaping Influencers Mean For Cannabis?

There are many cannabusinesses that have made a name for themselves through social media channels and maintain large and engaged audiences. However, cannabis is a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government and certain states, so sharing cannabis-related content online is accompanied by strict regulation. For example, the Federal Trade Commission guidelines have led Instagram – the most popular platform for cannabis companies – to deactivate accounts that did not disclose or advertise their cannabis products with required disclaimers.

But B2B companies shouldn’t be completely scared off by the long list of rules and regulations. Until social media companies adjust their policies around cannabis, businesses just need to be more conscious of what they choose to post. There are still many creative, playful, educational, and engaging ways to share your company’s message and build a recognizable brand while staying within legal regulations. Enlisting the support of an experienced cannabis marketing team with a clear understanding of social media rules can help your company thrive, on and offline.

2. Embrace the abundant possibilities of PR

There are dozens of cannabis-specific media outlets. Industry awards and rankings seem to pop up daily. Professional and advocacy organizations associations are found in nearly every cannabis-legal state. A super active tradeshow circuit draws tens of thousands of eager industry insiders. Burgeoning B2B businesses should take full advantage of this ever-growing PR landscape.

Effective public relations campaigns can drive awareness and credibility on a large scale. The trick here is identifying which paths work for your individual company’s resources, budget, and goals – but there are abundant possibilities for the businesses that are willing to put in the time and effort.

3. Expand your network at cannabis industry events

More and more companies are seeking out best practices to navigate this evolving industry. One of the best places to connect with others and learn is at industry-focused conferences and events. On a national scale, there’s the largest cannabis B2B conference MJBizCon, as well as events from the National Cannabis Industry Association. Additionally, there's a myriad of events on a local scale that provide a more intimate and focused experience. Attendees get critical intel and education, and business leaders are given an opportunity to share their expertise, network, and meet potential customers and partners face-to-face.

RELATED: Business Ideas for Those Who Don't Want to 'Touch the Plant'

While some B2B companies certainly find value in exhibiting, there are numerous ways to get involved. You may want to investigate speaking opportunities that pertain to your company’s products or services. Or perhaps you look into sponsoring or simply working the floor as an attendee. Regardless of how you decide to participate, having a presence is better than no presence at all.

4. Don’t underestimate the value of content marketing

When it comes to cannabis, there’s a ton of misinformation – and lack of information – about the cannabis industry.. In turn, there are opportunities to dispel stubborn myths. This can be done effectively through strong content marketing, which connects with audiences through compelling storytelling, thought leadership and education. Furthermore, content marketing can boost your website’s SEO and gently encourage leads toward a purchase or partnership. Content marketing is recognized as one of the best tools for B2B marketers – 91% used this approach in 2018 to build trust with key customers.

  • Blogging is an easy and effective way to educate potential clients on your website. A blog can be a valuable tool for answering frequently asked questions about the industry and your services or products.

  • Whitepapers and case studies are an excellent way to highlight your company’s expertise, industry leadership, and client successes. When done well, a whitepaper or case study demonstrates the value of your company’s offerings with third-party examples, studies, and data to back up your marketing claims with hard facts.

  • Video is also a pivotal aspect of content marketing: it drives significant social media traffic, algorithms tend to favor them and it can be an entertaining way to break down complex issues and infuse new life into your brand.

In today’s B2B landscape, good marketing should be a priority. Unfortunately, too many businesses – with plenty of potential – let their marketing fall to the bottom of their priorities list and miss out on valuable opportunities. In other cases, companies rush the marketing process and end up with untargeted or sub-par results. This can ultimately hurt your brand and create even more work to repair the damage.

Marketing is a critical part of competing in the modern cannabis industry. There’s no shortage of marketing strategies for B2B cannabis companies to communicate their business messaging, connect with customers and partners and encourage brand loyalty, whether it’s through developing an engaging social media presence, speaking at conferences or sharing compelling case studies. The fact of the matter is, as more states legalize cannabis, there’s no better time to establish market dominance.