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4 Ways CBD Brands Can Market Responsibly Right Now

CBD already has many proven, researched healing properties, so there is no need to stretch the truth.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The COVID-19 epidemic has affected businesses of all kinds. But CBD-based businesses have seen an unprecedented upsurge in demand for their services, as more and more leaders and lawmakers declare CBD business an essential service. These tacit approvals plus the sheer realization of the value of CBD products have seen the market for CBD products soar. A new survey from Brightfield Group of consumers who have used CBD in the past 12 months shows nearly 50 percent have stocked up or plan to stock up on CBD products.

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It is safe to say that we are now presently experiencing the second major cannabis boom—much like what we experienced six years ago when cannabis first started becoming legal in markets across the country.

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Unfortunately, a few outlier CBD companies are abusing this good fortune by potentially deceiving consumers. The repercussions to brands that mislead consumers may be harsher this time around. A pandemic is no time for misleading and opportunistic marketing. In the long run, these tactics could do more damage than good to your brand. It also damages the trust for the entire CBD space, in general.

Here are a few valuable tips for responsible marketing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Stick with the facts

Here's what we know to be true: The New York State Department of Health had earlier declared that medical cannabis businesses are essential businesses that must remain functional during the pandemic. They were followed by Nevada Governor, Steve Sisolak, then San Francisco and Colorado. These declarations started a slew of similar actions across America and have proven to be a catalyst for the present boom.

The pandemic has emphasized the value of medical cannabis to Americans, and leaders are beginning to realize that it is indeed a valuable health resource that tens of thousands of Americans depend on. It has also become clear to most that medical cannabis patients are the most vulnerable demographic to the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot be left stranded at a time like this.

These facts are proven and are enough ammunition in our marketing gun, there is no need to claim, as some companies have, that CBD has any direct benefits in fighting COVID-19.

According to KGW news, similar irresponsible marketing caused the Oregon Attorney General to force a Portland-based CBD store to pull down its signs claiming that CBD could help boost the immunity against COVID-19.

There is no research-based evidence that CBD products can shield anyone from contracting the virus, all we have is conjecture. Responsible marketing demands that we stick to the facts and utilize the tailwind we already have.

Dani Gordon, a Canadian doctor and author of the upcoming book The CBD Bible, writes: "Plant medicines like CBD and medical cannabis do so many amazing things that there is no need to stretch the truth or make claims that cannot be backed up, at least not currently".

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2. Play to CBD's proven strengths

Stress, panic, and anxiety are the prominent emotions in the hearts of many people in the world and most especially in countries like America, where the virus has continued to spread despite the best efforts of the government.

CBD stores and dispensaries are often caught marketing the medicinal abilities of CBD, but the reason why governments are now approving CBD products as essential goes beyond that. It is also because in a time of deep stress CBD has been recognized as a valuable de-stressor.

CBD brands need to market these innate abilities of CBD, its ability to contribute valuably to our emotional stability without the negative side effects like aggression, domestic violence, and hangovers that is common with Alcohol and a few other seeming de-stressors.

This marketing strategy is capable of opening CBD businesses up to a larger market than they are used to catering to and is also a valuable contribution to society at such an uncertain time.

3. Use technology

The invasion of COVID-19 has necessitated the development of many new technologies for product development and deployment and has forced businesses to utilize tech in ways that they had not previously thought necessary.

The need for social distancing coupled with the panic that COVID-19 has caused has made our customers reclusive and much more sensitive. How we deliver our services has become just as important as delivering them.

These realities have also increased the demand for curbside and home delivery systems in the CBD space. This is not yet legal in many cities, but as the pandemic looms we have already seen regulators in states like Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland enact curbside delivery. As we await more to follow suit, we should all be positioned to take advantage of this.

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The need to benefit from this present boom, while also paying careful attention to the sensibilities of our clients and giving them particular attention has become key. App technology is one of the easiest ways to meet both needs at once.

QualSCORE is one of the most well known CBD brands in the world, and their rise to prominence started during the last cannabis boom when they teamed up with Tech giant Xfive to create the QualSCORE app, which gathers and analyzes feedback from the customers of dispensaries, delivery services, and brands, and as a result, helps to improve marketing efforts and the whole industry as a whole.

The COVID-19 era may be the perfect time to introduce similar app technologies into our brands. This is one easy way to collect orders for home deliveries and to respond in record time to customer reviews and complaints. It is also a great way to get reviews for your brand and acquire valuable data to further improve.

4. Be socially responsible

Businesses are shut down, workers are at home and many are earning less pay or nothing altogether. Combine this with the panic in the air and you have a clearer picture of the state of society and the customers we are marketing to.

Social responsibility has always been a great marketing tool, but in the COVID-19 era, it is probably the most effective marketing tool. Many companies are chipping in to help alleviate the strain of this epidemic. Loom, the video-conferences giant has opened its Loom Pro for free to teachers and students at all levels. Nuun is sending free products to health professionals to help them stay rehydrated during their fight against the virus.

CBD brands cannot be seen as only willing to benefit from the boom without giving back. A brand that embraces social responsibility now will endear themselves to their customer's hearts long after this plague passes. Social responsibility is also great marketing and branding and more so at these times.

The size of the gesture is not as important as the gesture itself. Discounts on products may do the trick or free sanitizers and toilet rolls or any other essential product. It could be anything you are uniquely positioned to offer to your customer base.

While we savor the boom in demand for our products, we must make sure that when this plague is over, we are not looked upon as exploitative or villainous. It is the best and worst time for CBD, but there is always a way to come out strong at the end.

Stay safe and profitable.