4 Tips for Managing Messaging in the Cannabis Industry
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Despite its growing popularity, the cannabis industry still faces tough questions from audiences who don’t know whom to trust. Recent legislation has made cannabis accessible to the general public, but after being a taboo topic for so long, it's hard for consumers to know where to get information.
Businesses looking to make a go of it in tricky industries have their work cut out for them when it comes to messaging and disseminating information. But even in a pandemic — or perhaps especially in a pandemic — there's demand and an audience eager for more.
With a bit of planning, your brand can cut through the noise and provide the clarity people seek.
Even consumers who are all in on the future of cannabis can’t keep up with everything about products, regulations and expectations. Brands operating in tricky industries like this one must think strategically about how they communicate.
In the evolving cannabis landscape, outsiders tend to view the industry as a unified whole. As leaders of cannabis companies can attest, that view is far from reality. Cannabis today exists as a movement made up of thousands of small businesses. The most successful companies answer questions about cannabis in general, but they also establish unique positions within the growing field.
Cement your company’s niche and perfect the art of communicating with your audience by mastering these tactics:
1. Develop a guide for your brand’s voice
You can’t communicate effectively if people don’t know who you are. Brands that control the narratives of their industries know how to communicate with a consistent voice. In an industry like cannabis, where the rules are still up for debate, strong brands with unique voices can get a head start on building relationships with a growing consumer base.
Cannabis Dispensary Magazine discusses the importance of defining your values to begin developing your brand voice. Take into consideration the personality of your brand. What do your team members care about beyond the cannabis industry? What role do you see your company playing in the industry’s evolution? Consider the impact you want to have on the world as you find your voice, then keep that voice consistent across audiences and platforms.
2. Educate without judgment
Longtime lovers of all things cannabis know the difference between THC and CBD, but to the masses, acronyms and abbreviations may as well be foreign languages. Speak to people on both sides, without judgment, to earn the respect of your listeners.
With so much misinformation surrounding the industry, don’t assume anything about your audience’s knowledge. Treat every question as valid. Some people are still worried about the impossible feat of overdosing on cannabis products, while others want to learn more. Even your most educated customers may have questions about new developments in the industry, so keep an open mind and develop content for aficionados of all interest levels.
Companies like Plant People are focused on educating customers and being a resource to explore the benefits of CBD. According to founder Gabe Kennedy, “Knowledge is power. Understanding the landscape and opportunities and implications of this industry allow for a safe, equitable and regenerative future. It’s important to help consumers navigate the industry through free-flowing information.”
3. Be ready to answer tough questions
If cannabis didn’t come with any baggage, the industry would have taken off decades ago. Generations of misinformation and anti-drug campaigns have painted a warped picture of what cannabis is and does in the minds of the masses. Because of the stigma, cannabis companies must learn to respond to criticism and hard questions with a smile.
Not all tough questions come from a place of ignorance, though. Investors who want to hear about potential risks deserve to know the truth about the industry’s uncertain regulatory future. Customers need to know whether their products become illegal if they cross state lines. In some cases, people willing to put money into your business could do themselves harm in the process. Maintain integrity and honesty as you address the hard questions, and never pretend to know something if you don’t have facts to prove your position.
4. Stay active in developing conversations
No matter how heated the conversation becomes, never let your company’s voice become a whisper. The churning seas of the cannabis industry will eventually calm, and when that happens, the businesses that stood strong will have a head start on everyone else. From regulatory changes to social norms, keep your brand’s voice in the conversation by posting content and engaging with others in cannabis spaces.
Don’t get confrontational if you can help it, especially with other cannabis companies. The industry will flourish if everyone works together to ensure its success. HubSpot suggests advocating for your customers and furthering your business interests from the high road; your reputation will thank you for your discretion.
Change is one of the only guarantees in the cannabis industry, but don’t let that catch your company off guard. Establish your voice, stick to your convictions and continue to educate audiences on the topics that matter.