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Why We Spend Over $150K Per Month On Radio Ads

Cannabis entrepreneurs need to see the big picture instead of just focusing on tracking every click and conversion from each ad.

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If you’ve ever been pitched by a digital ad firm, you are more than likely aware that they praise and swear by precise tracking. As a result, many entrepreneurs end up shying away from running branding campaigns via traditional media like radio, billboards and print.

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Digital advertising firms advise their clients to stick to digital outlets and track every single click and conversion with the utmost accuracy. It makes sense; when you’re running these digital campaigns, you should be continually optimizing and scaling as you see success. The big thing a lot of these agencies and internal marketing teams overlook, however, is the divine power of a successful branding campaign.

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At Veriheal, we spend over $150,000 a month on radio advertising alone and a similar number on billboards. Why? They do wonders for our branding. Yet many still believe that forms of traditional marketing are dead, and many entrepreneurs would never consider purchasing ads outside of digital spaces. The CPMs are certainly not nearly as attractive as some programmatic digital advertising out there, or even comparable to the rates that can be achieved with digital pre-roll advertisements. Regardless, what we’ve been able to do through radio ads is amplify the audience that visits our website directly as well as increase our organic traffic from all keywords and organic searches where customers are looking explicitly for us. 

Amplifying organic search

Of course, people are often searching for information and services to get their medical marijuana cards, a dispensary near them, or the best strain in their city. Whatever the case, there is always a cap on the traffic a business can receive from said target keywords they are pursuing. What we saw is that we could rank incredibly high for our “medical marijuana card” keywords -- but the traffic that we saw directly from keywords containing our business name eventually outranked our target keywords by a factor of 10. How? Branding campaigns.

Through our SEO efforts, we were able to push traffic to our website using the keywords “medical marijuana card” or “cannabis consultation” and capture users who were looking for articles on the topic of medical cannabis. We have had success via online marketing efforts thanks to our dedicated team that pushes out high-quality content and the investment we have made into crafting a well designed, optimized website. 

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Yet, the majority of people are not aware that Veriheal’s service exists to help them get approved for a medical marijuana card. If people do not know about the service we provide and aren’t searching for our target keywords, then there are prospective customers who will never be reached with SEO efforts for the target keywords related to Veriheal’s services. Therefore, we saw the need to build brand awareness through traditional forms of media that target mass audiences.  

The implications here are that not everyone looks for your service, knows that it’s even available, or that their state even has a medical cannabis program. It ultimately became our duty to educate people and make it known that we can provide a top-tier service that streamlines all of their pain points, sometimes quite literally. We no longer rely entirely on a month’s given organic search volume. 

Starting a powerful branding campaign 

Initially, we stayed away from billboards and radio for many years. Being a young company, and a tech-savvy company, we believe in the power of social media, video content, SEO, digital advertising, and building a brand’s online presence. It took us a while to feel comfortable putting out billboards and ads in magazines, radio, television and other more traditional forms of marketing. 

There are thousands if not tens of thousands of different ways to get your brand and your message out. Finding the right ad-buyer and creative team for radio and billboard ads is imperative. We spoke to many agencies to find out which one would be the best fit for us. Furthermore, finding the right ad-buyer is crucial because of the strict regulations surrounding cannabis advertising that vary between states and publishers.

Creative analysis

Initially, we ran several creative types for radio including different voice talents and scripts. Our process was similar to the analysis one would do on “trackable” digital creative. We conducted A/B testing with our target audience by location on a very granular level, drilling down to state and zip code. Ultimately, we narrowed our options down to one ad that now runs frequently across the nation. Regional targeting like this is necessary to make the most of the budget allocated to traditional ads.  

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The moment we realized the power of our branding campaigns via traditional forms of media was when we saw that people were finding us by searching for our brand name - “Veriheal.” When people are typing a brand name into search more than your target keywords, that’s an indication that your branding efforts have superseded a lot of your other marketing efforts. That’s a great place to be because when you have a brand that people are searching for and they find it, they become loyal to it. We have seen all types of benefits of our brand building translate into customer loyalty. 

Destigmatizing along the way

Traditional forms of advertising like radio, billboards, and print will go a long way towards destigmatizing the marijuana industry. As more people become accustomed to seeing advertisements in traditional forms of media for medical cannabis, the more approachable and “normal” this business will become in the public consciousness. Eventually, medical cannabis will become normal to hear about. Delivering cannabis education to mass audiences through traditional forms of advertising will further educate consumers about the medical cannabis industry and what it has to offer. 

Normalization and destigmatization via advertising to large audiences is especially important for cannabis companies as consumers in more demographics are becoming more open-minded to the use of cannabis products. We are seeing more and more people who are 60 and older looking to try medical cannabis to treat their ailments. 

Making cannabis brands into household names will go a long way towards destigmatizing this growing industry. Running and tracking digital ads will, hopefully, push conversions, but we have seen traditional advertising through radio and billboards build brand awareness. This type of branding builds trust with consumers and will elevate the industry as a whole as cannabis businesses grow more authority, loyalty, and trust with mass audiences. 

Finding a balance

What we found over time was that our radio and billboard ads create a touchpoint with consumers who are familiar with us through our digital earned media. The last touchpoint from traditional advertising just solidified our presence in the market. 

Even though we can’t track every conversion that comes from our radio ads, we know that the brand awareness and brand loyalty we are building is worth the investment. Cannabis entrepreneurs need to see the big picture instead of just focusing on tracking every click and conversion from each ad. We must strive to constantly educate the public about cannabis and grow brand loyalty as this industry grows.