5 Dirt Cheap Cannabis Marketing Tactics
Free Book Preview Cannabis Capital
In today's world, you don't need to be making six-plus figures to develop, launch, and maintain a high-quality cannabis marketing campaign. All you have to do is carve out some time, do some research, be frugal, and crack the whip of self-discipline.
Here are five inexpensive cannabis marketing tactics that will help you break out, earn a following, and achieve sustained success with your cannabis company:
1. Spread the word
It's Saturday night, and you’re looking for a movie to watch. Your close friend recommends movie A, while online critics say movie B. Which do you choose? Most likely, your friend. They know what you like, and they're probably not going to steer you towards a movie that’s a waste of time. The point? People value the opinions of their peers, friends, and family members more than strangers.
Word-of-mouth marketing is an effective and affordable marketing strategy for cannabis companies to exploit. First, find your customers that love your brand. Create a list of the most enthusiastic and most likely to recommend it. Then, ask your list of potential candidates to spread the word.
Some example of companies that have successfully used word-of-mouth marketing include:
Pinterest — “Pinners” post photos to share with others, who end up becoming more pinners, and so on. The company launched the Pin It Forward Campaign and encouraged users to organize boards and invite others to do the same.
Coca-Cola —The Share a Coke marketing campaign encourages people to buy more soda. How? By printing common names on the side of the cans in hopes that consumers would want to buy them for a friend or family member with the same name.
Dropbox—Early on, Dropbox increased its customer base by offering new customers (and anyone that referred them) 500 MB of additional storage space. Remember, this was all going on when cloud-based storage was just taking off. As a result, word spread quickly, and the campaign was a booming success. Today, they still offer free MB for referring new clients.
Transparency is also key. Be honest and genuine in your request —and don’t try to oversell. If you’re starting out, you don’t need jazzy campaign strategies like those used above. Speak directly to your customers and try something like:
“Hey, I’m so glad you like our product. If it’s not too much to ask would you mind telling your friends and family?”
Keep it simple, authentic, and powerful. You may even want to offer a coupon or giveaway to incentivize action.
2. Start answering questions on Quora
If you want to grow your brand through digital marketing, you need to recognize the power of organic awareness. Quora (which has 700,000+ visitors monthly) is an information-based site where people can ask and answer questions about virtually any topic. The site uses a credit-based upvoting system to ensure quality answers prevail. And, remember, Quora’s questions and answers are searchable by Google, providing free marketing for your cannabis company.
You can publish content, answer questions, and put up more money to get more exposure. Quora also attracts highly respected voices: President Barack Obama and Noam Chomsky have authored content on the site.
Before you start answering questions, you should make sure your Quora bio contains as much information as possible about your brand and experience, including:
An authentic and detailed about me section
A list of areas of expertise
A list of hobbies and interests
Your educational background
Previous companies and business experience
Links to other social media accounts
It's also important to understand that Quora uses your profile's first 50 characters as a tagline for questions that you answer. This presents yet another opportunity for low-cost marketing for your cannabis business.
By using Quora to publish cannabis content, answer questions, and describe industry practices, you can build awareness for your brand. Additionally, you can drive customers from Quora to your website by answering their questions and showing that you're an authority on the subject. Build trust with your base, and you are more likely to convert surfers to sales.
You can also use Quora to take a closer look at your targeted demographic. What questions are they asking and answering? Who are they following? Get started by creating a profile. Next, you’ll want to search for questions relevant to your industry. And remember, always be honest — people despise a fraud.
3. Use social media
First, you need to realize that you can’t be everywhere at once — at least not yet. Limit yourself to two or three channels max. You also need to recognize that many social media channels are not welcoming to cannabis companies—especially Twitter and Facebook. As a result, you need to go off the beaten path. You’ll still want a Facebook business page and a Twitter account for SEO purposes and as a form of cheap marketing for your cannabis company.
Be sure to check on the legality of what you can and cannot do regarding cannabis marketing. For example, in the last year, Facebook went from an outright ban on CBD products to allowing certain ads. The bottom-line: You want to be on these social media platforms, but cautiously, and you want to watch market trends so you can amp up your efforts when and if laws change.
Take a look at LinkedIn, which has evolved into a robust social community. And it is cannabis friendly! Cannabis marketing tactics are welcome - as they are not advertising the plant. The platform also allows you to connect with others in the industry, learn from the best, interact with your target audience, and publish authoritative content — even create videos to introduce your team, product, and brand.
Although it's not super-cannabis-friendly and a bit risky, you cannot ignore this platform's potential. Cannabis companies get shut down regularly, however, so you need to be a bit more careful if you want your account to survive.
Follow these tips to help keep your Instagram cannabis account up and running:
1. Stay cool — Don’t rock the boat, okay? Respect the platform’s guidelines and rules. Engage in respectful dialogue with your community. And don’t do anything to attract negative attention to yourself.
2. Sell nothing — Never try to sell anything! Marketing your cannabis business on Instagram is a big no-no. The mere existence of your account is the “sell.” If you promote the sales of products on your Instagram account it will get shut down, end of story. You cannot link to your own website that sells cannabis products, either. You need to get more creative — link instead to an educational article or branded gear on your blog.
3. Avoid consumption media — Never post any videos, images, or audio of someone consuming cannabis at the risk of getting shut down.
4. Post an age requirement — Post an age requirement (“For 21 and older”) to show Instagram you respect their guidelines and rules.
Once you start building a decent follower base on Instagram, set the account to private to further protect yourself from being shut down.
4. Create a blog
By their very nature, blogs allow you to talk about anything you want. But it’s a good idea to discuss subjects that you're passionate about in relation to cannabis. And you will want to maintain a consistent posting schedule. This lets your audience know your blog is alive (people always want fresh content).
Some of the most popular blogging sites include:
WordPress — With WordPress, all you have to do is sign up for an account, and you will be blogging in minutes.
Wix — With packages ranging from $0 to $18 per month, what makes Wix stand out is its wide selection of optimized themes and features.
Blogger — Owned by Google, Blogger is the easiest blogging package to set up, especially since doing so is lightning quick through your Google account. You can use a custom domain if you'd like but at extra cost. These are but a few of the many blogging platforms available. Go with whatever works for you, but keep in mind that the platform should be: user-friendly, accessible, fast, and provide good features for your blogging/promoting needs.
If your content is good and informative, your audience will grow and even look forward to your posts. You can also post educational articles, link to products or business partners, run advertisements for additional revenue (assuming your blog gets the hits), and engage directly with your audience. More than just a cheap cannabis marketing tactic, blogs are essential for linking and SEO purposes.
5. Gather testimonials
Do you know what's great about testimonials? They have a real impact, and they never go out of style. To this day, I still feel a great sense of pride whenever I read a testimonial about my company.
Beyond giving you an ego boost, testimonials provide validity to your product and brand. So, ask satisfied customers if they wouldn't mind writing a few lines about their experience with your company.
Here are some examples of companies that use testimonials effectively to increase brand awareness:
Here are some examples of companies that use testimonials effectively to increase brand awareness:
Hubspot — Hubspot uses a combination of case studies and testimonials to deliver a powerful marketing punch that conveys their experience and expertise to potential clients.
Patagonia — Clothing brand Patagonia has a Worn to Wear Stories page where customers can upload stories (with pictures), detailing their adventures wearing the brand’s apparel or gear — slow clap.
Codeacademy — Codeacademy transforms testimonials into approachable, trusted, informative reviews that bolster their brand and add a human connection. The Codeacademy Stories page includes pictures, locations, and other details that add weight to the testimonials.
When used correctly, testimonials can add legitimacy and value to your product or brand. At a minimum, they indicate to other consumers, Hey, this company’s okay…
If you’re looking to market your cannabis business without spending a fortune, rest assured. You have a variety of tactics to choose from.
Don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated. Start slowly by focusing on a few strategies. Then, expand your marketing efforts as your business evolves. And remember, when in doubt, focus on the customer.