A strategy guide for a new dispensary, cultivator, manufacturer, extractor, or vertically integrated business.

Whether in an up-and-coming cannabis market like Oklahoma or Illinois, or an existing market like Colorado, digital marketing can be one more daunting task on your ‘start a business’ list. Yet, in this modern world, a digital marketing strategy is an important component of marketing any business. For a new business, setting up seed-to-sale software may seem like a more immediate need, but creating a long term digital marketing strategy is a key aspect of business development.

Digital marketing can be a powerful tool for driving growth, but it can also be challenging. With an ever-changing digital landscape, competing priorities, and pressure to deliver both short-term and long-term success, modern marketers have a lot to juggle. Profit, a national digital consulting firm, conducted a 2019 study with 500 growth leaders to determine the state of digital marketing. 

Of the seven most common challenges that they identify, 50% of marketers struggled with creating a digital marketing strategy. These statistics almost certainly will apply to the cannabis industry, where an added pressure of federal illegality means that digital marketers have to be even more creative when it comes to developing a strategy. 

What is digital marketing for cannabis? 

If this is your first foray into digital marketing, consider that it encompasses everything your customers might do on electronic devices or the internet: search engines, email, social media, and websites. For cannabis, what businesses are allowed to do online varies by state, but there are resources like this handy map, or site policy, that will help you determine what might get blocked or blacklisted. Even with some restrictions, marketing your cannabis business online is very possible, many businesses are already doing it successfully. 

CUE Cannabis has partnered with digital marketing agencies that specialize in helping cannabis businesses get found by the right customers. If this sounds like the right move option for your business and budget, check out our digital marketing and advertising partners. Maybe you are still investigating how to get started with digital marketing. These tips from our experts will set you on the right path.    

Create a strategy with research and forethought, don’t just jump in! 

Fully understand both the market you are entering, your competitors, and where your brand will fit before jumping into marketing. John Shute, CEO of PufCreativ, recommends conducting research in order to create a good foundation. That is why PufCreativ always executes an extensive on-boarding process with creative direction and market research at the beginning of a project so that new brands can stand out. 

“The cannabis industry is rapidly evolving every day now,” Shute says. “In order to be a long-term competitive brand in the market, there’s a ton of research and foundation that needs to take place. This is true for a new brand in both a mature or immature market. Creating a strong foundation through strategy, branding, website, SEO, social media, content creation etc. can make for a way higher conversion rate in a shorter period of time.” Therefore, make sure you don’t skimp on research and planning because it will save you time and energy in the long-run. 

PufCreative is a full-scale cannabis marketing agency with a network of services that expand nationwide. 

Implement a comprehensive digital marketing platform right from the start

The most important tool to support the digital marketing plan you’ve just created is a digital marketing platform. Some examples of what this might look like include Hubspot, Marketo, or Mantis. A comprehensive tool will not just help you with SEO and content publishing, but also include social media and email marketing features. 

Johnathan McFarlane, Director of Strategy at Hybrid Marketing says: “you may not truly need it in the beginning, but that just means you’ll be able to grow into it and learn the various tools slowly. We see many businesses that try to cobble together a patchwork of tools as they grow. After several years of that, you end up with a complicated mess that’s difficult and time-consuming to manage. We recommend Hubspot, especially because they offer extremely low-cost packages specifically for start-ups.” As part of your marketing strategy, think of where you want to grow and put the building blocks in place now to support that growth. 

Hybrid Marketing has 10 years of combined experience in branding and marketing for medical and recreational cannabis and hemp space with traditional & digital marketing solutions. 

Think big and leave enough budget

Susan Rust, CEO of 4Blooms Guru says that starting a cannabis or hemp business can be daunting, but is very doable. In her experience, most young startups are severely underfunded when it comes to growth marketing and need to think bigger when they plan for the future. “[Business owners] usually set aside a nice startup budget for a brand, packaging, and web but forget their job will be to reach a million people after they launch. Fortunately, digital marketing allows for fantastic reach but the budget still needs to be larger than they think.” That budget can go towards things like your marketing tools, paid adwords campaigns on social media, digital or print ads, events, sponsored content, and more. 

4Bloom Guru is a national branding and design agency dedicated to cannabis, hemp, and CBD-centric businesses. 

While creating a comprehensive digital strategy as part of your business launch is important. It may seem daunting, but by following these tips from our digital marketing strategists it will become a lot simpler. First, do your research and understand what other people are doing and have already done, next choose software that will scale with your business, and finally make sure you leave enough budget to cover all aspects of your plan. If you still want support with your cannabis digital marketing there are many experienced digital marketing firms who can answer your questions.