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3 Things You Need to Know Before Marketing Your Cannabis Products

3 Things You Need to Know Before Marketing Your Cannabis Products

Placing your brand in front of your current and potential customers is a smart move for any business; IF you’re ready.  In the cannabis world, it is especially important to stay top of mind in our community.  The competitive nature of the business can hold many cannabis companies back from reaching their full potential.  That is where cannabis marketing comes into play.  If you own a dispensary or cannabis brand, you will, at some point, want to deploy an advertising strategy. Are you considering starting or expanding your cannabis marketing efforts? If so, consider these three things before you begin: Planning, Branding, and Partnering with the right agency.

Is Your Cannabis Business Ready for Big Growth?

The cannabis industry is continually growing.  The fact that the entire cannabis market is working well in states where it is legalized means there is tons of opportunity for brands and storefronts alike.  When your business implements a strategic marketing strategy, there is no doubt your company will grow rapidly.  That’s why we always suggest having a solid plan in place to prepare for your growth.

Some of the marketing outlets we have found to be highly successful when marketing your cannabis business are social media, radio, email, and blogs.  When you implement a full-circle strategy for your cannabis brand with a team of experts, your business has the opportunity to double within 6 months!  If you own a dispensary or brand, ask yourself: Can your current structure support twice the business it supports now?  Is your location and staff large enough for the influx of customers?  These are just two things to think about before seeking out a successful Cannabis Marketing Agency like CMI.

Is Your Cannabis Brand Ready to be Consistent?

Branding

As the cannabis industry continues to shift from a strictly medical focus to one that includes all adults over the age of 21, the requirements for truly effective marketing strategies are in a constant state of change.  Educating cannabis medical patients is very different than creating an appealing advertisement for the recreational cannabis user.  If your cannabis brand can identify specific consumer segments and tailor your branding and marketing strategies to reflect the priorities and preferences of those groups, you’ll be in the best position to compete as the market grows and matures.

Once your cannabis brand has established your niche within your market, a branding strategy can be created.  Utilizing a cannabis marketing agency like CMI is a smart idea to keep your brand unique.  We know that when you have a branding strategy that consistently forms emotional relationships with customers, that bond converts to both income and long-term company value, which will make your marketing dollars go further as you begin or expand your advertising campaign.

Vetting Out the Right Cannabis Marketing Agency

The emergence of so many cannabis brands and dispensaries has increased the need for effective and compliant marketing strategies.  The only way to stand out in the crowd is to incorporate innovative and unique ideas to keep your brand relevant in your space.  Utilizing an experienced and successful cannabis marketing agency is key.  We would like to share some important qualifications to look for when vetting out a marketing agency for your cannabis brand.

Does the agency have a team?

Successful cannabis marketing agencies like CMI are staffed with marketing experts that hold various skills.  Each member of our team is specialized in a specific channel or aspect of marketing.  We know there is always added value when you work with a team as opposed to a singular person.  Did you know that according to the 2017 Creative Industry Report, 68% of in-house marketing teams partner with external agencies?  Partnering with an agency will allow your employees to stick to their core strengths instead of having to learn new techniques that are uncomfortable or outside their wheelhouse.

Hiring a team of qualified, experienced marketers is a strong business decision.  If you hired one person to handle your marketing, you will have to pay that person a solid wage to get the quality of work that is expected for return on your investment.  A quality marketing agency will have an entire team of specialists for the price you pay each month.  Not to mention, these specialists are qualified and already have the experience to ensure ultimate results.  Agencies like Cannabis Marketing, Inc. have already worked with businesses like yours. This means they will more easily understand your needs and know how to fulfill them.  Their processes are proven and high-quality work is the result.

Good Agencies are Driven by Results.

High-quality cannabis agencies will always share data and analytics gathered throughout your marketing campaigns with you.  The data collected will be continuously assessed and monitored to ensure the best results possible, and transparency will be key to your success.  These insights help to draw the right conclusions to drive the right outcomes.  At Cannabis Marketing, Inc. we are proud to produce exceptional results, and won’t hesitate to share your results with you on a monthly basis. Here are some of our case studies which show our growth patterns for previous clients.

Does Your Cannabis Agency Do It All?

As the cannabis industry competition continues to grow, utilizing multiple outlets for your advertising is imperative to your success.  Find an agency that considers itself “full service”.  This indicates that there isn’t anything they can’t do!  Cannabis regulations are becoming less strict all of the time, allowing you to reach more people than ever before.  An agency that can create a full-circle campaign for your business is the best option out there.  You want your message to be consistent and presented to your customers through several different channels, from radio advertisements to social media contests, and the agency you choose to work with should be able to handle it all. Click here to see a list of the services offered at Cannabis Marketing, Inc.

If your cannabis brand or dispensary is ready for some serious growth, it’s time to implement a cannabis marketing strategy that works!  The experts here at CMI are ready to grow with you.  For a free consultation, please contact us at 719-219-3575, or fill out this form.  

Social Media Case Study

Social Media Case Study

Your cannabis, hemp, or CBD business is doing well, but you know that there is more of the market that you haven’t yet tapped.  You have worked hard to get your business off the ground, and you know that spending money to move to the next level is necessary, but it’s also scary.  Marketing companies are everywhere, and when you’re trying to get the word out about your cannabis business, it may seem like they are a dime a dozen.  You probably get contacted weekly (or even daily) from marketing companies that you’ve never heard of, promising this result or that, but how do you know that what they claim is truth?

Analytics don’t lie, and Cannabis Marketing, Inc. is serious about providing results.  That’s why we benchmark where our clients start out when they come aboard, and provide monthly and year-over-year analytics to show where their marketing dollars are having the most impact.  Instead of sending reports over that you have to decipher on your own, we sit down with you and your management team to review every piece of your analytic summary.  From SEO to social media to print, we work with you to employ strategies that ensure accurate tracking so we can prove results.  Our strategy includes all the modes that are compliant for advertising cannabis, hemp, and CBD, which may also include radio (and soon television) for your business.  A cohesive marketing strategy that includes all modes of advertising helps us to stretch your valuable marketing dollars further, while promoting your brand in a way that increases growth and return on investment (ROI).

Our case study for social media shows how we were able to expansively grow a cannabis brand over the course of one year.  This brand already had a social media presence, but by thinking outside the box, using tried-and-true social media techniques, creating stunning content, and interacting with their followers, we were able to increase their social media followers and engagement extensively.

Facebook followers increased 102%.

Their YouTube channel followers increased 2111% (not a typo).

Instagram experienced a 68% increase, even after removing many of their original followers who were underage.

MassRoots, a cannabis-friendly platform, saw a 35% increase in followers.

Social media helps to create and improve brand awareness, and the team at CMI focuses on increasing followers and engagement to reach the most organic audience possible.  Social media tells a story to create loyal followers and brand advocates, increases customer service access and satisfaction, and over time, will lead to increased sales.  As a bottom-of-the-funnel sales technique, social media success does not happen overnight.  Amazing content, daily touches, human-to-human interaction, and staying on top of the constantly-shifting algorithms are things that the team at Cannabis Marketing, Inc. take care of for you over the long term so you can continue to run your business.  Social media is a living, breathing marketing animal that must be nourished with consistency, passion, and knowledge of what is “allowed” per each platform’s terms.  The cannabis, hemp, and CBD industry is changing daily, and our team works tirelessly with the best modalities of marketing to create success for your brand.  If you’re frustrated by social media, and ready to take the next step in marketing your cannabis, hemp, or CBD brand, give us a call for a free consultation!

 

4 Ways to Combat Bad Press

4 Ways to Combat Bad Press

When it comes to cannabis, there is a fair amount of bad press out there.  As a highly-stigmatized industry, it seems that everyone and their mother has an opinion on the legalities of marijuana and how people should be allowed to consume, or if they should be able to consume at all.  Supporters of marijuana are hyper-aware of the wonderful qualities of this plant, both medicinal and recreational.  But if you’re on the other side of the fence, how would you be able to feel the sense of community that exists?  How do those who have never consumed cannabis become supporters of your brand?  Can we help turn naysayers into moderate supporters by our own actions?

I was reading an article this morning (check it out here) about the aftermath of the Denver 4/20 celebration in 2017.  Organizers have received a 3-year ban due to noise complaints, untimely trash removal, limited security, street closures, and unlicensed food vendors.  Although the attorney for the rally is working on appealing the ban, this event’s aftermath results in more bad press for our industry.  There are always rowdy fans at events, whether it’s concerts or sporting events or political rallies.  So why does the cannabis industry seem like an easier target than most?

In looking over the history of cannabis and how people have used this plant for thousands of years, it seems the first time it became illegal was after it was introduced in the United States, around 100 years ago.  The Marihuana Tax Act was a federal law that banned marijuana use and sales in 1937.  Since then, government agencies have worked hard to limit and criminalize the consumption and distribution of marijuana.  This doesn’t make for good PR, even with the recent leaps and bounds in the opposite direction.  With as much history as we have in treating marijuana as a criminal drug, people hold views that are not easily swayed.  We have been told for years that marijuana is a gateway drug, that it will land you in jail, that only people with no drive or ambition partake.  We in the industry know that of course this is nonsense.  But then events like the Denver 4/20 rally come along, and bad press prevails.  There are the tiniest positive blurbs online about how some of the rally’s’ proceeds went to feed the homeless, or how the park was cleaned after the event to be even cleaner than before, or how the rally is an exercise in free and peaceful speech.  In order to change the norm and destigmatize cannabis, we need these types of events to continue, while finding creative ways to combat the bad press that always seems to follow.

As a dispensary owner, you may think that you don’t have the time or the resources to make a difference in the eyes of others.  You may have enough customers and enough support to not really care about if one rally goes awry.  But the fact is that all of us collectively represent the cannabis community.  And it is easier than you’d think to make a positive impact for both your brand, and for the movement.  Here are just a few ways…

Get involved in your community!  Summertime is a prime opportunity to get outside and do some good.  Search the interwebs for volunteer events in your area, and recruit your team to participate.  Take pictures, share your experience on social media and your website, and treat it as not only a way to give back to the community you serve, but also a valuable team-building event.  The point is not to flaunt that you volunteer within the community; it’s to make your brand known and seen to those who live in your community.  Choose a different activity every quarter, and put some great press out there for your dispensary.

Donate!  We are all passionate about something that has nothing to do with money or sales or success.  What touches your heart?  What is your team passionate about?  Choose a charity to support and pledge to donate a portion of your sales to that cause.  Ask your customers to help you reach your monetary goal, and post on social media often to keep people engaged and excited about the cause.  Supporting a charity outside of your business is a great way to foster goodwill and create a more positive brand image for your business, and the cannabis industry in general.  Plus, it feels good!

Throw a party!  By throwing a shindig and inviting your customers and their families, you are opening the door to your inside world.  Of course, your budtenders are friendly and your customers are treated well.  But what else keeps them coming back?  Pricing and atmosphere alone may not keep them interested forever.  Organizing something as simple as a barbecue allows you to interact with your clients outside of the sales transaction, which is invaluable.  People support brands that they feel a connection with, and a fun human interaction goes farther than a coupon ever will.  Create a real bond with your clients, and have fun at the same time!

Educate!  People have a tendency to fear or reject what they don’t know.  Cannabis can be scary if all someone hears about is negative.  So be there for your clients.  Educate them about how to consume safely, what to expect, and rules people need to follow to consume responsibly and within the law.  Create informational videos for your clients to learn on their own.  Answer questions on social media, and start a blog to spread the wealth of knowledge you and your staff possess.  Education creates understanding and appreciation for the brand and the product.

Can you imagine if every dispensary actively supported their community, and took some steps to be seen in the mainstream as a positive influence?  How would the views of cannabis change?

When you’re ready to start your own campaign in your community, we can help!  Our team is passionate about the cannabis community, and we are ready to help you make change.  Grow with us!

Hashtag Strategy for Canna Marketing

Hashtag Strategy for Canna Marketing

Social media marketing should be a social experience.  It’s a great opportunity to grow your brand, get your product noticed, and connect with your loyal fan base.  Content is King, and utilizing popular and relevant hashtags can help every post you publish reach an even bigger audience.  Hashtags are those pound (#) symbols listed in or after social media posts.  Some find them annoying, I find them useful and fun!

A little history about the hashtag:

  • Hashtags first became popular on Twitter, although they are used on many social media platforms today.
  • Chris Messina is credited with the idea for using hashtags to group people together in 2007.
  • You may also hear hashtags being called metadata tags.
  • Hashtags can be used to expand your content reach, as well as group like-minded fans together.
  • Hashtags help you target your intended market.
  • Your content can be found more easily by using branded hashtags.
  • Hashtags can help improve SEO while building your cannabis brand.

You can develop a hashtag strategy a few different ways:

Brand and Campaign Specific

Brand and Campaign Specific hashtags are those that you would use to establish and differentiate your brand or specific campaign that you might be running.  Hashtags that you create for your own business could be your company name, your company tagline, an event name, or even a response hashtag.  It’s a good idea to search Google first to ensure that your company hashtag is unique to your business or campaign; this ensures all your hash tagged posts are being grouped appropriately.  It would defeat the purpose to utilize a hashtag that directs fans to another company or direction, so a little bit of research goes a long way.  Keep your hashtags short, about 2-3 words, and remember that it’s not necessary to use a lot of different hashtags in every post.  Again, content is everything, and it’s always better to have one engaging hashtag that people will use, as opposed to eight hashtags that no one will care about.

Hashtags help to connect a group of people who share similar ideas and feelings.  This allows you to correspond directly with people you’d like to chat with, while connecting others with similar likes.  If you’re responding to people using a specific hashtag, it can expand your reach even further.

Trending Topics

Trending topics are a surefire way to get more traction on hashtags that you use for your cannabis brand.  You can find trending topics by searching Google or Twitter for something as simple as your desired keyword with the “#” symbol to find popular topics that people are already talking about.  It’s important to remember that trending hashtags change often, so checking trends on a regular basis is necessary.  While using trending hashtags, only use those that relate to your brand and/or your content.  Spamming hashtags to try and gain a larger audience is frowned upon.  You can also use Hashtags.org (free), or Trendsmap.com (monthly charge) for more drilled-down research and utilization.

Content Specific

Content hashtags simply relate to each post’s content, and can help improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your posts.  Content hashtags help you to find updates seen by people searching for your hashtag.  These might relate to your product, the cannabis lifestyle, an upcoming event, or your specific location.  By engaging with people who are using similar hashtags (meaning liking, retweeting, and commenting), you can create Human-2-Human interaction and help strengthen your content hashtags.

The background piece of using hashtags effectively is to look at which posts and which hashtags are performing well on your pages.  One hashtag will not work for every dispensary or cannabis product, and you may see different engagement with your hashtags on different posts.  Using various campaigns and hashtags, then analyzing the results of each, will help you to determine which hashtags are worth repeating.

Send us your feedback and success stories on your social media platform of choice using #HappyHashtagging!

5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience Using Social Media

5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience Using Social Media

“The customer’s perception is your reality.” (Kate Zabriskie)

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” (Bill Gates)

“Kindness and courtesy are at the root of a positive customer service experience.” (Shep Hyken)

These three quotes simply scratch the surface of what customer service means to the success of any business.  Customers drive everything, from reviews to social proof to sales to success.  And while it would be utterly fantastic to have only 5-star reviews, and only happy customers, that is not always the reality.  This is why any business owner works hard to make sure every customer is happy, every time.

Think about the avenues in which you allow your customers to communicate with you when they have an issue.  Do they speak to the budtender and hope that there is a manager available?  Do they call or email your dispensary incessantly until they get in touch with you?  Do they write reviews on Google and Yelp that slam your business to the world?  Some of these avenues don’t give you the chance to address your customer’s problem in a manner that reflects your customer service style, which is where social media can come into play.

Using social media as an additional outlet for any unhappy client may seem counter-intuitive…Why would you want to provide yet another avenue for unhappy customers to voice their opinions?  There are several reasons that we will quickly cover: First, in our digital age, people have come to expect immediacy.  Social media is quickly becoming the ideal platform to voice concerns, post reviews, and have interactions with businesses both near and far.  Second, Millennials, (the largest demographic of consumers), don’t want to call and talk to you, sad as that may seem.  Millennials want to send you a note or an email and be answered quickly.  Third, by answering a client’s concerns for all to see on social media, you have the golden opportunity to showcase your customer service skills while turning unhappy customers into loyal advocates for your cannabis brand.

People do business with those they know, like, and trust.  Providing customer service on social media creates the impression that you are on standby; ready and willing to take on your customer’s concerns and make the situation better.  You can show that you are willing to go above and beyond, that you are human and sometimes make mistakes, and that you are there for your customers even after the sale has completed.  Even if your disgruntled client doesn’t notice, everyone else who visits your site will see the interaction.  It’s a prime opportunity to gain new clients by showing that you are someone worth doing business with!

Here are 5 tips so that you can effectively manage customer service via social media:

  1. Create a Twitter account specifically for customer service. If a customer reaches out for assistance on your main Twitter profile, respond and let them know your customer service department (@YourCustomerServiceTwitterHandle) will contact them.  Then, your customer service Twitter department can message the customer directly to help resolve any issue or answer questions.  This helps your timeline stay on focus (the focus being how great your cannabis brand is), and shows others that you are willing and ready to help.
  2. Reply to all reviews, both good and bad. Responding to good reviews is easy, so don’t ignore your 5-star brand ambassadors!  You want your happy customers to see that you appreciate their time and business, especially when they have taken the time to point out how great your product is.  On the other hand, negative reviews give you the opportunity to chat directly with a customer, apologize, and show them (and everyone else) that you are willing to help.  Bad reviews are my favorite, because they give you an inside peek into how your cannabis business may be able to improve.  A poor experience may be something you had simply overlooked, or an area where you can further train your staff.  Negative reviews also give you a chance to highlight the things that you are doing right.  Apologizing for the situation while adding in what you do well doesn’t negate the complaint, but helps other potential clients to see something more positive about your brand.
  3. Be as responsive as possible. Imagine starting a conversation with someone and they don’t answer until 24 hours later.  Annoying, right?  Make answering customer service concerns your top priority (or delegate the task to someone who will).  This shows again that you care and that you will go the extra mile.  Both huge bonuses in the eyes of your customers!
  4. Be friendly and courteous. The worst thing you can do while working with an unhappy customer is to get defensive.  Staying calm when you’ve poured your heart, soul, and energy into your cannabis brand is truly difficult when someone bashes it.  It may feel like a personal attack, but rest assured, it’s not.  The best thing to do is to take a breath, remain calm, respond politely, and remember that although your business is your livelihood, bad reviews sometimes happen. Your job is to make as many customers as possible happy; while trying to fix any issues that may arise.
  5. Include a greeting with the person’s name when possible. This helps to create that Human-2-Human interaction that your customers are looking for.  The name is also useful if there is ever a dispute in the future as to who you were conversing with.  #CYA

We hope these tips help you to thrive in the customer-service world of social media.  You can create a truly unique experience for your cannabis clients, while forming bonds with your fans that won’t be broken.