The Blog

SEO Case Study

SEO Case Study

Have you ever wondered why some businesses get found easily on Google searches, and some do not?  Even though your cannabis, hemp, or CBD product and brand has a strong social media presence and your website is gorgeous, you’re still not seeing the traffic you’d like.  The reason that the best brands get found consistently is in part due to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

SEO tackles many of the website issues that are invisible to the naked eye.  Optimization of your website, which includes adding keywords, backlinks, and analytics to your site, are just a few of the simple ways your SEO provider will help customers to find your brand FIRST when searching the internet for cannabis, hemp, or CBD.  Cannabis Marketing, Inc. partners with the best SEO providers in the cannabis space to ensure that your website is optimized for the most traffic.

We rely heavily on analytics to show return on investment (ROI) and help you understand exactly where your website has improved.  Google ranking is one way that we can show your improvement, by benchmarking where your brand starts on Google, and revisiting month over month how many keywords you are ranking for, along with where your brand ranks in general.  People often don’t search past page one of Google, so it is important to rank for as many keywords as possible, along with ranking for your brand name itself.  Our goal is to help you become the name that people think of first when it comes to cannabis, hemp, or CBD!

Our team understands SEO, and will sit down with you and your management team monthly to review each piece of your analytic summary.  This case study for SEO shows how, through a Fully Managed SEO program, we were able to identify and correct many of the issues that were originally holding this site back from its full potential.  Because of these efforts, we were able to increase organic visitors from out of state search terms such as “best dispensary in Colorado”.  This brand’s local presence in maps and organic searches also increased significantly over the course of just one year.  The growth of their website allowed this client to feel confident in expanding their offerings to include an online store to further increase their overall sales!

Organic Increase of Users on the Website: 95.76%

Total Views on Google Search and Maps Increased 303%

Customers Visiting the Website from the Listing Increased 425%

New Users Visiting the Website Increased 175.94%

From SEO to social media to print advertising, we work with your cannabis brand to employ strategies that create results.  Our strategy includes all the modes that are compliant for advertising cannabis, hemp, and CBD, which in addition to SEO, may also include social media, radio (and soon television) for your business.  Cannabis Marketing, Inc.’s proven marketing strategy helps us to stretch your valuable marketing dollars further, while promoting your brand in a way that increases growth and ROI.

The cannabis, hemp, and CBD industry is changing every day, and our team stays on top of the newest and best forms of advertising to get your brand the exposure you need to succeed.  If you’re ready to take the next step and grow your cannabis, hemp, or CBD brand, contact us for a free consultation!

Reputation Management Case Study

Reputation Management Case Study

You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: reputation is everything when it comes to your cannabis brand.  You’ve worked hard to ensure your product is quality, that your customers are happy, and that your marketing efforts are on-point.  So what do you do about reviews?

Social Proof is the phenomenon in which consumers copy popular actions of others in an attempt to demonstrate correct behavior in a given situation.  This sounds like a very serious definition for what essentially boils down to consumers using reviews, word-of-mouth, and brand association before making a decision.  The reason this affects you and your cannabis, hemp, or CBD brand is because consumers are going to look for social proof before they trust your company, and especially before they make a purchase.  Aside from using social media to increase brand awareness and create that Human-2-Human interaction consumers are looking for, how else can you ensure that your brand is reflecting the positive social proof that will encourage consumers to not only buy, but to become lifelong brand advocates?

Reputation Management not only involves monitoring reviews for your cannabis, hemp, or CBD brand.  It means maintaining five-star reviews and helping to raise your star rating if it is below five stars.  It is responding to reviews, both positive and negative, to showcase your brand in the best possible light while addressing consumer’s questions, concerns, and accolades.  There are many different platforms for consumers to leave reviews, and monitoring all feedback about your company can seem never-ending.  With Cannabis Marketing, Inc.’s Reputation Management team in your corner, you can continue to focus on your business with the ease of mind that your customers are being responded to with the utmost care and respect.

Our case study for reputation management shows how we were able to improve a cannabis brand’s online reputation over the course of one year.  The result was more five-star reviews, more positive feedback, and more positive brand awareness across all review platforms.  Although Facebook and Google are highlighted below, we monitored reviews for all the major review platforms, such as Leafly, Weedmaps, PotGuide.com, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, and Mapquest.

In 2016, the brand was only available for review on five platforms.

By 2018, they were available for review on eight platforms, giving them more reach.

In 2016 this brand had a 4.6 rating for Facebook, which grew to 4.8 by 2018.

In 2016 this brand had a 4.2 rating for Google, which grew to 4.4 by 2018.

Overall reviews were 84% positive in 2018.

This company received only 12 reviews on average each month in 2016,
which grew to 116 on average each month in 2018.

By actively generating reviews, monitoring new reviews, and responding to reviews and questions in a timely manner, reputation management from Cannabis Marketing, Inc. helped this cannabis brand to reach more consumers while positively supporting their brand culture.  Show your customers that you care while enhancing your brand image!  Our team can help.  Contact us for your free consultation and marketing recommendations today!

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!

 

First Time Visiting A Recreational Dispensary? What You Should Know

First Time Visiting A Recreational Dispensary? What You Should Know

How times have changed…What was once considered taboo and illegal by society has now become recognized as neither by an ever-growing majority in Colorado.  Since Amendment 20 passed in the year 2000, the consumption of cannabis for medical use has been legal in the state.  On November 6th, 2012, recreational use of marijuana become legal with the passing of Colorado Amendment 64 (going into effect in January 2014).

Over four years later, we are able to enter Recreational Dispensaries throughout the region and treat ourselves to a wide variety of products.  Those who visit these establishments for the first time may feel a bit overwhelmed by the experience.  We can empathize, and want to assure you, there is nothing to fear!  As Dispensary Marketing grows, let’s take a closer look at what you might want to know before you enter a Colorado recreational cannabis dispensary for the first time.

 Before You Head Out

At one time, you had to be issued a Medical Marijuana Card, or Red Card, in order to purchase cannabis products.  Since 2014, those of us who are 21-years or older are able to have access and make purchases from recreational dispensaries with just our valid government-issued ID or license. Think of it in the same way you would visiting a liquor store to buy alcohol; no ID, no sales.  Even if you are not purchasing anything, you must be 21 to enter, and your ID must be on hand at all times.

Typically, the friendly staff at the front of the store will check your ID, maybe sign you up for a loyalty program to earn points on your purchases, and ask if you’ve been in before.  Alternately, you could have your ID checked by a third-party security guard.  Don’t worry, they are there for your safety and protection!

Lastly, don’t forget your cash.  While Colorado (and an increasing number of states) have made recreational use of marijuana legal, the Federal government still lags behind the times.  To put it blunt-ly (haha), banks aren’t willing to take the chance of handling transactions through credit or debit cards while cannabis remains illegal on the federal level.  While most establishments have an ATM on site, it is a good idea to bring cash with you, even if just to avoid the ATM fees.

 First Time Users

When it comes to recreational cannabis, two of the most popular methods of consumption are eating and smoking.  There are differences in both, and your budtender will be able to help you decide which to try first, as well as review the types of feelings (head high, body high, energy, couch glue, etc) you can expect to have with different strains and products.

Edibles are attractive due to the fact that they do not smell like you’ve been smoking, their effects can last for hours, and they are more discreet.  Edibles can vary in THC concentration depending upon a variety of factors, including how they were made and what strain was used.  It can take between one and two hours for you to feel the full effects of your dosage, so until you understand how cannabis affects you, flower (smoking) may be the safest route for first-time users.

Smoking marijuana is what most people associate with when they think of consumption.  There are different ways to smoke cannabis including bongs, blunts, joints, pipes, and vaporizers.  As a first time user, you may want to try different strains before investing into a large amount of flower, but luckily, grams and pre-rolls (joints) are inexpensive and offer you variety.  Again, don’t be shy to ask your budtender for their favorites, they are there to help you make the most of your experience!

First time and occasional users need to remember, slow and easy.  Consuming cannabis can increase anxiety and paranoia, as well as cause sleepiness.  When smoking marijuana, take a small puff and wait.  The full effect should be felt after approximately 15 minutes.  If you wish to increase the effects, take another small puff.  The beauty of legal, recreational cannabis is that you can experiment with all kinds of strains to find your perfect match!

 Types of Cannabis

In recent years, marijuana cultivation and education have increased dramatically. Different types of cannabis plants have been identified, along with the effects from their consumption.  A closer look at the three types of strains should help you to decide what you are looking to experience.

Indica: The Indica plant produces a stronger body high.  Feelings will include relaxation and sleepiness.  Uses include relief from anxiety, body pains, headaches, spasms, seizures, and stress. Strains from this plant include Kush and Northern Lights.

Sativa: The high produced from the Sativa plant is characterized as a more intense mental experience, best described as energetic or uplifting in nature.  Feelings may include creativity and energetic bursts.  Uses include relieving depression, increasing creativity, focus, energy, and feelings of at-ease and well-being.  Popular Sativa strains include Maui Wowie and Purple Haze.

Hybrid: Hybrids are another popular type of cannabis, and are a mix of Indica and Sativa strains. Due to the different benefits and effects of hybrids, these strains can be used to target the desired result for medicinal users when treating their illness.  These strains can share characteristics of both strain families evenly, or favor one plant’s benefits over another.  Hybrids will produce less extreme characteristics, but not necessarily less powerful highs for users.  You can ask for a Sativa- or Indica- dominant hybrid if one strain family is better suited for your needs over the other.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical compound found in cannabis that produces the feelings of being “high”.  You’ll notice during your visit to a recreational dispensary in Colorado that each strain has different percentages of THC content.  CBD (Cannabidiol) is another cannabis compound that offers medicinal and relaxing properties, without the feelings of being stoned.  Beginners and low-tolerance users may wish to consider lower THC levels and higher CBD levels while gauging tolerance and finding the perfect strain.  This combination is often found in hybrid strains of cannabis.

 

Here are a few of the most popular strains that you might find when you visit a recreational cannabis dispensary in Colorado:

 

Lower THC/Higher CBD leveled products

 

Indica: Aliens On Moonshine and Pennywise strains

Sativa: Harlequin strain

Hybrid: ACDC, Cannatonic, Dancehall, Harle-Tsu, and Sour Tsunami strains

 

Higher THC leveled products

 

Indica: Plushberry strain

Sativa: Jack Herer and Maui Wowie strains

Hybrid: Blue Dream, Chernobyl, and Permafrost strains

 

The Amount Available for Purchase

When Colorado first legalized recreational cannabis use, residents were limited to 28 grams of product (one-ounce) and non-residents to just seven grams.  As of 2016, non-residents are now able to possess the same amount as residents.  Because of varying levels of THC and different types of product available, the amount you can purchase will vary depending on what you buy.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in Colorado has determined that 1 oz of Flower = 8 grams of Concentrate (Shatter, Wax, etc) or 800mg of Edibles.  You can mix and match, as long as your total purchase doesn’t exceed the equivalent of 1 ounce of cannabis.

 

Consumption

Once you’ve completed your first successful visit to a Colorado recreational dispensary, you may be eager to rip open your exit bag and start enoying.  But wait!  Cannabis consumption laws in Colorado are strict, and you can get a citation or DUI for driving while high, or for smoking in public.  There are very few places where you can openly and legally consume, but laws are always changing and cannabis lounges are on the horizon.  In the meantime, keep your cannabis products sealed and out of the front seat of your vehicle.  Wait until you get to a private residence to consume, and don’t drive until you are completely sober.  Same as alcohol, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and cannabis citations are a real thing.

 

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better idea of what to expect and look for, head down to your local recreational cannabis dispensary and shop around with confidence!  Make sure to speak with your budtender in order to find the strains you are looking for.  Find yourself a proper location that is safe to indulge, and set some time aside for yourself.  Most importantly, enjoy this new era of legal recreational cannabis!

How to Grow Your Cannabis Business Using Social Media

How to Grow Your Cannabis Business Using Social Media

Traditional businesses have long used social media as a way to grow their brand, feature their products, and connect with customers.  Social media marketing is one of the lowest-cost ways to gain an audience or build a brand-new business, and has become an absolute necessity in our expanding digital world.  And though traditional businesses sometimes have to jump through hoops to achieve their social media goals, cannabis marketing is an entirely different beast.

You may have heard of (or even experienced yourself) the frustration of your Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram pages being pulled down.  You may have advertising dollars to allocate towards Facebook and Instagram ads, and have been left feeling defeated when your ads don’t get approved.

We understand!  Social media is constantly changing, and so are the rules.  The cannabis industry is new, it’s exciting, and it’s growing quickly.  Social media channels like Facebook simply have not been able to keep up with the change of the tide, and so, pages are punished when trying to feature a product or brand.  You’re at risk every day of being pulled down if someone reports your post!  On top of all that, social media is time-consuming.  You either need to spend the hours yourself to create and maintain an amazing social media presence for your cannabis company, or you need to outsource it to someone who knows what they are doing in the cannabis advertising space.

The question is: How do you create a social media presence that grows your cannabis business AND follows the terms and conditions of the social media channels you NEED to be on?  Read on!

If you’re intending on creating and managing your social media profiles on your own, there are a few things you can implement today that, with consistency and a little bit of elbow grease, will yield results.  These are Content Curation, Image Creation, and Live Video.

Content Curation


As cannabis business owners, a common strategy to get people in the door is to create amazing specials, and then blast them out everywhere possible.  Social media seems like a no-brainer!  Of course, your cannabis products and ongoing specials should be featured, but the point of social media is to BE SOCIAL.  The goal of posting anything on your pages is to make more sales, but you first must engage current and potential customers.  Engagement is the best way to gain loyal brand ambassadors; people who will tell their friends, family, and followers about you and your fabulous cannabis products.  This should be your #1 goal.

So how do you make that happen?  By posting amazing content that encourages engagement.  Engagement is simple: it’s when someone likes, comments, or follows your page or your post.  Engagement helps you to measure the ROI of your social media campaign, along with each post individually.  Repeat what works, and stop doing what doesn’t work.

You’ve probably heard this before: Content Is King.  Great content will yield great engagement.  Go to your cannabis brand’s page and take a peek at your most recent posts.  What was the post about?  Was it about your brand or a sale?  How many likes did your most popular post get?  Did anyone share a post to their followers?  Were your most engaged with posts images, videos, or links?  Content is the likely reason why you’re seeing less-than-amazing engagement on your feeds, but it is easy to correct!

Every cannabis brand is different and unique, so first, create your brand guidelines, and use these as a map for your social media content.  Create segments of social media content, and rotate your content to keep your profiles fresh and interesting.  One segment should be company-oriented, one segment could be community-oriented, and one segment could be something you are passionate about that relates to your brand.  All segments are engagement-oriented, with the goal of getting as many post likes, comments, and shares as possible.  As you go through the year, you can change up your segments to add more variety to reach different demographics while continuing to engage with your loyal followers.

When creating content, think about your customers and your brand values, and then form your social media content around that.  By using this strategy first, and implementing badass images and live videos into the mix, you’ll see your following and engagement rise organically.

Image Creation


Images for your cannabis brand don’t have to be the same-old-same -old that everyone else is posting.  Feature your brand, your staff, and your accomplishments by posting a mix of photos and professionally-created images.  A graphic designer can be your most valuable asset in setting your cannabis dispensary or cannabis brand apart from the rest!  Your goal with any image you post is to have created social media content that people can relate to, and that they’ll ultimately share with their friends, family, and followers.

Our favorite images at Cannabis Marketing Inc are those that have people in them.  And we’re not alone: People engage with and relate to images with people in them more than other types of images (up to 38% more, according to Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs).

Photos that your cannabis company could share could be your budtenders, a team-building event, or behind-the-scenes at your grow.  The more your followers see you and your staff, instead of just a logo, the more they will fall in love with your vision, your brand, your employees, and ultimately, your products.  Show your followers that you are a real-life human being, and they will trust you.  Trust equals sales and lifelong customers.  Who wouldn’t want that?

Live Video


Live video can be scary, but it’s a content piece that cannot be left behind.  Videos are flooding our news feeds, and are only growing in popularity.  People love live video because it is real, authentic, and sometimes messy.  Take advantage of this trend by showing your followers video snippets of behind-the-scenes, of you working, or of a hilarious “something” that is happening inside your business.

Besides being in demand with your followers, Live Video gets seen by far more people due to social media algorithms.  So you have the opportunity to be seen by even more people, and gain even more followers than from a typical post.  Of course, with the ever-changing algorithms, this could change at any time!

The bottom line with video is it allows people to see YOU.  So don’t hesitate to share about yourself and your brand, and film it LIVE!

In Conclusion…

By ensuring your content is on-brand, is engaging in both photos and imagery, and by stepping outside of your comfort zone and filming live, you can grow your social media following within months.  And learning the ins and outs of social media for your cannabis business doesn’t have to be something you go at alone.  The team of experts at Cannabis Marketing Inc is here for you, ready to employ the best strategies for your brand, while sharing our creativity and love of the industry with you and your followers.

 

 

Why Marketing your Dispensary is Vital to Your Business

Why Marketing your Dispensary is Vital to Your Business

Your products sell themselves, but wouldn’t you like to sell more?  Marketing your dispensary is vital to ensuring your business thrives throughout the year, and Cannabis Marketing Inc’s team of professionals is here to help.  Whether you are interested in traditional marketing avenues, or high-tech, rapid expansion, having your marketing strategy outlined and analyzed for efficacy and legal compliance is a must.  Marketing your dispensary not only gets you in front of customers more often, but helps to strengthen your brand and mission!

The daily decisions you make as a business owner can ensure your focus and drive your success.  This is why having a clear brand outline is one of the first things to address with your cannabis marketing team.

  • Do your partners in marketing understand why you started your company, the ways you want to influence the industry, and your goals in revenue and growth?
  • Do they know your mission, your colors, your fonts, and your logo variations that convey your brand in a consistent manner that also aligns with your values?
  • Are they able to adapt your strategy as you grow?
  • Do they have enough experience working with others in the cannabis industry to give you tried-and-true guidance?

Your cannabis marketing company should fit you, your personality, and your growth goals to create a lasting partnership that will yield high ROI.

There are many ways to market your business.  The tedious process of sorting through what works while ensuring you are spending your marketing dollars wisely can be overwhelming.  A cannabis marketing agency who feels like a partner with you in business helps ensure your marketing dollars are spent wisely.  An agency can free up your time and make sure your investment is focused on increasing revenues.  We dial in and analyze results to focus on the best marketing mediums for your business at all times.  Cannabis Marketing Inc specializes in these available marketing avenues for your dispensary (subject to change with legislation):

Digital Marketing

You probably see digital marketing all the time and barely realize it.  Your email, website ads, social media feed, and even blogs like this one are considered digital marketing.  Digital marketing is highly effective because people spend more and more time online.  Purchases are made after reading reviews online and seeing social proof, directions to your dispensary are found via Google, and strain information can be found before someone even enters your location.  In addition to the convenience factor, digital marketing allows for detailed analytics.  Measuring impressions, clicks, and conversions shows us exactly what works, and what doesn’t, so we can design every single digital campaign for optimum results.  From SEM to email campaigns, we can address your digital presence and ensure that it is running successfully to beat out your competitors and take the lead digitally.

Website Design and Management

Besides your storefront, your website is your customer’s first impression of your dispensary.  Your website helps to tell your story, share accolades and specials, strengthen your brand image, connect with customers, and even helps you to be found!  Search Engine Optimization is key to your dispensary being found in the sea of cannabis businesses online, and your marketing team at CMI is well-versed in making your website work for you.  Our SEO experts are top-rated professionals who will help ensure you are using the right keywords and metatags to reach your ideal demographic while improving your Google ranking.

 Social Media

Social media is a must-have when marketing your dispensary, with well over 2 billion global users, and an average of 2.25 hours spent on social media EVERY DAY!  Social media gives your cannabis business the opportunity to connect with your customers, build your brand, and share your mission.  Social media for cannabis is our expertise.  We can ensure that we employ a social media strategy that will help to increase your business, expand on your message and educate the consumer about your culture.  The team at Cannabis Marketing Inc has your best interests in mind by ensuring a multifaceted cohesive approach across several platforms.  We understand that content is king, frequent engagement works, and messaging is important for your cannabis brand.  By analyzing your most successful posts and campaigns each month, we can prove your return on investment, while continuing to create content that resonates with your fanbase.

Print Marketing

Print marketing is a huge marketing medium for cannabis, as enthusiasts look for great deals, industry updates, and new information about their favorite products.  Publications like newspapers and magazines allow you to reach your ideal demographic, if you have a team who understands the compliance factor.  Because of constant updates in cannabis advertising regulations, traditional marketing does have limits, but may yield the return you are looking for.

 Radio

Radio advertising allows you to reach your key demographic multiple times over the course of a campaign.  With advertising regulations changing constantly for your dispensary, it’s important to be compliant, while running effective campaigns that reach your key demographic.  We work with the largest stations to get you the most reach and frequency at the right price.  We are experienced in writing scripts, working with the right talent, and making your ad stand out.

 Video

Even though television advertising remains difficult for cannabis brands, you still can create memorable, hyper-branded content using video.  Using your social media presence, your YouTube channel, and a quality videographer, you can get your message out to customers while appealing to the millions who mainly watch videos online.  Online video advertising is also more widely-accepted than you’d think, with millennials choosing to watch ads instead of swiping away.  This advertising will only grow, so building up your YouTube presence early is ideal for your brand growth and recognition.  The future for video advertising on television remains to be seen.  We are actively engaged with what the rules and regulations are as they adapt to the various FCC regulations.

These different marketing strategies are not a one-size-fits-all.  Which marketing strategies will you be employing for 2018?  Let us help you create a strategy that works.  Our team at CMI is built for success; from our research to our content to our connections; we are here to steer you right.

Matching Cannabis Businesses With Charities

Matching Cannabis Businesses With Charities

It is no secret legal cannabis companies in state and local governments are continuously paying substantial taxes to the Federal Government.  The government uses this money for public needs such as schools, roads, hospitals, etc.    In Colorado alone, the Department of Revenue reports medical and retail marijuana tax and fee collections amounting to $226,157,028 from January to November of 2017.  The numbers have continued to grow year after year and will continue doing so as marijuana continues to gain acceptance as a legitimate and essential medicine.  So why won’t government funded charities take contributions from legal cannabis companies?

Making It Easier To Donate To A Good Causedispensary marketingAs cannabis businesses continue to expand, so does the desire for philanthropy.  Whether it’s large donations to local schools or re-building struggling hospitals, giving back to those in need feels good and cannabis companies want on that train.  As an expanding cannabis business, partnering with charities not only feels awesome, but is commonly seen as the next logical step in the growing process (no pun intended).  Ever since dispensaries began opening decades ago, they have been working hard to find unique and innovative ways to give back to those less fortunate in their communities.

Unfortunately, giving to charity has proven to be more difficult for our clients than expected.  As reported by Forbes, many charities simply aren’t willing to accept donations from legal cannabis companies.  Period.  In some cases, charities might be willing to consider monetary donations from cannabis companies, but only if the benefactor remains a secret.

Throughout the years, the cannabis industry has been anonymously contributing millions to their local and state charities, proving that it’s not all about the marketing and press.  Cannabis companies are just honest businesses trying to help those less fortunate.  There are numerous stories of large cannabis companies publicly attempting donations to large charities like children’s hospitals and veteran’s services.  These well-known non-profits are always willing to take the donations either through a company affiliate, or completely anonymously.  In many cases, the donations are completely rebuffed if contributed directly.  There is no way to determine the actual amount donated to charity since cannabis was legalized years ago.

Why Don’t Charities Like To Accept Donations From Cannabis?

Most charities have been dissuaded from accepting cannabis donations because of regulatory issues.  For example, Colorado Children’s Hospital states that because banks will not handle cannabis money, they are unable to accept cannabis donations.  Others claim their views do not align with those of the cannabis industry.  There is a well-known story in Calaveras County, California where the local Cannabis Alliance attempted to donate money to a depleting community school.  The prohibition-minded city council members quickly rejected the donation without discussion despite their town’s dwindling economy and poor budgeting.

Even though the rejection of charitable donations is disheartening, we are happy to report light at the end of the tunnel.  As the cannabis community continues to grow, so does public awareness and acceptance.  In San Francisco and other progressive cities, many government-funded non-profits will happily take legal cannabis donations despite the “risk” of losing their government aid.  In Denver, there are several charities eager to accept public donations for veterans, local homeless, public event spaces as well as retail outlets and parks.  So far, it has been fantastic to watch the success of these charities and to see change.  We can only expect our cities to continuously flourish because of the cannabis market.

Cannabis Donation Solutions

Is your business ready to make donations?  At Cannabis Marketing Inc., we know the ins and outs of cannabis philanthropy.  We are eager to help your cannabis company help the less fortunate of the world and we will not let the word “no” stand in the way when it comes to charity.   Call us today to find out how we can connect your cannabis brand with successful charities nationwide to make real change in your community.

 

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.