Chart: Most effective forms of advertising for cannabis businesses

Many marijuana business owners identified word of mouth and social media as the most effective methods of marketing/advertising for their companies, according to data gathered for the Marijuana Business Factbook 2017.

Small marketing budgets, restrictions on certain forms of advertising and resistance from mainstream media platforms to accept cannabis-related ads mean marijuana businesses must find efficient, alternative ways to promote their companies.

And many companies have found success by letting their customers speak for them, both in-person and online.

Here’s some additional context:

  • Although social media is proving to be an effective form of marketing/advertising, marijuana companies are still struggling to figure out what kinds of ads are acceptable on major platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. It’s not uncommon for a cannabis company’s social media page to be taken down, often with no explanation.
  • Given their lack of advertising options, many marijuana businesses have developed an internet presence, whether it be through a website or an app. Google does not allow marijuana-related advertisements on its network, though some companies have managed to avoid detection and run ads anyways. Approximately 20% of ancillary and plant-touching businesses identify the internet as their most effective method of marketing/advertising.
  • Within the “other” category, newspaper/magazine advertising was the most frequently cited form for ancillary and plant-touching companies to effectively spread their message. Declining ad revenue in traditional print media has led some publishers to embrace the marijuana industry, and niche publications targeting marijuana businesses or consumers have become more prevalent in the industry.
  • Just over 10% of plant-touching businesses don’t do any marketing, which is significantly higher than the 2.5% of ancillary businesses that don’t market their product or services. Plant-touching businesses that are not consumer facing – such as a cultivator that sells marijuana only to infused product manufacturers – may not see a need to invest in marketing/advertising efforts.

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

5 comments on “Chart: Most effective forms of advertising for cannabis businesses
  1. John Briches on

    Dispensaries can easily pmote their menu items, specials, deals, dispensary events and updates through text message marketing. Texting is sometimes overlooked as an advertising format. ROI has proven to be 10 fold. Dispensaries who text typically see a 5 to 10% increase in foot traffic for each text sent out.

  2. clifton middleton on

    Commerce can not brand marijuana, the weed was here before the dollar and will still be here after it is gone. Marijuana is an entire civilization that regulates itself …..

  3. Orest D Serwylo on

    Dispensaries have to acquire, engage and retain their “ideal customer” … hence the cannabis customer relationship marketing platform! Focus on their ideal “existing” customers and leverage them to acquire new customers … return will be 7 X times what going after new customers!

  4. Mike Tokar on

    John Wanamaker, department-store magnate, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

    That was about 100 years ago, and there are so many touch points between advertiser and consumer today, it’s even tougher to figure out which medium should get “credit” for a sale.

    Direct marketing is all about measurability, testing, process improvement and most important – attribution.

    Good, old-fashioned, printed direct mail is making a big resurgence, particularly because of it’s appeal to the haptic brain (check out Dr David Eagleman on YouTube) but also because of new integrated technologies that couple the targeted nature of the mail with the ability to track both online and physical behaviors.

    Anonymous website visitors can be retargeted and sent mail that they can review at their leisure (like retargeted pop-up ads, but without blocking the view of what you’re really trying to read online) and most importantly, make a purchasing decision at their home computer or by bringing a coupon to a store.

    Physical behavior, (where someone goes to shop, work or play) can be tracked for marketing purposes. GeoConquesting tracks mobile ID’s, and based on venues and times deemed significant by advertisers, can then get an address to send relevant mail.

    It’s a combination of Big Brother creepiness and All-American capitalism but restrained by responsible behavior on the part of marketers who just want to reach people that would want to hear from them, rather than waste half their ad budget on people that don’t.

    The tricky part in the MJBiz world is the stigma and semi-legality that still surrounds much of the business itself. Fortunately, the mail (unlike a retargeting cookie or an email) can be targeted, and sent only into those locations where it’s all legal.

    So, Yay Mail!

    Cliff Claven
    Author of “Little Known Facts”


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