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]

9 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”

    • Tracy on

      Is there a free-flowing marketing channel between b2b companies in the marijuana industry, or are there restrictions?

  5. Ken Squire on

    In good times you advertise, in bad times you must advertise. A decision to engage in marketing and advertising is a commitment to being present in the market for the long term. There is a calculated degree of difficulty when the actions of a third party (government, google, Facebook, twitter) can unilaterally interfere with a strategy.

    If you believe the cannabis industry will be here for the long term (“weed was here before the dollar and will still be here after it is gone”) – then you need to engage in marketing and advertising.

    Seek out partners that support you (period!).

    Branding strategies can tactically be directed to responsible use, education, and anecdotal benefits (and quantifiable benefits are not far behind).

    Word of mouth is best – get your product (brand) in the right hands – and true professionals will share their positive experience with others in the industry. An advocate will qualify his experience as a qualified endorsement.

    Direct mail will deliver a message and make an impression – you are “putting your money where your mouth is” – clearly, you believe in your product and want to share your message. You don’t need to “blow the wad” – build organically – use digital printing and curate a quality list. Alternatively, seek out an industry publication and qualify as a USPS “ride along” – by poly bagging with the industry publication as the host – they already have a data list, publications are typically credible, and as a “ride along” the cost is typically less than a direct mail piece….. and some publications can segment their data to further target your audience.

    Print media, whether B2B or B2C have a significant role in building brands and delivering a message that remains present, gets passed along, makes impressions, and further demonstrates that you are committed to supporting your own brand / product. You are never alone in a B2B publication, you share space with an audience of like minded individuals and companies. A B2C publication lets your resellers know that you are supporting them, it makes existing customers more loyal (they feel good when they see a brand they use). A brand experience will build long term value and consumers love to pay for it (hmm, conspicuous consumption – and they like to show off a purchase they made (uh oh, you just got a word of mouth plug, an advocate)). Also important, you control the message – brand control (no chance your ad will “pop up” next to negative affiliations).

    As for social media and internet, they do have a role – however, they have the power to make negative brand impressions (loss of brand control) through intrusion and are suspect with false claims and alternative facts and “marketeers” who may just be skimming for “quick bucks” (which coincidentally, makes it more difficult for “real” companies). In some cases, it is difficult to translate the value of 100,000’s of likes from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh – if your brand or product is “killing it” in social media from these countries – you may be missing a valuable market opportunity (not!).

    Trade shows are a great way to get in front of the “right people” – but I also advise caution as trade shows can be very expensive and I have seen many “one hit wonders” fail to meet their expectations and we never see them at future trade shows – a “survival of the fittest” tactic, for sure.

    Advertising, Branding, Content Marketing (ABC) should be part of any game plan if you want to build long term value whether it be for the long haul or an exit strategy. One tactic will not change your world …… have you ever seen an ad on television, dropped everything you were doing, and responded to the ad? …. I doubt it …. it doesn’t exist – but there is efficient and proficient ways to build the brand – simply find a partner that will support you.

    the end.
    does anyone even read anymore? (just kidding – caught you!)

  6. Mike Sullivan on

    If Business owners can get their customers to opt-in to receiving their marketing communications by providing an email address, mobile phone number, or mailing address, etc, business owners can increase customer engagement, retention, and conversions (revenue) for their brands and products.

    Marketing channels such as: email marketing, SMS (Text messaging), personalized printed letters, or even push messages to their subscribers when they visit their web page can help business owners to build more connection with their customers and improve the customer experience.

    Solutions like the “Carma Marketing Hub” provide a single platform that a marketer can use to deploy marketing messages to their customers across multiple channels.

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