The Ultimate Guide to Dispensary Marketing
As legalization continues throughout the United States, consumers are looking to dispensaries for products that will meet their recreational and medical needs.
The community is in a massive growth phase, and legal dispensaries are becoming commonplace in several cities. Though there is theoretically plenty of business to go around, knowing how to market your dispensary can mean the difference between operating at a healthy profit or fading into oblivion as the competition intensifies.
Why Dispensary Marketing is More Challenging
Because there are laws governing how and where these products can be marketed, knowing some creative strategies can help put your dispensary on the map, literally.
In this guide to dispensary marketing, we’ll share our top strategies to make your legal dispensary the most popular in town. Having a brand that stands out from the competition requires thinking outside the box while using your marketing dollars wisely. It can be tempting to try to do everything all at once, but a more organized and systematic approach will yield a higher return on investment (ROI) while filling your dispensary with more happy customers.
Spreading yourself too thin will exhaust both you and your marketing budget!
How to Formulate a Strategy
Knowing where to focus your efforts can set your brand apart from the competition. There’s no single one-size-fits-all solution, but all legal dispensaries have three things in common:
- They serve a local market.
- They face tight legal regulations.
- Not all media channels are open and available to dispensaries for advertising.
Given this situation, we suggest taking a primarily digital approach while being sensitive to the laws in your state. The advantage of digital marketing is that you can get local exposure, target your audience more precisely, and stretch your ad dollars farther while also encouraging community involvement.
But where do you start? And what exactly should you do? We’ve prioritized your dispensary marketing task list for you below.
Top 10 Strategies to Market Your Dispensary
Building your brand while staying within legal requirements can be a challenge, and the laws are constantly evolving. Follow these 10 steps as part of your marketing strategy, and you’ll be ahead of the competition.
No one can purchase legal products from you if they don’t know you exist or they can’t find where you’re located. By listing your dispensary in the top directories in the nation, you get two major advantages:
- People find you.
- The directories help with your website’s SEO (more on that in a moment).
To ensure you’re listed in the major directories, bookmark Marketing Expert’s home page. It has links to all the top directories, including both free and paid.
Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO helps you appear in searches that people perform on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. The way it works is that the search engines evaluate the content on your site, and when someone is looking for a legal dispensary or other products in that category, they’ll show the consumer the website that they think has the content that most closely matches what the person is looking for.
SEO can be a daunting task, and you may eventually need to hire an expert to help you increase your search engine rankings, but the number one rule to keep in mind is usability. The search engines have a goal of showing people the site that best fits their needs. Therefore, if you focus on creating content that is beneficial to consumers and providing them with a product they need and want, you’ll be steps ahead of your competition.
3. Content Creation
Having content on your website is important because:
- It helps sell your product and dispensary.
- It boosts your SEO.
In addition to describing the products you sell on your website, we also suggest creating and maintaining a blog that provides useful information to consumers. You can use your personal experience and wealth of knowledge to find topics and information for your blog. Additionally, we recommend a tool called Answer the Public to discover what people are searching for on the Internet.
Here’s how it works:
- Enter a keyword related to your field. Dispensaries is a prime example.
- Answer the Public will scour users’ search queries and share everything related to that keyword.
For the dispensaries example, one of the first questions that shows up is, “Why dispensaries was banned.” You could answer this question in a blog post and then share it with your email list or on social media.
4. Email Marketing
An email list is a valuable asset. Once you have permission to email someone, you can share information and promotions with them for as long as they grant you access to their inbox. By growing and maintaining a list, you’ll always have an audience that is aware of your presence and potentially ready to buy from you.
Further, you can continue to communicate with your email list without having to pay for each broadcast. Advanced marketers might even want to segment their list and have different content shared with medical versus recreational users. Or, you can share content that’s specific to customers that like edible products exclusively, for example.
5. Social Media
The rules and regulations for the various social media channels are different and continue to evolve. For example, until 2018 a legal dispensary couldn’t even have a searchable presence on Facebook. However, now that Facebook has slightly shifted its stance, we expect that sharing information about the industry won’t be as taboo in the near future.
Advertising is still a no-go on Facebook and other social media channels like Pinterest, but as long as you’re creating information that is informative and educational in nature, you can still create it and share it with your community.
Video is another potential avenue for getting exposure for your dispensary. You can create a YouTube channel as well as share the videos you make on your social media and website. Be careful of YouTube’s gray area. You’re not allowed to promote, but you can create and promote videos that are designed to be educational and artistic. Further, you can share content about medicinal properties.
7. Online Advertising
Though advertising on social media and mainstream media sites still isn’t allowed, you can still design advertisements and purchase ad space in specialty publications.
Some of the most popular digital sites to advertise on include:
This list is nowhere near exhaustive. For a more complete directory of potential advertising outlets, visit Ganjapreneur.com. Though it may seem like you’re limited in options for dispensary marketing, the advantage you have is that every visitor to these sites is interested in the product you provide. Further, many of these publications will allow you to limit your media buy to cities that are local to your market.
8. Product Selection
As you begin to get exposure for your dispensary, keep an eye on your reputation and how your community perceives your offering. In addition to having a wide range of consumable products, make sure you also have plenty of supplies and equipment for your community.
9. Event Marketing
Though you might be restricted with your online advertising and social media efforts, you can readily participate in a variety of community events. Consider sponsoring an event where your product can add value like a cancer walk or reggae festival. Another option is to host your own event and invite other like-minded business to participate in the festivities.
10. Word of Mouth
Many of these brand strategies have focused on getting found and attracting new customers. Don’t forget that once someone discovers you, it’s your role to delight them and keep them coming back for more. A relentless focus on product quality is the first step. From there, make sure that you have a qualified, knowledgeable and customer-driven team of budtenders that create a VIP, five-star experience for everyone who walks through your door.
Word of mouth can be more powerful than all nine of the previous strategies combined. Your reputation is everything, especially in this industry. Plus, by building a reputation of excellence, it will enhance all of your other marketing efforts. Here are some examples:
Happy customers will leave positive testimonials on review sites, which will help boost your SEO as well as foot traffic to your legal dispensary.
People who are excited about your brand are more likely to engage with you on social media, which will boost your engagement and encourage other interested prospects to seek you out.
People who have had a positive experience with your business are more likely to join your email list and open your emails. If you send promotional emails for discounts, then you’ll see your revenue grow and the lifetime value of your customers increase.
- Customers who feel comfortable with you are more likely to share feedback or ask questions that you can repurpose into content that will further engage your audience.
Create the Ideal Customer Journey
Legal dispensaries are still a relatively novel concept, and there’s a learning curve for both proprietors and the community alike. Remember to be patient with your customers and fill the role of an educator as well as a provider.