If you’re in the cannabis sale industry, you’re part of an industry that’s highly competitive. Plus, trends show that the cannabis market is an industry that is only becoming more saturated with companies. So, to cope with the competition, dispensaries are upping their advertising game. But what’s the best method of advertising? How are dispensaries attracting customers? Well, that answer lies in this question:
How are cannabis buyers finding dispensaries?
According to Marijuana Business Daily, cannabis customers (including both recreational and medicinal marijuana purchasers) are finding their dispensaries through online listings, word-of-mouth referrals, storefront advertising, social media, magazine and newspaper advertising, and tourism services. Let’s take a closer look at how people are searching for cannabis products, to better understand the most potent forms of advertisement [We’ll also cover strategic advertising in the second portion of this article.].
- Web Advertising
Most folks are using the internet to find dispensaries. In fact, according to the aforementioned Marijuana Business Daily article, over half of the cannabis-buying populous appears to be finding their dispensaries-of-choice through the internet. Becky Olson, author of the article entitled Chart of the Week: How Marijuana Patients and Consumers Locate Dispensaries, Rec Stores, notes that 51 percent consumers are using dispensary search services. She states, “Online listing services such as Weedmaps, Leafly and THC Finder are particularly popular.” Dispensaries can even post their information on Yelp to attract clients and compile reviews! Building a web presence is a must.
- Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Next up, folks are flocking to dispensaries due to word-of-mouth referrals. Olson notes, “Nearly a third of users [32 percent] report relying on word of mouth to locate cannabis storefronts.” That’s important news for retailers that strive to retain their clientele while seeking new clients. Word-of-mouth advertising speaks to the quality of a business’ product, the customer service provided, the atmosphere of the dispensary, the pricing of products, and so much more.
- Storefront Advertising
Even the storefront itself can be enough to collect cannabis clientele. “Location and the look and feel of [sic] storefront’s exterior are also important, as over a fifth of consumers are simply stopping at outlets they notice while driving or walking by.” It’s imperative to dedicate some resources to beautifying your storefront. Strive to catch the eyes of passersby.
- Social Media
Social media sways 12 percent of dispensary clientele, the Marijuana Business Daily article states. Consumers often trust social media appraisal and advertisement. Since some social media platforms, like Facebook, let cannabis dispensaries display business profiles (and advertisements), social media users can “like” and share dispensaries, which can earn cannabis businesses a following. In addition, a good social media standing will improve the visibility of a dispensary, and that can bring new clients to your shop.
- Magazines & Newspaper
Magazine and newspaper advertisements influence a further 11 percent of cannabis consumers (the article doesn’t separate these two media formats). An advertisement in High Times or Cannabis Now, might bring more clients to your doorsteps.
Olson tells us “2% of users currently rely on companies that cater to visitors in search of marijuana”—which is to say, two percent of cannabis consumers utilize “cannabis tourism” services to find their source for marijuana.
For those who don’t know, cannabis tourism is just that, tourism; it encapsulates tourism services provided to those interested in cannabis. Examples include vacation destinations, like Denver’s Nativ Hotel and The Adagio, hotel and “bud and breakfast” services that cater to cannabis consumers. In addition, cannabis tourism includes cannabis tours, like the Cannabis Tours put on by Colorado Cannabis Tours of Denver.
It’s powerful to know how consumers seek out cannabis. As a cannabis business, you can use this information to advertise strategically in order to spread your name and collect clientele. So, without further ado, let’s talk strategic advertising…
When it comes time to advertise, it’s smart to advertise in a manner that mirrors the statistics shown above. It’s smart to prioritize your web presence and advertising over your magazine and newspaper advertising. After all, it makes sense to invest time and money into a website if that’s how consumers are finding dispensaries. Take note, however, it’s also advisable not to put all of your proverbial eggs (or advertising dollars) into one basket. Advertising outlets, like advertising through a website and advertising on social media, often work hand in hand—it’s a good branding strategy to pursue multiple outlets at once. So, let’s talk about advertising through online listings, customer service (to boost word-of-mouth advertising), storefront beautification, social media marketing, magazine/newspaper advertising, and tourism, so that you can formulate an advertising plan that makes sense for your business.
- The Importance of Web Marketing
Since internet marketing attracts more than half of cannabis clients seeking a dispensary, it’s an obvious priority. It’s nearly essential to build and market a website to gain the gaze of cannabis consumers. Your website should include information surrounding your products—clients often seek out specific products and cannabis strains. Also include contact information, and of course, your location. Also, consider adding a gallery to familiarize new clients with your store, even before they visit. In addition, promote your business visibility by joining Weedmaps, Leafly, and THC Finder, some of the aforementioned dispensary search engines that Olson listed. You can also boost your web presence with a blog (like the one that you’re on!). Consider hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to improve your visibility on various search engines. Take note, however, that some search engines, like Google, don’t enable dispensaries to place paid advertisements on their search engine—a link to your business may still appear in a search query, you simply can’t purchase paid advertising space on some websites due to their policies.
- Boosting Customer Service
There are so many ways to boost customer service to earn and retain clientele. First and foremost, invest in your staff. Hire a happy, educated, professional crew to “man the ship.” You might also offer discounts to get people in the doors, or discounts for bulk orders. Perhaps you’d prefer to throw in a free shirt with an order (proudly displaying your company logo, of course). Also, be sure to offer a superior product, and keep your prices competitive. If you offer a lesser product at a higher price, clients will take their dollars elsewhere.
Consider product placement and merchandising as well. For example, if your edible sales only comprise 10 percent of your overall sales, it’s advantageous to move the edibles section away from the front of your store and highly visible, high-traffic areas. Instead, you might consider placing edible products near the registers, alongside other products that are often impulse buys. Speaking of impulse buys, it’s also wise to keep non-cannabis products on display near the register—they’ll be more accessible for customers since these products don’t have to be kept under lock and key.
Finally, consider the aesthetic of your interior. Make legible, attractive signs to display product names, strains, and other information. Invest in displays which show off your products. Make sure customers can flow through the shop with ease, and make the purchasing process clear to new clients. You might even consider hiring a guide or two to cater to fresh clients.
Placing an emphasis in customer service will impress first-time customers, which can, in turn, earn repeat clients and more new clients via word-of-mouth advertising.
- Beautifying Your Storefront
If your business is already operating, take a fresh look at your storefront. If it is bland and it blends into the surroundings, it’s time to make a change. Make sure that your business name is prominently displayed (passing drivers should be able to read your sign), and make it obvious that you operate a dispensary. Medical cannabis facilities often show a green cross (denoting medical marijuana). Other facilities simply go green, displaying a vibrant color that’s synonymous with marijuana.
If you’re opening a new business, remember that location can make or break a business. Be sure to invest in property that is highly visible and property that sees a lot of traffic. Ideally, you should lease property that is located on a street corner; you’ll have two visible store facades—effectively doubling your advertising space to passersby.
- Social Media Marketing
Make your presence visible to the masses with social media marketing. Like word-of-mouth advertising, you can passively advertise your business on platforms like Facebook. Be sure to post regularly to your profile; you can post pictures from your business, reviews from clients, upcoming events, you name it. Popularize your business through social media, and double the impact of word-of-mouth advertising.
- Magazine & Newspaper Advertising
While magazine and newspaper advertising may be near the bottom of the list for the most effective advertising platforms for dispensaries, you shouldn’t neglect that there is some potential. To quote Olson, “While only about one in 10 medical and recreation consumers report relying on printed ads at least sometimes to find storefronts, that portion has surged by 8 percentage points compared to a year ago, proving these more traditional mediums are still very effective for marijuana businesses.” That’s entirely true. However, to counter that point, magazine and newspaper advertising may be as expensive as they are rewarding. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of your unique circumstances to determine whether magazine advertising or newspaper advertising are lucrative options.
If you’re a new business, you may consider investing in an ad to spread the word about your grand opening. Even if you only earn a few clients with a magazine or newspaper ad, they may remain clients for the lifetime of your business.
If you operate a dispensary, strive to get your name on the list for a local cannabis tour. Partner with a tour outfit to earn regular visits from new clientele. If you decide to partner with a cannabis tour guide, consider offering discounts to make sure that your clients make a purchase, enjoy their experience, and leave happy.
Evolutionz Cannabis Industry Marketing Services
When it comes to building a business, marketing matters, and the cannabis industry is no different. Regardless of whether you’re a new business owner, or a successful dispensary operator seeking growth and greater profits, we can help. We provide a suite of advertising services for cannabis-industry businesses, including web design, social media engagement, and digital marketing, as well as re-branding, collateral design, and other services. We even provide secret shopper services to improve your customer satisfaction. Get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation. Or get informed with our cannabis-industry news. Make the most out of your business—partner with Evolutionz to make the most of your cannabis-industry marketing!