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When Can I Start Marketing in the Cannabis Industry?

Asking yourself, when can I start marketing in the cannabis industry? Need some dispensary marketing ideas? Few analysts and onlookers can keep up with the sheer rapidity of growth in the US cannabis industry. It’s US history’s greatest economic come-back story.

This once illegal drug is now amongst the fastest-growing industries. More and more entrepreneurs are venturing into the sector to make their fortunes. And every year, the number of cannabis millionaires increases.

However, given the rapid growth, competition is getting tough – particularly in states with a history of legalization. Some states are still at the legalization frontier. But, in states like Colorado and California, marketing in the cannabis industry is essential. Whether trying to develop innovative growers or dispensary marketing ideas, the fundamentals are the same – to stand out from the crowd.

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Established businesses that have been marketing in the cannabis industry understand this. However, for new and upcoming businesses, there’s a bigger question. When can I start marketing in the cannabis industry?

After all, marketing costs money. Few, if any, dispensary marketing ideas are free. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the optimal time to start marketing in the cannabis industry. And we’ll provide some solid dispensary marketing ideas ideally suited to fledgling businesses. 

When can I start marketing in the cannabis industry?

The answer: from the moment you start planning your business.

But wait, you say, how can I afford that? This response is all-too-common. While you might not set up your SEO strategy, advertising campaigns, or social media accounts straight away; marketing should form the core of your business strategy.

Your marketing strategy should be front and center when you’re first creating your business. Who is your target audience? How old are they? What are their professions? Where do they live? 

When you’re brainstorming dispensary marketing ideas – you don’t want to develop a marketing strategy for a dispensary based in an area of predominantly 50-year-olds and over. It’s a recipe for failure. Nor do you want to name your brand ‘Munchie Palace’.

Marketing isn’t just born out of who you want your customers to be. It’s based on the practicalities of your business. It’s why marketing should always be a focus throughout every stage of your business plan.

Who is your consumer when it comes to marketing in the cannabis industry?

Gone are the days when the typical marijuana consumer looked like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. As cannabis broke into the mainstream, the average cannabis consumer has undergone a demographic shift. In 2021 16.9% of US adults had used cannabis in the past year; 11.7% had done so in the prior month.

Users are split evenly between men and women. And the majority of users fall in the ages between 25- to 44-year-olds. However, there is still a sizable proportion of 55- to 65-year-olds (16%) and 65+ (10%) who smoke cannabis. Considering they also have a larger amount of disposable income; it can be prudent to target this market. 

Unless you plan to run your business solely online, broad-scale demographics are helpful but not critical. You’ll want to research your local area. Get to know your local consumer. See who your competitors are selling to and try to find a gap in the market. Otherwise, you compete with established businesses that can outspend you on marketing.

The alternative is to develop a revolutionary product. In this case, your unique selling point is providing an incentive for customers to try or switch brands.

The challenges of marketing in the cannabis industry

The cannabis industry is projected to reach a $41 billion market size by 2025. Legal recreational and medicinal cannabis sales are growing at 21% per year. Yet, for all the success, marijuana is still subjected to the same marketing limitations as tobacco and alcohol.

Yes – public perceptions are shifting. It’s not just Snoop Dog talking about smoking weed anymore. Even CBD products are finding their way into the mainstream. And cannabis is now an entrenched part of pop culture. 

Nevertheless, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, and cannabis marketing rules are being tightened on numerous advertising platforms. 

By law – cannabis ads cannot mention medical or health-related claims or market to people under 21. Review your local and state laws before developing your marketing campaign. For example, if you’re marketing to over 60s – the medicinal benefits are a key lure. Consider how you can market them within the constraints of the law.

Dispensary Marketing Ideas

1. SEO strategy

Cannabis companies are waking up to SEO. Search engine optimization will put you on the front page of Google, ahead of your competition. In particular, for dispensaries, ranking for your local area is critically important. That doesn’t just mean targeting the term “dispensary near [area name]”. It also means creating and updating your Google My Business profile. 

2. Educate; don’t sell

Depending on your target market, mirroring alcohol advertising won’t work. Cannabis remains something of a public taboo – even if attitudes are changing fast. Solve this problem by focusing on educational content. According to Conductor, consumers are 131% more likely to purchase a product after reading education content. 

For SEO, you can review the latest research about anxiety or sleep and cannabis, for example. Meanwhile, on Instagram, you can showcase videos about tending to cannabis plants, how to roll complex joints, or the secret to producing delicious edibles. 

3. Market to your audience

Sounds obvious, right? Too many brands focus on their Instagram accounts when they’re supposed to be targeting the over 50s. Think about where your audience is, then go after them. As a rule, TikTok is being used by the under-20s; Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube are used by 20- to 30-year-olds.

Instagram and Facebook predominate in the 40- to 50-year-olds. And over 50s are only using Facebook (and they have a much higher interaction rate). In short – go where the money is. 

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