Some cannabis business owners say they face too many restrictions when trying to advertise online.
As medical marijuana dispensaries start to bloom in Oklahoma, business owners are wanting to get the word out, but many are realizing advertising their products on social media is not easy.
“I couldn’t put cannabis. I couldn’t put marijuana in there. I can’t list a strain of them even. They’ll kick me out.” – explains Rachael Duggan, owner of Green Canopy Solutions in Claremore,
Duggan says she spends a lot of time responding to individual messages on Facebook when it could have taken one simple ad or post to get the message across.
“They want to know what flower we have, what different products, as far as vape lines and edible lines,” says Duggan.
Many social media platforms don’t allow companies to advertise cannabis, which remains federally illegal, even in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Facebook ads can’t promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription or recreational drugs. Photos of either recreational or medical marijuana have to be avoided.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, follows the same guidelines.
On Twitter, advertising of any “drug dispensaries” or “illegal drugs” is not allowed.
LinkedIn also prohibits any ads related to “drugs or any related products or service.”
Duggan says she relies on more traditional marketing techniques for now until there’s a change in social media guidelines on promoting a cannabis brand.
So what can you do to market your dispensary?
- Create online listings (citations)
- Ask customers for a Google, Yelp, or Facebook review at the register (this will help your dispensary search rankings with those sites)
- Create a personal Instagram account (with your business name – don’t change it to a business account)
- Create a website (on WIX or WordPress – Need help? Just ask us!)
- Optimize your website for SEO (search engine optimization). Google isn’t like social media where your site will be taken down because you’re promoting/selling a federally illegal product.
Now that Oklahoma has legalized the sale of medical marijuana, many agencies have been contacted by dispensaries who are eager to advertise their products. While some broadcasters and ad agencies have decided not to take the risk, we are gratefully accepting advertising cannabis dispensaries.
Marijuana, even medical marijuana, is still illegal under Federal law. Because it is illegal under Federal law, carrying advertising for a product that is illegal under Federal law has potentially serious consequences for radio, TV stations and other advertising routes because they operate under a license issued by the federal government – the FCC – and the FCC has not yet issued a ruling on this subject.
Being a Federal licensee and running ads for a product banned by Federal law could raise issues about a broadcaster’s license. In fact, with license renewal coming up soon, there is the possibility that listeners/viewers may file challenges against stations that run marijuana ads arguing that they are promoting an illegal product.
Since its legalization for recreation in Colorado and Washington last November the marijuana industry has grown exponentially.
Officials at the state legislature estimated the marijuana industry will bring $60 to 70 million by the end of June 2015.
As such many business owners are seeking to get their slice of the pie. However, marijuana is a complicated business venture for even the most seasoned professional.
While demand for this product continues to grow, many new business owners are encountering an unexpected complication, marketing their business.
Marketing for marijuana is fraught with complication, as there are certain limits to marketing a substance like cannabis.
Many business owners often default to traditional marketing and advertising methods, the industry has changed and digital marketing is where it is at.
From building a unique and effective website to optimizing all content for SEO, digital marijuana marketing experts have the experience to market your business and translate clicks to dollars in your pocket.
Below are some of the most common question business owners ask about marijuana marketing, and the answers that only the experts can tell you.
Q: What makes an effective website for a marijuana business?
Did you know that 25% of all business decision start online? We live in a digital world, as such, we are almost always plugged in. Which is why it is so vital your website is responsive and function for both a desktop or mobile screen. This will allow consumers easy access to your site and provide them with accurate information in the palm of their hand. It is also imperative your website contains information that your customers are looking for like product descriptions, prices, business address, and phone number, etc.
Q: How do marijuana businesses continue you invest in affordable marijuana marketing in an increasing market?
We recommend business owners think outside the box of traditional marketing. Instead of spending your entire marketing budget on print or television, place that investment in digital marketing campaigns like SEO, PPC Web Design Etc. These marketing opportunities offer a better ROI and are proven effective.
Q: Can we use social media to promote my business?
Yes, However, there is a certain restriction on what you can promote or share on the various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Never solicit or appeal to viewers under the age of 21.
Q: What are the limits to marketing marijuana on social media platforms?
All marijuana marketing or advertising content must not contain any statement or illustration that may be misleading, promotes irresponsible use, promotes the effectiveness of the product for the treatment of any condition, or depicts a minor consuming the product.
Q: Can we use Google Ad words or other advertising links within websites to promote my cannabis business.
Yes. Just be sure to research any restrictions or recommendations.
Q: Can we create content for a YouTube page, even if content takes a comical look at promoting my business?
Yes. Just be mindful of appropriate content and never promote your content to viewers under the age of 21.
Q: Is there a loophole around having a dispensary on Facebook or Instagram?
A: There is one theory to why Instagram (for example) doesn’t shut down every channel posting bongs, water pipes, vape, pictures of cannabis, etc. on some accounts. Those accounts aren’t converted to a “business” Instagram account and instead are kept as a “personal” account. A personal Instagram account is created when you first sign up for Instagram and is only converted to a business account when you choose so in the account settings.
Bottom line, play your cards right, make a marketing plan and stick to it, be creative & unique, watch the customers come to you!
If you are ready to join the digital revolution, contact the Marijuana Marketing Experts today!
Cannabis Marketing Do’s and Don’ts
Effective marketing and advertising are imperative to the success and growth of any business, especially new businesses. But with the current status of cannabis still in flux, many marijuana startups are finding it difficult to navigate the tangle of advertising restrictions that state legislators have placed on new business owners. It’s even harder to build national awareness across the varying limitations of state and federal laws. What can you do for your marijuana business to reach and build the audience of cannabis consumers your brand is hoping to attract?
Although our industry is severely limited in the type of marketing and advertising it can utilize, there are still various tactics cannabis businesses can implement to legally increase awareness of their brand. We’ll dive into them as part of our new Cannabis Business Marketing series, but first, let’s start by keeping in mind these general do’s and don’ts when crafting your marketing strategy:
Don’t Market Your Cannabis Business to or Near Minors
Be smart about the branding you use and the locations you choose to advertise at, keeping age restrictions in mind. Our industry is growing quickly, but its still in its early stages, which means a lot of people are raising questions and concerns about cannabis legalization’s impact on minors. Marijuana businesses should do their part in assuaging those fears and make appropriate marketing a top priority. Cartoon mascots à la Joe Camel and other messaging that appeals to minors are not only going to hurt your business’s image, it’s also harming the overall perception of the cannabis industry.
Don’t Infringe on Any Existing Brands’ Copyrights, Regardless of the Industry
Established mainstream companies probably aren’t going to be keen on having their brands and trademarks mimicked by a cannabis company. Look back no further to last spring, when Hershey’s sued a dispensary for trademark infringement after the dispensary began carrying edibles called “Reefer’s Cups” and “Mr. Dankbar.” These big brands have the money to go after a small, newly established cannabis company, and they will if they want to disassociate themselves from marijuana.
Do Think About What You Want Your Cannabis Brand to Stand For
Consider how your company can help squash the stigmas that years of prohibition and propaganda have placed on our industry. Maintaining fair labor practices and avoiding sexist and derogatory messaging will go along way in building a successful cannabis brand, as your efforts will attract a broader audience and diverse demographics who feel more comfortable supporting your brand over a business that perpetuates stereotypes and does little to improve the negative or wary perception of the marijuana industry.