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How Cannabis Brands Can Harness the Power of Digital Marketing

How Cannabis Brands Can Harness the Power of Digital Marketing

You are not limited to billboards just because Facebook doesn’t want your ad dollars.


4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


More states are moving towards legalization, opening new markets for cannabis brands. However, because of the rigid regulations and restrictions that exist around advertising, many cannabis and CBD companies are throwing all of their ad dollars at billboards and local print, overlooking more powerful channels for exposure and engagement.

While the big platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are tricky to navigate, there are digital channels available. As cannabis brands enter increasingly competitive marketplaces, these creative solutions are more necessary than ever.

Related: The Marijuana Advertising Double Standard Is Stifling Our Industry

Leveraging OOH advertising.

Digital billboards and other screen-based advertisements, known collectively as digital out-of-home (OOH) marketing, are highly visible placements for cannabis brands in addition to the static billboards they’re already buying.

OOH advertising is set to more than double its total market value, reaching $26 billion by 2023, and is open to the cannabis industry. Out-of-home advertising is no longer restricted to billboards. Screens of all shapes and sizes, from mobile to desktop to TV and video billboards, can now be segmented and sequenced for target audiences in real time, at the right moment. These can be integrated to carry out a campaign in numerous places at the same time.

There’s infinitely more creative possibility with OOH compared to a static billboard — from building campaigns that change content, to working in tandem with other technologies, to receiving detailed playback reporting. Digital displays are typically in highly trafficked areas where, unlike at home or with online ads, there’s no way for people to skip through them.

At a time when competition is fierce and marketing options are still rigid, every cannabis brand should be using OOH advertising to make use of its creativity, context and relevance.

Related: The Most Effective Cannabis Advertising Tool You’re Probably Not Using

Don’t overlook the mobile phone.

The mobile phone is one the most powerful portals to reach the consumer directly, particularly at a time of intensive regulatory pressure.

Nearly everyone owns a mobile phone today, and 90 percent of people read their text messages within five minutes of receiving them. Dispensaries can easily use web forms and various calls-to-action on their homepages and in and around their dispensaries to collect customer information for future mobile campaigns.

SMS services that allow you to push content to your target customers directly (provided they’ve opted in, of course) are very effective for getting the word out on discounts and coupons, as well as for sharing updates and news related to  your dispensary. This direct engagement cultivates personal connection, builds trust and, most importantly, keeps people engaged with your brand.

Podcasts are growing, fast.

Whether pitching your brand to an existing podcast or creating your own, podcasts are very effective for engagement and as platforms for education and community building.

According to a study conducted by Statista, radio advertising in the US is expected to remain relatively flat through 2021 while spending on podcast ads is expected to double.As more of the cannacurious among us begin to embrace the myriad benefits of consumption, the industry is slowly merging with health and wellness — an industry rich with podcast opportunities and partnerships.

Related: 9 Cutting-Edge Marijuana Marketing Tactics That Work

Your brand is legit, act accordingly.

Cannabis brands no longer have to operate in grey areas in most instances, and your marketing strategy should reflect that fact. Tactics employed by successful direct-to-consumer brands translate well to our industry and its consumers. While the guerilla methods that some companies used in their early days brought in a few consumers, the reality is that it doesn’t align with the aesthetic of most brands. Even though prohibition remains the practice of the largest players in digital advertising and marketing, there are ways to work around them legitimately and connect directly with your target consumer.

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