Absent of black and white rules that govern how to market cannabis-related products across multiple media sources, advertisers are being challenged to find creative ways to build the buzz around their brands.
In a previous article, I discussed the importance of getting creative with your advertising in the cannabis market while holding to some basic traditional marketing tenets. They include: content is still king, focus on local marketing, educate to build brand trust, and partnering with existing publishers and agencies.
There are certainly ways to leverage platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to reach their massive markets of cannabis/CBD customers without getting your account suspended or banned; however, it requires experience and online marketing insight that most marketers have not yet acquired.
Amidst the confusion of what is and is not permitted because policies vary from platform to platform, there are some digital marketing strategies that you can employ to get your message out to your audience.
One of these strategies is to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) of your company website. With many of the largest digital platforms either explicitly banning cannabis/CBD ads (Google, Microsoft, Amazon) or enforcing more general policies that prohibit marijuana or non-medical drugs to be sold on their platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), SEO on your website remains a way to market without the regulations. A downside to an SEO strategy is that it can sometimes take months before you see any measurable results.
Posting to your website regularly is a crucial component to achieving high organic rankings, which drives free traffic to your site at a high clickthrough rate. You can also offer an editorial copy to other websites, as a guest writer, for example, that have a readership that is similar to the one that you are targeting to expand your reach. Hosting a podcast or contributing to popular industry podcasts as a guest are also great ways to introduce yourself to new audiences at little to no cost. If you have a marketing budget to apply to paid traffic, it's worth considering as a part of your overall marketing strategy.
Marketers can weigh the cost versus benefit of an SEO strategy against a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign on a search engine such as Google. In most cases, the PPC campaign will end up being a more economical approach to utilizing the search engines, primarily when you target keywords to attract specific demographics. For example, a combination of terms that include "CBD," "gummies," "hemp," and "oil" are top keywords for CBD. In contrast, a combination of terms that include "marijuana," "cannabis," and "dispensary" are top keywords for local dispensaries.
In addition to the search engines, there may be opportunities to buy spots on third party sites that welcome cannabis/CBD advertising. Another strategy that companies have employed is using influencer marketing on social media platforms. Some of these influencers have large followings that enable them to promote your product without the terms and conditions that are placed on typical ad campaigns.
These strategies involve a great deal of trial and error testing. Still, until there is uniform federal approval of cannabis/CBD across the states, they offer some of the best opportunities to grow your brand online.
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