Advertising Your Cannabis Business: Challenges and Opportunities
AMY ROSS, MANAGER — BRAND AND PRODUCT MARKETING
“That is not a drug. It’s a leaf.”
This quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger perfectly sums up how many people feel about cannabis. Celebrities ranging from author Stephen King to entrepreneur Mark Cuban have spoken out in favor of its legalization. And it’s happening rapidly. Most states have passed legislation permitting medical use, and a handful of states, plus Washington D.C., have legalized it for adult use.
However, federal law still prohibits THC use. And this contradiction poses a problem for those in the industry. How do you advertise a product that is illegal under federal law?
According to a Gallup poll, one in every eight adult Americans is an active user of cannabis. Obviously, this is a huge market with many promotional possibilities. But with the current limits in place, it can be hard to find ways to reach this audience.
Since 2013, the majority of Americans have supported the legalization of cannabis. — Gallup
Most mainstream media is out of the question. While laws vary by state, television and radio spots are largely limited. But there are some tactics you may be able to employ. Let’s look at some strategies that have proven to be successful.
- Billboards: Many states restrict where these can be placed and some prohibit them altogether. But if they are allowed, it can be a very effective medium to advertise your business. The current trend is to keep the message simple and professional — nothing too “in your face” that may bother those with more traditional views. Want to see what the cannabis competition is doing? Check out these 16 Examples of Marijuana Advertising on Billboards.
- Merchandise: Dennis Rodman made headlines when he wore a cannabis T-shirt on his trip to North Korea. This just shows that swag can be a good option to promote your budding business – especially if millennials make up a large percentage of your customer base. If you do choose to sell or give away merchandise, make sure your products are the highest possible quality you can afford.
- Event sponsorships: Local events are a great opportunity to get your name in front of a crowd. You want to pick an event that suits your brand. If you lean toward medical use, consider a tradeshow on alternative healing. If adult users are your target, a music festival could be the perfect venue.
- Social media influencers: Many internet personalities and celebrities have thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers. If an influencer or celebrity has an audience that matches your target demographic, a partnership can be highly successful. Note that these sponsorships are typically paid, and the price tag can be significant depending on the influencer’s popularity. However, this approach may be a viable alternative to traditional advertising for some brands.
The cannabis industry comes with unique opportunities as well as challenges. Be sure to read part one of our blog series: 8 Potent Tips to Cultivate Your Cannabis Dispensary. Before deciding on an advertising strategy, it’s imperative you check state laws. The industry is growing fast — so fast that lawmakers are having trouble keeping up. And what is legal today may be illegal tomorrow.
If you need assistance with your marketing and advertising programs, Curtis 1000 can help. As a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, we have the expertise and resources to provide practical recommendations and impeccable execution. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs.