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Part 1: 8 Potent Tips
to Cultivate Your Cannabis Dispensary

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Marketing Strategies to Smoke the Competition
AMY ROSS, MANAGER — BRAND AND PRODUCT MARKETING

Although cannabis may be a new market with a different set of challenges, some tried-and-true marketing practices still apply. These pointers will help you attract new customers, foster loyalty and reap the rewards of higher profits.

  1. Have a professional website: Gone are the days when cannabis use was associated only with hippies and burnouts. Today’s consumers range from anxiety-ridden CEOs to senior citizens battling arthritis. Your website should appeal to a wide range of demographics. Choose a clean design that’s easy to navigate. Feature an email submission form on the homepage for customers to opt-in to receive information on new products and special offers. And above all, make sure your site confirms visitors are 21 years or older in order to proceed.
  2. Consider hiring an SEO consultant: You need your business to show up in relevant searches. For example, if you’re located in Seattle, your business should be one of the top listings when someone types in “Seattle dispensary.” Partnering with a company specializing in search engine optimization can be a smart investment.
  3. Offer customer loyalty rewards: If your state allows it, a loyalty program can greatly increase customer retention. These programs come in many forms – including referral rewards, points-per-purchase and discount cards. Get more ideas by reading Cova’s Cannabis Dispensary Loyalty Programs 101.
  4. Rethink your retail space: According to Grand View Research, medical use is the largest cannabis segment in the United States and it’s expected to grow considerably over the next decade. This is no surprise because cannabis can help people deal with a wide range of afflictions. Medical users want a retail space that more resembles a high-tech physician’s office than a smoke shop. If that’s your target audience, keep décor clean and sleek.
  5. Join online directories: List your business on local directories through Google, Bing and Yahoo. But beyond that, be sure you have a presence on industry-specific directories as well. Weedmaps is just one example. This site offers customer reviews, much like Yelp, but it’s exclusive to businesses in the cannabis field.
  6. Use distinct packaging: Gone are the days of brownies in sandwich bags; packaging is a vital staple for any cannabis brand. Choose high-quality materials and clearly display your company logo and website when appropriate. Laws regarding cannabis packaging vary by state. Leafly’s state-by-state guide can help you navigate through the complexities.
  7. Get customer product testimonials: The vast array of products available can make any customer’s head spin. CBD, for example, is legal in all states and is a rapidly growing product segment. But how do new consumers know which one to try? Encourage customers to leave reviews on your website and promote positive feedback in your email newsletter and other marketing efforts.
  8. Know (and follow) the laws: Before implementing any of these strategies, you need to be aware of the regulations that apply to you. As the cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, it can feel overwhelming to keep up with the ever-changing guidelines. But it’s crucial to stay on top of federal, state and local laws. Joining a group like the National Cannabis Industry Association provides access to resources that will help you avoid legal landmines.

Legalizing cannabis nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to a study by New Frontier Data.

Ready to learn more about issues affecting your industry — and how you can capitalize on them? Check out our comprehensive idea book, From Seed to Shelf. And if you’d like more ideas on promoting your business, read our blog article Cannabis Advertising Strategies That Get the Green Light.