Anyone who grew up in the ’90s can remember the many cringe-worthy TV commercials that pandered to young people by appropriating elements of popular culture:
Not only were commercials like these often ethically wrong because of their corporatization of legitimate art forms, but they were almost always executed poorly. It was all-too-easy to picture the clueless executives who came up with these ideas, and it was clear, even to children, that marketing departments were trying to score quick wins by “speaking the young people’s language.”
The same could be said for any cannabis company who attempts to persuade an audience with stoner clichés in their cannabis marketing content.
This type of pandering isn’t just bad marketing. It can backfire tremendously, especially if you’re an ancillary cannabis brand that needs to be accepted as a serious business partner.
We live in an age where a single mistake made online can go viral. Once something is live on the internet, it’s essentially published forever. Emerging cannabis firms can’t afford to miss the mark, and in an industry rife with oversight and regulations, they certainly can’t afford to make themselves look suspect.
Contrary to what some believe, the cannabis business was always going to be a legitimate one after the right legislation passed. Its proponents have been waiting in the wings for decades as bills snaked their way through statehouses. Even though marijuana still isn’t legal in every state, the cannabis industry was mature the moment it launched.
If you’re trying to make your mark in the cannabis industry, here’s what you need to know to create legitimate marketing content.
The Maturation of the Cannabis Industry
In the U.S., the legal marijuana industry, in all its forms, grew by $10.4 billion in 2018. It employs over 250,000 people and is expected to continue growing in 2019. What was once considered a far-flung, semi-legal industry dominated by head shops and dubious online marketplaces has transformed into a significant presence in many of our communities.
Successful cannabis companies no longer cater to stoner stereotypes. Instead, they invest in the same essential marketing strategies as other business, including assets like attractive and informative packaging, contemporary interior design, inbound marketing, advertising, and community outreach.
The medical cannabis field has transitioned from a niche and suspicious market to one that is much more accepted by both scientists and medical professionals. In June of 2018, the FDA approved the first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat epilepsy.
Medical cannabis dispensaries still use recognizable terms when describing their products (you can still purchase “Doobiebird Daydream,” for example), but they are now an important lifeline for people with chronic pain and people with conditions that have not responded to other types of medicine.
A cannabis dispensary may sell its customers Maui Wowie, but they’ll also provide those customers with useful content about the history of the strain, its chemical makeup, its effects, its health benefits, and a list of reviews from other users. They may even include some scientific documentation.
This is all to say that, no matter the product, service, or business model, every cannabis business should take themselves, and their customers, as seriously as they would in any other industry. That means employing a legitimate content strategy, just like any other business.
What Does Effective Cannabis Marketing Content Looks Like?
As in any other industry, content marketing involves the production of content assets (e.g., blog posts, videos, images, infographics, etc.) that are educational, entertaining, and relevant to a target audience. These assets are shared online via a website and social networks to help customers and drive interest in a product or brand.
Cannabis content marketing shouldn’t deviate from the type of content marketing performed in other industries, except in terms of subject matter. Naturally, you’ll be writing about cannabis, but you should still follow these content marketing tenets:
Provide Relevant Content
You should have a clear definition of who your buyers are.
Ideally, you’ll create buyer personas — fully-documented representations of your ideal customers. Every detail is relevant when creating a buyer persona, such as what those personas do for work to what they do during their time off, in addition to standard demographic information.
Once you have a few buyer personas fleshed out, you’ll have a better understanding of who you’re creating content for and what they value. More importantly, you’ll understand their pain points.
You can then create valuable content that addresses those pain points and drives value for your business. Whether you sell a cannabis product to consumers or provide services to other cannabis companies, know your audience.
Provide Value with Your Content
Your content should fulfill an unmet need. You might provide be critical information that people are searching for online, or you help your audience with industry research, a useful tool, or a how-to guide for solving a problem.
If you can put yourself in a position to make your buyer’s lives less complicated, they’ll view you as a resource rather than just a company trying to sell them something.
Finally, your content marketing should be consistent. If you want to publish videos, do it on a schedule. Publish a new video every Friday and push it out to social media. If you publish three blog posts each week, stay on task to ensure you have plenty of material for your weekly newsletter.
It also pays to invest considerably in content. According to one study, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts each month receive 3.5 times the amount of traffic as companies that post 4 blog posts or less.
Build Your Cannabis Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re struggling to stay consistent with your content marketing or you just don’t know where to start, it’s okay to ask for help from content marketing experts.
ReadyGreen helps cannabis businesses generate more leads and sales through their online content assets. We provide services like branding, design, SEO, and social media management to execute mature cannabis marketing campaigns.
Contact us today to get an assessment of your current marketing plan.