As someone trying to get your product or service out there AND being part of the cannabis industry, you face a very unique set of challenges when it comes to your cannabis marketing strategies. Things like the confusion around the product you sell (cannabis is a drug, right?), the stigmas that are still attached to cannabis (cannabis is for stoners, right?) and, let’s not forget, it is still (largely) illegal…
The long and the short of it is that you, as cannapreneur, are significantly limited as to HOW you are allowed to market what you do and what you have to offer. You cannot simply place Google, Instagram or Facebook ads. And taking out an ad in cannabis industry magazines is like preaching to the choir. This means that your options for expanding and retaining your client network can become quite limited.
So, it can get a bit overwhelming when you not ONLY have to deal with the quagmire that is marketing, but you ALSO have to deal with the disinformation, the stigmas, and the legal issues surrounding cannabusiness marketing. Unlike other industries where a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing can be enough, your cannabusiness’s marketing strategy needs to take a different approach… One in which you differentiate yourself by providing clients with what it is that they really want. One based on personal relationships and connections. Trust and value.
So, how do you that?
By Becoming the Solution
Whether in real life or online, we as humans have a need to feel like we are connecting with and connected to other humans. We want to feel like our personal exchanges are relevant, valuable, (and probably most importantly) honest. We want to feel like the people we interact with “get” us. That they understand our needs, and that we are getting advice, opinions and solutions from people that we can trust.
This is why you – as a cannapreneur in an industry with all its limitations and misconceptions – need to provide these personal connections and interactions for your clients. You need to become their go-to, trusted source of information. You need to provide them with relevant and valuable information. You need to become a solution to their problem.
In the words of Don Crowther – “People want to do business with you because you help them get what they want. They don’t do business with you to help you get what you want.”
You help people get them what they want by:
1 – identifying your target group
2 – figuring out what their problems are and then, based on this information
3 – shift your marketing strategy from being product focused to being solution focused.
So, let’s look at each of these steps in a bit more detail.
Step 1: Target audience
Without clearly defining your target market, you won’t be able to address their needs. So, what does your ideal customer look like?
The must haves:
Do clients have to be over a certain age? Or do they have to be in possession of a medical marijuana license? These are the non-negotiables for you to be able to do your business legally.
What are the characteristics, qualities and traits that you would like your clients to have? This will help you identify who to focus on when working out your marketing strategy.
Do they read certain magazines or trade publications? Do they belong to cannabis industry associations, attend conferences or get involved with charity work? This step is a form of lead generation that will help you hone your marketing strategy later on.
The deal breaker:
Are they profitable? This question is probably the most important but often overlooked. Even if your ideal client looks good on paper and ticks all your boxes, sometimes it is just not lucrative.
Step 2: Figure out what their problems are
What are the issues that your ideal clients face? What is it that they value? By going directly to the horse’s mouth, you will find that certain issues come up time and time again and trends emerge.
Read your own reviews and those of other cannabusinesses similar to yours. Is it timely delivery that impresses clients? Is it the type of product? What value does the service or product deliver to the needs of the customer?
Whether this is in the form of a formalized questionnaire or informal chats – simply ask your clients what their problems are and what they expect from your product or service.
Step 3: Look at how your product solves their issue & shift your message
You now have two lists – one of your ideal client, and one with their most pressing issues. The next step is to make a list of your services and products. What is it that you do or have that is relevant and valuable to them? What is it that will solve their problems and how can you provide that?
Let’s use an example. Say for instance you specialize in high CBD cannabis strains. From reading customer reviews, you found that customers like value for their money. So, ultimately, customers don’t care if your strain has the highest CBD content. They care about what your strain can do for them. They care that your strain yields higher quantities of high quality CBD oil. Do you see the difference?
The first scenario is product focused. The second one is solution focused.
In the end your product should be your customer’s solution, and your marketing message and strategy must reflect this. Even though this is the case in any industry, this approach is even more applicable in an industry where traditional marketing strategies are limited. Important in an industry which is full of misconceptions. Essential even, in an industry that can be quite insular.
Lieze Boshoff is a Cannabis Content & Copywriter that mixes her knowledge of the cannabis industry, psychology and marketing strategies to help cannapreneurs & cannabusinesses establish their brand’s authority and grow their market share.
Want to see how she can help you? Contact her here for a free consultation.