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Cannabis: Marketing Your Way to the Top of a Highly Regulated Industry

Chris Viscomi
Updated on Aug 22, 2019

Reefer. Mary Jane. Pot. Ganja. Marijuana. Cannabis has had quite a few names over the years (we’d love to hear yours — purely for research purposes, of course), but it’s never been as mainstream as it is now.

Thanks to a glut of new laws making it legal to grow, smoke, and use cannabis recreationally in 11 states and medically in 33 (and counting), everyone from Millennial baristas to grandmother’s trying to cope with chronic pain are trying out CBD oil, gummies, and lovingly nurtured marijuana strains for the first time.

The cannabis industry is officially open for business, and you don’t have to use it yourself to get in on the cash flow.

Cannabis marketing can be challenging, sure, but for anyone brave and savvy enough to answer the call, there is a big pot of rewards at the end of the smoke-wreathed rainbow (all puns fully intended).

Ditch Preconceived Notions

If you’re still harboring outdated Reefer Madness­-era notions about the dangers of pot, stop. Those misconceptions are inhibiting your ability to understand your target audience, identify their pain points, and learn how to capitalize on those needs by marketing products that actually help.

Marijuana contains active chemicals called cannabinoids. According to researchers, cannabinoids could help alleviate everything from anxiety to inflammation to cancer-induced nausea and vomiting as well as potentially killing cancer cells, slowing tumor growth, and promoting muscle relaxation in people with multiple sclerosis.

That doesn’t even account for experts who strongly believe in the power of CBD oil, a cannabinoid product that won’t get you high but could help with arthritis, pain, depression, acne, and even the symptoms of neurological disorders.

In other words, cannabis has incredible potential for far-reaching use. Learning to market it properly now could pay huge dividends later.

Understanding Current Regulations

This is the tricky part because marijuana laws are in a practically constant state of transition. That makes marketing a bit like trying to capture a butterfly with one hand, but that just makes the journey that much more exciting.

The basic rules are not that dissimilar from the guidelines governing sales and advertising of cigarettes and alcohol:

  • Avoid marketing your cannabis business to or around minors. Even where marijuana is legal, it’s still age-restricted, and cannabis marketing must adhere to the letter of the law. Cartoon mascots and commercials on teen-heavy channels are out.
  • Don’t mimic existing trademarks. Calling your cannabis-infused soda “Smoke-a Cola” or using the tagline “Just Toke It” may seem clever, but it also puts a target on your back.
  • Know how regulations differ from state to state. If you’re engaging in digital marketing, you’ll need to switch up your ads as you target different geographic areas. For example,  Nevada requires that every medical marijuana establishment get approval for its name, logo, and ads before they can be used on the internet.

Adopt a More Sophisticated Strategy

This isn’t the time to cater to the lowest common denominator. You’re reaching out to people who have been enjoying marijuana for decades but you’re also trying to connect with those who may fear the stigma of pot use, even if it’s doctor recommended.

Talk about cannabis in a respectful way. Know that you can educate and entertain at the same time. Embrace the idea that cannabis is a product, just like shoes or real estate or toothbrushes. Use a combination of organic social media, old-school ads, and SEO and you’ll start bringing in the customers — and the revenue.

To learn more about the future of cannabis marketing, schedule a consultation with the Aliste Marketing team today.