Marketing for dispensaries may sound like a breezy job. While it is highly rewarding and so much fun, cannabis marketing is far from easy!
Restrictive legal and community regulations limit the channels and messages that can be utilized, pushing cannabis marketers to find creative ways to reach customers. Heavily saturated markets mean those channels are often flooded with content and make competition for the attention of cannabis customers incredibly fierce. And on top of all of that, dispensaries have to deal with the risk of consequences like shadowbanning on social media or compliance violations.
So, how do cannabis marketers increase revenue for dispensaries?
There’s no easy answer, but the list below includes 21 dispensary marketing ideas to help jumpstart the process of earning more customers and generating more revenue.
Acquiring new customers is a challenge for many dispensaries. Cannabis operators need to navigate regulations that prevent many standard marketing tactics, overcome the stigma that keeps many potential customers at arm's length, and scratch a profit out of increasingly saturated markets.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an effective way to connect with the people that are searching for the products on dispensary shelves. Consider your local area and where customers are when they’re searching for a dispensary. Focusing your effort on being found by people searching for the right things and in the right areas is key to winning the competition for clicks.
HyperLocal SEO is focused on driving clicks from key local searches with high purchase intent, converting clicks to door swings and transactions.
Terrayn can help you win the local SEO competition. That’s what we do.
Customer loyalty is key to success in cannabis retail. With the effort and cost to acquire new customers, it’s important to keep them coming back and buying more.
There are two goals for a loyalty program: first to sign customers up for the program and next to incentivize loyalty members to continue making purchases. Regulations differ by state, impacting what incentives operators offer. Popular incentives include discounted smoking hardware, exclusive product offerings, and when possible, cash back.
Below are three ideas for dispensary loyalty programs:
Promote discounts for traditional holidays and cannabis-specific celebrations alike to appeal to a wide variety of shoppers. Limited edition products, bundles created for holiday activities, and offers for your loyalty program members can all help capitalize on seasonal opportunities.
Look for local guides or seasonal publications to boost your offers. Creative messaging can help you stand out. Holiday cannabis recipes, suggested pairings of products with local activities, or highlighting a local producer are all good ways to frame your message.
Holiday-themed products are another great way to generate some hype around your shop. Rose petal blunts for Valentine’s Day, infused bubbly beverages for the New Year, or XL pre-rolls for 420 can give good content for promotional messaging. Adding this approach to discounts and events is also great for your margins!
Don’t forget the potential impact of gift cards during gifting seasons! Holiday gift cards give customers a reason to share your shop with their communities.
Weed be great together.
Consistency with weekly offerings can help build patterns for your most frequent customers and give a reason to suggest first-time customers return again soon.
Weekly specials are also a great ever-green offering that can be promoted without needing to update collateral and messaging often. Standard signage in your store can stay relevant for months instead of days.
Common weekly specials include Munchie Monday and Flower Friday. Some customers have come to expect specials on these days. One way to limit the hit your margins will take is to highlight a specific brand partner and share the discount. Ask for a credit on your next order based on units sold during their exclusive promotion.
Tying in your POS and online ordering analytics can help point out items that aren't selling as well. Ideal products to discount will drive traffic or clear aging inventory off your shelves.
Terrayn can help you create specials that actually move the needle.
Time-bound specials can help drive traffic and push aging inventory off the shelves. The trick is discovering how to get the message out.
Loyalty programs are a great place to start. Hit your whole list or target customers who have purchased a specific category or brand. Use push notifications, SMS/MMS, and your email list to send out the message.
It’s a stash dash! Refill your personal stash before 2pm today and get employee pricing.
Social media is another great place to promote flash sales. Limitations on what your posts can say make this a difficult way to promote, so get creative! Direct messaging your top followers takes time but can be very fruitful. If you’ve got a sign spinner out front during your flash sale, maybe you just promote them!
Need some extra help to make the most of your loyalty program?
Exchange the value of your space to engage with customers for participation from your brand partners.
In-store displays, social media shoutouts, loyalty program messaging and, of course, specials come together to create a winning combination for one brand.
Pass the value of collaboration on to your customers with discounts and a peek behind the curtain to see how their favorite cannabis products are made.
Want to talk about how to find the right partners for your dispensary?
Highlight products that your budtenders can get excited about. A collection of staff favorites can show more personality behind your brand and generate more upselling opportunities. Budtender picks are also great for social media content. You can tie social media together with a blog about the product that also links to the menu itself making it easy for customers to shop. Blogs also tend to have a higher reach on social media while also being likely to be flagged. You can link them in stories as well!
Lots of customers want the guidance of someone they can trust. The person behind the counter is often the go-to for advice or suggestions.
Incorporate this into your signage and reinforce the culture of trying products and making informed, personal recommendations. Most online menus also have a featured pick selection where you can highlight those products for online shoppers. If you have the ability to custom arrange your menu, you can also bring those items to the top of the menu.
Terrayn can help distribute curated selections, like budtender picks.
An effective gift guide isn’t a customer acquisition tool in itself, but can give your customers a reason to share about you with their friends and family. Highlight staff favorites, partner brands, or even aging inventory in a way that invites your customers to think differently about cannabis.
Connecting cannabis with other products or activities is a great way to frame this kind of messaging. A pack of edibles and a subscription to a local yoga studio, some premium joints, and a trail map of the local state parks, or other collections can help your customers see creative ways of sharing your products.
Engagement on social media can be tough for dispensaries to generate. And then there’s the question of ROI from cannabis social media campaigns.
Contests are a great way to leverage your in-store traffic to bolster social media campaigns. This might seem like the cart leading the horse, but creating an engaged audience can pay dividends in the future. You can also rope in your vendors to join the contest too. Vendors may be willing to offer a free product to the winner and the contest rules would include following both your page and the vendor.
Ongoing giveaways, raffles and contests give customers a reason to subscribe and keep an eye on your content. Offer a variety of rewards to incentivize a wide audience. Smoking accessories, custom apparel, access to events, or exclusive discounts offer value to different types of customers.
One way you can prompt engagement from your audience is to have customers post a photo and tag your shop. This approach creates a reach amplifier and an easy way to track the results.
Customer-generated content like reviews is great and should definitely be encouraged. But don’t discount the effect of actively engaging customers to create content for your shop!
Ask customers for product feedback, fun uses, testimonials, and other content. Not only will this content be authentic and potentially resonate with the audience, but it will also prompt engagement of your customers' community.
This approach also allows you to select a specific customer to highlight. Pick someone who aligns with your values and will resonate with your target audience. It also allows you to leverage the vast experience and numerous great stories hidden within your customer base.
In 2023, online video is expected to account for 82.5% of all web traffic, making it the most popular type of content on the internet with almost 90% of marketers using videos as a content marketing tool.
Creating video can be a daunting task but is a great opportunity for dispensaries of all sizes. If you’re not creating something for the big screen, you don’t need to shoot on a Hollywood camera. Grab an iPhone and have a budtender talk about their favorite product.
Share some deeper education about the flower on your shelves, especially if you’ve grown it!
Pro Tip: Shoot vertical full-screen videos with a phone. These are optimal settings for Instagram reels, TikTok, etc., which social media platforms are heavily favoring.
One great way to build a well-rounded brand identity and communicate your expertise to customers is to invest time in your blog. Share your story, highlight some great products, or talk about a cause you care about. As an added benefit, you’ll give your SEO efforts a boost.
Running a consistent blog is also a great way to share information about partnerships and highlight community relationships. Collaborate with partners when you can and don’t forget to add valuable links!
Dynamic and engaging content can be tough to come up with. Put together a system that can recommend products based on your customers’ lifestyles and cannabis preferences. Bring personalized suggestions into the digital world and share them through your website, social media, at events, and even within the walls of your dispensary!
The system can be simple, it doesn’t need to be complex, custom-coded software. You could even use a “choose your own adventure” style booklet. The point is to tailor suggestions to the answers provided.
The end result is not only a call-to-action that prompts a purchase, it also creates an opportunity for customers to share their results with their community and can help you reach a new audience in a fun and unique way.
There are some specific days when you can expect heavy traffic at your dispensary, including 420. Promoting door busters appeals to the people that are most excited about the holiday. Your team can spend more time with these highly engaged customers and restock the shelves before peak times later in the day.
Doorbusters are also a great way to partner with your customers’ favorite brands or other local businesses. The benefits of collaborative promotions include sharing the costs and increasing the reach of your messaging.
Some options for doorbusters include merchandise giveaways, raffle entries, limited edition inventory, special discounts, and gifts from partners.
There are limitations, but it IS possible to leverage most traditional advertising channels. Billboards, radio ads, and even placements on receipts or key cards can be an effective part of your dispensary marketing mix.
Truly knowing what is working and what isn’t can be really hard with these tactics. Combining a digital element, like a landing page or QR code, creates an opportunity to track results. You can also use a specific code at checkout to collect information about which purchases and customers are connected to a specific campaign.
Geography is important when it comes to traditional advertising for dispensaries. Make sure you’re speaking to an audience that has convenient access to your shop!
Establish a core group of individuals to represent your brand in the local community. Brand ambassadors, brand champions, local street teams, or whatever you want to call it — this group can put a personal touch on your efforts to connect with your community. Utilize this team to canvas neighborhoods and businesses around your shop. Send them to events. Showcase them on social media.
Equip your street team with custom discount codes that can be redeemed in-store. This gives a reason for their connections to visit your shop and creates an easy way to track the impact of their outreach.
Connect with local businesses and organizations outside of the cannabis industry and participate in your local community. The stigma that can surround cannabis gets squashed fast when you’re spending time and resources reaching out to benefit others around you.
That said, there are some ways you can leverage community partnerships to make a real financial difference for your dispensary. Offer a special discount for members of an organization, equip your community engagement team with personalized referral assets, or collaborate on marketing campaigns to increase the impact of your spending.
Another way to get involved is by joining in community clean-ups and other community improvement initiatives. Not only does it show you care but it's a great way to connect with your community outside of the shop. This can strengthen relationships and get you in front of a whole new group of potential customers.
Some cannabis brands have clout and bring hype to any shop they’re in. Other brands can’t offer access to that type of audience but can help you create a reason for people to visit your shop, including matched discounts, merchandise giveaways, or limited edition products.
Choose partners that align with who you are and what you stand for. Creating an aligned partnership will increase both the short- and long-term value of sharing audiences.
Use your dispensary’s storefront to make it easy for people to find you and to communicate with people passing by. Make sure you consider visibility from the sidewalk and the street. Let people know what you sell and a reason they should choose your shop.
Sidewalk signs are great to showcase your most compelling messages. A-frames with weather-proof inserts make it easy to move your sign and change messaging. Consider showcasing popular brands you carry, upcoming events, wayfinding for your entrance or parking, and of course some great specials.
You’ll want to attract as many eyes as possible. Stay true to your branding but also make sure your signage pops!
Create a reason to ask your community to visit your shop by hosting events at your store. Host artists, educators, cannabis growers and extractors, food vendors and entertainment. Be sure to check your state and local regulations to avoid any potential problems.
Align events with promotions and messaging to incentivize customers to come back again. Be ready to sign collect customer information and sign up lots of loyalty program members. Events are also a create an opportunity to boost your local SEO efforts. List and link your event on any local pages, such as Eventbrite or your local chamber of commerce.
Give yourself an opportunity to engage with the community outside the walls of your shop by attending events and supporting other businesses and organizations. Engage with potential customers directly, offer your branded apparel, and share ways that cannabis can intersect with the theme of the event. Do what you can to capture customer data and incentivize people to visit your shop.
Participating in events outside of your shop can also support your goal of building customer loyalty. Some great examples that often fit the cannabis consumer’s lifestyle are paddles, nature hikes, bike rides, yoga sessions, or trivia nights.
Bring some buzz to your shop with a special appearance from an individual with some clout. In-person appearances at your shop give you access to a new audience of potential customers and a reason for them to visit your dispensary. Collaborate on social media, share through your email, sms, and push notifications, create an event page on your website link to local event listing sites, and utilize whatever other channels you’ve established to get the word out. And ask your celebrity partner to do the same!
National names are great, but don’t underestimate the value of your local influencers. Partnering with popular artists, musicians, social media creators, chefs, fitness gurus, educators, and of course growers in your area is a targeted approach that speaks to your local community.
Look for a celebrity or local influencer that is already involved in the world of cannabis, either with a brand you can stock on your shelves or that offers reviews of products they’ve tried. Their subject matter authority can be a valuable addition to your promotional messaging!
It’s never a bad day for a good idea! But putting any of these thoughts into practice is a much more difficult task. Especially in cannabis, time and resources to pull off successful campaigns can be limited. Talk to Terrayn to get help reaching your marketing goals. Solving problems for our dispensary partners is what we do.
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