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Chapter 3: The Limitations of Marijuana Marketing

You might think there would be more freedom on the Internet regarding cannabis advertising, but many of the rules still apply. Nevertheless, companies are embracing digital platforms to build brand awareness. They just need to know how to do it right.

In this chapter, we’ll look at digital marketing options available to cannabis companies as well as the limitations. Considering that the majority of consumers spend time online every single day, the Internet may be the perfect place to reach your audience.

What Digital Platforms Do Most Companies Use?

Some companies use social media platforms like Twitter to tweet information about their products, not ads. Companies can also use video platforms like YouTube to provide educational content.

Many companies create their own websites and attract consumers with content. Companies can create infographics, blog posts and videos on their site so visitors can view and share information with others.

Lastly, cannabis businesses can still take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) and popular platforms like Facebook and Google if they use these platforms very cautiously. However, businesses need to know that these platforms can remove their content at any time without warning.

How Do These Platforms Help These Businesses Grow?

Digital platforms help businesses build relationships with consumers, and they help accelerate business growth in the following ways.

  1. Increases Brand Awareness

Digital platforms increase brand awareness. For example, someone who never heard of your brand before might see your company name in a news feed and learn about your company. If you connect with their identity as we mentioned in the first chapter, they will remember your brand.

  1. Improves Customer Loyalty

Social media improves brand loyalty because business owners can engage with customers and develop relationships. Fifty-three percent of Americans are more loyal to brands they follow on social media.

The point is that consumers do not want to be sold things. They want to be friends with businesses. They want the products they buy and the companies they buy them from to represent who they are.

Also, companies build greater brand authority when people see their knowledge and positive interactions with customers.

  1. Encourages Conversions

Many individuals convert to customers via digital platforms because they have a chance to act. For example, imagine a customer watches an educational video on YouTube that prompts them to visit a company’s site. Once they are on a company’s site, they can click on a product and make a purchase. It’s simple, convenient and almost instant.

Social media platforms are a great way to drive traffic back to a company’s website. A cannabis company does not have to rely entirely on people who already search for their company and products.

Here are a few more reasons to advertise digitally:

  • Digital advertising is typically less expensive than other forms of advertising.
  • Companies can gain insight into consumer behavior via social media.
  • Competitors are already doing it.

Why Can’t Marijuana Companies Use Traditional Marketing Strategies?

Unfortunately, cannabis companies have to tiptoe their way around the most popular digital platforms — Google and Facebook. It’s estimated that Google and Facebook account for 73 percent of digital advertising in the U.S. and control 83 percent of all digital advertising growth.

Online platforms like Facebook and Google do not allow drug-related advertisements, and this can have a negative impact on cannabis companies. According to Facebook’s policies, ads cannot promote the sale of illegal, prescription or recreational drugs.

Before we discuss how these traditional platforms limit marijuana companies, let’s consider their impact.

  1. Google

There are about 2.3 million Google searches per minute. Without being able to use Google Ads, companies miss out on the chance to show up in the top Google search results. They also don’t get to see which keywords work best.

Also, people click on about one out of every 250 ads they see while searching on Google, and about one out of every 1,961 ads they see on Facebook.

  1. Facebook

Many existing and potential customers use Facebook every day. As of June 2018, there are 1.47 billion daily active users on Facebook. Cannabis companies may miss the opportunity to reach Facebook users due to Facebook’s rules.

Without being able to advertise on Facebook or Google effectively, marijuana companies have to find other ways to:

  • Enhance visibility
  • Be part of social recommendations
  • Share news of company events
  • Monitor advertising results
  • Drive traffic to their websites
  • Engage with customers

How Do These Traditional Platforms Keep Companies From Advertising?

If you decide to advertise on a popular digital platform, prepare for the unexpected because they may do one of the following:

  • Remove and ban your accounts
  • Not provide guidance on what type of content is allowed
  • Remove content without notice after you’ve spent a lot of time building up a following
  • Act inconsistently, causing greater confusion

What Other Limitations Do Marijuana Companies Face When Looking for Digital Marketing Strategies?

Not all digital platforms are as finicky as Facebook and Google. However, even platforms that are cannabis-friendly pose certain limitations. For example:

  • Other platforms that allow marijuana advertisements may be hard to find or do not show up in search results.
  • Some social media platforms have small audiences of individuals who already use cannabis products, meaning companies can’t easily reach consumers who are curious about marijuana.
  • Companies still must be careful not to include misleading information or advertisements that appeal to minors.

Where Do These Limitations Leave Marijuana Companies?

By this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do to advertise effectively and with peace of mind. However, as difficult as it seems, there are still options. The cannabis industry is booming and ready to break through advertising barriers, albeit very cautiously. Here’s how companies manage to bend the rules and get their brand out there:

  • Companies “sneak” ads on Facebook.
  • Some companies create fake Facebook and Instagram pages to test what they can and cannot do.
  • Companies rely on their own websites to communicate with customers.
  • Many companies hire influencers to share information about their products.

Despite the above methods, a lot of companies feel lost about the rules and regulations, and they aren’t sure where to turn. They demand guidance and clarity, but popular platforms are yet to accommodate them.

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