18 min read
How to Start a Cannabis Brand?
The legalization of marijuana was a breakthrough and it led to the birth of a full-fledged cannabis industry. It also caused several people to enter the industry, selling all types of cannabis products for medical and recreational purposes.
This multi-billion-dollar industry is rapidly growing year after year, and it isn’t affected by anything, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Since you are here, we bet you are looking to dip your toe into the water and see how you can start your cannabis brand.
We have curated this helpful and extensive guide on how to start your cannabis brand. Not only does it tell you how to start your brand, but also gives you tips on how to make your brand stand out from the competition. Keep reading to find out more.
Top 15 Steps to Start Your Cannabis Brand
If you are looking to enter the cannabis industry, let us tell you that you aren’t the only one. Thousands of people are searching the internet for answers just you like are, which means that the competition is quite tough. However, this shouldn’t slow you down, because you can follow our guide to get your brand off the ground and make it successful. Let’s have a look at the steps you need to follow to get started.
1. Conduct Thorough Research
One of the first things you need to do is to know everything about the industry through extensive research. Find out everything about the procedure of setting up your brand in the state, but also the local and federal regulations that apply so that you can comply with them. Most importantly, if you are looking to expand your business across different states, you will have to get an idea of the individual rules and regulations for each of them, so that you don’t get into any compliance issues.
Also, research the demographics that your brand will cater to. These are your target audience, and you must know everything about them, including their spending habits and consumer behavior. Make sure to find out everything you can about the limitations or permissions regarding cannabis advertising in each state.
2. Consider Your Target Audience
During your research, you must identify and determine the ideal customer who would buy cannabis products from you. A rookie mistake would be to think that anyone and everyone who buys marijuana for medical or recreational purposes is your customer. Back when cannabis retail stores and dispensaries were few and far between, there were limited options and all brands got sufficient business.
Since dispensaries have become common, you can’t simply open the doors and expect a swarm of customers to gravitate towards your brand. Some of the things you need to consider are:
- Who are your customers and what do they need?
- What do they do?
- Where do they live?
- What age group do they belong to?
- What are their interests?
By factoring in these things, you will be able to draw a picture of your target audience and set the tone and image for your brand.
3. Identify What Makes Your Dispensary Unique
Once you know about your target audience, the next step involves finding out how you can fulfill their needs, either through a certain product or service. You might also provide them with the experience they can’t find anywhere else. This is known as the Unique Value Proposition and it will help you eclipse your competition.
List down all of the unique selling points of your brand. You have to define how and why they would choose you over other brands they have tried before. Maybe you have your cannabis farm, or you make use of organic substances from growth to packaging. The quality of your customer service or the layout of your store can also set you apart from your competition.
4. Emphasize the Importance of Cannabis Consumer Education
Although cannabis dispensaries have been around for some years, it is a new industry. Therefore, you have to prioritize cannabis consumer education and make it an integral part of your marketing strategies. Whether your customers have complete knowledge about cannabis or are new to it, you should make it a point to educate them about its uses and benefits, along with the different types of products you offer, and other key points that pertain to your brand.
When you are researching your target audience, you can also find out what they already know about cannabis products. You can incorporate the findings into the customer experience, which would translate to more sales.
5. Pay Close Attention to Packaging
Your cannabis products may be A-grade, but you also have to pay attention to their packaging. Product packaging draws customers closer to the shelves and compels them to pick up a product. Choosing the right kind of packaging is an exciting yet challenging process. Most importantly, it should be compliant with the applicable local and federal regulations. Secondly, it should also reflect the overall tone and story of your brand.
You also have to include the product description on the packaging. It should include THC levels, ingredients, consumption guidelines, general warnings, etc. There are also certain words that you can’t use on the packaging, and you will have to be very particular about these things before you finalize everything.
6. Don’t Forget About Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a no-brainer for the recognition of your brand, regardless of which industry it belongs to. When it comes to the cannabis industry, social media marketing is a powerful tool and it helps you get the right message and tone across to your target audience.
Once you are done with the packaging and send it to the state authorities for approval, you can start working on your social media presence. Ideally, you should have your pages and posts ready on major platforms as soon as you get the green light on your packaging.
While designing your social media marketing strategy, focus on the brand’s message and vision. It should communicate what you are planning to do. Along with state regulations, you would also need to check the terms and conditions of the social network regarding cannabis marketing and advertising.
7. Build and Grow Your Organic Reach on Instagram
Instagram is built around visuals and images with an audience that majorly consists of people aged 21-44 years old. It is impertinent to mention that Instagram policies are against cannabis marketing and it can cause your organic posts to be removed and your account to be banned if you don’t comply.
You can promote cannabis education, as well as different types of information about cannabis, as such content is accepted by Instagram. Moreover, it also allows you to grow your organic reach quickly. You can capitalize on this fact and choose to grow your organic reach by making your content compliant and using the right tags for each image you upload.
You can also boost organic growth through :
- Regular posts and stories: Instagram allows you to keep your audience engaged through daily stories and posts, planned and uploaded through a targeted content strategy.
- Consistent posting schedule: Be consistent in your posting and sharing so that you can make the audience more accustomed to your brand.
- Research the latest hashtags: Research valuable and relevant hashtags that pertain to the cannabis industry and your brand. By adding these hashtags, your content will reach out to a wider audience.
- Video marketing: People love to see short videos through Instagram stories and reels. You can deliver product videos and tutorials to your target audience, which would gain a lot of exposure for your brand.
You can also maximize the outreach of your brand on Instagram by handling your customer service through the platform. Most customers you about your products and services as soon as they see your posts, so if you give them this option, they would be drawn towards your brand.
Moreover, you can also engage social media influencers to endorse your CBD products through their accounts, which have a much higher following. Although it is always tricky to gauge the effectiveness of this strategy, it helps you maximize your organic reach.
8. Build and Grow Your Organic Reach on Facebook
If your target audience consists of members aged 45+, you will also have to make use of Facebook. Through digital marketing methods, you will be able to create a larger presence on Facebook, which translates to higher brand awareness.
When you launch your store and people start buying or ordering your products, some of them would take to Facebook and leave reviews and feedback, which would greatly increase customer trust and brand loyalty.
Facebook is also a great tool to drive traffic to your website’s blog, which is an excellent SEO strategy. You can share cannabis education posts and content since it won’t be removed. If you have an SEO-friendly cannabis blog on your website, you can share each of your posts on Facebook to drive more traffic to your website.
Just like other platforms, the key to success in Facebook marketing is to provide real value to your target customers through your content. If you have a solid social media content strategy in place that also includes cannabis consumer education, your followers would be able to learn a lot about cannabis and its benefits.
By promoting cannabis awareness and education through your Facebook page, not only will you be able to gain more brand recognition and build customer loyalty, but it would also help you comply with the terms and conditions of the platform. Facebook and Instagram have similar policies when it comes to cannabis marketing, which is why you should employ a similar strategy for both of them. Naturally, if you comply with their regulations, your page won’t be flagged or banned.
Lastly, promoting cannabis consumer education through your platform will also set you apart from your competitors, most of which try to sneak in their products and services in their content, while risking account or page suspension. Some of the key features of Facebook will also help you in getting your brand across, including Facebook Messenger, Live, Video, and Stories.
9. Search Engine Optimization for Cannabis Brand Marketing
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the most powerful and popular tool that brands have in their arsenal, and it isn’t difficult to manage as well. All you need to do is to post SEO-optimized content on your website’s blog regularly. SEO-optimized content refers to content that helps search engines rank your website highly, thus allowing more and more people to find it.
For your blog content to be SEO-optimized, you need to find the most relevant keywords for your industry, and use them strategically in your content. The keywords can also be used in the URL, image tags, meta descriptions, and other elements of the blog post. Another way to make your content SEO-friendly is to add references to high-authority or high-traffic websites and also link to other blog posts on your website, where applicable.
Apart from your blog, there are several ways to advertise your brand on other platforms and websites. For starters, you can write guest posts for other cannabis-related websites that accept them. If you are well-versed and an expert in any area of the cannabis industry, you can check out high-authority cannabis websites and forums to see if they accept guest posts.
If you find such a website, you can create an SEO-optimized and informative article that readers can benefit from. At the end of this article, you can add a backlink to your website. Whenever someone reads your article, they would have the option of going to your website, and if the article is highly informative and engaging, you can experience an increase in referral traffic to your brand, which would also boost your sales.
Apart from guest posts, you can also run ads on several advertising platforms. There are quite a few third-party advertising networks that allow you to display cannabis and CBD advertisements on websites with high traffic. Although these platforms have a limit on how much you can spend on ads, they help you reach out to your target audience and draw their attention to your products and services.
10. Market Your Cannabis Brand on Industry-Related Websites & Blogs
Whether you are looking to market your brand to the common man or other marijuana businesses, there are several industry-related and relevant websites that you can find. For those that allow you to add guest posts, you can add high-quality articles in the manner that is mentioned in the previous section. Otherwise, you can also partner with a third-party advertising platform that deals in cannabis and CBD advertising, and use it to get your brand the exposure that it needs.
There are several forums and websites out there that deal in the cannabis space, and the best thing about them is that their entire audience consists either of consumers who buy cannabis products daily or businesses that are working in the B2B space. You can display personalized banner ads on these websites and top them off with email newsletters. This way, you are guaranteed to attract a massive audience, which includes both consumers and businesses.
By marketing your brand to other marijuana-related businesses, you would be able to expand your horizon and even enter into a partnership with them. For instance, if you can find a business that can supply you with cannabis products at a cheaper cost, it would help you make your business more profitable.
11. Integrate SMS Messaging into Your Marketing
Another key method to promote your cannabis brand is to integrate SMS marketing, which is carried out through text messaging. You might be using the leading communication apps in your marketing and customer service operations, such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, and others, but text messaging continues to be one of the most effective methods of marketing and outreach.
In today’s world, there are more phones on the planet as compared to humans, and more than 75% of people check their text messages within a few minutes of receiving them. This makes it one of the best methods for you to advertise your brand within your target audience.
SMS marketing is also regulated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which states that you can’t use telemarketing communication unless the recipient has given their consent. Therefore, you will have to stay within the limits while doing so, and there is nothing to worry about. You can easily set up SMS marketing campaigns by spending a small amount of money, and you can stay within the regulations by offering your customers to opt-in or out for receiving text messages.
12. Build a Community
Once you have established your social media presence through different platforms, it also becomes a valuable resource for you to build your community. You can also give your customers the option to receive newsletters through email, which enlighten them regarding the latest news and updates regarding the cannabis industry.
Community building helps you gather a significant group of valuable consumers and people who are in the same industry. Once you can find like-minded people who share the same interests as yours, you would be able to market your brand in a better manner.
13. Conduct and Host Events
If you are looking to start a cannabis dispensary and sell products only, then you can forget about reaching out to a larger audience. Rather, you should use your space and brand to foster a valuable community, and you can do this by planning and conducting events that you host.
You can plan different activities and sessions around the cannabis industry, and also keep various gifts and giveaways for the attendees. You can also utilize the events to educate more people about the benefits of cannabis and CBD products, which would convert them into your potential customers. Plus, you can invite small businesses and vendors, who can showcase their products and services to customers and other businesses.
14. Hire a Cannabis Marketing Agency
If you have started your cannabis brand, you might be concerned that you don’t know anything about branding or marketing, and your business doesn’t leave you with any free time to do anything else. Thankfully, you don’t have to do all the work yourself, because you can easily outsource the work to a cannabis marketing agency.
These agencies specialize in the cannabis industry, which helps them understand the different requirements that one must fulfill to build and grow your brand. Moreover, they will help you build your brand from the ground up, and help you find your identity and messaging. Moreover, you can communicate your values and expectations from the agency, and they can help you reflect those values into your brand’s messaging and imagery.
If you are used to doing everything on your own but don’t have enough knowledge or experience regarding branding or marketing, you don’t have to worry about anything. You can take out some time from managing your business and enroll in an online or physical course that teaches you everything you need to know about marketing in the cannabis industry. It might take some time for you to polish your skills, but you would be able to do everything on your own.
15. Check Out the Top 10 Cannabis Brands
Another way of getting inspiration for your cannabis brand is to check the top 10 brands out there, which have become hugely popular in the past few years. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Kushagram is a service that connects marijuana dispensaries with consumers who require CBD products for medical or recreational purposes. Located in Orange County, CA, it provides a rapid and robust platform that makes it easier for CBD consumers to find their nearest dispensary and also order the best products in just a few taps. Plus, it also provides users with wonderful deals and discounts on different types of cannabis products.
Stiiizy is an LA-based cannabis brand that provides premium quality cannabis products, and it offers a superb customer experience that makes it one of the most popular brands in this industry. It has introduced a proprietary pod system with an advanced delivery system that allows you to easily consume cannabis without any difficulty. The brand is also known for its exquisite branding and packaging.
Dosist is another cannabis brand located in Los Angeles, California. The brand has garnered a lot of popularity with its exquisite design and attention to detail. It makes use of pastel colors with rich accents, as well as bold branding elements in its logo and packaging, which helps its products stand out as well.
Houseplant is a cannabis brand started by Seth Rogan, and it focuses on premium THC products that help consumers enjoy a wonderful cannabis experience. The brand offers several types of specialized products, including THC-infused beverages. It makes use of soft and bright colors with minimalist designs to appeal to a larger audience.
Tweed is the first-ever publicly listed cannabis brand in the world, and it is based out of Smiths Falls, Ontario. The company is owned and founded by the Canopy Growth Corporation, and it has a trendy branding that stands out from its competitors. It offers several CBD products, including pre-rolled joints, chocolates, gummies, etc. Their packaging attracts everyone who comes across it.
Another celebrity cannabis brand is Monogram, which is lauded for its luxurious branding and marketing. Founded by Jay-Z, the brand makes use of music in the form of interviews and songs from the best hip-hop artists out there. Moreover, the brand makes use of simple and basic colors and fonts to get its message across.
Doja is another luxury cannabis brand that has been fostered by the Canopy Growth Corporation. It features a wide range of cannabis products sourced from top-quality handcrafted marijuana strains in Canada. It has a minimalist brand identity, coupled with a strong online presence that offers customers a wonderful experience.
Verde Vie is a cannabis brand that has a retro feel to it, thus making it stand out from its competitors. One of the best things about this brand is that it is completely owned by women, and is also specially tailored for women who make use of cannabis products for recreational and medical purposes. Another interesting thing about the brand is that its website is very subtle about its cannabis products.
Defonce sounds similar to Beyoncé, but it is a high-class luxury cannabis brand that is known for producing cannabis-infused chocolate with beautiful packaging that makes it irresistible. The brand logo and theme stands out from its competitors, thus offering you an insight into how to design your brand.
Van der Pop
Another female-centric cannabis business is Van der Pop, which builds and delivers unique experiences for female consumers. Moreover, the brand has a unique appearance and branding, which makes it look like a luxury fashion brand. It also has a major role to play in promoting cannabis education for women.
This brings us to the end of our guide on how to start your cannabis brand. We have attempted to provide you with complete information that you need to build your brand from the ground, including research, determining the target audience, establishing a social media presence, guest posting, and several other key methods. The more organic your approach is, the better your brand value will be.
Another thing you should focus on is optimizing the buying experience on your dispensaries, as well as your online store. Not only will this help you in getting more customers for your brand, but it would also translate to higher profitability and more revenue.