5 min read

The Complete Guide to Dispensary Marketing on Weedmaps

July 17, 2023

In today’s cannabis industry, the need for strategic marketing has never been more crucial. With competition increasing every day, it’s vital that dispensaries find a way to stand out and connect with their target audience. One effective way of doing this is by leveraging Weedmaps, a popular online platform that provides users with information on cannabis and related products.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of dispensary marketing on Weedmaps, exploring the platform’s history, business model, products, and advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, we’ll provide insights and tips to help you navigate the platform and optimize your marketing efforts.

What is Weedmaps?

For those unfamiliar, Weedmaps is an online platform that shares information about local dispensaries, strains, and products. It’s a go-to resource for cannabis enthusiasts looking for dispensaries and related products in their area. The platform is popular in the US, Canada, and several other regions with an adult-use or medical cannabis framework. 

The Origins of Weedmaps

Weedmaps was launched in 2008 by Justin Hartfield and Keith Hoerling, two friends with a passion for cannabis and technology. Way back then, Proposition 215 was the law of the land in California. They built the platform to provide cannabis enthusiasts with a centralized resource to find dispensaries and products. Over the years, the platform has evolved to become a leading online destination for cannabis-related information and has helped many dispensaries gain visibility and attract new customers.

Weedmaps Business Model

As a marketing platform, Weedmaps generates revenue by offering a range of marketing products to dispensaries. These products include basic listings, nearby listings, banner ads, and deals. The platform’s revenue model is predominantly pay-to-play, meaning that dispensaries have to pay to secure prominent positions and placements. Another key to their financial success was their continued willingness to run ads for unlicensed cannabis businesses even after California passed Prop 64. While Prop 64 made recreational cannabis legal in California, it also mandated that all dispensaries be licensed. 

The Decline of Weedmaps

Despite its popularity, Weedmaps has faced its fair share of controversy over the years. It has drawn significant criticism from regulators who worry that it promotes illegal cannabis sales. These concerns have led to regulatory pressure and are partly responsible for Weedmaps pulling out of some markets, including Michigan. 

Will Weedmaps Survive?

Given the regulatory and legal challenges that Weedmaps has faced, many wonders if the platform will survive in the long run. However, with cannabis legalization gaining traction across the US and globally, it’s likely that the demand for cannabis-related information and services will continue to increase. This bodes well for Weedmaps, whose popularity and reach should keep growing. 

What Products Does Weedmaps Offer for Dispensary Marketing?

There is a range of advertising products that Weedmaps offers to dispensaries. These include: 

Basic Listing: This is the most inexpensive option and gets your dispensary listed in the platform’s results when users search for your city or zip code.

Premier Positions: This option gets your dispensary at the top of the search results, increasing visibility to potential customers. 

Nearby Listings: This product puts your dispensary next to other popular dispensaries when users search for those popular locations.

Deals: Dispensaries can offer deals or discounts to attract customers. These are displayed via the “Deals” section of the platform. 

Nearby Banner Ads: This product allows dispensaries to advertise their products on the front page of the platform, above the listings. 

Pickup and Delivery: This feature lets dispensaries advertise their pickup and delivery services directly to users. 

The Pros of Dispensary Marketing on Weedmaps

Dispensary marketing on Weedmaps provides several benefits, including:

Increased Visibility: Placing your dispensary in prominent positions on the platform increases its visibility to potential customers. 

Reach Your Target Audience: The platform’s user base is primarily cannabis enthusiasts, which means that marketing to them is an effective way to reach your target audience.

Immediate ROI: Advertising on Weedmaps can quickly generate revenue by attracting new customers, translating into immediate ROI.

Online Ordering: Weedmaps allows dispensaries to offer online ordering capabilities, which are convenient for customers and make for easy upselling opportunities for dispensaries. 

The Cons of Dispensary Marketing on Weedmaps

Despite its advantages, there are also some disadvantages to Weedmaps marketing, including:

Cost: Weedmaps advertising products can be pricy, and dispensaries must carefully gauge their ROI to ensure that it is worth the cost. Weedmaps is far more expensive for premium listings and their full suite of services than you realize. Depending on your city, you could spend $100k or more monthly on the platform when you pair a premium listing with nearby listings, deals, and delivery.

You Drive Your Customers to Weedmaps Funnel: By directing customers to Weedmaps for information and orders, dispensaries limit their ability to build direct relationships with customers and lose some control over the customer experience.

Weedmaps Owns Your Customer Data: As a third-party platform, Weedmaps owns the data collected on their site, meaning that dispensaries miss out on collecting this valuable information themselves.

Best Practices for Dispensary Marketing on Weedmaps 

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when using Weedmaps to market your dispensary:

Understand the Platform: Knowing all the different advertising products that Weedmaps offers, how they work, and what kind of ROI you can expect will help you maximize your marketing efforts.

Immediate Needs: Since Weedmaps is a directory, your initial goal is to get found by customers when they are looking for dispensaries in their area. 

Long-Term Strategy: While marketing on Weedmaps may provide short-term benefits, dispensary owners should also invest time in other marketing strategies, such as SEO, email marketing, or social media, to build their brand and generate more long-term revenue.

Weedmaps can be a valuable tool for dispensaries looking to market themselves to cannabis consumers, but it’s not without its challenges and limitations. Dispensaries must weigh the pros and cons and consider implementing other marketing strategies. Keeping track of the changing cannabis market and finding ways to meet the evolving demands of consumers is essential for success. Overall, Weedmaps is a valuable platform that can help dispensaries grow their business, but it shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy.