Regulated Marijuana on display

Marijuana Marketing in Colorado: Part 2 – Advertising in Action

If you haven’t caught part one of Marijuana Marketing in Colorado, you can check it out here. As always, when covering any subjects dealing directly with state or federal laws, please remember that I am not an attorney; these are my own opinions only. Please consult with a licensed attorney if you have any concerns.

In part one, we covered the state laws in Colorado that address Marijuana Advertising and Marketing. In part two, I want to review what you can do within the confines of the law and the reach you can achieve. These techniques should apply with slight adaptation to anyone in the Medical and Retail Marijuana space.

Know your market

Before any successful advertising campaign can begin, you must clearly understand who you are advertising to. This means developing a solid understanding of what a “typical” person in your ideal customer base might look like. You should create a sense of their media and buying habits, popular communication forms, and general demographics.

This information is your foundation for all the creatives and the context under which your advertisements are written. Thankfully, in the specific scenario of Marijuana Marketing in Colorado, much of our market has already been identified for us.

We know already that they must be residents or tourists to Colorado, for instance. We also know they must express an interest in or a need for the benefits of Marijuana. Finally, we know that most patients in Colorado have a smartphone holding their license copy.

Choosing Where to Advertise

Unfortunately for the Marijuana space, federal laws and Big Tech are slow to warm up to policy changes and public opinion. Currently, neither Google nor Facebook allows the advertising of Marijuana in any direct capacity. At face value, it seems as though our biggest potential market is being kept from us.

It is possible to thread the needle of their ToS, but I don’t recommend it, and here’s why. To advertise marijuana-related content on Google, for instance, you must avoid using specific terms in both your ad copy and the landing page for the ad. The irony is, you can target whatever keywords you want. You can post ads under searches related to “Medical Marijuana Near Me”; you can’t use the word “marijuana” in the ad or on the landing page.

Absurd right? I agree. We can, however, look forward to the day when Google and other advertisers at large change these policies. We can start to prepare for that day so that we may hit the ground running when that day comes. Remember when I said the best first step is to know your market?

Today’s Best Practices in Marijuana Marketing

We cant advertise for “Marijuana Near Me,” though we can try to rank organically for the term. Doing so allows us to build a strong brand presence and establish domain authority. Creating an attractive, functional, and highly responsive website is the best first step you can take today.

The most significant benefit of building an organic presence is all the data you can leverage. When the day comes that Google and others finally do allow us to advertise directly, we will have all the user data from today until then. All the most crucial questions of ad targeting and anticipated performance take cues from your organic data.

Which mediums bring the most traffic to your site? What blog content has the best user engagement? Where are the majority of your users located? A robust organic web presence can give you all the data you need to make these decisions from a place of confidence.

Creating Quality Content in the Marijuana Space

So what does it take to create quality Marijuana related content? It can be easier than you think, and if I may be so bold, hopefully, you are reading it right now! Before I wrote part one of this article, the only marijuana-related term I ranked for was “Manitou Springs Dispensary.” No clue why but I did. Part one alone vaulted me to the sixth page of “Colorado Marijuana Advertising” overnight. It settled out on the top of page five after a week.

Consider for a moment that my content focuses on business administration and operation. Relevant queries for my content are just a tiny percentage of the overall marijuana search market. Dispensaries have the easiest time, even before producers. Most searches related to Marijuana in colorado are for some variation of “dispensary near me.”

If I run that search from my home in Colorado Springs, I get a few expected results in the local panel, sorted by distance and overall review quality. The most well-known brands also have the most reviews and took the first position in my search. Looking over their Google My Business page and their website, we can readily find room for improvement, though.

Gaining Ground Over The Competition

How do we take visibility away from such a firmly rooted competitor? Patience, diligence, and consistency in your blogs and organic content. This local leader, in particular, has some good static content on their site related to Marijuana. Things like a brief explanation of various types of concentrates, a primer on the different strains they grow, and a few blurbs about their company history and ethics.

What they don’t have is any fresh content or consistency in social media postings. They need to use the more advanced features of Google My Business, such as posts and events, and they do poorly differentiating the different pages for each location. They still need to take ownership of their Weedmaps Pages. This dispensary performs best for organic content but could do better. More importantly, someone else could come along and steal their thunder.

How Does this all Relate to Marijuana Advertising in Colorado?

So where does all this effort bring us? As I mentioned before, since the direct advertising doors are closed to us, this is the best we can do for now. The upside is organic content lasts forever and gives returns for as long as you maintain the content and stay relevant. Further, the traffic and site experience data you can glean from holding the top organic positions will give you a great head start when the advertising doors open.

Add Facebook pixel tracking to your site now while we all wait for Mr. Zuckerberg to get with the times. The day you can finally start those campaigns, you will have everything you need to target your customer base. This also includes all the users on Facebook who share their interests and demographic data. The same thing applies to Google Analytics. Ignoring this opportunity now is akin to lighting your future advertising dollars on fire.

As a Colorado Marijuana Business, it should be your everyday conscious activity to be as public as possible. There are too many opportunities to miss and too much knowledge of how you can grow your brand to pass up. Please, please stop leaving the low-hanging marketing fruit. If you don’t pick it, another brand will.

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