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To say the cannabis industry is booming is an understatement. Few industries in recent memory have taken off with the same energy – the legal market is expected to hit a whopping $66.3 billion by 2025.
While there are plenty of plant-facing, consumer businesses with a ton of potential, there are even more ancillary businesses vital for making the industry’s sustainable and long-term growth possible. With this crowded playing field comes steep competition, though: how can professional services, technology companies and manufacturers serving the cannabis industry stand out? As more states legalize cannabis, there’s no better time than now to establish market dominance.
That’s where thoughtful and targeted marketing and PR makes an enormous impact.
Use Social Media – But Use it the Right Way
Social media is crucial for marketing your business in today’s world. In fact, a recent eMarketer report found every generation is active on social media: 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers utilize the platforms in some manner.
While many cannabusinesses are thriving on social media with very large and engaged audiences, cannabis is still considered an illicit substance by the federal government and certain states – so there are a lot of rules surrounding what you can and cannot say on social media platforms. For instance, Federal Trade Commission guidelines have led Instagram – the most popular platform right now for cannabis companies – to shut down accounts for improperly disclosing or advertising their cannabis products.
But this doesn’t mean your company should abandon this approach altogether. Until social media giants adjust their policies around cannabis to reflect a widely positive public opinion (and increasing legality), social media marketers just need to be more careful about what they choose to post. Partner with a social marketing team that’s familiar with these regulations and can help your company flourish – online and offline. There are plenty of creative, playful and professional routes that get your point across and build your brand while staying within the legal limits.
Embrace PR Opportunities
Effective public relations campaigns drive awareness and credibility on a large scale. The cannabis industry is ripe with opportunities: there are dozens of cannabis-specific media outlets, awards and rankings seem to pop up daily, new professional and advocacy associations are located in virtually every cannabis-legal state and a super-active tradeshow circuit draws tens of thousands of eager industry insiders. The trick is to identify a path that works with your company’s resources, budget and goals. The possibilities are abundant for businesses willing to put in the time and effort.
Network at Cannabis Industry Events
The conference and events circuit in the cannabis industry is thriving as more businesses seek out best practices to navigate this evolving industry. Such events provide critical intel and education while offering business leaders an opportunity to network and meet customers and partners face-to-face.
Some cannabis companies decide to exhibit at events (and we’ve covered some must-haves for exhibitors here), but there are numerous ways to get involved. You could speak on a subject pertaining to your company’s products or services. You could also look into sponsorship opportunities, or simply work the floor as an attendee. The fact-of-the-matter is: having a presence at these events is better than no presence at all. On a national scale, Marijuana Business’ MJBizCon series and the National Cannabis Industry Association put on some of the best-known events. However, there’s much opportunity to engage at the state level as well, or with smaller, more intimate organizations with like-minded members.
Hone Your Content
There’s a lot of misinformation (and lack of information) about the cannabis industry and, along with it, opportunities to dispel myths or misinterpretations. A strong content marketing strategy can boost your company’s thought leadership, enhance your website’s SEO, educate the greater market and gently encourage leads toward a purchase. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers in 2018 used content marketing to reach key customers.
Consider these tactics:
- Blogging: Educate your audience about their most pressing concerns or queries on a blog. Think about the most-Googled topics that are applicable to your services or products, and start there.
- Whitepapers and case studies: These pieces highlight your company’s expertise, industry leadership and customer successes. A compelling case study or whitepaper demonstrates the value of your company’s offerings with third-party examples, studies and data that support your marketing claims with hard facts.
- Video: Videos drive significant social media traffic, and algorithms tend to favor them. In today’s culture and fast-paced lifestyle, people turn to video to break down complex issues and be entertained – consider how you can utilize this medium to infuse new life into your brand.
There’s certainly no shortage of marketing strategies for B2B companies serving the cannabis industry. The issue is: too many companies in the industry let their marketing efforts fall by the wayside. In other cases, companies rush the marketing process, ending up with less-than ideal results. Untargeted, rushed or inconsistent marketing can end up hurting your brand and creating even more work to repair the damage.
Aker Ink offers a team of skilled and experienced PR and marketing pros who understand the cannabis industry and its specific challenges. Learn more about our marketing and PR services that could give your B2B company an edge.