📷 Operatio Marketing
With all the restrictions placed on advertising from most of the popular online platforms, growing your cannabis business and brand the “traditional” way is probably one of the biggest challenges you face. But luckily, there as some tried-and-true tactics you can use become visible, drive traffic and generate sales. All without having to run one single Google, Facebook, or Instagram ad.
It’s called Content Marketing.
Content Marketing is an effective and cheap long-term strategy that will help you focus on building strong relationships with your ideal customers by giving them relevant, high-quality content on a consistent basis. In fact, Content Marketing is so good at what it does that, while it costs 62% less than other forms of outbound and digital marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads!
But, the major benefit of Content Marketing for cannabis businesses specifically is that it sidesteps many of the restrictions around direct marketing and advertising cannabis and CBD products. Content marketing by its very nature is about avoiding advertising, instead creating informative, interesting and engaging articles, videos, infographics, podcast (to name but a few) that adds value to the lives of people.
Creating informative content and marketing your products that way, also avoids many of the regulations imposed by governmental and health agencies such as the FDA. When you tell people about the latest breakthroughs in medical cannabis research, or you provide them with an interesting case study on how your product or service solved a problem for someone, you’re not making any direct claims.
In this article, I will give you five fundamental elements that form the basis of a good Content Marketing strategy, giving you the basic tools to get started on getting the word out about you and your cannabis business.
When you’re looking for the ideal CBD dosage, or the benefits of full-spectrum hemp, or which cannabinoids are best for what, where is the first place you go? My bet would be the internet.
Every time you enter something into your search bar and Google returns a whole bunch of links, you are looking at content. Every video, podcast, Instagram story, blog post, meme, GIF, webinar, news story - the list goes on - it’s all content.
Content is a huge part of our daily lives. It informs, us entertains us, instructs us, and guides us. It makes us laugh and cry and love and reflect.
And from the perspective of Content Marketing, it helps to attract, engage, and delight prospective customers and clients. It brings new visitors to your site. It builds a loyal tribe. And ultimately, it generates revenue for your cannabis brand.
Informing and educating themselves on the whats, whys, and hows of a product or service is one of the first steps any potential customer takes when deciding whether it will work for them. And creating lots of quality content provides you with the opportunity to not only provide the answers for all those people asking questions, you also get to focus on the solutions YOU provide, and how YOU can make their lives easier.
And then, what will eventually start happening is that, when people need to make their purchase decision, they will come to you instead of someone else. That is because they already know you, they’re already loyal to you, and they already trust you because you have become a source of valuable information and content.
The great thing about creating lots of quality content is that it gives you the opportunity to show hundreds of relevant queries in Google. And hundreds of relevant queries means capturing web traffic organically.
As discussed earlier, your ideal customers are searching for answers to their questions on the Internet, entering queries into search engines at a rate of 63,000 searches per second for Google alone! And if you don’t have the answers to those questions in the form of content, Google has no reason to show your website.
Let’s look at an example. Say you’re a cannabis dispensary and you provide medical cannabis as a product. Having one generic product page on your website, with generic descriptions and blah content, that page isn’t going to make your website rank in the top 3 pages anytime soon.
But if instead you create several blog posts of in-depth, well researched and relevant content about things like the characteristics, uses and effects of different types of strains, or explaining the different types of cannabinoid and cannabinoid profiles, or the importance of terpenes and the entourage effect, that is when you become an authority in not only the eyes of your target audience, but also in the eyes of Google.
Content creation and SEO will always have a synergistic relationship if done right. When you consider your readers and their needs first, and create content that provides them with value that engages them, your SEO strategy will always be so much more effective and successful.
Email marketing is a great way to build relationships with potential customers. And because your mailing list belongs to you, they are a great way to produce and share whatever information you want to your audience without the risk of being shut down by some third party platform.
But in order for your newsletter to be effective, you need to focus on value. People are going to unsubscribe in a New York minute if all they get is “buy my CBD honey sticks!”, or “buy now and get 5% of my new vape pen!”. And although it’s ok to sometimes include the odd promotional message, the focus should be on entertaining, informative and quality content.
When your newsletter comes with high quality content, subscribers become, and stay engaged with you. Newsletters don’t FEEL like marketing. It feels more like a connection.
The moment someone signs up for your newsletter, they’re basically saying that they want to learn more about you and your cannabis business. Which is why you want to provide them with content that they can use to enhance their lives - either in the form of educational or instructional information, or with entertaining and fun content.
Building customer relationships is also about personalisation. A great way to do that is to highlight behind-the-scenes aspects of your business. Do a monthly customer spotlight. Include a write-up and loads of photo’s about a fun cannabis event your team attended. Share your cannabis brand’s story.
If you use your newsletter to show your humanity, and get creative with your content to always add value, you are guaranteed to build strong, long-lasting and prosperous relationships with your readers.
So while most major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter won’t let you advertise, there is no reason why you shouldn’t utilise them to your advantage. After all, there are no restrictions on your cannabis brand having a Facebook business page, or an Instagram profile, or a Twitter account to gain followers and fans.
In fact, your social media platforms are one of THE BEST WAYS to connect with your ideal customers. It is a powerful tool for developing and nurturing real relationships with you customer base, and it gives you a direct avenue to inspire dialogue, get feedback, cultivate new leads, and drive traffic to your website.
But for it to do all this, you need to have great content.
That is why your social media strategy should form part of a greater content marketing strategy. One in which you leverage your content in such as way that it provides your audience with the highest amount of value and engagement.
Simply put, great content not only helps you to gain more followers, but if directed properly, it also helps you gain more visitors to your website, letting you collect their information and bringing them into your sales funnel. But great content also helps to take your social media conversations to a deeper, helping to establish a better connection with your followers and fans.
And then finally, and probably most importantly, you need to keep on producing valuable, high-quality content. Content Marketing is a long-term strategy.
We all want to see results from our efforts immediately, We want all our blog posts to go viral within a day, publish a campaign that makes a gazillion dollars right now, and gain a 100K followers within a week.
The reality of Content Marketing is that, that rarely happens and it takes time to see results. According to Fractl it takes about six months to see results from on-site content marketing, and about 12 months to see results from off-site content marketing.
But the good news is that once it kicks off, it produces long-lasting and compounding results. The Internet itself is content-driven. Content has a lasting value that provides compounding returns over time. The more of it that you have and the longer that it exists, the higher your returns will be.
Each time you create a piece of content, you add a building block to your online presence. Every time you create a blog article and add to your website, you develop a larger resource that becomes a more useful asset. And every time you share that piece of content on social media or in your newsletter, you are increasing your visibility and brand recognisability.
So, even if no-one reads your blog, or watches your videos, or listens to your podcasts in the beginning, you need to carry on carrying on. Because in the end, the more content you create, the more compounding returns you will get on all the other content that came before it while creating opportunities for prospects to find you, get to know you, and engage with you.