Marijuana Marketing: How to Market Your Medical Dispensary Online to a Local Audience

Finally, Missouri has joined several other US states that have legalized medical marijuana.

With this in mind, Missouri is expected to have up to 192 marijuana dispensaries by the end of 2020—24 licenses for each of their eight Congressional districts.

If you’re preparing your dispensary for the fall season, good for you: you’ve gotten a fantastic opportunity to help others, all while making some money. However, because of how busy you likely are, and your current lack of revenue coming in, you’re probably wondering how to market your canna-business in an affordable yet effective way.

Don’t fret. There are some fantastic budget-friendly options out there for you. In this guide, we highlight some of the best local advertising practices for new dispensaries in Missouri.

Harness the Power of Google My Business

So, you may not be able to buy ads on Google (more on that later), but you’re still allowed to register your dispensary through Google My Business (GMB). Not only can you, but you should. Local SEO will be a considerable leverage factor for your business.

Claim your GMB listing by going here. Then, Google will mail a postcard to your brick and mortar store to verify your business and location.

Once you’ve verified your business, you can manage your reviews, add photos, respond to any questions or comments from customers, and, most importantly, learn what your clientele thinks of your establishment. Use these free tools for advertising, gathering feedback, and adjusting accordingly.

Make sure your address, contact information, and hours are accurate and consistent across all platforms. If you make a change to any of these, change it on your Google listing, too.

GMB has several benefits, with two of the most significant ones being that it’s easy to navigate. Plus, it’s free!

Consider Email Marketing 

Email marketing is another affordable option that provides a fantastic ROI. For every $1 spent on email advertising, a business stands to earn up to $42 in return.

Email marketing will be one of your dispensary’s most excellent tools—as long as it’s highly targeted. If you can gather a highly-targeted list of prospective customers and send them relevant, thumb-stopping messages advertising your latest products, hours, or specials, your chances of conversion soar.

If you’re not doing the email marketing yourself, it helps to work with a company that understands the nuances of the marijuana industry.

As you curate emails, think about your client’s pain points, and try to solve them. This practice improves your odds of becoming a preference in their eyes.

Provide Incentives for Reviews and Testimonials

Another way to leverage your presence on Google is through reviews. While you don’t have control over what reviews you get (to a certain extent, at least), you can encourage people to leave testimonials.

Of course, a great review starts with excellent customer service, so your focus should begin there. If you provide an exceptional experience, your customers will be more likely to spend the time crafting a review for your Google listing.

As clients leave the shop, you can mention this to them: “Hey, thanks so much for stopping in! We hope you enjoyed everything. If so, perhaps you wouldn’t mind leaving us a review on Google describing your experience.”

Use Smartphones to Your Advantage With Text Message Marketing

SMS marketing is another of dispensaries’ preferred advertising techniques. Plus, getting someone’s phone number doesn’t have to be complicated or even costly.

In fact, you could gather a list of phone numbers right there in your shop for free. As people check out at the POS system, ask them if they’d like to receive text updates. Or, have postcards lying near the checkout counter that allow people to fill out their information and drop it into a box.

Once you’ve gotten some phone numbers, use them the same way you’d use email: notify them of hot new specials, new strains, or new hours. Of course, for both email and text marketing, it’s essential not to spam your clientele or send them too many messages, as this could have the opposite effect.

   

Be authentic, informative, and just a sprinkle of promotional. Encourage your customers to mention receiving a text message while shopping to see how well it’s performing. You could also provide links in your text messages that prompt readers to go right to your website to order something.

Text messaging: it’s fast, it’s affordable, and it’s got a high opening rate. It’s hard to go wrong!

Learn About Programmatic Ad Buying

Unfortunately, most of the traditional methods of advertising are not an option for dispensaries. Google, Facebook, Instagram, and others prohibit the ability to market a marijuana dispensary on their platforms. Knowing this, you’ll just have to find platforms that do allow it.

Programmatic ad buying is one method favored by dispensaries and other ‘grey’ markets. It involves buying media in more non-traditional forms, such as TV, audio (like radio), voice, and streaming (like perhaps through a podcast).

You have the power to control how much you spend with this form of advertising. Using DSP, or demand-side platform, you decide what impressions you want to buy and how much you want to buy them for. At the same time, publishers use SSP, or supply-side platform, to sell ad space to brands (such as yours).

This creates a harmonious way for you to advertise on a supplier’s platform.

Deleting the brand ambassador section because it’s about going to festivals, concerts, etc. and that probably won’t be happening for awhile.

Build a Strong Website and Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Your website is a touchpoint for many prospective and current customers. They’ll look to it for information regarding your location, hours, offerings, and more.

If your website is slow, nonexistent, or inconsistent, it could seriously damage your reputation (and steer away potential business).

Build a reliable website through platforms such as WordPress, and of course, strengthen your brand, too. Your brand should consist of an eye-catching logo, a memorable name, an audience-focused mission, and consistent communication.

As you’re designing your site, work closely with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency or freelancer. Organic visitors account for an average of 53% of all website traffic across the internet. In order to be found by prospective customers, it’s essential to invest in SEO. Collaborating with an SEO expert can help your dispensary rank for relevant keywords and bring people interested in your products to your site.

Use the Marijuana Version of GMB: Weedmaps

Weedmaps is a “community connecting cannabis consumers, patients, retailers, doctors, and brands.” Sounds right up your alley, no?

As the owner and/or representative of a dispensary, you can register your business with Weedmaps, similar to how you’d do so with Google My Business. Fill out a registration form with your business’s information, including its license number, and wait to hear from a Weedmaps representative.

If approved, your dispensary could join a platform that’s been in operation since 2008. Weedmaps is one of the leading technologies when it comes to the cannabis industry, connecting prospective customers with providing businesses like yours.

Marijuana Marketing Requires Some Innovation

…but you’ve got this!

With your entrepreneurial spirit, these advertising practices will come naturally. Find any avenues that allow you to market your dispensary, and double-down on them any way that you can. With time and more societal acceptance of medical marijuana, marketing may become easier and more accessible, and by then, you’ll already be running a successful show.

Another thing your dispensary needs to do is stay up-to-date on the latest news in the cannabis world. We can help with that!

Click here to keep learning more about the marijuana business, from tiered pricing to consumption methods, hiring employees, and much more. While you’re at it, sign up for our Missouri-specific newsletter that comes out every Friday.

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