The budding medical marijuana industry would appear to have limitless potential for growth. As new studies continue to suggest a multitude of health benefits for a wide range of conditions and illnesses — from sleeplessness and arthritis to glaucoma and cancer —more states have legalized sales of the product.
By the fall of 2018, according to Business Insider, 10 states and the District of Columbia had legalized marijuana for recreational use and 33 states had legalized medical marijuana.
But a major obstacle for investors, growers and dispensary owners are federal restrictions on how the herb is marketed and advertised. While both medicinal and recreational marijuana is legal on a state-by-state basis, the products remain illegal federally and can’t be advertised through conventional channels such as newspapers and magazines and popular social media sites.
Explains Daniel E. Lofaso of the marketing and SEO site thedigialelevator.com, “The primary social networks that tend to work well for most local or small brands — Facebook and Instagram — are highly regulated under their Prohibited Content and Drugs & Drug-Related Products policies.”
That, however, isn’t stopping forward-looking companies like digitalelevator.com, nor enterprising businesspeople, from touting those benefits to consumers along with new product announcement and reviews, and industry news. Lofaso, for example, recommends using subtle category titles such as “Alternative Medicine Practitioner” when doing local SEO campaigns for clients like Tierra Healthcare Concepts — aka, THC Physicians. (THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s main psychoactive component.)
Meanwhile, websites like 4blooms.guru offer other marketing and advertising tactics that have proven effective in circumventing restrictions:
- Place ads on marijuana-friendly websites rather than on general sites that will screen or remove them.
- In place of traditional ads, tweet company content that can earn more visits and views than webpages.
- Use dedicated cannabis blogs to showcase products and drive readers to company websites.
- Create custom minisites off existing company pages for posting promotions, infographics, research and stats, etc.
- Bring your content to life through videos posted on websites, blogs and emails to existing customers. This can increase click-through rates as much as 300 percent.
- Build a team of brand ambassadors who can share your company content through their social media networks.
It’s also important to keep an eye on the changing economics of this new market. The Washington Post recently reported that in some states where cannabis is legal, wholesale prices are collapsing. The good news is that in the short-term, retailers may be likely to seek greater exposure to counteract the effects of downward pricing.