Launching a dispensary is no easy task. Marketing a new dispensary is arguably even harder.
Setting up the operations and retail side of your dispensary includes everything from state reporting and compliance to store layouts, inventory, and staffing. But you also have to think about who you’re marketing to and how to get the word out about your opening.
Marketing is a huge undertaking. Designing a brand. Building a website. Showing up in search results. A lot needs to be done before you even think about opening the doors to your dispensary.
While you worry about your dispensary on-site and balance a startup budget and timeline, the last thing you need is to learn cannabis marketing from scratch.
Lucky for you, that’s where a full-service cannabis marketing agency can step in. (Hi, that’s us.)
The key is to focus your marketing efforts on things that will actually move the needle. After years in the cannabis industry, we’ve identified three major elements that make a difference in building customer loyalty and driving foot traffic to your dispensary.
Here’s everything you need to know about successfully launching a dispensary:
Craft a stand-out dispensary brand
Your brand is everything. A well-thought-out brand will help you weed out the competition.
Your dispensary could very well be the absolute best cannabis retailer in the state. But if your brand doesn’t create intrigue with your audience, no one will walk in.
You also need to identify your target audience quickly. With so many dispensaries in this saturated market, it’s important to turn away people who won’t actually spend with you. Meanwhile, you’re pulling in people that will ride or die for you.
To accomplish all these goals while also crafting an “aesthetic” brand, spend ample time on strategy. This involves:
- Determining the emotions you want your brand to evoke
- Aligning your visual goals with copy strategy, also known as brand messaging
- Outlining the visual appeal of your brand through exercises like mood boarding
- Defining specific elements such as typography and color palettes
- Crafting a logo suite (primary logo, submarks, and more) that captures the messaging behind your brand
- Documenting your visual and emotional brand through official brand standards
Done right, your brand will go the distance and set you up for long-term success. While it’s tempting to do this process yourself, branding is one of the most important aspects.
Want to learn more about how to build a stand-out dispensary brand? Download our FREE ebook, Weed Out the Competition: How to Stand Out in a Saturated Market.
Develop a user-friendly, on-brand website
Let’s say you catch the attention of a potential customer with your killer brand. Now, what?
They need somewhere to go.
While Instagram may sound like a good home base to most, you won’t be able to share everything there. More importantly, it’s risky. You won’t own your audience there, meaning if you get shut down, you’ll lose access to all your followers.
A website, therefore, is the best place to lay the foundation for your digital marketing presence. This allows you to host information about your story and team, share education about cannabis, and even display your entire menu.
At Cannabis Creative, we build go-to-market websites with five primary pages to set the foundation for your online presence:
Homepage, About, and Contact
Your home, about, and contact pages are meant to be a seamless path – a story. Content strategy, good copywriting, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) design are key elements in crafting that story.
Your homepage should capture what you do, your mission, and your main offerings. Navigating should be as easy for someone who knows what they want to order as it is for someone who wants to learn who you are first.
Everything from your brand’s core values and mission statement to your most important product offerings should be front and center.
Consider the journey a user takes as soon as they land on your website. Is the goal to guide them directly to shop with you? Do you want them to access educational material?
Have one main goal in mind and craft the rest of your website design around that goal. For most dispensaries, this is to order online and/or browse the menu. That’s why you’ll notice that many dispensary websites have “Shop Now” as the first clear call-to-action button on the homepage.
We’ve all heard it before: “Content is king.” With fresh, relevant, and optimized content, Google and other search engines will start to pick up on your authority. You can establish yourself as a voice in the cannabis community and specialize in certain content areas.
By blogging, you can educate your audience, create interest in your products, and even reach the top of search results when people search for cannabis and dispensaries.
Content should be a balance of quality and value readers while optimized for search engines. This often requires the expertise of a writer and/or a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist.
When it comes to online menus for dispensary websites, there are two popular options: an iframe menu integration and a native e-commerce menu. Both options provide benefits to you as a cannabis business owner.
iFrame Menu Integration
An iframe, short for “inline frame,” is an HTML element that connects external content to your website. The idea is to integrate your product inventory from your point-of-sale, such as Dutchie, to your individual website.
With the integration via an iframe, the content of your dispensary menu – such as product descriptions, pictures, etc. – is displayed on your website without much effort.
It keeps your online menu up-to-date and syncs it with what’s available at your dispensary. That way, your customers don’t run into any surprises when shopping online versus in store.
Another benefit is that you don’t have to worry about security. When using an iframe, the responsibility for the security of the user data falls on the provider of the iframe. In other words, if someone were to hack your site, they wouldn’t find much since the customer data lives on the iframe’s database – not yours.
Native E-Commerce Menu
A native menu is customizable to your brand and offers significantly more SEO value compared to an iframe. For instance, your menu items are searchable and discoverable via search engines, directing people to your website.
You’ll also own your customer data. With the customer’s permission, you can learn which products they click in and out of, whether or not they actually check out, and more.
The great thing about a native e-commerce menu is that you can customize the branding and link to individual products (unlike with an iframe solution). With more customization, your website will not only be tuned into the brand you created but will also allow you to stand out from your competitors.
Optimize for search engines
A good online presence caters to both search engines and customers. A great way to approach this is by conducting an audit of your online presence, including:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Customer reviews
- Google Business Profile (GBP)
- Blog content
- Partnerships and collaborations with other brands
- And more
Optimizing everything from your body copy, images, and images (on-page SEO) to your social media links and other external references (off-page SEO) will improve the visibility, relevance, and authority of your website. Starting with simple digital marketing tactics is the first step to helping your customers find you online.
Google Business Profile is one of the most prominent features of Google’s local search results. The next time a customer in your dispensary’s area searches for “dispensary near me,” you’ll be a part of the pack that shows up. With an optimized profile (which is free), you’ll see more online visibility, visits to your website, and in-store foot traffic.
Lastly, ongoing content creation will leverage your expertise while showing search engines that your website is active, authoritative, and valuable to users. Fresh, relevant content supports your SEO strategy and compounds the work you’ve done with your branding and website.