Pros & Cons of Hiring a Cannabis Marketing Agency vs. DIY Marketing

Cannabis marketing is no easy task. It takes immense attention to detail and diligence to stay up to date with all the local rules and regulations. However, effective marketing strategies can make or break your business, especially in such a saturated market.

Many brands are faced with the decision to invest in marketing through a cannabis marketing agency (like us) or DIY (do it yourself). This could look like a smaller in-house team or individual, or individual owners taking over their own marketing activities.

While both options can be viable for a business depending on its needs, marketing is not something to skimp out on. There’s a lot that goes into deciding when to outsource, especially if your budget is top of mind.

If you’re on the fence between hiring a cannabis marketing agency or DIY marketing, here is a round-up of pros and cons based on what we’ve seen with our clients:

Pros of Hiring a Cannabis Marketing Agency

Of course, as an award-winning cannabis marketing agency, we’re a little biased here, but a full-service agency is highly recommended for brands that want to see fundamental transformation in their growth.

If you are a brand that:

  • Wants to invest in marketing and branding
  • Has multiple physical locations
  • Wants to build a community beyond its products
  • Needs to scale its business and free up internal resources

Then, partnering with an agency is going to be a better fit for you than hiring people in-house or attempting to train yourself. Here are some advantages to hiring a cannabis marketing agency:

Industry-Specific Expertise

While individual players may be familiar with the cannabis industry, only specialized marketing professionals can understand how to navigate the legal rules and regulations around advertising cannabis online.

Digital marketing is a vast subject covering multiple platforms like website design and development, SEO, social media, content marketing, email & text message (SMS) marketing, branding, photography and videography, and more.

Regardless of which channels your brand uses, you need to know the best way to use each and avoid any mistakes, especially concerning cannabis marketing rules and regulations. From getting your Instagram shut down to being unable to run paid advertising campaigns, there is a lot of red tape and risk involved in marketing in this industry.

Working with a specialized cannabis marketing agency that has in-depth knowledge of the industry will allow you to put those worries behind you because you’ll have an entire team guiding you through the process.

Additionally, a marketing agency is more likely to have the time to keep up with the ongoing change in legislation, trends, and other time-sensitive issues that an in-house team may need more bandwidth to handle.

For instance, we’ve seen many “marketing teams” that are really just budtenders or interns that are willing to help out. While it’s helpful to have someone with the interest to take part in your marketing efforts, it’s not the right solution to truly scale your brand online.

Time and Resource Savings

Outsourcing marketing efforts to an agency allows you as a business owner to focus on core operations while saving time and resources. Agencies have dedicated teams, tools, and resources to execute marketing campaigns effectively.

If you go for the DIY path, you might save some money upfront in agency charges, but you will lose money as you shift your time and other resources to upskill yourself or your in-house team. With less productive time, fewer leads, and fewer conversions, DIY marketing is less cost-efficient in the long run when compared to hiring an external agency.

A cannabis marketing agency can take all that workload from you by handling the digital marketing part whereas you can focus on your core business activity: operations, sales, compliance, growing, harvesting, vendor relationships, etc.

Access to Professional Networks

Cannabis marketing agencies have access to a rich professional network, both by way of diverse clientele and their marketing background.

An agency is more likely to have established connections and networks within the marketing industry, meaning they are constantly staying up to date on the latest marketing developments in the industry.

Moreover, agencies work with many different clients at once, so you’re likely to partner with a team that also has ongoing experience. In other words, they’re constantly improving their craft and honing their skills in a way that is ultimately tailored to support your business.

Not to mention, working with a renowned marketing agency can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and exposure to a broader audience since you’ll have access to their professional networks.

For example, at Cannabis Creative, we believe it’s critical to give back to people in the industry. So, we host an annual cannabis networking event in Massachusetts – the TeeHC Open – and our clients get exclusive access to the golf tournament.

With that level of access, cannabis businesses at any stage of the journey can supercharge their potential and grow to heights you’d never imagine – and that’s the most valuable type of marketing opportunity.

Cons of Hiring a Cannabis Marketing Agency

Of course, there are some other considerations when it comes to hiring a cannabis marketing agency. It is not always the right time for every business to partner with a full-fledged marketing team.

It’s important to be prepared both financially and operationally to effectively use the expertise of a marketing agency to your advantage.


Most notably, the short-term cost associated with a professional marketing agency is typically higher than the short-term cost of DIY marketing.

You can expect to work month over month with a dedicated marketing team from the agency and therefore incur regular expenses to support that team. While one-off projects are possible (such as for building a cannabis brand from scratch), you’ll want a long-term relationship with a larger team to truly grow your business.

Moreover, partnering with a cannabis marketing agency means collaborating with them, communicating upcoming events or changes in your business, and so on. In other words, you’ll still have to be hands-on every once in a while to ensure a successful partnership.

A lot of these expenses vary depending on the scope of services and expertise provided. However, a good marketing agency will cater to a variety of budgets. At Cannabis Creative, we understand the limitations of new dispensary brands, which is why we’ve crafted a launch package with a startup budget in mind.

Reduced Influence on the Minute Details

The thought of outsourcing your digital marketing to some external agency might make you uncomfortable if you are a self-starter.

There will be some loss of direct control over day-to-day marketing activities and strategies when working with an agency. While you’ll still be in the driver’s seat guiding the overall direction of campaigns and aligning with the agency on your goals, it’s not likely that you’ll be sitting down to edit each cannabis blog that you publish for your website.

With that being said, for most businesses, this is not a con at all!

Managing digital marketing initiatives requires a lot of time and energy. Stepping away from the nitty-gritty details like what hashtags to use on Instagram or how to optimize Google My Business frees up time and mental space for business owners to do more in other areas and continue growing the business.

Pros of DIY Marketing

Many cannabis businesses in their early stages will opt for DIY marketing. This means that you own the marketing process, strategies, and decisions for your business, including:

  • Setting your marketing goals
  • Defining any market research or customer feedback needed
  • Strategizing which channels to create a presence on
  • Managing the content creation process for any and all channels
  • Creating and optimizing campaigns
  • Measuring and analyzing results from ongoing efforts

And so much more! Some teams are ambitious enough to split these tasks among themselves. Others hire a few freelancers to help manage the workload. However you choose to approach it, DIY marketing can be beneficial when you’re just starting out for a few reasons:

Cost Savings

DIY marketing can save money for businesses with limited budgets. This is especially true in the shorter term when you simply do not have the cash on hand to invest in cannabis marketing and branding.

There are a lot of cost-effective marketing tools and platforms as well as learning opportunities that can help during this stage. From YouTube to LinkedIn Learning and workshops hosted by agencies and other professionals, DIY marketing is a great way to save some dollars here and there before you can commit to a larger partnership.

No Middleman

An obvious advantage of DIY marketing is that you have full control over the marketing decisions, strategies, and brand image. Every detail will be up to you to figure out.

Not to mention, you’ll have increased flexibility to make immediate adjustments and optimizations as needed. If a pop-up event comes in at the last minute or something in your business changes, there is no need to communicate with a third party.

Instead, you can make changes to your marketing channels as soon as possible.

Cons of DIY Marketing

The advantages kind of stop there. When it comes to cannabis marketing, doing it yourself is a difficult thing to do. It pays off, in the long run, to invest in someone that will free up your time and energy. (Besides, who really wants to fight with Meta Support about your cannabis account getting shadowbanned?)

Lack of Expertise

The main disadvantage of doing your own cannabis marketing is that you will be severely limited by your own experience and knowledge. You’ll also be missing out on the robust learnings that come from working with multiple clients.

Not only will your marketing campaigns likely lack tactics that are intuitive to an agency, but you may even risk your business’s reputation by accidentally violating marketing rules and regulations.

Time and Resource Constraints

Diverting internal resources to focus on marketing when it isn’t necessarily their expertise is a recipe for disaster. Putting time or money behind marketing efforts without experience is going to result in subpar results, which will ultimately be a waste of those resources.

The additional time and effort required for your business to handle marketing activities by yourself will take away from your core business operations and put a strain on your existing team.

Limited Access to Other Marketing Professionals

No matter what type of cannabis business you operate, you may have limited connections and networks within the cannabis marketing sub-industry. On the other hand, marketing agencies are plugged in at all times to other marketing news outlets, partnerships, and professional networks.

You may want to be focused on spaces that more immediately help your business grow, such as investor relationships. However, with limited access to other cannabis marketing professionals, you’ll have to take the additional time and effort to stay updated with marketing trends, regulations, and best practices.

And of course, this is all on top of managing your finances, operations, human resources, networking, and more.

Hire Cannabis Creative for all your cannabis marketing needs

As you can see, when you consider short and long-term savings, expertise, time and resource capacity, industry relationships, and more, working with an agency comes with greater benefits.

However, businesses must carefully evaluate their specific needs, resources, and goals before deciding between hiring a cannabis marketing agency and doing it themselves.

It’s important to find the right balance between professional expertise and in-house capabilities for effective cannabis marketing. To work with a team that pairs data-driven insights with intelligent, human-first strategy, hire Cannabis Creative for all your marketing needs.

We excel in all areas of digital and traditional marketing, offering services that range from print & packaging design and professional photography to website design & development and search engine marketing.

To get started on your cannabis marketing strategy, contact our team today.

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