Chances are, if you have any experience with cannabis, you’ve at some point stumbled into Weedmaps. Furthermore, as a cannabis retailer, you’ve likely already invested heavily into a relationship with this platform.
Weedmaps bills itself as a community of cannabis businesses and consumers, connecting people with the products, brands, and stores they love. Yet, despite its foundational role in cannabis, Weedmaps is infamous for its steep monthly fees and hyper-competitive market.
Does it still make sense to throw all your marketing dollars at this platform or should you invest in a broader strategy?
The Truth About Weedmaps
Weedmaps has been around since 2008 and was the first large platform to make a name for itself as a destination for finding weed. Cannabis suddenly became searchable to millions of consumers. In addition, the platform helped formerly invisible retailers get put on the map — quite literally.
For any dispensary getting ready to launch, Weedmaps is still unquestionably a part of the usual marketing budget. Many readers are likely already paying these monthly fees for a Weedmaps listing.
So how much does Weedmaps charge? Depending on the market, Weedmaps will charge anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 per dispensary for exposure. Top search spots, advertising, and competitive markets (think Toronto, Vancouver, and San Francisco) dictate higher price points.
But what does Weedmaps offer dispensaries in return for these incredibly steep prices? Throwing all your eggs into one basket, and a costly one, is never a good idea.
Do You Own Your Customer Details?
One of the major issues retailers run into if they work exclusively with Weedmaps is that they don’t own any customer details. Instead of customers signing up to order from your eCommerce website, they are signing up to Weedmaps. This means the platform is the one collecting user information and holding onto it.
Typically you can access customer names and phone numbers, but Weedmaps doesn’t release email addresses or demographic details. As you know, email marketing is one of the only legal means for cannabis shops to market directly to shoppers. So you are losing out on this massive marketing channel.
Do You Own Your Customer’s Shopping Experience?
Another dilemma is the shopping experience. Customers are shopping through the Weedmaps portal, which has been designed with their goals in mind, not yours.
Part of the benefit of having your own online store is that you consider your unique customer needs and your strategic business goals. You are in charge of how the store looks, feels, and operates, directly influencing user experience.
If one of your potential customers gets frustrated with the shopping experience on Weedmaps, they could also transfer that frustration to your brand even though you had nothing to do with it.
Do You Get Loyalty from Weedmaps?
A quick search of your local area in Weedmaps reveals dozens of other dispensaries, all vying for the very same segment of customers. Unless you pay for those top three spots, it’s hard to get an edge over all this competition.
Weedmaps doesn’t offer loyalty, even when paying a premium price. Even as your customers shop on your Weedmaps storefront, there is nothing to say that the platform cannot offer advertisements to your immediate competition. The nextdoor dispensary is literally just a click away.
So, Is it Time to Move Away From Weedmaps?
Although many dispensaries may feel like they cannot move away from the marketing domination of Weedmaps and Leafly, we’d argue there is good reason to branch out. It’s better to move a majority of your marketing ‘eggs’ back into your own basket.
With the same marketing budget and a little patience, you can take back control of your brand, customer experience, and customer data.
Most sources suggest you should be spending anywhere from five to 10 percent of your monthly revenue on marketing efforts. Consider what you could invest in if you applied that to your own marketing campaigns rather than to the Weedmaps system.
Why not reallocate that costly fee into email, SMS, and push notifications? Try programmatic advertising and Google Ads. Ever thought about a well-executed social media campaign?
It’s probably too soon to suggest deleting your Weedmaps store altogether. However, it may be time to invest more of your marketing dollars into strategies that build your brand, customer loyalty, and resources rather than someone else’s.
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