As a cannabis retailer in Canada, you’ll know compliant marketing is a tricky business. Navigating the complexities of the Cannabis Act while getting your brand in front of customers isn’t always straightforward. Yet, despite these intricacies, there are still many compliant marketing strategies for cannabis retailers and dispensaries. These are straightforward tactics already working for pot shops across the country.
5 Ideas for Marketing Cannabis in Canada, Legally
1. Avoid the Stoner Tropes
Cannabis culture in Canada has come a long way since legalization. Instead of jokes about red eyes and laziness, cannabis lovers today are business executives, parents, and creative types. This means whatever marketing strategy you pursue, you should avoid the outdated stoner stereotypes from days gone by.
There is a much broader demographic to tap into today than just the hippy pothead. The old weed-associated images of Rastafarians and sexualized women are at best distasteful, or worse, entirely problematic. These days, many of these images could immediately turn off a large portion of your potential audience.
So why restrict your brand? Think about your audience and the local community. Investigate your biggest competitors. Consider what imagery, colours, and aesthetics would speak to your target demographic. Think sleek, modern, and professional, not dazed, confused, and old-fashioned.
2. The Power of the Loyalty Club
Loyalty programs or customer memberships are great for retargeting return customers, tracking customer preferences, and collecting contact information for email and SMS marketing.
While it is true that Canada’s cannabis laws prevent some of the usual marketing tactics associated with loyalty programs, you can still leverage a member’s club to your advantage.
As per the law, it’s illegal for retailers:
- To provide or offer to provide cannabis or a cannabis accessory if it is provided or offered to be provided without monetary consideration or in consideration of the purchase of anything or service or the provision of any service;
- To provide or offer to provide anything that is not cannabis or a cannabis accessory, including a right to participate in a game, draw, lottery, or contest, if it is provided or offered to be provided as an inducement for the purchase of cannabis or a cannabis accessory; or
- To provide or offer to provide any service if it is provided or offered to be provided as an inducement for the purchase of cannabis or a cannabis accessory.
But what about rewarding members based on the number of store visits? Or on their birthday or membership anniversary? What about ongoing discounts for members? There are many creative ways to encourage return customers with a compliant loyalty program.
3. Get Directory Listings and Customer Reviews
Although it can be costly, getting listings across relevant databases is extremely valuable for online exposure. Services like Leafly, Weedmaps, and others build credibility, increase online exposure, and help produce backlinks.
As for reviews, these are more important than ever before. According to Bright Local, in 2021, more than 75 percent of survey respondents indicated that they always or regularly read reviews for local businesses. What’s more, 81 percent reported using Google specifically for evaluating local businesses.
Google may not allow rewarding customers for reviews, but you can ask for reviews during checkout or place a sign at the desk with the request. Or, if you have a customer database, why not use an automated email flow to request Google reviews following a first visit?
4. Automate Digital Marketing with Programmatic Advertising
Have you heard about programmatic advertising? This technology allows for the automation of buying, selling, and serving ads in the digital space, based on comprehensive consumer data and artificial intelligence (AI). If done correctly, it’s also compliant, making sure only to serve appropriate audiences, in appropriate spaces.
Programmatic campaigns make it possible to get specific with who receives your ads, and these ads can travel across devices and platforms to follow customers based on machine learning. Digital marketing companies use programmatic to get your message out in a highly targeted manner, all while keeping ad spend low. Plus, with the right digital marketing partner, you can ensure its using compliant marketing strategies for cannabis retailers.
5. Don’t Neglect Email Marketing
Did you know that as of 2018, the average promotional email open rate was 26 percent? And according to a 2019 report, for every dollar you spend on email marketing, experts tell us you’ll get $42 back? So rolling regular email marketing into your larger marketing strategy is a way to encourage return customers and a higher lifetime customer value.
Use emails to welcome customers into your membership program, launch new products, advertise sales, share content, and celebrate holidays. Even if not every customer opens these promotional messages, you’ll still be hitting the top of their inbox regularly. And top of inbox often means top of mind.
Compliant Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Complex
As a cannabis retailer, you are likely already well aware of the dos and don’ts of cannabis legislation in Canada. Although there are many prohibited marketing tactics, it doesn’t mean you are out of luck. It’s possible to get your name out in front of your target demographic and all through legal avenues.
Just ensure you run everything past a knowledgeable compliance professional or cannabis lawyer before launch.
Are you Looking for an Omnichannel Solution?
Tech POS is a fully compliant, all-in-one ecosystem for cannabis sales in Canada and beyond. Our fully integrated line of products, including POS, e-commerce, and digital signage, make store operations a simple process and seamless process. If you are looking for a way to streamline compliant marketing strategies for cannabis retailers, start with TechPOS.