Tag: B2B Tips

4 Best Practices When Designing Your Cannabis Business Website

In the cannabis industry, business owners already face a constant uphill battle dealing with restrictive regulations, the ever-evolving state of the market, not to mention the long-held stigma of cannabis that has persisted in society for decades.

It’s crucial to put your best foot forward, and one of the best ways to do this is to create a professional and dynamic website for your cannabis business. Your website is often one of the first places potential customers will stumble upon, which is why it’s important to make a great first impression.

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Here are four tips to keep in mind when designing your business website.

1. Secure Your Website Domain

The first order of business is making sure you can get your company’s name in your website domain. This can be especially tricky considering that there is often a great deal of overlap for similarly titled dispensaries in the various legal cannabis markets. Find a way to make your dispensary stand out among the others, with a catchy tagline or uniquely designed logo. You may need to slightly alter your domain name by adding “collective” or “dispensary,” but make sure your company’s name stands out and can be easily found with a quick internet search.

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2. Think of the Children

In this era of legal cannabis, maintaining accountability is essential. Although the regulations for cannabis vary from state to state, one of the foremost tenets of the cannabis industry is a commitment to keeping cannabis out of the hands of those who are underage. With great privilege comes great responsibility! Keep this in mind when designing your website.

First and foremost, install an age-gate. It can be as simple as asking if the visitor is over the age of 21, or it can be more complex, requiring the visitor to enter their birth date to continue. Obviously, these age gates are not fool proof, but it’s a small, simple step that shows you are concerned with maintaining compliance.

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3. Choose Your Font Wisely

As any graphic designer will tell you, there are certain fonts that tend to irk people from the get-go. These tend to include such fonts as Comic Sans, and the dreaded Papyrus. Leafly’s own creative team opted to weigh in on the best and worst fonts.

Nick Ouellette named Bleeding Cowboys as the worst font on the market today, while Amy Phung implicated Curlz as her least favorite. As for the best? “Clearly Gotham,” said Ouellette. “There are other classics, of course, Garamond, Helvetica.” He paused. “I’m not a fan of Helvetica, personally, but that’s like saying I’m not a fan of Leonardo da Vinci.”

When it comes to a great font to display on your website, choose one with clear lines that is easily legible. It’s also wise to keep the font fairly large (or at least an option to enlarge it) for medical marijuana patients that may have visual impairments.

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4. Design With Intent

When considering how to design a beautiful, easily navigated, and functional website, look to your own favorite websites for inspiration. In order to avoid the inevitable stigma that has long plagued cannabis culture, we recommend steering clear of some of the older tropes and stereotypes: bikini babes holding fat blunts, spastic graphics, bad word art, and a website overly saturated with the emblematic cannabis leaf, in the style of this late 90s website.

Once again, be responsible and make conscious choices, particularly when it comes to graphics and logos. Do not offer any designs that could be seen as appealing to children. This includes images like toys, cartoons, and cute, cuddly creatures.

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Clean lines, clearly clickable icons, a menu that’s easy to navigate, and information that you know your clients want to see. Dispensaries – make it easy to find your menu, hours of operation, phone number, and location. If you’re a manufacturer, make it easy for visitors to find locations that offer your products.

Also, just to cover all of your bases, it may not be required by law (depending on your location) to explicitly state that cannabis is for adult use only; however, if you wanted to include a disclaimer somewhere on your site, it probably couldn’t hurt.

Dispensary Appreciation Days: How to Give Back to Your Customers

The cannabis industry is a unique community, and giving back to that community is a wonderful way to foster camaraderie as well as gain loving and loyal clients. Hosting a themed Customer Appreciation Day at your dispensary is a smart tactic to get some unique clients through your door and show them how much they mean to you. Below are a few examples of different Appreciation Days thrown by dispensaries and cannabusinesses to help inspire you to plan one of your own.

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Patients Appreciation Day

A simple Patients Appreciation Day is a great way to acknowledge the challenges medical marijuana patients face every day and to show patients that you care about helping them overcome (or at least better manage) these challenges. For example, you can create a special on certain products that are particularly aimed at medical cannabis patients, such as high-CBD strains or infused topical lotions.

California Herbal Remedies (CHR) is one of Leafly’s top dispensaries in California, and at least one of the reasons it’s so well-known is its devotion to its patients. The location regularly hosts patient appreciation celebrations, featuring deals, giveaways, and even celebrity guests and musicians. Take a page from this long-running dispensary and treat your patients like royalty.

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Veterans Appreciation Day

Another great opportunity for your business is to pay tribute to military veterans. With so many veterans who rely on cannabis, often for service-related injuries or ailments, it can be very impactful to have even one day where you and your dispensary go out of your way to honor them and show your appreciation. If you happen to have a larger percentage of veterans that frequent your shop, you might even consider making this a regular event, or maintaining a veteran’s discount for those with a military identification.

At Santa Cruz Veteran’s Alliance, every day is Veterans Appreciation Day. The dispensary not only offers a daily 15% discount for veterans, it also honors military service through its Veterans Compassion Program (VCP), which meets with the veteran community every first Monday of the month and gives away free cannabis to collective members.

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Pets Appreciation Day

Throwing a Pet Appreciation Day is a hugely popular event, but it can be a bit tricky to pull off depending on how strictly your state regulates dispensaries.

Vela Cannabis in Seattle recently hosted a Pets Appreciation Day, where customers’ pets were welcome to visit the dispensary. The promotion offered special deals on pet-friendly CBD products and even had a photo booth for “puptastic” selfies.

(Courtesy of Vela)

By all accounts, the day was a raucous success. A portion of all proceeds went toward supporting the Hurricane Harvey Pet Relocation efforts put forth by the Seattle Humane Society, and the day even featured adoptable pups from Emerald City Pet Rescue. The event proved to be a wonderful way to celebrate clients’ furry friends, support local pet shelters, and help some furbabies find their forever homes.

Budtenders Appreciation Day

A slightly more unorthodox but increasingly invaluable idea is hosting a Budtenders Appreciation Day. Much like an industry night, offering a day (or evening) to recognize and celebrate those who work hard in the dispensary will keep employee morale high and show your staff how much you care about and appreciate their hard work. Keep in mind that even during a Budtenders Appreciation Day, you’ll still need to have budtenders staffing the dispensary, but perhaps you can reward your hard-working employees by giving them a future day off and a well-earned discount or some free goodies.

DOPE Magazine held several Budtenders Appreciation Days (or B.A.D. parties) earlier this year with much success. Sponsors offered topical massages, dab bars, joint rolling contests, swag bags, food, games, product samples, and more.

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Have you had success with appreciation events at your dispensary? Let us know in the comments!

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How to Make Your Cannabis Dispensary More Disability-Friendly

Walking into a dispensary can be an intimidating experience. Whether the customer is a newbie or a seasoned cannabis consumer, it still requires some confidence to walk in, talk to strangers about a previously illegal drug, and find the right products.

For someone who suffers from a disability, this endeavor could be next to impossible. Medical marijuana is now legal in a majority of states, and most of the qualifying medical conditions are officially considered a disability by the US government. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, as of 2015, there were 53 million Americans living with some kind of disability, making disabled adults one of the largest minority groups in the United States. More than one of out of every five adults (22%) suffers some kind of physical, functional, mental, or sensory disability in the United States.

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However, because cannabis is still federally restricted under the Controlled Substances Act, there is no federally-mandated law that states dispensaries are required to adhere to the Americans With Disabilities Act. This means medical marijuana patients are not only at risk of losing their job and/or government assistance benefits due to state-legal cannabis use, the dispensaries they visit are also not required to make accommodations for them.

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Ways to Better Accommodate Disabled Visitors

Consider making a few adjustments to your dispensary to make the experience a little easier for disabled customers or medical marijuana patients:

  • Install a ramp and widen doorways to make your shop more wheelchair accessible.
  • Make chairs available in the lobby and waiting room for those who have trouble standing for long periods of time.
  • Designate a staff member to cater to patients with special needs.
  • Install a dimmer switch to adjust the lighting for those who have head trauma, seizures, or light sensitivities.
  • Print menus with extra-large font for patients with poor vision.
  • Offer a veteran’s discount for former service members and disabled veterans (according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are 3.5 million veterans living with a disability right now, including an estimated 30% of veterans who suffer from a “signature” disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI), both considered a “service-connected” disability)
  • Schedule “quiet days” for patients with sensory issues or anxiety.
  • Offer a free shuttle from central locations to your dispensary for those without transportation or who have limited mobility.
  • Allow service and therapy dogs to enter your store premises with their owners.
  • Train your employees to understand and work effectively with disabled customers.
  • Create employment opportunities for disabled workers, particularly who that may specialize in helping medical marijuana patients.

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Hiring Employees With Disabilities

Employment opportunities for disabled individuals do not come easily, especially if they are a certified medical marijuana patient. Those who are found to be using drugs or alcohol often don’t qualify for disability benefits, and that includes individuals who use cannabis for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. The unemployment rate for disabled persons in the US was 17.9% in 2016, nearly four times the national unemployment rate, listed as 4.3% in May of 2017.

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Offering positions that make a reasonable accommodation for disabled adults could mean a huge difference in the quality of life for a person who might not otherwise be able to contribute to society through the workforce. Furthermore, having a staff member with a disability involved in the medical marijuana industry means they may be able to empathize with other disabled customers and offer curated recommendations and a more relatable customer experience.

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What other tips or suggestions do you have to make your business more disability-friendly? Share your insight in the comments!

How to Train Your Budtenders to Better Serve Customers and Patients

Your dispensary’s staff is crucial to the success of your business. The employees are the outward face of your brand, and a bad experience with staff can sour a customer on your company for life.

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Because staff can make or break your customer’s experience, employee training should be an essential part of your regular business practices. By constantly going over best practices and reiterating good customer service, you’ll reinforce the care and attention you expect from your employees.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when training your staff to be as helpful and welcoming as possible to your dispensary visitors.

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Know the Difference Between a Patient and a Customer

Cannabis is inherently an unusual market in that there are two distinct groups with very different needs. Patients rely on medical marijuana for their health. They use these products to treat and alleviate symptoms related to a condition that may be chronic or intractable. Many medical marijuana patients do not fit the mold of the typical cannabis consumer, and that’s often because cannabis as medication comes as a last resort. These are patients who have exhausted all other treatment options before turning to cannabis.

If your dispensary is licensed to cater to both medical marijuana patients and adult-use customers, it might be wise to set up a private area where patients can consult budtenders for advice on certain conditions or symptoms. Medical ailments are a very sensitive topic, and not necessarily one that patients want to discuss publicly at the dispensary counter with customers waiting behind them in line.

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Patients should generally take priority over adult-use customers. This is up to the discretion of the managers, of course, but patients are there for a specific and often urgent need, and their symptoms and conditions should be treated with a degree of respect and sincerity.

Be Inquisitive (But Don’t Pry)

For a first-time customer, it’s best to start simple. Ask them what kind of effect they’re looking for—uplifting or sleepy? Do they prefer to smoke or are they looking for non-smokeable cannabis products?

With many adult-use consumers, it can be fairly simple to help them find the right products, but you’re never going to know for certain unless you get to know the customer a bit. For a newbie who doesn’t like the act of smoking, a vape pen or tincture is a great alternative. More experienced consumers can often tell you exactly which products they like.

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When it comes to helping patients, however, the experience can be a bit trickier. Trying to find the right cannabis product to help alleviate a patient’s symptoms means delving into somewhat personal, sensitive information, but try to focus your queries on their symptoms and the products you have on hand.

Are they seeking to relieve pain? Inflammation? Nausea? No matter what, always be cognizant that a patient may be less than forthcoming and might not want to discuss medical ailments in detail. Don’t push them; instead, let them tell you what they’re hoping to accomplish with medical cannabis and base your recommendations on what they choose to share with you.

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Know Your Products

In order to best serve your customers and patients, it’s crucial that you have a base knowledge of the products in stock and what they do. Sample the different strains and test the edibles, vape cartridges, and topicals your dispensary carries. In states like Washington, samples are provided for budtenders and employees to have a better understanding of the products in-store. Nothing turns off a potential customer more than a blank stare when they ask about a terpene profile or a specific product that’s on display.

Spend time learning about the endocannabinoid system, the major cannabinoids, and how THC and CBD interact with the brain and body. This knowledge will help legitimize you as a trustworthy, respected source among new customers and patients, and it will also earn you the respect of anyone well-versed in the cannabis realm.

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Nail the Customer Service Basics

Much of this boils down to a few basic tenets: Be courteous, efficient, and friendly. Don’t be rude, and don’t make assumptions about your customers, whether it’s about how much money they’re willing to throw down or about how they plan to consume their products.

Refrain from using a condescending tone, especially with first-timers and newbies. These people took a leap of faith walking into a cannabis shop, and a negative experience with a rude budtender is enough to make them want to turn and run in the opposite direction.

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Be clean. Hygiene should never take a back burner, and certainly not when you’re interacting with customers on a daily basis. Wash your hands, especially before and after handling cannabis products (particularly in states where cannabis is still dispensed from large jars), or wear gloves. Be considerate with your personal hygiene and be aware that your personal odor (perfumes and colognes included) may affect the scent of the cannabis.

And, most importantly, don’t be stoned. Even if you’re a medical marijuana patient and your employer allows consumption during work hours, don’t be incapacitated when speaking to patients and customers. If you know you can’t consume cannabis while being a productive, functional employee, wait until after your shift to toke up.

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Ultimately, being a good budtender all comes down to respect. Respect your fellow coworkers, your customers and patients, and the products you carry. A little respect goes a long way in making a good impression to your clientele!

Reward Your Regular Customers With a Dispensary Loyalty Program

In the increasingly competitive cannabis industry, it can be hard to stay ahead of the curve. Ensuring that you retain your customers’ loyalty and give them a reason to return to your store can be an ongoing process.

One of the best ways to encourage regular business among repeat customers is to offer rewards for those who do. A loyalty program allows customers to earn points for every dollar they spent–it helps you get rid of excess inventory that might not otherwise sell and gives customers and patients a great incentive to keep coming back, perhaps with new friends and patient referrals in tow.

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Here are a few examples of exemplary loyalty programs from dispensaries across the United States.

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Dockside Cannabis

Dockside Cannabis is one of the pioneering brands in Seattle when it comes to unique innovation, and it’s one of the first retail cannabis stores to create a loyalty program to encourage repeat business. The location offers an in-store kiosk where customers can enter their cell phone number. Every time members check in, they earn more points, adding up to great deals and discounts with each visit.

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Infinite Wellness Center

With two locations in Fort Collins and Lakewood, Infinite Wellness Center offers a Loyalty Member program that gives any retail customers a point for every dollar spent and bonus points for checking in. Medical marijuana patients with a valid registry card get even more benefits–a $50 patient gift voucher, a free hat or T-shirt, and lower prices on flower!

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Silver Stem Fine Cannabis

Silver Stem Fine Cannabis offers both a Primary Patient Program, a Loyalty Program, a discount for new customers and patients, cash back on all purchases, and a bonus of $100 when they refer a friend. The dispensary chain has two locations in Portland, Oregon, and four locations in Colorado, all of which honor the Silver Seeds Loyalty Program.

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Urban Greenhouse

Customers who join the Bonus Buds Rewards Program at Urban Greenhouse in Phoenix, Arizona can get the most bang for their buck earning points that add up to spendable cash in-store. As soon as they reach 250 points (or $25), points can be redeemed to use towards any merchandise or cannabis products.

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LivWell

By becoming a free rewards member through LivWell‘s Colorado dispensaries and retail shops, customers earn points towards future purchases for every dollar spent. They also earn points for referring friends, and receive extra points on their birthday and LivWell Rewards anniversary date. Members also receive special promotional emails and news.

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The Jazz Club

Repeatedly earning the #1 spot on Michigan’s Leafly List, the Jazz Club in Detroit offers generous rewards to loyal patients, including 500 bonus points for referring a new patient, matching donations and a gift bag for first-time patients, and great daily deals. There’s a reason it’s been voted best of Michigan and #3 for medical marijuana dispensaries nationwide.

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Bloom Room

All California dispensaries require a membership signup, but Bloom Room treats its patients with a little more TLC. The location offers free massage and reiki healing, joint-rolling workshops, and product sampling demos, and even serves the community with monthly volunteering opportunities. It’s a loyalty program with more heart and soul than just a few discounts (but don’t worry, it offers patient deals, too).

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Southwest Patient Group

Southwest Patient Group in San Diego goes out of its way to ensure that patients have many reasons to return. From first-time patient discounts for the first three visits to monthly specials to loyalty points accruing for every dollar spent, SPG knows how to treat its patients with love and compassion and keep them coming back for more. It even offers bonus refer-a-friend hookups for both the customer and their referral!

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Have you had success with a dispensary loyalty program? Share your tips and tricks for customer retention in the comments!

How to Successfully (and Legally) Advertise Your Cannabis Business in Nevada

Nevada’s proposed date for adult-use is July 1, 2017, which is coming up quick. Although a court order may push the date back a bit, for retailers getting ready to open doors, now is the time to make sure you are prepared for the inevitable onslaught of new customers and tourists looking to visit the new marijuana mecca. This is also a crucial time to make sure you’re well informed to maintain compliance while still making a splash on the new scene.

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One of the best ways to increase your brand recognition is through positive branding and advertising. The rollout of the new retail regulations has been slow and steady, with only draft regulations available now. These rules are not set in stone just yet, but will be the basis for retail cannabis advertising regulations in Nevada.

Nevada Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

If you want to be ready for the new market and have your advertisements approved by the Department of Taxation with flying colors, these are the most important rules to keep in mind:

Do not advertise towards children (or anyone under the age of 21)

  • No cartoons, toys, or characters in your logo or ad

Do not show the consumption of cannabis

  • Advertisements must not show smoking, vaping or otherwise consuming cannabis

Do not encourage overconsumption

  • Promote safe, responsible use
  • Do not promote alcohol use and cannabis consumption together

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Do not promote false or misleading information

  • Inform and educate your customers with factual, accurate information

Do not give away free product without a purchase

  • Unfortunately, freebies are prohibited. All products must be purchased.

Do not advertise anywhere that is not restricted to adults

  • This includes playgrounds, public parks, libraries, schools, and public transit

All advertising must include warning messages as required by the Department of Taxation

  • “Keep out of reach of children”
  • “For use only by adults 21 years of age and older”

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Nevada Cannabis Advertising Best Practices

Now that you’re aware of what you can’t do, here are some ideas for what you can do to entice new customers and encourage repeat business:

Do advertise in areas where adults are the primary target

  • Coasters in casinos, billboards, flyers to hand out on the Vegas strip, or placing an ad in Vegas Magazine are all great ways to bring adult-only eyes to your business

Do showcase your product, not consumption

  • If you’ve got beautiful cannabis products, put them on display in your advertising. Vegas is all about the glitz and glam, and the marketing of cannabis should be no exception.

Do promote safe, responsible consumption

  • It’s easy to overdo it in the Nevada heat, so adding a disclaimer in any advertising is not only a good safety measure, it shows the Department of Taxation (and your customers) that you are a responsible business owner and want your customers to be responsible, too.

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Do educate your audience

  • Including facts and knowledge in your advertising is an excellent way to educate your customers, many of whom are likely to be tourists coming from a state without legal cannabis. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

Do advertise discounts and deals

  • Giving away free products is a no-go, but offering a discount with the mention of an advertisement will have customers knocking down your door and help spread the word about your business.

SEO Service Red Flags That Cannabis Businesses Should Avoid

Working in the cannabis industry can be daunting with the looming threat of a federal crackdown and the frequent ambiguity about what’s legal and what isn’t. This legal grey area restricts many traditional marketing and advertising options to dispensaries and other cannabis companies. With limited options available, prioritizing search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for any cannabis business interested in using digital to grow their customer-base.

SEO is a marketing channel that focuses on improving a website’s visibility in search engines’ unpaid listings. Fortunately, there are many companies and consultants (often called “SEOs” or “SEO agencies”) that can help you. However, there are many SEOs that aren’t genuine and can take advantage of the state of the industry, or worse, implement bad tactics that don’t adhere to Google’s guidelines; these are referred to as “black hat” SEOs. Black hat tactics can lead to Google penalizing or even blocking your site from their results, which can be detrimental to your business.

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Luckily, there are several red flags to watch out for so you can find an SEO service that will help, not hurt you. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re hiring a consultant or agency that has your best interests in mind.

Bold and Unclear Claims

Many SEOs will say they can get you on the coveted 1st page of Google for some highly competitive term. This isn’t only unrealistic, it doesn’t connect to any sort of strategy. The algorithm also prioritizes personalization and localization; the search results for any given word or phrase will vary greatly depending on the searcher’s location, browsing history, and many other factors. What’s ranking #1 for one person could be completely different for someone else, so this claim is meaningless.

Another red flag is the promise of your website(s) ranking permanently or for a long time. The consistent algorithm changes, along with plenty of other companies that are also vying for Google visibility, makes “permanent” and sometimes even “long-term” not a sure thing.

There are also some SEO companies and professionals that claim they “know someone” at Google or have inside information on the algorithm, which gives them an advantage. The truth is that no one really has inside information about the algorithm because Google intentionally keeps it pretty wrapped up to keep their results authentic. Genuine SEOs use data and strategy to make a hypothesis on an intended outcome.

Questionable Tactics and Strategy

Numerous factors play into Google’s algorithm, and they sometimes change in priority or even become irrelevant. Some tactics can even hurt your rankings or get you blocked from the results. Here are a few things to look out for as you review potential SEO service offerings:

Meta Data

The importance of meta data has lessened over the years, but it’s still a simple tactic that many cannabis companies don’t take advantage of. It can also potentially help you better position your website in Google to reach more customers. However, anyone highlighting meta data as one of their key strategies either isn’t up with industry trends or is trying to pull one over on you. And if they mention meta keywords (other than to say that Google doesn’t pay attention to them or Bing penalizes abusing them), run the other way.

Link Building

A link from a quality website that’s topical to your business is basically a popularity vote that tells Google you can be trusted, and it’s an important factor in the algorithm. However, good links are earned with quality content, a solid promotion plan, or creating something that is very useful to your audience (although you should still have a promotion plan when you invest in creating content).

If a link appears to be “unnatural” to Google–meaning it was most likely bought–they will potentially penalize your website, as well as the website linking to you. I’m not saying all “link building” is bad, but you should proceed with caution. And any SEO company that is promising “X number of links to your site” is likely purchasing them and/or they’re not focusing on quality, relevant links.

Search Engine Submissions

If someone is telling you they’ll submit your site to some ridiculous number of search engines, or even just major ones, you’ve spotted another red flag. Overall, submitting sites to search engines is a waste of time. There are also many free and simple ways for you to submit pages to search engines, so being charged for it is a rip-off. Dispensaries usually don’t have the kind of budget to throw at nothing.

I wouldn’t recommend this tactic if you’re trying to improve your SEO because there are many other things to focus on. In fact, major search engines say that over-submitting your site to be indexed can yield negative results.

Anything ‘Secret’ or ‘Quick-Fix’ Recommendations

There are many industry-wide, agreed-upon best practices that any knowledgeable SEOs know and follow. If your potential SEO partner is secretive about their methods, they’re likely performing some of those black hat tactics. This can include the “bad” link building methods, cloaking content, and several other frowned upon practices.

Also, make sure that the company or person you’re talking to has some sort of maintenance or retainer option for you to select. Otherwise, they’re likely doing one-off optimizations that may be dated after the next big algorithm update. SEO is never a “one and done” deal.

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Confusing or Sketchy Website

A big part of SEO is having quality, relevant content that is useful to users and answers the questions they’re asking about your industry. If an SEO company’s or consultant’s website isn’t accomplishing this, how can they successfully execute a content strategy on your site?

One major red flag is if the company website is filled with thin, nondescript content. SEO is an often-misunderstood industry, so unfortunately many companies will take advantage of this lack of education with their clients. Make sure their tactics and strategy are clearly explained, in human language. “If we increase the keyword density and build links to the page, we’ll get you more link juice and improve your PageRank in Google” is not human language.

Some SEO companies will use plenty of jargon in website copy to confuse uneducated potential clients. If you’re confused about what a website is saying because it’s full of unrecognizable terms, they’re likely not going to be a good partner with your business.

Lastly, take note of how professional the website looks. Are you afraid submitting your email will infect your computer with malware? Does it look like it might have been designed on the Geocities platform? If the website doesn’t look professional, you’re most likely not dealing with professionals.

Too Good to Be True Pricing

When reviewing pricing for SEO, shop around and see how much other comparable companies or consultants cost. If something seems too good to be true, there’s a strong chance it is. If someone can charge an unnaturally low price for a service, it’s because that’s how much it’s probably worth. Avoid looking for SEO on sites like Fiverr or Elance, because you’re more likely to find the “quantity over quality” SEO approach.

An even bigger red flag is when a free trial period is being offered. Companies that advertise SEO services with a free trial aren’t always bad; just proceed with extreme caution. Remember that you’re giving them access to your data and information, and what they do with that is unknown; you didn’t pay them, so they have no ties to you, which can be incredibly risky.

What to Look for in a Good SEO Service

After reading through the above list of red flags, you might be starting to develop some SEO trust issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent SEOs that genuinely want to help your business. Here are signs of a trustworthy, effective SEO company or service:

  • They communicate with you. A good SEO will ask questions about your industry, competitors, target audience, and business goals. They’ll want to understand the full picture to determine how they can use their expertise to improve your business.
  • Their website uses human language. The content is clear, their services make sense, and you’re not having to look up every word’s definition and essentially learn SEO on your own. At the very least, there should be an SEO glossary to help you better understand some of the terminology.
  • You can trust them. Browsing around the website will make it easy to see how authentic the business is. Look for accolades, client testimonials, media mentions, information about the person/people behind the scenes, and companies they’ve worked with.
  • Their reputation isn’t tarnished. Google can help you here; simply do some searches for the company/person’s name to make sure they’re not flagged on sites like the Better Business Bureau or from an angry ex-customer’s social feed. As we all know, bad behavior rarely escapes the scorn of the internet.

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Hopefully this provides you with the right information to find a quality SEO partner in your path to grow your cannabis business. For every scam or unethical service, there’s also a worthy one. Just keep your wits about you and recall this advice before bringing on some outside help!

7 Ways to Make Your Dispensary Event a Success

Hosting a cannabis-friendly event at a dispensary can be a bit tricky. On one hand, you want everyone to feel welcome, but on the other hand, there are strict rules and regulations on how customers may consume cannabis legally and dispensaries must maintain strict compliance.

There are currently no states that legally allow public consumption of cannabis, which can put a cramp in the plans of most cannabis parties. However, if there’s one takeaway from using marijuana, it’s the wonders of cannabis creativity being put to good use. Dispensaries should consider throwing events like customer appreciation days, launch parties, and other celebrations at their location. Not only is it a marketing win, it’s a fun way to give back to the community.

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Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning an event hosted at your dispensary.

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Let the Music Play

A key to any great event is an awesome soundtrack. Whether this means enlisting local bands or perusing the local house DJ scene, make sure that your event is rocking to spice up the party. If the band or DJ is also a hit with the cannabis crowd, all the better!

A great example of this stands out from the 420 pre-parties Leafly hosted in Southern California. DJ Francesca was on the scene to keep things grooving at Evergreen, Western Caregivers, and Airside Wellness during the days leading up to 4/20.

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Offer Great Deals

Nothing entices customers like a screaming deal, and if you’re gearing up for a big event in-store, spread the word on your upcoming sales. Send out flyers, update your Leafly deals, and let your regular customers know about the big day. Advertise in the local papers or just use word of mouth to let the market know you’ve got an event coming up and it will be worth their time to attend.

Greenworks sponsored Leafly’s 420 Comedy Show in Seattle and boosted their pre-sales with a 4/19 Stock-Up Sale where everything in the store was 50% off, causing enough buzz that on 4/19, the store was overflowing with customers.

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So Much Room for Activities!

Admittedly, this is not always a possibility if you’re working with a limited floor plan. However, making full use of the space you do have, whether indoor or outdoor, is a great way to magnify your dispensary’s appeal with a whole lot of fun and creativity.

This was perfectly displayed when Dockside SODO celebrated its one-year anniversary and went all out with fun activities–they had a bouncy castle, live glass-blowing demonstrations, several bands performing, stoned yoga, henna tattoos, and even a planetarium yurt! Not only was the event a raucous success, customers were enticed to stay long after they’d made their purchases due to the fun and creative activities available. Who doesn’t want to go jumping in a bouncy castle?

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Don’t Forget the Munchies!

If there’s anything that goes hand-in-hand with cannabis, it’s great food. Free food is even better. For those who are concerned about cost or the mess involved with onsite food services, food trucks are an easy, affordable solution.

At Dockside SODO’s one-year anniversary celebration, not only were there food trucks available, they also offered free scoops of ice cream and free cupcakes. There’s no better way to a person’s heart than through their stomach.

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Invite Influencers

Expand your event reach by inviting a top influencer to visit your dispensary. Influencers can be anyone from a celebrity in the cannabis realm to a popular Instagram or YouTube star. They often have thousands of followers and their popularity can give your event a boost.

This was exemplified recently when Snoop Dogg made an appearance during the grand opening of the Jardin Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas. He met with fans, signed autographs, and posed for pictures while budtenders educated customers about the various medical cannabis products available.

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Educate Your Audience

Join with local industry folks and educate your staff on the best products, best practices, and latest innovations in the cannabis industry. Customers trust budtenders to help them choose the best strains and products for their needs, and these events serve as an opportunity to spread knowledge and keep your staff up to speed.

Leafly is now offering the Budtender Sesh, designed for newbies and veterans alike, aimed at bringing together the best and brightest leaders to network and learn about the latest cannabis trends. This includes vendor demonstrations, happy hour, and an exclusive Cannabis 201 Master Class from Leafly’s strain experts.

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Brand Your Customers

Swag for days! A great way to ensure that folks remember your event and your brand is to deck them out in branded merchandise. This can be a bit tricky because many states prohibit cannabis giveaways. However, branded accessories are fair game and can include sunglasses, lanyards, lighters, rolling papers, shirts, stickers–the possibilities are nigh endless, so long as there’s no cannabis product involved. Customers love freebies, and giveaways can help encourage them to return to your business.

If you’ve got the overhead available, creating your own line of branded merchandise is a great way to make an impact on your customers and nurture loyalty for returning consumers. The investment will easily be paid off in the new customers you’ll acquire and the brand affinity you’ll inspire. A little bit goes a long way!

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Have you hosted a successful event at your dispensary? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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6 Strategies for Selling Excess Cannabis Product Inventory

As you prepare to replenish your inventory, one problem can throw off your entire sales technique. Stale cannabis flower, edibles that are nearing their expiration date, and other products gathering dust can be a revenue killer. You’ve got excess inventory taking up valuable space on your shelves. Now what?

If you’re looking to free up your shelf space and burn through your excess products quickly, here are a few ideas to maximize your business and make the most out of your inventory.

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Sales, Sales, Sales

This sounds incredibly obvious, but there is a method to the madness of a well-timed, well-planned, and well-promoted sale. A flash sale is a great way to unload your extra products, and positing the sale as a one-time event makes customers more inclined to stop by. Leafly users often search their area for local deals, so take advantage of this feature and entice customers into your shop with a flash sale. The FOMO is real!

This is a great time to pull out the oldest inventory from your shelves and put them on full display with a fitting price tag. Particularly in an industry where fresh flower is generally preferred by the consummate cannabis consumer, any cannabis flower that has been sitting on the shelf for more than four or five months is past its prime.

Bottom line: Slap a new price tag on slow-moving products and reinvigorate those sales.

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Rearrange Your Inventory

If you’re having trouble moving products, the first step is to make the products more visible. Customers can’t buy what they’re unaware of, right? This can mean moving product to a more prominent location, updating your Leafly menu to highlight special deals, or creating promotional signage for your display cases.

Using products that are particularly eye-catching or displaying products that have bright, attractive branding and marketing is another way to draw attention to a slow-selling product.

An excellent example is Seattle’s Dockside SODO setting out a prominent display of Solstice packs of Obama Kush pre-rolls in February 2016. Stocking up on Obama Kush was likely a great play during the election season for both the retailer and the cultivator, but with sales inevitably slowing after November, putting the Solstice packs on display at the front with a relevantly political DOPE magazine cover attracts the eye and alerts customers to a great deal.

Bottom line: A prominent location and attractive branding can make a product look twice as enticing.

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Bundle Your Products

This is a great way to move excess inventory quickly. If you’ve got tons of one product, why not offer a special on multiple units of the item? Consumers are much more drawn to an appealing deal. For example, offering 5 pre-rolls for $25 sounds may be more appealing to the consumer than selling each pre-roll at $5 apiece. Phrasing matters, especially in marketing.

Another way to take advantage of bundling is to pair fast-moving items with less popular items. If, for example, a single infused chocolate bar sells like hotcakes, pairing it with a slower-moving edible at a comparable price makes a sweet deal for an edible-loving cannabis consumer looking to stretch their dollar.

Bottom line: Bundling items that complement each other is another way to maximize your sales.

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Find Creative Ways to Advertise

This can mean flyers, postcards, newspaper inserts, drink coasters, and more. A few carefully placed adverts in a prominent and popular location nearby is a great way to get the word out about a new deal or promotion, and placing these advertisements effectively can introduce a whole new subset of customers who might not have otherwise known about your business. However, pay close attention to your state’s cannabis advertising guidelines to make sure your advertisements don’t break any rules.

Bottom line: Effective advertising is key!

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Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Placing deals and specials on some of your more active social media channels is a great way to reward loyalty for your followers. This is great for a flash sale or clearance sales on sluggish items. Add a special loyalty rewards code to give your followers and regular customers a discount. The strategy encourages extra business, which means customers will be more likely to frequent your establishment regularly. Reward your loyal customers and they’ll not only more likely to continue shopping at your business, they’re also more likely to recommend your store to their friends in the future.

Bottom line: Word of mouth is a powerful business tool!

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Team Up With a Neighboring Business

This trend is popping up more and more frequently. Cannabis businesses face a plethora of restrictions–no giveaways, no freebies, selective advertising–that make it difficult to create an enticing promotion. However, neighboring businesses are a great way to spread the word about your dispensary, as well as spreading goodwill among the neighborhood.

If you’ve got a good business relationship with your neighboring companies, a great way to boost your brand’s visibility is to offer branded swag and merchandise onsite. If your shop doesn’t already have swag, this is definitely a great idea to consider. Branded sunglasses, lighters, lanyards, vape pen batteries, pins, stickers–all of these are enticing goodies that will encourage sales. This is especially useful if there happens to be a head shop, smoke shop, or glass store nearby, with items that complement your inventory.

Bottom line: By combining forces, both businesses reap the benefits and customers get twice as good a deal.

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What sales and marketing strategies have worked for your business when you’ve got excess cannabis products to move?

Is Your Business Prepared for Nevada’s Legalization Rush?

Nevada’s Las Vegas strip has long held the reputation as Entertainment Capital of the World, and with the upcoming introduction of legalized cannabis for adult use, the state will have the opportunity to become the country’s, and possibly even the world’s, leading canna-tourist destination.

For cannabis-curious vacationers, Las Vegas offers a chance to safely try something new in a city that’s famed for its anonymity. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is the city’s notorious motto, meaning that many tourists from states that may not look too kindly on cannabis use will have the opportunity to try it in a safe, legal environment.

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Retail cannabis stores begin operating in Nevada in July. The current market in Nevada relies mostly on in-state qualified patients, with the occasional out-of-state patient taking advantage of Nevada’s medical marijuana state reciprocity, usually visiting from neighboring California.

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However, adult-use legalization has the opportunity to change all of that. Once the doors open for tourists to visit cannabis shops, the market will be exploding with both new cannabis consumers and business opportunities, unlocking a new stream of revenue for licensed retail cannabis shops.

We spoke to TJ Wright and Demetri Kouretas, General Manager and CEO of The Grove, Leafly’s #1 rated dispensary in Nevada, to gain a better perspective on the current market and how legalization will change things.

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“Currently, about 80% of our customers are local medical patients, with about 20% out-of-towners using Nevada’s reciprocity,” Wright explains, “but as soon as legalization hits, we expect those numbers to flip.”

As of February 2017, there are 26,519 registered medical marijuana patients in Nevada, but the demand for cannabis is high. “We see at least 10 people a day coming in to ask [about purchasing cannabis],” Kouretas tells Leafly.

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After Oregon transitioned from a medical marijuana market to a new combined medical and adult-use cannabis market, dispensaries saw a huge spike in sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission had estimated that cannabis sales would generate between $17 million and $40 million annually. However, when the final totals were tallied for 2016, sales from adult-use cannabis in Oregon topped $60 million in revenue and $240 million in total sales.

When a market explodes in growth, businesses must compete with each other to stand out to potential customers. Because the cannabis industry must comply with tough marketing restrictions, dispensaries, manufacturers, and other cannabis businesses are forced to think of some outside-the-box ways to market their business.

For example, Brad Zusman, owner and operator of CannaDaddy’s in Southeast Portland, noticed a distinct return on investment after signing up with Leafly, and after trying several tiers of Leafly packages, he recognized the value of maintaining an active Leafly presence.

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Oregon’s boom in sales are likely to be only a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue potential in Nevada. More than 55 million visitors a year visit the Silver State, and medical marijuana sales alone produced $121.6 million in 2016.

With the introduction of a legal market, Arcview Market Research and New Frontier have predicted that by 2020, Nevada could be seeing as much as $629.5 million in sales to adult consumers. This new clientele will come pouring in from all over the country, as well as from across the globe, to visit what may well become the new hot cannabis tourist destination for consumers. In addition to the typical cannabis enthusiast, Nevada is more likely to see an influx of consumers who might otherwise be interested in the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but have not been able to sample it due to federal or state restrictions.

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Nevada could very well become the new cannabis mecca, drawing visitors from far and wide to test the waters of newly legal cannabis. How will your business stand out when the floodgates open July 1?

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