Tag: marketing

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!

Mainstream Marketing Focuses on Cannabis Industry to Capture ‘Stoner’ Audience

Innovative marketing is not just about being original. It’s about knowing the experience the audience will enjoy and bringing it to them at the next level. It’s a mantra The World’s Best Ever (aka TWBE) has been dabbling in since 2014, when the Webby-nominated culture website launched a creative marketing portal specializing in cannabis.

David Wilfert, “editor-in-charge” and co-founder of TWBE, created the portal after being approached by independent entertainment company A24 to dream up ideas for Kevin Smith’s film, Tusk. Their first project, “Toke N’ Tusk,” was a cannabis-focused campaign that included two Tusk-branded strains of medical marijuana available for sale at Buds & Roses in Studio City. They also bought digital media on High Times, Cannabist, Dangerous Minds, Boing Boing, and a few other cannabis-friendly sites with lots of reach. Not only were the studios and executives thrilled by the promotion, their campaign reached the print edition of the New York Times.

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Interested in opening more doors of perception, TWBE’s creative agency is now inside 182 dispensaries in Southern California campaigning on behalf of the recently released movie The Hero. A feature film written by Brett Haley and Marc Basch, The Hero is about Lee Hayden, an aging actor (played by Sam Elliot) confronting mortality who spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much cannabis with his former-co-star-turned-dealer Jeremy (played by Nick Offerman) until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus.

TWBE worked with the film’s distributor, The Orchard, for a first-of-its-kind movie industry media buy, creating a custom sixty-second trailer targeting cannabis-friendly audiences. The trailer played inside dispensaries, giving a niche market the opportunity to connect with the film and hopefully go see it in the theaters. Campaign efforts kicked off June 7th, with The Hero opening on June 9th to positive reviews.

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I spoke with Wilfert about marketing popular culture in this new space for cannabis and how TWBE lives in this kind of creative thinking process.

(Courtesy of The Orchard)(Courtesy of The Orchard)

Leafly: How did TWBE initially approach The Hero campaign? 

David Wilfert: The Orchard knew that they had a great film in The Hero. They also knew that it had a great pot angle that was overlooked in their general marketing. Familiar with the work we had done before, The Orchard sent us a screener and asked us to see what we could do to reach this consumer demographic. We came back with a deck full of ideas, and the one they loved the most was this intriguing media buy in the cannabis space.

“You don’t want to entirely alienate those who don’t consume, and at the same time you don’t want to turn off the consumer. If the idea is executed well, everyone wins.”

David Wilfert, Co-Founder, The World’s Best Ever

Was the studio apprehensive about cutting another version of the trailer specifically for cannabis enthusiasts?

No way. The Orchard was 100% onboard for the “stoner” version. The input from the top guys and the director [Brett Haley] definitely helped shape it. It was a real collaborative effort.

What was the attitude of the dispensaries you approached to involve? Did you have to buy TV’s for some of them to show the trailer?

I had come across a company called APOP media, who had installed TV sets in all of these locations. When I discovered it, they had only been displaying ads for weed products, and partial episodes of Weediquette. I knew that the movie business needed in. No matter if it’s a film with a cannabis hook or not, pot and cinema go hand in hand, and I think in time they’ll started getting traditional consumer ads. Pot smokers also do everything that non-pot smokers do.

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Who is the cannabis target demographic?

For The Hero, it was any and all pot smokers, but specifically those who visit SoCal dispensaries where we are displaying the advertisements. The beauty of the cannabis consumer is that they are anyone from your grandmother to your dad, to your sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or mother. It can be a real family affair if you love it. We try to find a familiarity between them all.

What are the challenges associated with bridging the marketing gap between mainstream culture and cannabis? Are there any differences for mainstream movie culture?

It’s really about a respectful focus when connecting pot to the mainstream. You don’t want to entirely alienate those who don’t consume, and at the same time you don’t want to turn off the consumer. If the idea is executed well, everyone wins.

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How do you follow current cannabis consumer behavior? With so much change in the industry every day, what ways do you think TWBE can adapt?

We work closely with dispensaries to enhance their packaging and presentation. In turn, we are able to observe their customers and gain insight on their preferences. Keeping up on the B2B magazines is necessary as well, since they are full of useful data and forecasting. As avid consumers ourselves, we can pick the trends we see the most promise in, and mold them into future packages. I think it’s also important to look into the past. The paraphernalia boom in the 70s is not unlike the green rush of today.

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TWBE is super skilled at thinking outside the box. What TWBE strategies make an innovative approach to marketing? And how do you apply those concepts to cannabis marketing?

Any company that has the balls to approach us is a dream client. They come wanting a fresh perspective, and we give them a no-fear approach to their projects. It’s way easier to reign in ideas than it is to expand on them. Our approach is the same regardless of the industry: Do something different, do something cool, and make the client stoked to see reward from their risk.

What is the incredible cannabis customer experience?

For me that would be a knowledgeable budtender and a curated selection of really great pot. It’s a rare combination. Just like everyone who eats in a restaurant should work a day as a waiter, every consumer should be required to trim an ounce of bud to understand what it takes to deliver a quality product.

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!

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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What Is Influencer Marketing and How Can It Help Cannabis Businesses?

Leafly is the first ever cannabis company to sponsor SXSW, and as we gear up for this year’s festival, we decided to take a look at one of the most crucial pieces of any successful brand: influencer marketing. With cannabis restricted by the federal government, many standard marketing platforms are off-limits. Because traditional marketing efforts off the table, cannabis brands have to be incredibly creative to ensure their campaigns are successful.

We spoke with Dominick Damico, the founder of Adspire, the world’s fastest growing influencer marketing agency dedicated to cannabis, to see how cannabis businesses can make the most of their brand by using outside influencers to boost their audience and maximize their marketing impact.

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Leafly: What is influencer marketing?

Dominick Damico: Influencer marketing is the usage of people and platforms to drive a brand’s message to a target market. The influencer can be a person, a website, or a social media page. Essentially, any person or platform that has influence over an audience can be considered an influencer.

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What are some examples of different types of influencers?

  • Niched: These influencers are typically devoted to a specific market or subject (ex. Cannabis / beauty / sports / etc.)
  • Celebrity: These influencers are traditional celebrity types (artists, athletes, entertainers)
  • Social: These influencers found their fame through social media platforms
  • Micro: These influencers have a small amount of influence, but they can be useful when brands are looking to activate many niches at once
  • Localized: These influencers and their content are typically localized (ex. “Seattle Stoners”)

Influencers can fall under more than one of the categories above. For example, there are localized-micro influencers, and there are social-niched influencers.

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How to Market Your Cannabis Business

What are some of the challenges of achieving impact through influencer marketing?

The number of followers does not necessarily equal impact. Bigger is not always better. Many brands make the mistake of judging the value of an influencer based on how much influence they possess. Engagement rate is the holy grail of measuring influencer value. This is because a 100k influencer with a 50% engagement rate gets five times more action than a 1 million influencer with a 1% engagement rate. I’ve seen pages with millions of followers that get less engagement than pages 1/10th their size.

Your content and ads will not do well just because they’re going out to a lot of people. There is a misconception that influencers have the magical allure of getting their fans to do what they want. Just because you post your products, content, and ads on influencer platforms in the same industry, doesn’t mean you will get results. They need to be aligned with your content style, focused on value-add, and consist of a well thought out advertisement or post. It’s no different than any other advertising methods. Bad ads and content will always perform badly.

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How to Market Your Cannabis Business Part 2: Traditional Marketing Channel Opportunities

When do you think paid digital marketing channels may be available to cannabis brands? What about print/traditional marketing?

Hard to say. I’d imagine even if Google, Facebook, etc. does want to get on board, their legal team will give them the thumbs down due to the current federal standing of cannabis. I would guess 3-6 years for USA advertising only, or whenever cannabis is no longer a federally illicit substance in America. As for the rest of the world, I have no clue.

I do believe that print advertising at a local level is easier to access. This is because local print works within the jurisdiction of state lines, where cannabis is legal. It’s different for these digital companies that have an international presence and have much more pressure to abide by federal law compared to the local print companies complying within their jurisdictions.

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How to Market Your Cannabis Business Part 3: Digital Marketing and Cannabis Advertising Strategies

Do you have any tips to run a successful influencer marketing campaign?

  • Keep up with social rules and algorithms: Social media platforms are always changing the rules of the game. Companies that don’t stay nimble and up to date on the latest rules can miss out on changes required to maximize success.
  • Keep up with the latest marketing trends: Take some time out of each day to go through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and platforms of interest. This will help you recognize what is working well for other pages and companies. It helps you to identify successful and unsuccessful marketing strategies without having to spend your own money to find out.
  • Follow page patterns: If an account only does direct photo posts, try to format your marketing campaign so that specific influencer drives your goal with a direct photo post.
  • Be good to the influencers you work with: At the end of the day this is a relationships game. Everyone knows everyone and if you screw over an influencer, other influencers will find out about it and won’t want to work with your company. These influencers get plenty of opportunity. At the end of the day, they are going to want to work with people they like who treat them fairly.
  • If you aren’t sure how to do all of this, outsource it to Adspire: I’ve watched new companies waste thousands of dollars on influencers and campaigns that absolutely bombed due to their lack of expertise. We’ve got the knowledge and experience to make your influencer marketing campaign a success.

You can hear more about influencer marketing at the SXSW Conference. Leafly will be sponsoring a three-part track of cannabis programming, including one keynote speaker and two panels, on March 14, 2017.

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Mobile Optimization Tips for Cannabusinesses

Welcome to the third and final part of the main marketing lessons for dispensaries and cannabis businesses that I learned from MozCon 2016. In the previous posts, I reviewed how cannabusinesses (and any business, really) can take advantage of reputation marketing and personalization marketing. Today I’ll recap mobile optimization tips that can help cannabis companies better connect with their customers on the platform where they’re spending most of their time: their phones.

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The Importance of an Optimized Mobile Experience

Mobile encompasses 65% of the time people spend on digital media. This is important because many businesses tend to focus on their desktop experiences first and mimic that experience for mobile users. The reality is that desktop is becoming more and more secondary in how consumers shop and seek out information. In fact, by 2017 there will be an entirely separate index of search results in Google for mobile, and this index will be prioritized by the search giant.

With these tips, you’ll find a few ways you can make sure your current and potential customers are finding you on mobile and getting the best experience possible once they do.

Don’t Lose People’s Attention

What many companies forget is that we are different people on mobile than we are on desktop. Think about what your screen looks like on your phone vs. your computer. You’ll notice there’s a lot more going on with your computer because it’s easier to open multiple tabs, and we’re typically more patient for content to load. On mobile, both our attention span and patience are dwindled. In fact, 60% of mobile visitors want a site to load in less than three seconds.

This is why site speed is a great place to start in optimizing your mobile website. In terms of design and code, simple is typically better; no one wants to wait for images and clunky code to load. Here are four relatively simple tips a webmaster can follow to help speed things up from the backend:

  • Compress the files that make up your website into a zip file. This makes them faster for a browser to load.
  • Redirect pages on the site that are 404 errors to a live URL. I’d recommend using Google Search Console to find error pages. It can also be used to diagnose other issues on the site.
  • Do your research and find the fastest hosting company for your site. To help, here’s a great guide for hosting companies.
  • Detail your image dimensions in the website code so the browser doesn’t have to do the work and take longer to load a page.

These are just a few tactics you can start with, but there are numerous ways to help a website load faster and easier. You can use Google’s PageSpeed tools to help with the process.

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Don’t Let People Get Lost or Confused

From where to find your physical location to how to contact you, someone shouldn’t have to spend time getting lost while navigating your site or another map service. Here are a few suggestions to make things easier for them:

  • Get your business listed on popular directory sites, including Google and other search engine local listings. As I mentioned in the personalization marketing post of this series, make sure your business name and address format is identical on each site. Consistency across different listings helps get your listings to show up more frequently in search results. Don’t have your name be “Grandmaster Bud’s Emporium of Cannabis” on your Leafly dispensary page but “Emporium of Cannabis Products from Grandmaster Bud” on your Google local listing.
  • In your main site navigation, make the links clearly call out what is in that section – strain menu browsing, the blog, about the company, etc. It’s risky to try and be clever with your navigation link text because it can confuse and frustrate your mobile visitors.
  • Use click to call buttons when you include your phone number – and clearly call out the best times to call or your hours of operation.
  • Show your address and make it easy to click to get directions in a navigation app. Again, how you format your address (abbreviating words, etc.) should be consistent across sites where it’s listed.
  • Make contact or opt-in forms simple, easy, and as short as possible. You can A/B test different formats and copy to see what performs best.
  • When someone needs to enter information in these forms or anywhere on the site, have the default keyboard match the field the user is filling out. For example, if they need to enter a phone number, make sure the numbers keyboard is what automatically comes up.

There are a number of ways to help your mobile visitors find what they need, but you might be unsure of where to start or what to prioritize. Talia Wolf’s presentation highlighted some great questions to ask yourself that can help you find areas of improvement:

  • What does your mobile traffic search for most frequently on your internal site search? This is information that you might want to better emphasize or make easier to find.
  • What are the top performing pages on your site for mobile traffic? You can learn from these pages and try to better replicate certain aspects of them across the site.
  • Alternatively, you can also look at your pages with the highest drop off to see what about the experience of the page can be improved (and also apply those learnings elsewhere).

Bonus Tip: Talia also shared a Complete Guide to Mobile Landing Page Optimization that you can request for free. It’s full of useful tips and recommendations to get your mobile site in top shape.

Don’t be Intrusive!

Last but definitely not least, don’t force anything upon your mobile visitors. Auto-playing movies or music, giant flashy banners detracting from the main point of the page, and anything else that interrupts the mobile experience is a surefire way to lose your mobile visitors. Plus, all of that tends to increase site load times.

The biggest culprit of mobile intrusion is screen-monopolizing pop-ups. I’m not sure who decided pop-ups taking up the whole screen that don’t allow you to continue reading until you at least click the X were a good idea, but it needs to stop. Usually these pop-ups are asking to subscribe, but interfering with a mobile visitor’s experience like that could actually do the opposite and just cause them to jump ship.

Instead, have less invasive CTAs on the side navigation, at the bottom of a post, or anywhere that doesn’t require someone to take an additional action to NOT opt-in. Plus, Google will begin deprioritizing sites with intrusive interstitials starting January 2017, so you’re also hurting your search engine performance by including these.

Note: Legally required interstitials that cannabis businesses must include to ask a visitor’s age aren’t included in this penalty.

With the conclusion of this series, hopefully the lessons covered in each post provide you some actionable items and strategies you can try now or in the near future. There were a lot of gems from the 2016 MozCon presentations, so feel free to download and explore the session presentations on the Moz site. You can also request detailed notes from Unbounce.

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Lead Image: Thos Ballantyne/Flickr Creative Commons

Personalization Marketing for Cannabusinesses

Welcome to Part Two of the main marketing lessons for dispensaries and cannabis businesses that I learned from MozCon 2016. In Part One of my three-part recap, I covered how cannabusinesses can use reputation marketing to their advantage. Today, I’ll go over some personalization marketing tips that can help improve people’s perception of companies operating within the adult use and medical marijuana industry.

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Make Connections with Personalized Marketing

A common theme of the session recommendations was improving the user’s experience on websites and other channels. Search engines like Google pay attention to how a brand’s reputation and digital experience is perceived when deciding if the brand should be included in their search results. Why is this important? On Google alone, there are over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. And it’s probably the most common way new and existing customers will find and engage with you.

A good way to start finding user experience improvements is to think about what you like and don’t like when you’re interacting with a business. You may dislike or disengage with a company that treats you as nothing more than anonymous traffic and data. Conversely, brands that seem to speak, connect, and relate to us are always more intriguing and generally resonate better. Personalized marketing for customers is an old school customer service fundamental that applies to online success just as much as offline.

Here are some of the main personalized marketing tips I took away from the sessions. Many of the examples are related to dispensaries, but really any business could benefit from the overarching advice if they’re trying to better connect with their audience.

Make Email Newsletters Communications, Not Blasts

Do you know the names of your subscribers? Do you track what strains and content they tend to look at the most on your site? Do you actually ask them what they’re interested in seeing? If the answer is no to any of these, you’re potentially missing out on ways to personalize emails and make them feel less like a blast into the abyss.

If you know your subscriber’s name, newsletters can contain more personalized copy that appeals to the reader. If you’re tracking what subscribers look at most frequently when browsing online menus and content, you highlight new strains in stock or content on your site that matches. And if you don’t have a newsletter, maybe you should start considering one.

There are many ways to personalize and improve an email, and Justine Jordan’s session did a great job outlining a lot of tips to do so. You can find all of the recommendations from her presentation as well as links to resources about each topic on her company website.

Improve Personalization Using Cognitive Psychology

In the session by Sarah Weise, she explains how you can apply lessons from cognitive psychology to improve your customers’ experiences. According to the presentation, 95% of decisions are unconscious, and it’s important to understand this concept.

Try and appease one or more of the three unconscious decision-making parts of the brain: survival, emotional, and rational. Between all of these parts of the brain, you’ll find the lessons that can be used in your strategy:

Offer Social Proof

We all see the “friends who like this” feature on Facebook, and it’s natural for us to trust a brand that we see more of our friends liking. Likes, star ratings, reviews, and other similar metrics push people to engage by appeasing the emotional part of the brain. Dispensaries can adopt this by calling out “best seller” next to popular strains, highlighting which strains have the best reviews online on the homepage, prominently displaying reviews in general, and by even taking that “friends who like this” callout from Facebook and embedding it on a prominent part of the site.

Bonus Tip: You can add code to your website that will optimize your appearance in Google search results to people searching for your brand. It pulls in your reviews on all sites you’re listed on directly into the search results page, giving you more visibility on the page.

Highlight Scarcity

People are generally more motivated to want something if there is a limited amount left because of the survival brain. Dispensaries can satisfy this by calling out strains that are almost out of supply or post a timer on the site if there’s a sale that’s about to end.

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Call Out Loss Aversion

The survival part of the brain also tends to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Try calling out what people might lose by not doing something. If you have an email newsletter, your marketing copy asking them to sign up could say something along the lines of “Don’t miss out on the latest weekly deal” (if you have a weekly deal) to help convince more people to opt-in.

Make Comparisons

Another old school marketing tactic is showing a price before and after a discount. Even if a product is still expensive, seeing the before and after can make the actual number look much better. If you’re ever having a sale, consider this tactic to speak to the rational part of the brain and convince more people to purchase.

Create Associations with Your Brand

Connecting with your audience is key to gaining loyal customers and improving your authority. Try adding visual components to the right messaging so people can better connect. When you start listing out those philanthropic efforts I mentioned in Part 1, show pictures of the people you helped – it helps create a stronger association with the emotional part of the brain. Another way to achieve this is adding staff photos and profiles to the forces at work in your store on the website; it also helps strengthen the emotional connection one might feel towards your business before or after they visit.

Be an Authority

The survival part of the brain will trust a brand more if it deems them as more authoritative, and the rational part of the brain decides it’s safe after collecting more information. Clearly call out notable news mentions, awards, and anything else that will instill more trust in people when they look at your dispensary website.

Provide Reasons

After appeasing the other decision-making parts of the brain, you need to be direct and specific in any messaging on your website or social channels and connect the dots; this way, the rational brain doesn’t have to do as much work. Give reasons for choosing your store, clearly call out what a person is gaining, and make the reasons as personal as possible.

Bonus Tip: In the session by Joanna Wiebe, a conversion copywriter at Copyhackers, she gives many examples that help show how you can write copy that gives reasons to readers. You can download her presentation here.

Hopefully you can apply some of these tactics to better connect with your audience and improve their interactions with you. In the third and final part of this series, I’ll provide some tips on how cannabis businesses can better utilize mobile marketing to connect with their customers.

If you’d like to dive deeper into any of the 2016 MozCon presentations, you can also request detailed notes from Unbounce for free.

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Lead Image: Rob Bertholf/Flickr Creative Commons

MozCon 2016 Cannabusiness Tips: Reputation Marketing

Earlier in September I attended MozCon, a B2B digital marketing conference that covered topics ranging from user experience (UX) to search engine optimization (SEO) to brand development and beyond. For the cannabis industry, there were three core takeaways from the event that dispensaries and other businesses can follow to improve their marketing efforts. Today I’ll go over the importance of marketing your business’s reputation in order to win customers, positive media coverage, and improve your digital performance.

Build Your Street Cred with Reputation Marketing

Cannabis companies can have a difficult time being perceived as reputable and upstanding businesses. It’s hard to shake the stigma after decades of prohibitionist propaganda, which is why it’s especially important for dispensaries to add reputation marketing to their strategy. Rhea Drysdale shared a few ways businesses can implement reputation marketing and measure the success of their efforts, highlighted below.

Emphasize Your Philanthropic Efforts

Dispensaries can lose the shady “drug dealer” reputation by telling people all of the ways they give back to the community. Don’t give back to your community? Maybe you should. A good example of this is can be found with Seattle’s own Dockside Cannabis. They have an ongoing “cats vs. dogs” competition that allows customers to donate tips either to a dog or cat no-kill shelter. Both organizations receive their share of the funds, and a “winner” is announced.

How can these types of efforts be better displayed to the public? Talk about all of your philanthropic efforts in a prominent, easy-to-find section of your website. A good place to do this is your business’s “about” page. Instead of a generic blurb or stale elevator-pitch copy, tell your story and emphasize the ways you’re a positive contributor to society.

List your company’s different charitable endeavors and link to any blog posts that offer more information about your business’s positive contributions to the surrounding community. Including pictures of employees doing good deeds can further deepen the emotional response in readers. The key here is visibility—remember, people’s views can’t be influenced by what they don’t know.

Bonus tip: If you’re donating earned money or spending money to actively help a charitable cause, you can write it off in your taxes. Just make sure whatever organization you’re working with is approved by the IRS.

Join the Conversation

Businesses constantly hear how they should be on whatever the trending social network is, a clear depiction of the “shiny object” syndrome. However, simply having a profile or using it as a bullhorn won’t do any good. Instead, actively engage with your followers (and non-followers), and listen to what they’re saying.

Join in conversations on various channels by responding to comments when necessary, and track the average sentiment of people’s comments to gauge what kinds of content they’re reacting to. When you have an idea of what type of message resonates strongly with your audience, you can deliver better crafted content that they’ll enjoy. It’s also equally important to not spread yourself too thin across too many social media accounts such that you can’t update or engage with each a regular basis. Do your research and see where your target audiences are spending the most time, and focus first on those channels. And most importantly, make sure you’re connecting with people and providing value while evaluating which social networks make sense for you.

Bonus tip: Reserve your user name on all of the major social media networks, and focus on building/updating a couple at a time until you get the hang of each community. After you’ve figured out your publishing schedule, and if the channel makes sense for your business, you can experiment with another social network.

Create a Fun and Interesting Workplace

Not only should you be highlighting your philanthropic efforts, you should also show what makes your cannabis store or business so unique. If you don’t have a fun, happy workplace or qualities that make your store experience special, you should prioritize fixing that! Host events, hold fun contests in-store every week, or provide customers with some educational information to help them better understand what strains they want before talking to the budtender.

You should also incentivize employees who display the most exceptional customer service, seeing as they’re the person between your customers and the product. Make it a fun game by giving prizes or special accolades to staff who regularly go above and beyond. Your employees and customers can be your biggest advocates, and sometimes just fostering a positive environment causes the reputation marketing to happen naturally. Plus, happier employees = happier customers.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll outline how creating a personal connection to your user by customizing his or her digital experience can make a positive impact on your cannabis business.

If you’d like to dive deeper into any of the 2016 MozCon presentations, you can also request detailed notes from Unbounce for free.

Lead Image: Thos Ballantyne/Flickr Creative Commons