Professionals in the legal cannabis industry encounter multiple roadblocks when it comes to marketing their business and products. The unfortunate truth is that, even if cannabis products are legal in an individual locality, marijuana is still classified as illegal under federal US law. As a result, the majority of cannabis businesses are unable to utilize the most common advertising and marketing tactics.
As Chief Marketing Officer of Nug Avenue, I’ve had to seek out alternate solutions to marketing. I’ve found nontraditional or “guerilla” marketing tactics the most effective to generate a solid pipeline of leads and customers. Guerilla tactics help my company grow and scale at both the B2B and B2C level. Most importantly, they cultivate and keep loyal customers.
Here are some of the best guerilla marketing tactics I have found to work for businesses in the cannabis industry, especially when more traditional methods won’t (or can’t) work.
Social media companies do not look kindly on marijuana businesses. After having our own accounts shutdown repeatedly due to anonymous complaints, I learned to make them private.
Only Nug Avenue’s customers can see our posts. While this may limit their reach, it does create the cozy feeling of belonging to an exclusive club. Many customers also appreciate having their membership in our community kept under wraps.
According to Accenture, the majority of consumers today (some 63%) buy from brands they feel a more personal connection with. So that’s the experience we aim to deliver with our social media presence, and it has paid off with the loyalty of customers who bond with us over the experience of confronting social stigma. It’s one thing to buy a ticket and get a seat in the front of the house. It’s another to be invited backstage!
Rewards Programs for Cannabis Companies
As one report from MJ Biz Daily states, roughly half of all cannabis companies in the state of Washington offer loyalty rewards programs for their customers and the results are strong. Businesses with loyalty programs saw an average increase of 13% higher spend rates from customers belonging to the program over a 90-day observance period compared to those without loyalty rewards programs.
The report also showed that customers who joined a loyalty program were more likely to purchase a greater quantity of products overall with some being willing to pay a slightly higher cost. All this translates into an increased share of customer wallets!
Taking all of this into consideration, I created and launched a customer rewards program, Loyalty Rewards for Nug Avenue. For every dollar the customer spends, they receive a point. Points accumulated can be used to purchase promotional items or redeemed as “Nug Cash” toward other products.
Advertising and SMS Guerilla Marketing Methods
Paid advertising isn’t available for dispensaries and other businesses that sell regulated cannabis products. For this reason, it’s important to be able to reach customers via email and text message (SMS) marketing. Even these channels have their own challenges.
Telecommunications companies have expressed their unwillingness to work with our industry. The major carriers won’t let us text, promote, or sell products they consider “drugs.” This means a workaround is necessary.
At Nug Avenue, we use a service that sends customers a text message telling them they have a notification. If they click on the link, it takes them to a landing page that explains the promotion. While using a gateway like this may seem indirect, I have found it to be one of the best guerilla marketing tactics available for cannabis companies.
Reaching customers directly has provided a dependable way to drive a higher amount of traffic to our website and boost sales.
Where do we go next with Guerilla Marketing?
Overall, these guerilla marketing tactics have proven their worth to Nug Avenue. While the specific laws governing your own business and industry must always be kept in mind, consider experimenting with them to help grow your own market share and develop a loyal customer base.
Until regulations evolve further, this is going to be the playbook for successful cannabis retailers.