With the cannabis landscape changing rapidly and a new dispensary popping up on every corner, the need for a solid online marketing strategy is now more important than ever for retailers. A big part of that is a website that looks good, works optimally and is performing well when it comes to SEO.
And for many, this is one of, if not the main reason they end up starting an on-site blog. In the minds of a lot of business owners, blogging = good SEO = more visitors = higher sales.
There’s a lot of truth to this – a blog strategy that’s SEO-driven and consistent (key word) will bring more high quality traffic to your site over time.
But it’s not the ONLY reason. When done right, it can also serve as the secret weapon in your arsenal, provide a foundation for your marketing strategy, and help you stand out and connect with your customers.
Social Media Hates You
No one wants to admit this, but unfortunately it’s a fact – most of the major social media platforms are actively hostile to the cannabis industry.
Or at least, their policies are.
Brands have had their accounts pulled from Instagram for no clearly defined reason.
Paid advertising is expressly forbidden, forcing companies to use influencers and other workarounds to get their message out.
And of course, there was the notorious Facebook shadow ban of 2018 in which ALL pages related to cannabis were removed from the platform’s search results (including educational pages like the California Bureau of Cannabis Control).
This is the problem with relying entirely on these social media platforms for your content marketing strategy – you’re effectively at their mercy, and can have your content pulled at any moment for any reasons.
That’s why a blog is such a valuable marketing tool.
YOU own your blog. It can’t be pulled on a whim, and it’s not subject to FaceBook’s tantrums.
You can invest time and resources into a blog knowing that you won’t wake up one morning to find a year’s worth of content gone.
Is this situation likely to change? Probably. With legalization spreading rapidly through a number of US states, it’s only a matter of time before federal legalization follows.
But until that happens, you can most likely expect continued problems. After all, cannabis is still technically a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, and the major social media platforms appear to be hedging their bets until that changes.
Blog Content Can Be Repurposed
One of the major aversions most businesses have to blogging is simply the time commitment.
I get it – a successful blog strategy involves taking the time to sit down, brainstorm topics that are relevant to your customers, do the research, write the article, get quality images together and optimize the post for SEO.
But while it may indeed be time consuming, it’s an effort that will seriously pay off down the road.
A high quality blog post isn’t just a nice piece for your website, it can also serve as a launching pad for all the other platforms and mediums you’re using to get your name out.
That blog post on terpenes you spent hours writing and perfecting can easily be turned into a YouTube video.
The images you spent all that time gathering for it can easily be put up on your dispensary’s Instagram page.
You can even recycle parts of the article into your email marketing strategy.
Education Is Key
I’m a firm believer that one of the major hurdles going forward for the industry is education.
We’ve come a long way. Cannabis is now fully legal in Canada and 11 US states, while another 22 have medical marijuana programs.
But unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Decades of hardcore prohibition have tarnished the reputation of this plant.
Even now that it’s legal, the draconian regulations put up by government agencies means that many still look at cannabis retailers like they’re a bunch of back alley drug dealers (if you’ve had to black out the windows of your cannabis store, you know what I’m talking about).
Like it or not, it’s going to take years to fully change public perception.
This is why educating your customers is such an important part of the battle. Because while your millennial demographic may have grown up in an era of fading prohibition and (relatively) relaxed attitudes, many of your older customers will not.
You and I may take concepts like THC, CBD, terpenes and strains for granted, but there are A LOT of people out there who don’t even know the basics.
And even if they do, the landscape of the industry has changed so much in just a few short years. Vapes, concentrates, edibles, infused beverages – these are things that most older consumer (and a good number of younger ones) simply find overwhelming when they walk into a dispensary.
Helping them overcome that educational hurdle as soon as they land on your site not only makes it more likely that they end up in your store, it builds trust and establishes you as an authority.
Blogging Helps You Stand Out And Tell Your Story
This shouldn’t need repeating, but I’ll go ahead and repeat it anyway – cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
According to one market research firm, the global cannabis industry is expected to be worth a whooping $73.6 billion by 2027. The Canadian cannabis industry alone is expected to generate $7 billion in sales in 2020, with $2 to $4 billion of that being in recreational sales.
Given how fast the industry is moving, it’s safe to say that if the competition isn’t fierce for you already, it’s going to be.
So, with cannabis consumers now able to choose from a plethora of products and providers, it’s absolutely critical that you stand out.
What makes your business unique? What do you bring to the table that your competitors don’t?
And when it comes to telling your story and getting your name out there, written content is still one of your best options.
Yes, people still read blogs. Long-form content that educates customers, solves their problems and shows why you’re unique is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
Thinking about starting a blog for your dispensary? Struggling to come up with topics? Hit me up and we can have a free, no-pressure chat about your business and content marketing strategy.