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Cannabis Marketing: How to Promote Your Cannabis Brand Online

From underground to mainstream, cannabis has ignited a new marketing vertical. Even though THC is now legal on a state level, it is not federally legal, which means brands need to embrace both innovation and regulation.  

It can be overwhelming with so many restrictions on what can be said in terms of benefits, nuances with delta 9 (D9) and delta 8 (D8), and (like alcohol marketing) the age restriction of 21+ that must be observed. There is a lot to consider and monitor when marketing your cannabis brand. 

So, how can budding cannabis brands get the word out and make sure they are complying? Keep reading for our recommendations on how to successfully market your cannabis brand online.

Make SEO Part of the Game Plan

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great tactic for all businesses. It can help brands rank organically in search results, increase visibility and get in front of the right people at the moment of search. It’s an especially good approach for cannabis brands due to all the restrictions that take place with other forms of advertising online, specifically paid placements. Here’s how SEO can fit into your cannabis marketing strategy: 

Content marketing opportunities – SEO is closely intertwined with content marketing, making it an ideal strategy for cannabis brands to create valuable, informative and engaging content that resonates with the target audience. By publishing high-quality content on topics related to cannabis education, product reviews, industry news and more, cannabis brands can attract and engage the customer while improving search engine rankings. 

Local SEO for dispensaries – For cannabis dispensaries and retail locations, local SEO is particularly important for attracting customers in the area. By optimizing a Google My Business profile, local directory listings, and website for local search queries, dispensaries can improve visibility in local search results and attract nearby customers seeking cannabis products. 

Compliance and regulation – SEO allows cannabis brands to navigate advertising restrictions and compliance regulations more easily compared to paid advertising channels. By focusing on organic search visibility and content marketing, cannabis brands can educate and inform the audience without running afoul of advertising restrictions on platforms like Google Ads or on social media. 

Building brand authority – SEO provides an opportunity for cannabis brands to establish themselves as authoritative sources of information and expertise within the industry. By consistently producing valuable and educational content, cannabis brands can build trust, credibility and loyalty among the target audience, ultimately driving brand awareness and customer loyalty. 

Since paid advertising options may be limited for marketing cannabis products due to legal and regulatory restrictions, SEO offers a cost-effective and sustainable alternative for promoting cannabis brands and dispensaries online. By investing in SEO strategies for cannabis marketing, brands can improve their online visibility, attract targeted traffic, and grow their business over the long term. 

Note from the pros: Remember SEO is a long-term investment. It is an organic strategy that requires consistent effort and takes time to see optimal results, sometimes several weeks or even months. But if you keep at it the payoff is worth it!

Embrace lifestyle branding

Lifestyle branding is a marketing approach that provides an aspirational vision to the customer, showcasing what life could be like when using a product.  

Lifestyle branding offers cannabis brands a compelling and effective approach to promoting products in digital marketing while overcoming the challenges and restrictions associated with traditional advertising methods. By emphasizing lifestyle, values, authenticity and community, brands can connect with the target audience on a deeper level and drive engagement, loyalty and advocacy over time. 

When marketing cannabis products, brands can focus on how their products can fit within someone’s lifestyle, focusing on features and values that the audience might find compelling such as:

                • Ease of use 
                • Health and wellness 
                • Transparency in ingredients and process 
                • Sustainability and the environment 
                • Creativity and inspiration 
                • Diversity and inclusion
                • Community and social responsibility 
                • Cannabis education 
                • Empowerment

Engage in email marketing

Great for top-of-mind awareness, brands can work to build an email list by having an eNewsletter sign-up on their websites for exclusive news, discounts and promos. This is where brands can share news of specific offers, valuable educational content with links to blogs, engage the audience through polls/surveys and industry-compliant giveaways. Email provides cannabis marketing greater flexibility and control over messaging compared to other advertising channels, making it easier for cannabis brands to comply with advertising regulations and restrictions. 

Try social media advertising

For paid social ads, some brands have gotten highly creative by finding ways to state the obvious without direct language. This allows businesses to work around content being flagged for certain restricted/prohibited keyword mentions.

Paid social ads are a great way to target those most likely to be interested in products and include engaging content and visuals such video and infographics. However, with paid social cannabis marketing, brands will want to be very mindful of restrictions and best practices.  

Forbes shares 5 keys to promoting cannabis on social: 

  1. Post the unexpected or intriguing
    Like the examples above brands can employ humor, memes, education and other cannabis marketing strategies and trends. Be sure to develop the right type of content for your selected platforms.
  2. Don’t promise your product will have a specific effect on the customer 
    Use words such as “may” or “can” when describing an effect. Avoid using the word “will” or making any promises.
  3. Know the rules 
    There are numerous rules and regulations to follow when marketing cannabis products on social media. Not only are there state rules, but also platform-specific rules. Make sure your ads are compliant to avoid wasting time and money on content that could be removed or even get your account banned.
  4. Use Reels to push the limits 
    You may be able to post some content that pushes the envelope a tiny bit here as Reels are not policed as much as other areas. However, it’s still vital that you are in compliance with state regulations.
  5. Be careful on TikTok 
    The popular short-form video platform has especially stringent rules and does not allow any cannabis plant imagery or depictions of cannabis use. Try workarounds for your cannabis marketing such as posting voice interviews or educational content. 

Keep your cannabis marketing rolling

There are many obstacles in digital marketing for cannabis brands, particularly when it comes to paid marketing. The good news is that the 2018 Farm Bill (which was updated in 2023 and will potentially be updated again in 2024) has opened up some opportunities for this industry and expanded what can be done to help market these products. It’s delicate to navigate with so many restrictions still around certain terminology, imagery, claims and ensuring the appropriate age of the recipient. Nevertheless, by employing the above cannabis marketing strategies, brands can reach the target audience and comply with all regulatory requirements.  

Cannabis marketing is challenging! With so many rules and regulations, both state and channel, it’s vital that brands not only develop the right messaging, but that media placements are on point. Connect with Beyond Fifteen to learn how we can help market your cannabusiness.

Connect with a Beyond Fifteen Marketing Specialist today!

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