7 Ways Marketers Can Break Into the Cannabis Industry

These brands need experienced advertisers to help boost their ROI

a woman peers through a giant telescope; at the other end of the telescope is an image of a cannabis flower; everything is yellow aside from the green cannabis flower
Marketers who are delving into the cannabis industry for the first time will likely encounter a few hurdles. Photo Illustration: Amber McAden, Source: Getty Images, iStock
Headshot of Rosie Mattio

The legal cannabis industry is worth billions, and your skills are in demand, even if you have little experience with the plant itself. Top-shelf cannabis companies are seeking experienced, well-rounded marketers to handle their branding and business efforts. The following are some pro tips to help you build a foundation and compete in this new arena.

Seek conversation

You won’t always find the “next big thing” by perusing the mainstream cannabis news sites. Being a well-rounded marketer means getting your information directly from the source: the industry experts.

The cannabis industry offers plenty of ways to join the conversation from the comfort and convenience of your laptop or phone. You can easily find Facebook groups dedicated to discussions of consumption trends, entrepreneurship or state and local policies. In addition, some great email newsletters are also delivered by experts on a weekly or even daily basis.

Brush up on policy

Local, state and federal laws all have an impact on the cannabis industry. That means it’s time for marketers interested in this space to gain a deeper understanding of government and how it relates to each individual business.

Cannabis policies often include restrictions on advertising, packaging and labeling, all of which can directly impact your line of business. All the more reason to do the policy homework before you begin serving cannabis-related clients.

Keep an open mind

When working to keep ahead of the curve in the fast-moving cannabis industry, it certainly doesn’t hurt to actually try the product. However, even if you abstain, your success depends on your ability to be receptive and understanding of cannabis consumers, their experiences and their preferences. Open your mind to new ideas about cannabis, and you’ll be sure to stay one step ahead of new product launches, delivery methods and other trends. This awareness will help educate and guide your marketing tactics.

Involve yourself in events

Time to break out your classiest and most comfortable shoes and print new business cards. In order to stay current on new developments in the space, networking at local cannabis groups, parties and immersive trade shows is practically a requirement. Plus, traveling for these shows and conferences will open you up to new cannabis markets, and each one has something different and interesting to offer.

Know your audience

Truly understanding the cannabis consumer and their needs is paramount to operating as a marketer in this industry. The stereotypes are a thing of the past, and though millennials make up a huge cross-section of the audience, dispensary customers are increasingly wealthy, educated and middle-aged. To create effective campaigns, study the statistics and be interested in discovering new archetypes.

Learn to spot trends

Over the course of your research into the people, products and policies that make up the cannabis universe, you are likely to pick up on some larger trends and issues. Currently, a few big ones are vape pens, infused beverages, hemp-based CBD products and, more broadly, an uptick in cannabis consumption by senior citizens.

These trends emerge often unnoticed by the mainstream media until they blow up. By learning to identify trends early, you will tell better, more relevant stories for your clients.

Be an advocate

If you have already decided that you want to do marketing work in this industry, then you’ve likely come to terms with “coming out of the cannabis closet.” Being a personal advocate for the cannabis movement will naturally attract business, as many cannabis companies prefer to do business with people who truly understand and represent the cause.

Word of mouth, including social media, is still a major driver of new cannabis consumers. Be tapped into the community, add value to the overall conversation, and you are sure to succeed in marketing to them.

Rosie Mattio is founder of RMPR.