As the cannabis industry continues to grow, dispensaries face significant challenges in attracting and retaining customers. Gone are the days when merely opening a dispensary guaranteed a steady stream of clients. “If we build it, they will come” absolutely fails for long-term success. Instead, dispensaries must navigate a highly-competitive industry that promises the lowest prices and higher highs everywhere you look.
Traditional digital marketing efforts are severely limited due to regulations. As a result, establishing a strong online presence and connecting with the target audience becomes the primary way to establish growth and for many dispensaries, yet this is a considerable challenge. Other industries that rely on foot traffic from customers have the luxury of advertising to the masses on Facebook or Google for nominal spend. So how do you build a following within your community and drive traffic into your retail location?
Remove stigma from your brand
Cannabis stigma can discourage potential customers from visiting dispensaries, particularly those who are hesitant about being linked to the cannabis culture. Dispensaries must focus on creating a welcoming and educational environment that highlights the medicinal benefits and responsible consumption of cannabis products to overcome this perception. When developing your dispensary, think about using inclusive language and branding. If your dispensary uses industry jargon and focuses solely on those who display their pro-cannabis stance loud and proud, you’re alienating potential customers.
Education > Pricing
A significant hurdle to overcome is the lack of education among potential customers about various cannabis products, consumption methods, and potential benefits. Dispensaries should prioritize educating customers through informative materials, workshops, and knowledgeable staff to build trust and loyalty. On marketing materials such as emails, flyers and SMS, it’s worth adding in educational content along with product pricing and descriptions. The more education customers have about your products and cannabis in general, the more comfortable they will feel making purchasing decisions.
Invest in Local SEO
Focus on local SEO to attract nearby customers, establish a professional website, and maintain a strong presence on social media platforms to connect with your target audience.
Use a part-time contractor through a secure platform like Upwork or hire a marketing agency to focus on the following elements of a successful SEO strategy:
- Website optimization (speed, image size, meta data, errors, etc.)
- New content monthly
- Key word research and tracking
- Organic traffic trends
- Competitor analysis
Build a loyalty program that can’t be beat
Everyone knows they should have a loyalty program but if the only thing you’re offering is a point reward system, it’s not enough.
Your loyalty program should be one of the main tools to help build an audience and drive traffic to your dispensary. Make it easy to sign-up and blow customers away by doing it better than the competition.
Here are easy ways to level-up your dispensary’s loyalty program:
- Events (make it as simple as free pizza every first Friday night or bring in resources needed like a doctor for medical card access)
- Exclusive email/sms coupons and offers
- Regular educational content
- Birthday ‘freebies’
- Ask for reviews and share them everywhere
The cannabis industry is the wild west and competition is fierce. Adapt or you’ll be left behind. If you’re seeing a drop in new and returning customers, do a hard evaluation of everything you’re doing from branding to customer experience and beyond. If you use the methods above, they will help you get a leg up on the competition.