Selling marijuana has come a long way from street corner handoffs.
Today, everything is laid out on the table. Business is booming, and there’s little to hide from anymore. Unless, of course, you’re talking about cannabis advertising, a place where there’s still plenty to be coy about.
In an industry of uncertainty, the rules get hazy depending on who you are, where you are, and—most importantly—when you are.
As far as the actual ads go, what you say is different from what you show. But all copy and visuals are governed by the same regulations. And much like banned posts on social media, a cannabis ad can be torn down as quickly as it was put up.
The point is: restrictions abound. But creativity is all about pushing the boundaries. Plus, the rules of good advertising still apply no matter what you’re selling.
That’s how we operate at the Norton Agency. As a modern, full-service digital shop with over 30 years experience in healthcare and pharma, as well as adult beverage, we’re poised to take on the unique challenges of cannabis clients.
We’re no strangers to highly-regulated products and carefully-crafted communications. So what best practices do we recommend? Stick to these 3 guiding principles:
Localization is Key
While this might be table stakes for any other industry, it’s still relatively fresh for weed. That’s because it only gets harder to market it at state and federal levels. This means that hyperlocal, hyperfocused messages are not only more strategic, but also a lot safer.
You’ll start to see more out-of-home in the space, but likely without any lifestyle imagery. And certainly not with any people using product. But adverts that are clear and honest, aimed at helping people find the cannabis they need near them, have found success.
Ads Must Educate
Not every user is an expert (even if they think they are). The only ones who truly understand the benefits of specific strains are those who sell it. As advertisers, it’s our job to take their knowledge and educate the target audience with it. Simple stuff right?
Where it gets a little tougher is when you’re comparing medical use to recreational. These are vastly different worlds that, despite overlapping in a few places, require a much different set of tactics and communications.
Creativity Always Wins
This is an easy one. No matter how specific to their neighborhood consumer, or how well it spells out the product advantage, your ad for that local dispensary won’t work if it isn’t any good. But you already know that.
What you may not know is that now is the time to start taking chances. Whether it’s been sold in your area for years or is still on the road to legalization, marijuana has been normalizing for decades. It’s no longer this mystical novelty. So don’t be afraid to try something different with it.
Speaking of something different: if you’re in the cannabis space and looking to evolve your marketing approach, click here.