Today marks cannabis legalization here in Canada. A day like no other, today is the start of a new frontier for customers, business owners, law enforcement, health care professionals, educators and marketers. With the world watching how Canada plans to embark on such a liberal movement, there will not only be an audience right here at home watching each other’s next step but across the globe to learn how cannabis can fit into a country and way of life.
While legalization brings with it many freedoms, it does not come without strict laws and regulations when it comes to marketing. Edmonton will actually be quite “open” in comparison to other markets, allowing more licensed dispensaries and smoking zones than some other provinces. But that said, Edmonton is following suit with other provinces on how cannabis can be communicated and advertised.
Gone are the days of flashy tobacco campaigns as federal law is enforcing some strict laws that need to be adhered to by all in the industry.
While this may make you think the majority of advertising opportunities are gone, think again. Both medical and recreational can be advertised through a series of strategic tactics, such as the below to name a few:
- Branding – differentiate from the competition and break through the market with your voice and personality. Create a unique brand voice and visual identity that is authentic and stands out and make sure this is consistent across all your marketing channels.
- Events – remember, no sampling! Great for integrating in your community and meeting customers face to face to build brand trust.
- Direct mail – great for brand awareness but be sure not to get into the hands of youth
- Radio – Alberta is a transient market and there is a good chance that your cannabis customer is a vehicle owner / rider. Radio can reach a large audience but make sure your messaging is done right.
- Billboards – Billboards are great for impressions but make sure messaging is not promotional or misleading. Best to stick with straight brand awareness ads.
- Digital – drive traffic, inquiries and leads
- Optimize your website for major keywords. There are a lot of searches happening so make sure you are keeping content updated and adding relevant content where you can.
- Website – first off, have one. Second, add a verification to make sure visitors are over 18 years old and third, make sure it is user-friendly, mobile-friendly and branded in line with your store / business.
- Social Media – secure your social accounts and post regularly, informative content that will appeal to your target audience. Consumers are going to have a ton of questions, make sure your brand can be looked to for answers.
- Email marketing – Are you collecting customer email addresses? If not, add a basic form to your website and start creating a database. Email marketing can be really great for building loyalty but make sure you are CASL compliant!
Here at KEEN, we have already been fortunate enough to work with dispensaries, pharmacies, general retailers and more, when it comes to cannabis. And while there is a lot of great opportunity, it is up to each brand to market responsibly and follows the guidelines enforced by the government of Canada. If you are unsure if you can market your business using a specific type of communication or through a specific medium, contact an agency like KEEN and be sure to stay up-to-date on the latest news. Here are a few of our favourite…. we mean dope, new news articles we are reading: