Just like everything else in the Cannabis Industry, there is no easy way to market wholesale Cannabis. There are a lot of state and federal restrictions that limit marketing Cannabis brands to end-users, but not a lot of solutions when it comes to marketing your menus, weekly product offerings, specials, and so forth to retail partners. In other words, it’s easy for B2B cannabis marketing to get caught in the crossfire of the strict regulations aimed at B2C campaigns.
Once you go through the rigorous process of growing, processing, manufacturing, packaging, and branding your product, you can’t have a hard stop of getting it in front of wholesale buyers. For the sake of your sanity, and your stakeholders, you just can’t.
The irony is that Retailers WANT to be the first to know about new products and weekly features. But, it’s a huge job for sales teams to provide that information to their customer groups in a timely manner while navigating strict regulations. Sales teams have enough on their plate. Make their job easier by keeping these marketing tips in mind.
Market Regulations and Workarounds
Restrictions vary wildly from state to state. In Arizona, there are currently no marketing regulations for medical cannabis providers. Contrast that with Illinois, where it’s illegal to advertise cannabis within a thousand feet of a school or public park.
As far as paid advertising, the wholesale cannabis world simply doesn't allow it. How is a cannabis company supposed to build a successful marketing strategy without advertising?
Here are a few strategies:
In-platform ads. Some ordering platforms offer in-platform advertising space where sellers can highlight their weekly features, deals, new products, or any other information to entice buyers to check out their online store and purchase directly.
Additionally, with the fully customized 1:1 storefront, you are creating a managed marketplace similar to an Etsy or Amazon storefront. It gives sellers the space to be creative with content, imagery, banners, or advertisements to customize their online shopping experience. On the backend, product imagery, videos, descriptions, and marketing collateral, all can be accessed in one place and shared across teams, customers, locations, and even the entire market.
Email marketing. Building relevant email marketing campaigns to reach your customers can provide a way to share information they would ordinarily work to seek out. A regular email cadence that includes highlighting new brands, products, features, or campaigns (without being overtly spammy or salesy) should be a part of your overall b2b marketing strategy. As far as who to target, you can look into piggy-backing onto the lists of your partners. Some platforms even provide email capabilities that connect their customers together and drive buyers to the point of purchase.
Social Media. Again, you have to pay by the rules of paid advertising on social media. Some Cannabis brands have had issues getting banned that way. It’s worth noting that it’s not all brands, some, especially medical operators seem to be able to get away with it, to some extent. If you are able to manage the specific (and ever-changing) rules of each platform, then you might be able to pull off paid ads. Again, we advise caution.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use social media to engage and build your customer base. As with email marketing, you don’t want to only focus on sales or promotions. A good rule of thumb, people buy from people, not brands. Good social content should accomplish one or more of these goals:
And consistency is key!
Podcast advertising. One loophole for paid advertising is podcasts. You can buy ads in specific podcasts with impunity. The only caveat, however, is that you should choose your podcast carefully. There are many podcasts in and about the Cannabis industry, and that’s a great place to start. It’s a safe bet that other cannabis operators are listening in as well.
PR. You should think of PR as earned advertising. Cultivate relationships with reporters directly or work with a PR agency to ensure you are inserting yourself into the industry conversations. Workshop and discover your position on certain industry topics and use PR to get your voice heard. When companies and brands align their strategy to be more mission-based, customers notice and are more likely to be associated with them.
Insert yourself into the conversation. Find the gap and be the thought-leader on positions you care about and can affect. And then share like crazy on social media. Wash, rinse, and repeat!
And don’t forget highly targeted speaking engagements, customer testimonials, and even virtual events like participating in Webinars, Clubhouse, or even Twitter Spaces. These effective tactics can help get your brands in front of key buyers in your market and drive customer engagement and acquisition.
Get expert advice. At Leaf Trade, we help our clients market to each other within their respective markets, all while staying compliant. Our marketing team works with our customers to launch custom b2b advertising campaigns that drive demand directly on our platform, offering a great way to sidestep much of the tangle of cannabis marketing regulations. Feel free to reach out to me directly to learn more.
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