When cannabis became legal January 1, 2014 in Colorado, there were long lines, a shortage of marijuana, and prices were high. What a difference a year and a half makes. There are now 380 dispensaries in Colorado, and 480 licensed growers. Cannabis is legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Guam. Throw in the 23 states that offer medical cannabis sales, and the market is booming. The flip side is that there is more competition than ever, and cannabis businesses need to act now to distinguish their brand from their competition.
In Colorado, cannabis prices are going down, profit margins are tighter, and competition is fierce. This pattern is only going to accelerate as more states legalize cannabis in the 2016 elections. What can cannabis businesses learn from other industries when it comes to business branding?
Feature unique products. In Colorado, dispensaries are allowed to grow, and process their own cannabis. This allows each dispensary to grow designer strains of cannabis that other dispensaries do not have. Medicine Man is one dispensary that has benefited from growing their own strains of cannabis. Andy Williams, owner of Medicine Man, has invested millions of dollars into his own massive grow facility. This allows Medicine man to control the quality of its strains, while ensuring a steady supply of inventory. They also run holiday specials with unique packaging. Northern Lights Cannabis (home of the first legal recreational sale in Colorado), is growing their own unique cannabis strains, and even processing their own oils and vape pen cartridges. Having products no one else has is something that keeps customers coming back.
Have custom packaging. Coffee was just coffee before Starbuck’s branding took the coffee market to a higher level. Cannabis dispensaries, growers, and edible manufacturers can learn from Starbucks. Dixie Elixirs, based in Denver, is a company that has very distinctive branding for it’s custom line of cannabis infused sodas, chocolates, and other products. The most unique thing about Dixie Elixirs is that their product packaging is designed to appeal to everyone. Most marijuana edible companies feature marijuana leafs, and other stereotypical images on their packaging. Not Dixie Elixirs. Their packaging is slick, modern, and mainstream. The Dixie Elixir website looks more like Apple, and they are on the verge of taking their creative edible products nationwide! Edible companies would be wise to follow this successful package branding. Marijuana growers and product producers should ditch the pot leaves, the smoke, and green motifs, and think mainstream branding.
Make sure your website is branded properly. With the advent of smartphones, better computers, and faster Internet speeds, other industries now make their websites look more visual and professional. Websites are more like TV. Your website is the first thing most customers will see when searching for cannabis products online. Cannabis businesses need to join the rest of the Internet world and ditch the homemade looking websites. Mark Cuban once said, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” A well designed website that is visually appealing and professionally designed, is crucial to Cannabis businesses. Never underestimate the importance of a great website design.
Develop a digital marketing strategy now. Google is the king when it comes to online marketing. Other businesses have been marketing on the Internet for nearly 20 years. There is an insane amount of Google searches for Cannabis products every day. However, very few cannabis websites are optimized for Google searches, and lack a dedicated content marketing plan. Blogs with USEFUL industry information, and informative product videos, can show up in Google instantly. Social media is useless if your website is poorly designed and you don’t have original content on your website. You need a professional digital marketing agency to lead your search engine optimization strategy, content management strategies, and social media marketing efforts. Cannabis companies that think interns, and in-house “marketing specialists” can do all of these things, are falling behind companies that hire well-respected digital marketing agencies. You get what you pay for!
Avoid flashy cannabis branding companies. Cannabrand in Denver, bills itself as the first marijuana-branding agency. However, they create as much negative publicity for the industry, as positive publicity. Cannabrand recently created an expensive TV ad for Neos Vape Pens that was never aired on TV. They blamed a local Denver network for the snafu. However, it was a waste of their client’s money either way. Take care of branding basics before you waste money on slick branding campaigns that don’t work in the cannabis industry.
Solid cannabis branding is crucial to the success of industry businesses of all sizes. Competition is growing by the day. Larger cannabis businesses understand this and have a detailed business-branding plan. However, Google is virgin territory when it comes to capturing cannabis business. Don’t neglect the basics, and even smaller cannabis businesses can create a winning online branding strategy.
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About Digital 303- We are located in Denver, Colorado and our team has over 15 years of experience in custom website design, Internet marketing, SEO, social media marketing, content writing, and custom photography and video creation. We have worked with clients in all 50 states, and specialize in marijuana business marketing. Call 800-420-9694 for more information. www.digital303.com