Why are Marijuana business ignoring the power of Internet marketing?

Virtually every other industry understands the importance of a sound digital marketing strategy by utilizing responsive website designs, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) marketing, social media marketing, local marketing and using Google Analytics to track and strategize. Specifically, the hospitality and wine industries have many similarities to the marijuana industry. Both of those industries create better brand awareness and attract new customers by having comprehensive digital marketing strategies. Why are marijuana businesses lagging behind in digital marketing?

Is it hubris? Some marijuana business owners seem to act like they don’t care, don’t have time to talk to you or don’t think they need internet marketing. Some don’t even think they need a website. Is it a false sense of security due to the current high demand for their products? Whatever the reason, marijuana businesses who fail to plan ahead, will eventually fall behind.

It is just a matter of time before competition heats up with demand spread among more players. Larger, well funded companies, are already entering the industry. What happens when big tobacco and pharma step in? Most experts agree that it is just a matter of time before these things happen.

Marijuana businesses may not realize how much internet search volume currently exists for marijuana services and products. I recently evaluated consumer internet search behavior for Denver, Colorado. There are literally thousands of consumer searches a month for terms like: Colorado dispensaries (5400 per month), Denver dispensaries (3,600 per month) and the list goes on. Even the hospitality industry does not have such demand. Google controls all the data on the internet such as customer searches, what websites people see when they use mobile devices and more.

Facebook is only one way to reach customers. Many older customers don’t use Facebook at all. People with disabilities also have trouble using websites that are not coded to work with their website scanning devices. All this adds up to a huge missed opportunity for the marijuana industry. If you don’t optimize your website today, you can’t outrank your competition tomorrow. It’s that simple.

Few marijuana business websites are currently optimized properly. Even those websites that are optimized are not managing their website content properly. Most websites are rudimentary. Few marijuana businesses blog consistently or write content that will attract new customers: women and retirees (the two fastest growing marijuana user groups). Finally, Google Analytics has a wealth of information that marijuana businesses can tap into like geographic traffic patterns, gender reporting, age reporting, mobile device traffic, local traffic, real time statistics and much more.

I have attended several national marijuana trade shows in the past few years. None have any seminars, or presenters, within the arena of internet marketing. In addition, there are no sessions on digital branding, website best practices, Google Analytics reporting, detailed social media marketing strategies or local marketing. When competition increases, and when big tobacco and pharma come knocking on the door, it will be too late for some of these businesses to compete.

Relying on the current huge popularity of marijuana, and its accompanying press, is not a smart long-term marketing strategy. Eventually, the press will move on to other topics. What will be your marijuana digital marketing strategy when that happens?

My advice to marijuana businesses who are busy today? Plan ahead. Develop a digital marketing strategy for the next one to five years. Be open to listening to people who have knowledge in internet related marketing topics. Facebook is just one small piece of the puzzle. What else are you doing online? The most successful business owners never shut the door to good ideas or talented people who can help them…even when they are “busy.”

For more information about this topic, please check out this article on Why Marijuana Businesses Need Internet Marketing.