Canada’s government passed legislation making recreational cannabis legal in October 2018. This opens the door for a nationwide cannabis industry.
The problem is that the legislation places strict restrictions on marketing. How can the savvy businessperson get around these rules and still promote their brand?
Read on for four cannabis marketing tips for Canadian cannabis businesses. First, let’s look at the difference in territorial law as it pertains to who can sell legal cannabis.
Government Regulations by Province
Most provinces in Canada involve some sort of government intervention. In Yukon, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, only the government can operate storefronts and online stores.
Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nunavut, and Manitoba allow for private ownership. All other provinces mix private and government ownership. Even in the provinces with private ownership, government rules are a concern for cannabis businesses.
As a marketer, you must also know that each province has its own rules that it enforces. How can you market your product and stay within Canadian law? Here are four tips for you.
Use the Media
Canada has restrictive packaging rules that make it difficult to utilize packaging as a brand building tactic.
Packaging must be one solid color, but you can’t use flashy colors that might attract the attention of children. You also have to list the health effects and relevant safety warnings on the outside of the package. You can have a small logo design, but nothing that involves animals, people, or characters.
Advertising your product through traditional methods is difficult, but there are ways to get around this.
One of the best ways to get the word out about your product is through public relations activities.
Create pitches for interviews through various news stations and newspapers (especially as more specific cannabis-related media pops up.) Personalize your pitch for each media outlet, and talk about larger trends in the industry.
You can use your media exposure to work on the second tip.
Promote Your Company as Socially Responsible
One of the reasons Canada’s laws are so restrictive is because the government wants to protect the health of the user and keep Cannabis out of the hands of minors. Why not show that your brand represents the same values.
Holding public education campaigns about the risks of underage use and driving while intoxicated. Run a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about how to avoid over-consumption of cannabis products.
You’ll get your name out into the public sphere while showing the responsibility of your brand.
You can use the growing concerns over the environment by using green energy sources to produce cannabis. Focus on water conservation.
Remember to talk about your brand in a way that resonates with people. Are you a family run business? Are you a small company that provides a boost to the local economy? Talk about these things. Let people know that you’re serious about your responsibility to the people you serve.
People notice these things and talk about them, providing you with the word-of-mouth marketing that is going to be so critical to your overall marketing strategy
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is the original Facebook. Before the Internet, satisfied customers telling their friends and families about your service was the best way to grow your business.
Now, with social media, the same is true. People still rely on recommendations when choosing a product. If you can get your customers to share their experience with peers, you’ll grow your business organically.
How do you achieve this without violating Candian cannabis marketing regulations?
Have a strong social media presence that encourages others to share their experience. With some luck, you could get someone famous to promote your brand. Celebrities and influencers can talk about your product as long as you don’t compensate them.
You can’t give them samples, as that would count as compensation. You can encourage people to leave stories and tag their friends though. Doing so spreads the word about your brand and encourages others to try your products.
One way of using this method is to place your social media information inside of your packaging. Encourage users to tweet using a certain hashtag or tag you on Facebook with their experience.
Use SEO Strategies for Cannabis Marketing
Online, content is king. If you produce great content and know how to use SEO strategies, you can outrank your competitors on search engines like Google.
How important is your position in search engine results? One recent study showed that 90% percent of customers go to the websites that rank in the top ten of Google search results. 75 percent go to websites in the top five.
If you aren’t employing SEO, you’re missing out on over 90 percent of potential sales!
Ignoring the vast majority of Internet users isn’t a solid business model. Working with a professional brand and marketing agency helps you build your SEO ranking while following Canadian laws.
Setting up a blog with information about the cannabis industry is the best place to start. Insert keywords, phrases that Google looks for to determine what your site contains, in your articles. Share these articles online and encourage your followers to share, building on your word of mouth campaign.
The best part about SEO is that it builds upon itself. When your website makes it way to the top of Google and Bing results, more people visit. These visitors read and share your content, bringing in new viewers and customers.
A high SEO score sustains itself as long as you continue to put in the work.
Do You Need Help with Your Marketing?
Marketing requires a lot of research and legwork. It’s not something that a company can spend a day on; it’s an ongoing process that takes time. Most cannabis businesses find that it’s better to outsource their marketing. They’ll focus on growing the green that keeps your business operating.
Here at Octopus Creative, we’re focused on your company’s growth. Our wide range of expertise allows us to cater our services to meet your unique needs.
If you need help reaching your cannabis marketing and branding goals, get in touch with us today!