How to Market Your Dispensary
Canada and the United States are at the forefront of leading the cannabis revolution. At the rate cannabis use is being defined in their respective legislation it is only logical their economic benefits are following suit. With states like Washington and Colorado paving the way for the future of cannabis use, and Canada having legalized it on the federal level, we're left with wanting to understand fully the dynamics of cannabis supply at the retailer level. The days of waiting on independent dealers is behind us, now that buying marijuana is as easy as dropping by the store on our way home from work. At the dispensary level, there is money to be made, and unlike any other store, dispensaries will typically have specialized policies governing their operations. However, this does not exclude the fact that marketing is important, especially, if you want to be the store with the best repeat customer base.
Marketing at this level is still subject to restrictions. Depending on where you are, at this point, marijuana marketing might only be a little more legal than marketing tobacco or alcoholic products. With that said, we want to offer universal tips any retailer can take advantage of to bring their store to the top of any consumer's priority list. In this article we are going to touch on some marketing techniques that will benefit your store and some that may be detrimental. Our aim is to provide fresh ideas to the table so you, the business owner, can flesh out, and discuss with your team, to provide the best service, experience, and exposure, for your customer base.
Playing by the Rules
As we stated earlier, depending on where you are the restriction can differ. For the most part, everyone is going to face some sort of restriction and it is important that you know the law and play by its rules. Being well versed in your state or country's governing policies is where you want to start for anyone looking to run a dispensary. For starters being the most knowledgeable on the law builds your credibility like no other. This is advantageous but it's benefits do not guarantee any immediate returns. The point is to provide a legitimate space where your customers are comfortable to come in and shop on a regular basis. This could be anywhere from the college stoner down the street to the soccer mom shopping for the first time. Whatever the case is, understanding the law and being able to explain and enforce it to your staff and customers ensures your clients will be comfortable knowing they are in good hands. These benefit spreads via word of mouth. Candice, mother of three, looking to pick up some party favors for her garden party this Saturday, is going to choose your store because her friend told her your shop was the place to go to be informed on the law and treated with friendly professional service. Especially in smaller communities, you want to be known as the store owner families can trust not to be doing any shady business.
SEO (Search engine optimization) is a dynamic marketing process characterized by conscious efforts to increase your business' exposure via google or other search engines. SEO is a full-time job in itself and any business worth its name should at least have this concept in the back of their mind at all times. Know how you rank up by typing your dispensary's name into google and seeing what comes up. If you are not the first result for your exact name than there is definitely room for improvement. There is no one-size fits all solution to developing your SEO because of it being so dynamic in nature.
Google ranks your website based on its credibility. To understand this concept, think: Google knows a bad website better than it knows a good one. You can follow the two pronged rule system. Rule 1: be a good website. Rule 2: don't be a bad website. Things like, spelling mistakes, bad reviews, inaccessibility, hasty code all come into account. Here are some things to consider when thinking about SEO. It's easy to forget that Google is a business too. Their model is to provide their users with high quality information. So it will benefit you to be that high quality information. Remember, Google keeps track of how many people enter your website and hit the back button.
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Image is everything
It's often said about cooking, people eat with their eyes first. This can be applied to running a dispensary. Credibility, legitimization, notability happen by the appearance of your business. Appearance is another multifaceted avenue of exploration. This include what your store looks like on the inside and out. How your staff looks, how you look as an individual, it is all relative but it is all important. Just because you think it's nice doesn't mean your customers will. You want to be able to put yourself in your customer's shoe and b empathetic to their experience.
If you are getting by successfully being the friendly neighborhood pot shop with bob Marley posters and dreadlocks then more power to you. That is an image, and if its successful it's an image, you'll want to maintain it. In larger urban areas, this may not necessarily be the case. Chances are your clientele may be more diverse in their lifestyle so your image should provide a neutral ground for anyone to feel comfortable in. Think about government service buildings. Their lack of appearance is done on purpose to create an easy to digest environment so no one feels intimidated or offended. However, you also don't want to make your customer feel like they are waiting at the DMV.
When in doubt, clean it out. If you're not sure what direction to take with your image, clean cut is always a full-proof starting point. Maintained personal grooming, a clean/organized store, clean outwards appearance is important to build credibility. As budget allows, you can take your store appearance in different directions. Here you can learn more about interior design tips and tricks.
A lot of businesses take off for their ability to relate to their customer and community. Rapport refers to the effort you take to build a relationship with a potential customer. This can also be applied to the community as a whole. Take the bar industry for example, if you've ever been to a bar you'll know for the most part a lot of bars keep the same beers on tap and customers usually order the same drink. So why do they go back to a specific bar? A large part of that industry is based on the relationships the customer builds between the staff and other customers. In the case of a dispensary, it might not matter so much how the customer relates to other customers, but if they are in good standing with the staff, it is going to prompt them to return more often. While it seems so minimal, getting to know your clients is not a bad thing. Asking them about their day, how that issue at work is going, what their plans are for the weekend are great ways to building lasting relationships with your customers. You never know what is going on in someone's life but shooting a smile at someone and asking them how they are doing can go mile's.
Moreover, you can build good rapport and exposure with your community by getting involved into the community. It still possible, depending on where you are, some communities may be apprehensive. The best way to curb this is to kill it with kindness. Increase your exposure and credibility by running community events or services. Green initiatives go hand in hand with dispensary management. Why not be the dispensary actively involved with cleaning up litter in the community or raising awareness to environmental issues.
Building your business is an on-going process and you should never settle with your success. There is always more to be done to grow and improve your business. Following these tips are great for a starting point or building point if you are already established and looking for ways to branch out. As well, learn more about marketing your dispensary using social media. Always keep progress on your mind and never become complacent with how your business is doing if you feel like there is room for improvement.
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