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Writing a business plan?

Getting noticed in the ever-changing world of cannabis is crucial. To do that, you need a solid plan for marketing your products.

Just like you put your heart into growing your cannabis business, a well-thought-out marketing plan is essential to make sure your products reach target customers.

We know that creating a marketing plan can seem overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’re here to guide you through the process of making a successful cannabis marketing plan.

So, let’s start and learn how to promote your cannabis business effectively.

What is a Cannabis Marketing Plan?

A cannabis marketing plan highlights the strategies that cannabis businesses use to promote their products or services. It enables them to connect with potential clients and win their loyalty.

It also describes the steps you will take over a specific period to expand your cannabis company. It includes objectives, financial options, and plans for both traditional and digital marketing.

In short, it serves as a guide for what you need to accomplish over the upcoming quarter or year.

So, we have brought this step-by-step guide on how to write a marketing plan for a cannabis business for you:

Writing a Cannabis Marketing Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Define Your Target Audience

Think about the target market you will capture, as in who will use your cannabis products. Will it be young adults for recreational activities or people taking it for medical purposes? It can be other cannabis retail businesses themselves too.

Here are certain questions you should ask yourself to define the target market:

  • What is the age of your target audience?
  • Where do they live, and what is their educational background?
  • What is their income level?
  • What are their interests and hobbies?
  • What are their lifestyle choices and habits?
  • How often do they use cannabis products?
  • On which social media platforms are they active?
  • Are there any legal rules or regulations that need to be followed by your target market to use cannabis?

Answering all these questions will help you know the buyer persona of your business. Once you know the target market, you can easily form marketing strategies to capture the same market.

2. Understand Local & National Compliance

The marketing regulations for cannabis advertising vary from state to state, but certain common rules you need to follow are:

  • Make sure all your marketing claims about your cannabis products are accurate and backed by scientific evidence, so “NO MISLEADING STATEMENTS”.
  • If your products are for medical use, then the words “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY” should be in bold.
  • Stick to strict rules for packaging and labeling cannabis items. This means using clear warnings, showing the THC content, and using child-safe packaging.
  • In many places, you can’t make health claims about the benefits of cannabis without approval from relevant authorities. Stick to general information and avoid making medical claims.
  • If cannabis is not legal in neighboring states, you can’t market your products across state lines.
  • Ensure that your marketing materials, including websites and social media accounts, are only accessible to individuals of legal age (21) to purchase cannabis.

Thus, you must understand that there are more restrictions than liberty for marketing in the cannabis industry.

3. Establish Your Brand Identity

Just like any other business, brand identity for the cannabis business is essential. Your identity should be synced with the values of your brand and be consistent on all the marketing channels.

Choose a color, logo, and packaging that match the value of your brand and brand name. Apart from the logo’s theme, the content and tagline should also resonate with the brand.

Once you choose everything, be sure to maintain consistency on every platform, because it helps people recognize your brand.

In short, your logo, interior, packaging, and website are all part of your brand identity, so keep them all in sync.

4. SWOT & Competitive Analysis

Performing competitor and SWOT analysis is necessary, as it provides a clear understanding of your brand’s strong points.

SWOT analysis will help you understand your internal landscape, for example, go through this SWOT analysis table by Upmetrics:

cannabis swot analysis

On the external front, if you know the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of your competitors, then it is easy to identify your USP and then work on marketing tactics accordingly.

Some of the questions to ask while conducting competitor analysis for cannabis companies are:

  • Who are your direct competitors in the cannabis industry?
  • What is the market share of each competitor?
  • What are their key products and services?
  • At what price point do they sell, or what is their pricing strategy?
  • How do they market their brand?
  • What amount of shares do they spend on marketing?
  • What is their target audience?

By answering these questions, you can understand your business better and get valuable insights on your USPs.

5. Set Measurable Cannabis Marketing Goals

Measurable goals are like a map for cannabis companies. They help track progress, use data to make decisions, and ensure that marketing efforts are delivering results.

For example, some of the measurable goals can be:

Enhance brand awareness

You can set a goal to increase your brand awareness by 50% through email marketing, branding, discounts, offers, social media, website traffic, etc. Once your brand awareness is high, people will also promote your brand through word-of-mouth marketing.

Increase sales

Set a measurable goal for the most important thing you want from your business: for example –  boost monthly product sales by 25% in six months.

Increase customer retention

Promoting repeat sales and boosting brand loyalty among your current customer base is essential for long-term success. This can be accomplished through loyalty programs and discounts. For example, you might set a goal of increasing the number of loyal customers by 15% this quarter.

Boost social media engagement

You can boost brand awareness through social media presence. For example; set a goal to receive an average of 1,500 likes and 150 comments per Instagram post by the end of the third quarter.

Each of these goals should be time-bound with a deadline; for example, you might set the target for 6-12 months or 1 quarter.

These goals provide a clear roadmap for your brand’s success, enabling you to track progress and celebrate every achievement.

6. Develop a Cannabis Marketing Strategy

In the dynamic cannabis industry, increasing your market share needs well-thought-out strategies. So, the next step is to mention your marketing strategies in the cannabis marketing plan. Some of the marketing strategies can be:

Social media marketing

Utilize social media platforms where cannabis content is allowed. Share educational content, and product updates, and engage with your audience. You can also run paid ads on your social media pages. Be mindful of platform-specific rules and regulations.

Influencer collaboration

Collaborate with cannabis influencers who have the same target customers as yours and can authentically promote your products or services to their followers. Ensure influencers have a good understanding of your brand and products.

Print advertising

You can put print ads in magazines or newspapers that reach cannabis consumers. For local targeting, use local circulations. For a broader reach, go for cannabis-focused publications and events.

Radio ads or other digital marketing channels

For cannabis marketing, one can use radio ads to reach many listeners. Make a catchy ad to interest potential customers. If radio seems old-fashioned, adapt to new digital marketing strategies like advertising through music streaming or podcasts.

Local SEO

If you have a physical store, optimize it for local search by creating a Google My Business profile or by listing it on various search engines. Encourage customer reviews and maintain accurate business information.

Always stay up-to-date with local and federal cannabis laws to ensure your marketing strategies remain compliant. Additionally, be prepared to adapt your strategies as the legal landscape evolves.

7. Determine Your Marketing Budget

Before determining your budget, start by understanding your financial position. Analyze how much you can allocate to marketing without negatively affecting other crucial aspects of your cannabis company.

Next, think about your business goals. Do you want to build customer loyalty, raise brand awareness, or boost sales? For a new cannabis company, it’s often essential to focus on spreading brand awareness and acquiring new customers.

Afterward, assess your target audience and the marketing channels you intend to use, such as social media, print media, or collaborating with influencers. This assessment will help you determine which channels require more investment.

By following these steps, you can create a budget that aligns with your finances and business objectives, ensuring your marketing efforts are effective.

According to Statista, the marketing spend on cannabis advertisements was 661 million in 2018, which is expected to reach over 2 billion in North America alone in 2023.

Lastly, know your projected annual income which will help you put aside your budget. Generally, cannabis businesses should aim to spend 3-9% of projected sales as their marketing budget.

8. Implement Cannabis Marketing Strategies

Whether it is marketing online or traditionally, proper implementation of all the tactics is necessary for launching cannabis businesses.

Firstly, break down the plan into smaller tasks, like first publishing print advertisements, then posting on social media platforms, etc. Then implement everything according to the marketing calendar you make.

By putting your marketing plan into action, you can make sure that your efforts aren’t wasted and reach your target cannabis users. Additionally, this stage facilitates customer engagement, buzz-building, and excitement-building for cannabis brands.

In conclusion, the implementation phase brings your cannabis brand to life in the eyes of consumers, making it an essential step toward achieving your marketing goals.

9. Monitor the Success of Your Marketing Plan

Monitoring the success of your marketing tactics ensures that all your efforts are going to the right place and you are getting the correct response.

It allows you to measure the effectiveness of cannabis marketers’ efforts and lets you know the effects in terms of sales, brand awareness, customer engagement, or customer loyalty.

Also, it helps you pinpoint which strategies are working and which are not. By tracking social media engagement, brand awareness, and sales, you will get to know which strategy is working and where to invest more.

For example, if you find that social media cannabis advertising is giving more results than email marketing campaigns, then you can shift your focus and resources accordingly.

Some of the key metrics to measure success are sales revenue, social media engagement rate, customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), email engagement, performance of cannabis ads, etc. You can also get an idea of your business’s progress through Google Analytics.

Regularly assessing your marketing plan’s performance enables you to spot trends or shifts in customer behavior early on. This, in turn, empowers you to make timely adjustments to your strategies, ensuring your cannabis brand remains relevant and competitive.

Key challenges of marketing cannabis businesses

Marketing cannabis isn’t a walk in the park. It comes with its own set of hurdles. From legal complexities to limited advertising options and ever-changing rules, there’s a lot to navigate. Here are some challenges to take care of:

Legal patchwork

The cannabis industry is illegal at the federal level, creating a legal patchwork where state laws often contradict federal laws. It makes it challenging for cannabis businesses to ensure compliance or market their products on a huge level.

Limited advertising platforms

Major platforms including Google, Facebook, and Instagram have strict policies against promoting cannabis-related products or ads. It limits the online advertising options for the whole cannabis industry.

Changing state regulations for the cannabis industry

State cannabis regulations can change frequently. Marketing strategies that were compliant one day may become non-compliant the next, requiring businesses to stay updated and adapt quickly.

Highly competitive market

The U.S. cannabis market size was $13.2 billion in 2022, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.2% from 2023 to 2030. Imagine the competition in this huge industry, where many cannabis businesses are entering daily.

Diverse target audience

Numerous types of customers can be found in the U.S. cannabis market, including wellness seekers, medical marijuana users, and cannabis retail seekers for recreational activities. It might be challenging to target marketing initiatives to various market segments while remaining within regulatory restrictions.

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In conclusion, a well-crafted cannabis marketing plan, coupled with a thorough business plan, plays a key role in the success of cannabis brands.

Utilizing business plan software can simplify the planning process significantly.

So, take the chance to boost your business. Put in the effort to create a strong marketing and business plan today because your business’s success depends on it.

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About the Author


Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more


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