The coronavirus pandemic has halted many business operations and people’s lives around the world, and cannabis businesses are no exception. Sales everywhere are going down, but the good news is some cities, like San Francisco and New York, have declared that marijuana businesses are essential.
No matter what happens politically, economically, and socially, consumers still need cannabis and hemp products. Therefore, this is not a time to reduce your marketing spending.
During times of crisis, like what we’re experiencing right now with COVID-19, cannabis businesses should actively communicate with consumers to bolster confidence that the businesses will be there when consumers need them.
This isn’t just about sending some public relations messages and calling it a day. This is about investing in strategic marketing that can drive sales today and in the future when the crisis is over.
There are many ways that cannabis businesses can connect with consumers and spread the word about their brands during a crisis. Following are five digital marketing strategies that can make a big difference in the success of your business in both the short- and long-term.
1. Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to connect with consumers who are interested in your cannabis or cannabis-related business.
The key during a crisis is to tread carefully. Make sure you’re following all email marketing laws and always share useful, meaningful information so your subscribers aren’t annoyed, which could cause them to unsubscribe from your messages.
2. Podcast Advertising
According to a recent study by Reboot Online, only 13% of businesses use podcast advertising. That means nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of businesses are missing the opportunity to connect with consumers through the podcasts they’re already listening to.
With that in mind, look for cannabis-friendly podcasts that your target audience is likely to listen to and reach out to inquire about advertising opportunities. During a crisis that affects many people’s incomes, it’s often much easier to secure advertising space – even with sources that may not usually allow cannabis-related ads.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the most effective long-term marketing strategy for businesses in every industry, including the cannabis industry. When you build a content marketing plan with a blog as the foundation, you’ll build sustainable, organic traffic to your website and leads to your business. Research has proven it time and again.
For example, a study by HubSpot found businesses that publish 16 or more blog posts per month get 4.5x more leads and 3.5x more traffic than businesses that publish 4 or fewer posts per month.
Furthermore, companies that publish more than 400 blog posts over time get 3x more leads than businesses that publish 100 or fewer posts over time and 2x more traffic than companies that publish 301-400 posts over time.
Bottom-line, the more high quality content that you publish, which is relevant to your audience, the more your business will grow.
4. Social Media Marketing
What happens to all of the amazing content that you publish on your blog (see #3 above)? You need to share it across your social media marketing profiles (and through your email marketing) to engage consumers and build brand trust. You also need to share other people’s content and be active on social media to build consumers’ confidence in your business.
During times of crisis, being active on social media gives consumers peace-of-mind that your cannabis business will be there when they need it. Therefore, be visible – even at the worst times.
5. Influencer Marketing
When people are uncomfortable with the world around them, like they are now while COVID-19 dominates the news, they seek reassurance. They look to the people they know and trust, and today, online influencers and local influencers fill that role for many people. To that end, your crisis marketing should include influencer marketing.
Reach out to the online and local influencers who already have the eyes and ears of your target audiences, and look for ways to work together. Your goal is to have the influencer talk about your business and brand.
Depending on the crisis situation in your local area, you may or may not want the influencer to actively promote a specific product or service for you. Instead, you may want them to simply talk about your business or brand without selling.
Influencer marketing can lead to sales today and it can help build brand awareness that leads to sales in the future. Therefore, be flexible and sensitive with how you use it. A hard-sell may not be the best choice right now.
Key Takeaways about Crisis Marketing for Cannabis Businesses
Crisis marketing is different from PR in that you’re not just providing information or news. Instead, you’re trying to indirectly or directly promote your business, brand, products, and services.
The key to success is prioritizing your marketing efforts during and after a crisis, such as the coronavirus, so your business can continue to operate profitably. At a minimum, the five marketing opportunities discussed above should be part of your crisis marketing plan.
It’s challenging on the best days to promote cannabis products and businesses simply because of the many laws in place and the numerous online platforms that won’t work with cannabis-related brands. However, the five opportunities mentioned in this article are all available for savvy cannabis businesses who are ready to invest and ensure their success during and after any crisis.