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marketing marijuana in California

Where Can You Advertise Marijuana in California?

Where can you advertise marijuana in California? Marketing legal recreational and medical marijuana products in California has its challenges. Read tips for marketing marijuana in California in this simple guide covering PPC, social media and legal advertising strategies.

Let’s start with the legal guidelines impacting just about every type of ad strategy: Radio, cable, print, and digital ads can only be displayed where at least 71.6% of the audience is expected to be over the age of 21 – determined by current audience composition data. Get full information in this PDF: Chapter 15 of California’s Proposition 64

Can You Advertise Marijuana in Paid Search?

You cannot use any of the major search engines for cannabis ads promoting the sale of marijuana. Not due to laws restricting this type of advertising but by choice due to marijuana not being legalized federally. There are some grey areas when it comes to ancillary products and services involved in the industry and not direct sales. Such as business consulting, website design, or products that are accessories. But for the ganja, that means no Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Keep reading for other options. 

Can You Advertise Marijuana in Social Media?

Major social networks such as Facebook (Instagram) do not allow the advertising of cannabis of any kind. This not only includes the sale of marijuana but editorial content and anything “cannabis related.” The primary reason is that almost any publicly traded company with lawyers won’t touch it, marijuana is not federally legal. It puts business banking at risk and adds to concern of being regulated by the feds. We all know Facebook does not want to be on the feds radar any more than they are (huh hum 2016 election). Another reason is not often cited in the “why did my Instagram page get shut down” discussions. Facebook prohibits advertising of  tobacco products and related paraphernalia. And, the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs. That means that cannabis editorial content that is not intended for direct sales will be rejected as well. (Not good for us at Cannabiz Digital!) Alcohol IS permitted with specific restrictions. Read Facebook’s advertising policy. Twitter has banned the promotion of drugs or paraphernalia everywhere except Canada, where recreational is legal. That leaves us with organic social media that is all effort and no advertising. If social media is in your playbook just be sure to not promote sales directly to inevitably have your page shut down. For more on this visit How Social Media Fits into Your Marijuana Marketing Strategy. With long standing rules against two cannabis related product categories, tobacco and drugs, it seems unlikely the cannabis industry will be advertising in Facebook and Instagram after federal legalization. 

Can You Use Digital Display Ads for Marijuana?

While the publishers previously mentioned (Google, Facebook, etc.) have display networks, display is just another ad product that falls under the rules of no marijuana. There are display networks that offer ad products to cannabis advertisers. They typically have a smaller, well curated network of websites in comparison to Google. One to note is called Taboola. 

Can You Advertise Marijuana on Billboards or Outdoor Signs?

The short answer is, yes you can! Billboards and outdoor signs are especially useful to dispensaries who want to direct foot traffic to their store. Billboards allow your business to appeal to the masses while they’re driving, walking or taking public transport.  There are laws to comply with including:

  • Not placing signs near California borders
  • Not placing signs within 1,000 feet of day care centers, schools kindergarten through 12th grade, playgrounds or youth centers.
  • And, the aforementioned demographic requirement that it can only be displayed where at least 71.6% of the audience is expected to be over the age of 21.

Can You Use Email Marketing for Marijuana?

Good news, email can definitely be a part of your marketing strategy for cannabis. Email communication is still a vital part of every strategy. It allows you to have contact with those who have expressed interest in your business or are already your customers. The bad news is that major ESP’s like Mailchimp disallow cannabis for the usual reasons. Here’s a resource to find a cannabis-friendly ESP solution. If you are looking for useful email marketing tips, read Five Email Marketing Strategies For Every Content Marketer.

Can You Market Marijuana At Events?

As long as the event is 21+ and you aren’t giving out samples or cannabis prizes, you can totally use the chance to market your cannabis products. Looking for local events that attract attendees who are similar to your target customer audience is a great way of getting your product the traffic that you desire. Partner with your brands if you are a dispensary to get people in the door with onsite events and special offers. Although there are many laws that need to be taken into consideration when deciding how and where to market your cannabis products, it’s not impossible. For events, be careful about giving away cannabis as free samples or in sweepstakes because it’s pretty much prohibited everywhere. This is why you see swag, empty packages and edibles minus cannabinoids instead of actual marijuana samples given out. When picking an event venue outside your place of business, plan ahead to consider whether it’s legal for attendees to consume onsite and if marijuana products are allowed for viewing. Don’t be discouraged by these restrictions. The cannabis culture is strong. People love to come together to support and educate about legal cannabis even if it can’t be purchased or consumed at that time. In advertising we call this brand awareness. 

How-to Start a Marijuana Marketing Strategy

There are many creative ways to market your cannabis products to your target audience. Allow yourself to think outside of the box and to think like a customer.  A marketing plan can be created for a single product (or dispensary location), a brand of products (overarching to all locations), and for a short test period such as 3-months or a long term for a 1-year to 3-year vision. A good way to start out small is to create a media plan. A media plan includes a marketing goal, where to advertise (placements), over what period (run dates), target customer (audience targeting), an offer (message and call to action) and a budget. Starting with a test campaign around a specific product and offer will give you some benchmarks to build from. A good duration for a test, depending on what advertising tactics are used, can be 1-3 months.

Things change quickly in this industry so be sure to check current guidelines and regulations frequently. A final note, the regulations and guidelines for CBD sourced from hemp are different from marijuana. CBD benefits from much more flexibility in marketing and advertising due to changing regulations making it federally legal in the United States. Cannabis broadly captures hemp CBD and marijuana. In this article we are primarily referencing marijuana in California.

 

DISCLAIMER: Cannabiz Digital does not sell cannabis. This publication covers business topics surrounding legal cannabis in California and the United States. It does not provide legal or medical advice. Consult your physician, lawyer, and local laws regarding cannabis. We do our best to provide current information at the time of publishing with no guarantees to accuracy. We understand this industry changes quickly and welcome your feedback. [Send Feedback]

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