How To Advertise Cannabis-Related Products: Cannabis Marketing - HØJ

How To Advertise Cannabis-Related Products: Cannabis Marketing

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Time to read 9 min

Here’s a question for you… Are you interested in getting involved in the cannabis industry somehow? Maybe as a cannabis influencer, a distributor, or a reseller of cannabis-related products and smoking accessories? We understand the boom of cannabis going on right now and how fast the industry is growing, and taking into account these needs, HØJ has improved its Wholesale platform to make life easier for all of you interested in joining the industry.  At the same time, we’ll offer some guidance you might need to get started. After all, advertising cannabis products can be quite challenging due to the complex and evolving legal landscape surrounding this plant, and several other factors.


Firstly, the legal status of cannabis and smoking tech varies widely across countries, states, and regions. In places where cannabis is fully legalized for both medical and recreational use, advertising opportunities might be more accessible, but in areas where cannabis is still illegal or only permitted for medical use, advertising options are likely to be limited or downright non-existent. You should do a copious amount of research to make sure you’ll stay on the right side of the law.


Secondly, major online advertising/social media platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram have historically had strict policies regarding cannabis-related content, regardless of legal status. They often prohibit the promotion of products that might not be 100% socially acceptable, which often includes several industries such as alcohol, gambling, cannabis, and more! As you can guess, this can severely limit the options for advertising on popular platforms.


Furthermore, even in places where cannabis is legal, there are often restrictions on the type of content that can be included in advertisements. Health claims, endorsements by celebrities, or appeals to minors are often prohibited or heavily regulated, adding complexity to the advertising process. You should see the complexity involved in crafting a beer commercial. Not for the faint of heart.


And yeah, age restrictions also play a significant role in the advertising of all kinds, with many countries and regions having age restrictions on certain products (like tobacco or alcohol), meaning that ads must be targeted only to users of legal age, which makes it challenging to reach a broader audience and can require a careful targeting and verification process. And that’s getting into how advertising cannabis products can run into roadblocks related to banking and payment processing; some financial institutions may be hesitant to work with cannabis businesses due to federal legal issues in certain countries, resulting in limited options for payment and transaction processing.


So yeah, in other words, advertising weed-related products can be a bit of a headache if done wrong, with a lot of compliance requirements that further add to the difficulty of getting into this market. However, if you are starting small, and would like to peddle your wares without risking your account, we have a list of suggestions you can do to avoid the dreaded ban-hammer and build up your audience safely and without fear of harsh consequences. Just have in mind that this guide is in no way comprehensive, and you will need to check your local laws and ordinances to bring your business to the next level.


Let’s go!

man working with a laptop and headphones doing advertising online
Man working with a laptop and headphones doing advertising online (Envato)

CANNABIS MARKETING

How to Advertise Cannabis in 2023


It's important to note that the legal landscape surrounding cannabis changes rapidly, and advertising restrictions evolve all the time. So, if you are able to, it's essential to seek advice from legal experts who might know your local cannabis laws to keep abreast of any new developments, helping you to understand the current challenges and opportunities for advertising weed merchandise.

- Know the cannabis advertising laws for each region:


Familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations concerning cannabis and its derivatives in your country, state, or region, and always adhere strictly to these guidelines to avoid any potential legal consequences worse than a ban. Knowledge is power!


- Target appropriate platforms & wording is key:


Choose advertising platforms that allow cannabis-related promotions or are known to be more lenient in their policies. Some social media platforms (like good old Facebook and Instagram - now known as Meta) may have very strict restrictions on cannabis-related content, while others (like Twitter and YouTube sometimes, or Reddit) might be a bit more permissive with their policies. Besides that, still being social media platforms available to the general public they might give a warning to your account if you post photos with cannabis on it or even use words related to it. This is the reason why many companies started using the word “herb” instead of “weed” making their content more “social-friendly” or socially acceptable.


- Generate educational content through SEO:


Always think about your needs as a brand and from the perspective of a cannabis consumer. We recommend you focus your content marketing strategy on providing educational content related to cannabis to the readers (choose important and common topics that people might search online very often, such as: Why should I grind my weed?


Take the most out our your website's domain! Having a blog section on your website's domain would generate organic traffic coming from Google to your site, this is also known as SEO. Optimizing your domain for search engines is a hard, slow but very successful marketing strategy in the long term. Generating educational articles related to cannabis and linking them with your products would have a greater impact on readers that just promoting the products directly.


SEO is a must marketing practice for all of these complicated industries out there such as the cannabis industry, in which making SEM (Paid Google Ads) campaigns are still very prohibited. This approach, which is the key to HØJ’s success, is a 100% acceptable practice and less likely to raise red flags than trying to promote on social media platforms.


- Highlight non-THC products:


This is a big one. If your thing is advertising edibles, or cannabis strains directly, ensure that the ones you're promoting online don't contain psychoactive compounds, like THC. Ensure you highlight that it just includes legal compounds and “not addictive” such as CBD.


During the last few years, we have seen a huge acceptance of products that mention “CBD-only” and the ones that have THC on them are still not legally accepted in some places. Having said this, try to advertise only your CBD products which are more widely accepted in many places and are less likely to get you a ban. However make sure to check each advertising platform's policies first, some of them don't accept CBD products either.

- Be transparent:


Clearly state the nature of the product and its legal status, especially if you're targeting an international audience with varying regulations. That way, you let consumers choose if they want to engage with your brand, leading to fewer reports on your account. People that follow closely the cannabis industry really appreciate honesty and quality, so be sure you communicate the quality of your products effectively. Users also appreciate human contact, so don't forget the importance of providing a good customer service supported by knowledgeable people in the industry and your brand.


- Avoid making health claims:


On the more ethical side, refrain from making unsubstantiated health claims about cannabis products. Stick to verifiable information and avoid medical or therapeutic promises. After all, most of our clients are here for fun, and the medical side should be handled by their personal physicians. Always use a clear disclaimers to avoid any issues with what's written in your articles or social media. Try to refer the reader to a medical professional when talking about medical-related topics. Make sure your information is well supported or written by a certificated person in the industry.


- Age-restricted targeting:


Whenever you have the chance to do some paid ads, ensure that your ads are only shown to users who are of legal age to purchase cannabis-related products in their respective regions. For example +21 years old in the US and +18 in most European countries. This may hurt your audience reach a bit, but not only is this the ethical stance to take, but it also makes it less likely for your account to be terminated. Having an age gate on your website is a must when it comes to direct online traffic. The website visits should be tracked by cookies and users should accept they are over the legal age in the company's region.


- Work with cannabis-friendly platforms:


This may be easier said than done, but it’s important to seek out advertising networks or platforms that specialize in herb accessories and have experience navigating the associated advertising restrictions. There aren’t many to go around, especially in social media, but it never hurts to ask before hurting your brand's presence online. More than social media you can look for magazines or newsletters online that focus their content on cannabis and CBD news, such as HighTimes, Herb.co, CannabisNow, and more! Besides advertising in news websites also getting backlinks from high authority domains is a good SEO strategy, just make sure this comes from cannabis-related sites to increase conversion.


- Focus on branding:


Concentrate on building a strong brand presence and community engagement, which can indirectly promote your products without violating advertising policies. This is the smart strategy if your platform of choice seems to be ambivalent towards cannabis, so cover your bases.


- Consider influencer marketing:


It’s always a good idea to partner with influencers who are knowledgeable about cannabis-related topics and can promote your products in a compliant and responsible manner, helping you avoid common pitfalls and understand a specific platform inside and out. Cannabis influencers can be a good way to generate brand awareness to the exact audience you want to reach. Advertising through influencers can help you avoid being restricted or banned. Cannabis influencers are used to the industry's restrictions, so they already know which platforms they should use and how to communicate their messages wisely without hurting their social accounts and followers.

- Monitor ad performance:


Continuously track the performance of your ads and be prepared to adjust your strategies if you encounter any issues. If your usual strategy starts to decline for seemingly no reason, you might be “shadowbanned” (having your reach limited) and need to take steps to bring back your good standing. Make sure you always measure your ROI (Return On Investment) which is the most important metric when investing money in ads. This metric would determine whether the amount paid for a specific advertising campaign was worth it or not. The higher the ROI % the better… a positive ROI means that you earn money with the campaign efforts and didn't lose any money.

Final Words on Cannabis Advertising

Remember that advertising regulations for weed and accessories for smokers are always evolving, and enforcement may vary depending on the platform and your location. So try to stay informed to maintain compliance and avoid all potential issues. Furthermore, traditional advertising and offline advertising methods like television, radio, and printed ads may not be available for promoting cannabis products due to the restrictions mentioned above, leading to a reliance on alternative advertising channels, such as social media, which is why you want to keep your accounts in good shape in every platform you choose to use. Even within countries or states where cannabis is legal, individual cities or municipalities may have additional regulations or outright bans on cannabis advertising, making it challenging to create a cohesive presence.

So yeah, in short, advertising marijuana products online presents a unique set of challenges and rewards for any business in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Navigating strict regulations, limited marketing avenues, and the constant evolution of social media policies can be daunting, but those who approach it with creativity and a keen understanding of their target audience can unlock a world of opportunities for your brand. As the cannabis industry continues to mature, the potential rewards of online advertising in this sector are undeniable, allowing brands to reach a broader audience, foster loyalty, and contribute to the normalization of cannabis use, which can only benefit us all.


Embracing innovation, staying informed on legal developments, and adopting responsible marketing practices will be the keys to success in this promising yet highly regulated digital frontier.

 

Good luck advertising your favorite herb!

Author: Shaggy

Disclaimer: HØJ is not a medical advice blog, so please consult with a doctor or a specialist if you have any questions regarding smoking or anything related to cannabis consumption itself.

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