By White Buffalo Hemp Company | December 5, 2019
In the world of CBD, business is booming.
And when an industry is growing this quickly, one thing is certain: there’s no way to stand out from the crowd without top-notch marketing.
Gone are the days of “build it and they will come” — instead of waiting for customers to seek out your CBD products on their own, you need to deliver them right before their eyes.
We know that marketing can feel a little “fluffy,” but nothing is more important than carefully thinking through the way you present your brand. When properly executed, a thoughtful marketing strategy can not only boost your business’s bottom line — it can be the difference between success or failure.
Here’s how to develop an effective marketing plan for your CBD products.
For years, marijuana (generally considered to be Cannabis varieties with more than .3% THC content by dry weight) and hemp (Cannabis varieties with less than .3% THC content) were illegal in the United States on both the state and federal level.
Recently, though, we’ve seen a rush to legalize the plants.
Thirty-three states now allow for the medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, 11 states let their residents partake in it recreationally, and the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and sale of hemp at a federal level.
But despite the fact that “industrial hemp” is now legal, the advertising waters are still muddy. This is largely due to public confusion about the difference between marijuana and hemp.
So, what’s the real rub? In short, it is legal to sell CBD products that have a THC content below .3%, but it is not legal to put out some paid digital advertisements on specific social media and search engine platforms.
Google, Instagram, and Twitter restrict all CBD product advertising. Facebook, on the other hand, recently lifted its ban on CBD products to allow businesses to advertise as long as their CBD is derived from hemp, not marijuana.
Regardless of the platform, businesses are strictly not allowed to make any medical claims or advertise untested assumptions. It’s imperative that every last word you say about your CBD products is supported by reputable research.
We recommend carefully checking the CBD advertising restrictions and regulations for your specific state and desired advertising platforms. It’s a good idea to hire an attorney if you have the bandwidth — you can never be too cautious when your business is at stake.
A marketing strategy is nothing without a well-defined target audience. When you advertise your CBD products, who are you trying to sell them to? (And no, “everyone” is not a good enough answer.)
More than 40% of US consumers aged 21 and older say they’d be willing to try CBD, and we anticipate that number to grow within the next few years.
CBD is said to have a range of promising health benefits, including:
This means the people who are most likely to try a CBD product are those that:
When deciding what specific consumer demographic you want your CBD products to target, you should consider your business’s own values and conduct thorough market research to make sure you’re sending the right message to the right people at the right time.
In a market that is crowded with this much growth and controversy, the most important thing your CBD business can do is define a strong brand image. In the long run, a carefully crafted brand voice is what will make you stand out from the crowd — and help you avoid competing on hard-to-control metrics like price alone.
All of your marketing efforts should align with your brand image. Get clear about who you are and what you stand for, and make sure your target audience will resonate with the message.
Here are some initial questions to get you started:
How playful or serious is your business?
What words and emotions do you want to come to mind when someone thinks about your business?
Are you selling CBD for a specific use, like relieving chronic pain?
What are the specific likes and dislikes of your desired target market?
The digital landscape is one of the most promising places to market your CBD products.
We’ve put together another blog with a quick guide to selling your CBD online — but besides setting up a killer ecommerce site, here are three of the best online strategies that are accessible to CBD companies.
Search engine optimization means intentionally structuring your website’s layout and content to rank higher on search engine results pages. Thankfully, search engine algorithms are continually moving in the direction of modeling human users — that is, the more you create content that appeals to real people, the more likely you are to show up on Google’s first page.
Two of the best SEO tactics your CBD business should implement are:
Keyword research based on your specific target market to come up with content topics that are actually relevant to your audience
“Link building” by creating content that other websites reference as an authoritative source
Content marketing doesn’t overtly sell your CBD products to customers, but it is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door.
By creating content that is useful to your audience (blogs, how-to guides, infographics, and so on) without pushing a sales agenda, you build trust — and over time become a go-to source for CBD information.
Then, when those potential customers are ready to make a purchase, they’ll think of you first.
It’s a bit like getting to know a new friend: you usually wait until you’ve built a bit of rapport before asking someone to do you a favor. Content marketing is the same thing in the advertising world — and it’s remarkably effective when done well.
Social media has been a buzzword practically since the turn of the century, and for good reason. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more are a prime place for businesses to connect with potential customers.
When it comes to doing social media right, you should keep two things in mind.
First, go where your audience is. It’s better to do a stellar job on one or two platforms than to halfheartedly create profiles on every platform you can — your audience will appreciate genuine effort and consistent engagement.
Second, understand that while social media is mostly an avenue to increase brand awareness, it can definitely result in conversions if you have an easy-to-use online store. Focus your efforts on connecting with your audience by sharing relevant content, and the business leads will follow over time. Too much “direct selling” language can actually turn your potential customers away.
Finally, make sure your business stays on the cutting edge of changes to the legality and advertising restrictions of CBD. Anything that happens in the public eye — especially lawsuits — has the potential to drastically affect not only your company’s individual ability to operate but also overarching customer perception.
As a largely new and ever-changing industry, the CBD marketing landscape can be overwhelming. White Buffalo Hemp is here to help you make sense of the chaos — you can find more CBD resources on our blog and reach out to us with any specific questions you might have.