When you run a cannabis company or marijuana dispensary, the right marketing is essential. With all the trends shaping the cannabis industry, having an attractive, informative, and eye-catching website is a key part of marketing. That said, the cannabis industry faces unique challenges, and you’ll need to be mindful about every element of website design if you want to be successful.
Five Challenges the Industry Faces
Every industry has its challenges. But as medical and recreational cannabis is being legalized in more and more areas, new challenges continue to arise. These are five of the most important challenges to consider when making your company’s site:
We’ve all heard the negative stereotypes of cannabis users. Plenty of marijuana-averse people (and even those who are indifferent) think that all users fit the lazy stoner stereotype. And worse, others even associate cannabis use with criminal activity. This stigma may make your potential clients hesitant to explore cannabis, since they don’t see themselves fitting that stereotype. This poses a challenge when marketing–you want to highlight the beneficial effects of cannabis without overselling.
2. State Regulations
Even though cannabis remains federally illegal, many states have legalized use. However, states have legalized cannabis to varying extents. Some have legalized it for medical use only, and many of these states require fees and several steps before a user is granted a medical card. Others have legalized it for recreational and medical use. And still others will only permit the sale of hemp plants with 0.3% THC or less. And since the legislative landscape is changing, dispensary owners need to be aware of proposed and pending legislation.
Anti-cannabis attitudes don’t only affect individuals–sometimes, they reach social media companies. For instance, Instagram policy prohibits advertising or selling marijuana. And since many people, especially those in younger generations, use social media extensively, this makes it more difficult to gain exposure for your business.
4. Repercussions of Federal Illegality
While the fact that cannabis is still federally illegal won’t stop you from opening a dispensary or company in a legal state, it may impact who’s willing to work with you. Some dispensary owners have experienced difficulty finding a marketing or creative team. This is because some agencies prefer not to have their names tied to something outlawed at the federal level.
5. A Changing Landscape of New Growers
Since the legal cannabis industry is still relatively new, more and more people are getting involved. And with new growers come new and exciting strains. While this is promising, it also adds a new challenge–staying on the lookout for new strains. By paying attention to newer growers, you have the chance to access great new products before they become more mainstream.
Seven Things To Include on Your Website
Keeping industry-specific challenges in mind will help you create a stronger website. Along with having a great website design for your cannabis dispensary, having optimized website code, and a top-rated SEO strategy to help amplify your content, the following are additional strategies you should include to help create a great website experience that builds trust and helps brand your company.
1. Contact Information
This may seem like an obvious thing to include. But it’s especially important in this industry. With social media and other marketing channels limited, you’ll need to make sure your contact information is clearly displayed. Be sure to include your shop’s phone number and e-mail address (if applicable). Location is especially important. If your shop is new or in a congested area, you may also want to include a nearby landmark to help potential customers better visualize your location.
Before walking into a new dispensary, most customers want to get a sense of your prices and what you have to offer. Including a menu on your website will let customers explore your inventory. And while they may come into the shop looking for a specific item, chances are good that they’ll spend some time looking around at other products, and they may even buy one or two. Consider adding product photos or store photos on this page–it will help customers have a better idea of what they’re looking for once they arrive at your store.
3. Your Brand Story
A compelling brand story or “about us” section will hold your reader’s attention. In a very competitive market, standing out to customers is a must. If your reader can tell you’re passionate about bringing them a superior product, they’ll be more likely to stay on the website and possibly visit your shop. Choose an angle that makes your company stand out–do you grow some of your product on-site? Do you offer hard-to-find medical tinctures? Do you get new strains before other dispensaries in the area? By emphasizing your strengths without cutting down competitors, you might be able to persuade website visitors to choose your brand.
Brand story is about more than just advertising, though–it’s a way to humanize your business. Customers tend to gravitate towards businesses that are driven by more than making a profit. Your brand story page gives you a chance to communicate your mission and why offering cannabis products is important to you.
4. A First-Time Customer Discount
This isn’t an absolute must-have, but it’s beneficial for a couple of reasons. A first-time customer discount is a great tool to get people in the door. Someone who is tight on cash and interested in trying cannabis for the first time will often choose a shop that offers a discount. And offering a website-specific discount may also help you determine how many customers are finding your store via your website, too.
5. Informational Content
Including a cannabis information page or a running blog will help keep visitors on your site longer. It also shows customers that you’re knowledgeable about what you do. Regularly posting new blog posts keeps your content fresh, and it also offers a chance to bring more traffic to your site. You can also use your blog to include bios of growers and staff, which helps put faces to your business.
You may also want to consider a special page of information for those new to cannabis. As more people discover the industry, they’re looking for information, and they may feel alienated if they come across a site full of terms they’re unfamiliar with.
6. A Professional Layout
Many dispensaries have a sleek, professional storefront. This is something that helps to counteract stigma. Similarly, a professional-looking website makes a significant difference. Of course, this is important for any website design. But given the stigma that the cannabis industry is likely to face, many shop owners are especially careful to make their websites appear professional. Make sure to include your logo, as this will increase brand recognition. Site visitors are likely to be deterred if your site has an aesthetic they associate with their perception of stoners. By choosing a minimalist aesthetic, you’ll make your shop look reputable.
7. SEO-Optimized Content
Given the fact that your social media marketing opportunities may be limited, you’ll need to drive web traffic to your site through other means. One way to do this is by including SEO-optimized content. You can learn the basics of SEO yourself, or you may want to hire a content writer to write optimized pages. Creating a site blog as suggested above is a great way to incorporate SEO into your website. Be sure to include keywords that mention location, since your potential customers may be searching online for dispensaries or cannabis companies in their general area.
Running a successful business in the cannabis industry can be a challenging experience, but it’s also a rewarding one. And with the industry’s constant changing, the key takeaway is to always be on the lookout for new opportunities. With some strategizing and a thoughtful website layout, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new customers and keeping current ones.