How to Market and Advertise Cannabis

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 25, 2022

Cannabis is a growing industry in the United States, so if you’re looking to get into the business now, it’s a good time to do so. As with any business, you’re going to need a strong cannabis marketing campaign to set yourself apart from the competition. However, in an industry as unique as this one, you’re going to need to be careful when you advertise cannabis.

How to Advertise Cannabis

Advertising any business is crucial, but the cannabis industry faces hurdles that other industries do not. Since cannabis is still illegal on a federal level in the United States, you can expect to face advertising regulations. These regulations can include requirements for advertisements overall, as well as for the packaging of the products. 

Even so, there are ways to build up a strong marketing campaign for your cannabis business. 

Solidify your brand

Before you can truly begin putting together your cannabis marketing campaign, you need to nail down your brand. To start this process, you can conduct some research on the industry and the typical customers who visit stores that are similar to what you’re trying to create. You should also think about marketing materials, including your brand name and logo. These might seem like small or unimportant details, but your name and logo are your first chance to tell potential customers who you are. 

When creating your brand, it’s important to put your target customer front and center. Think about your research and the types of people you want to attract to your store. What do they do for a living? What are their hobbies and interests? You also need to think about their “pain points” and the problems that you can solve for them. 

Since the cannabis industry does have regulations to consider, it can make it difficult to be straightforward in your marketing campaign. You should consider alternative ways to drive people to your business. For example, could you host an event that your target audience would be interested in attending? This can help bring people to your business, even if they weren’t planning to purchase your products. This can build brand awareness and show potential customers what makes your business unique.

Consider other products

Once you have some idea of your brand and who your target audience is, you can move on to picking out the products that you want to sell in your store. Some items that you might consider are products for people who are growing cannabis — such as fertilizer and grow lights. You could also consider selling CBD products in your store. CBD products are still facing some limitations, and you have to be careful with how you advertise the product. However, these products are legal in all 50 states, so you’ll be able to sell to a wider market.

Mind your words

Even if you add CBD products to your store, you still need to be very careful in how you advertise the products. The wording of your marketing materials is incredibly important here. It’s wise to stay away from claims that your products can treat or alleviate certain conditions or medical disorders. This can include a vague claim such as “helps relieve joint pain” to “protects you against cancer.”

Be strategic when placing ads

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find placement for cannabis ads online. Google, Amazon, Pinterest and some other large platforms prohibit ads for cannabis. These same platforms also ban most ads regarding CBD products. 

Instead of relying on the largest platforms, you’ll need to seek out ad networks that can work with you and connect you with your target audience. Some of the top ad networks for cannabis include Mantis, Kush Clicks, Traffic Roots and Vana. These ad networks are even starting to form partnerships with other mainstream publications, including BuzzFeed, Pitchfork, Slate and USA Today. 

Additionally, you can go right for cannabis-focused spaces to place your advertisements. Some publications to consider include Cannabiz Magazine, High Times and DOPE Magazine. Another important thing to remember is that you can always go old-school and use billboard advertisements! This advertising method is allowed because it is a physical advertisement that can only be viewed in the location where it’s placed. As long as you’re in an area where cannabis is legal, you can use billboards to direct traffic to your store.

Build your audience

The goal of your targets should be to spread awareness of your brand and get people interested enough to follow along. A good way to do this is to use ads for lead generation, asking viewers to enter their email addresses for more information. Once you have a way to talk directly to your audience, you can share more information about your products and even offer promotions to increase sales. 

Cannabis Marketing Best Practices

When creating any marketing strategy, you’ll want to keep best practices for that industry in mind to help your strategy be as successful as possible. As you create your strategy, keep these best practices in mind:

Think ahead: Research and comply with the legality and restrictions of cannabis marketing in your state or region.

Target the right consumers: Identify your target audience and create a brand that will resonate with them.

Placement is everything: Be strategic about where you place your advertisements.

Go digital: Use your digital marketing plans to build leads so you can follow up with customers directly.

Think outside the box: Don’t be afraid to offer non-cannabis products in your store.

Promotions and events: Consider creative ways to get customers in the door, such as hosting networking events or other events that will resonate with your target audience.

Never make claims: You want word of mouth and consumers to do most of the work. There is very little scientific research available on cannabis, and that’s why you shouldn’t make claims. Just say that you have the best products, prices and service. The rest happens outside the shop.

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Cannabis Marketing Campaign

It’s also important that you’re aware of what not to do when you’re building a cannabis marketing campaign. That’s not to say that you won’t or can’t make mistakes, because you will learn lessons throughout the process of building your business and marketing campaigns.  But there’s a difference between small mistakes that you can tweak and bigger mistakes that can derail things for you. Some of these mistakes can not only hurt your bottom line but could also cause a legal headache for your business. 

Mistake: Not doing your research first to understand who your audience is.

Mistake: Waiting for customers to come to you.

Mistake: Not putting thought into your business name and logo.

Mistake: Advertising that your products can treat or prevent any medical condition or ailment.

Mistake: Relying on your product too heavily instead of creating a unique brand or offering service, selection, etc.

Mistake: Selling so many different products that it becomes overwhelming for you and your customers.

Mistake: Forgetting to stay up-to-date on the latest restrictions and requirements federally and locally (working with an attorney helps).

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the target market for cannabis?


The target market for cannabis is adults who are successful and, in most cases, health-conscious. Most customers fall into the Millenial age range, but individuals in other generations can be customers as well.


How do you market a dispensary?


There are several steps you can take to market a dispensary. Some ideas include billboard advertisements, online advertisements and loyalty programs. The main goal is to use your marketing to generate leads. Once you have these leads, you can reach out with promotions and other opportunities to convert those leads into sales.