5 Ways to Build Great PR for Cannabis Businesses Without Paying for It
The cannabis industry is changing faster than you can say “tetrahydrocannabinol”.
Before Prop 64 passed, when recreational cannabis was legalized in California, cannabis businesses operated in fear of potentially getting raided, shut down, or having their ownership teams jeopardized or even imprisoned, even if they were completely compliant with the law.
It’s easy to understand why businesses who are entering the recreational market from that space want to stay out of the limelight and avoid media coverage.
But on the same side of the coin, we’re entering a time in the cannabis industry where customers are seeking education, information, transparency, and authenticity from the cannabis brands and businesses that they support.
That’s why PR for cannabis businesses is so coveted and yet still so new. Every cannabis business needs it, but hardly any have been able to achieve something both positive and effective with their customer base.
If you’re a cannabis business owner looking to get started on building some great PR for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Especially if you’re operating on a budget.
There are plenty of small changes you can make in your business to develop positive PR that can make a lasting impression on your brand, and more importantly, how your customers perceive your brand.
And if that isn’t exciting enough, we have some even better news for you.
There are a lot of things that you can be doing to build positive PR without spending a dime.
1. Repair your reputation on review sites
People talk. When was the last time you did a Google search about your own brand?
If you’re a cannabis business offering products, chances are, you have a review page.
If you’re a dispensary, you probably already have a Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, or any other review platform. And if you’re a brand, you’re probably on Weedmaps.
The bottom line is, if you’re putting products out, people are talking about it. And while the main review sites are important, other popular discussion-based forums are just as important. We’re talking Reddit, Grasscity, Twitter, and, even the YouTube and Instagram comments section.
That’s why it’s so important that you stay aware who is talking about your brand, where they’re talking about it, and most importantly, how YOU can engage with them.
Every negative review left about your brand should be responded to thoughtfully, considerately, respectfully, professionally, and truthfully. This means that if, for example, you’re getting a few negative reviews about your price point, you should probably respond with something that validates the writer of the review, while also either justifying your price point or ensuring that you’re looking into providing products that can be made with less expensive ingredients. Validating the comment while educating your readers about your brand is key.
No matter how you respond, the most important takeaway is that you respond in the first place. People want to engage with brands that are thoughtful and present.
Once your customers see that you care enough to engage with them on public forums, you’re gaining something that only the most successful of businesses have been able to attain. Trust.
2. Know your target audience and know where they hang out
While it might be beneficial to be active on every social media platform and to be marketing on every single digital host that has ever existed, you might be happy to hear that that’s not always necessary.
That’s because your target audience isn’t on every single platform either.
Let’s break this down with an example.
If you create cannabis-infused topicals primarily for those who suffer from arthritis, you’re marketing to a very distinct demographic of people who usually fall between the ages 60 and 70.
So does that mean that you’re posting every day on Snapchat on IG? Probably not.
The same goes for if you’re offering fun, recreational products for millennials. You might not be as inclined to advertise in print ads.
So, this is great news! You can spend less time advertising on multiple channels, and instead, focus your energy on the channels that matter most to your demographic.
However, the most challenging part will be putting in the research to understand exactly where your customers hang out digitally.
Need help with targeting a specific audience? We got you covered. Check out our services to learn more about how we can help you hone in on the people who will be most excited about your cannabis products.
3. Reach out to reputable news outlets
Don’t be afraid of the news!
Especially when you have control over the media coverage, reaching out to local news stations and media companies can be a great way to build awesome PR for cannabis businesses.
This can be especially helpful if you’re planning a big event, dropping a new and exciting product, or if you’re revealing some other exciting business venture.
Most smart news outlets have come to the realization that stories about cannabis businesses are stories about the economy.
Take advantage of the fact that the media is already looking to cover exciting brands just like you!
If you’re compliant, up-to-date on all regulations, and ready to take your business to the next level, this can be a fantastic way to kick-start your journey into positive PR.
If you’re still working on getting all the way compliant, feel free to reach out. We work very closely with a cannabis regulatory compliance team and we can all work together to get you ready for anything that the spotlight brings.
4. Turn customers into brand ambassadors
Don’t want to do all the work yourself? Great! Have your customers do it for you!
Turning your customers into brand ambassadors isn’t just a great idea from a PR standpoint; it creates so many other positive results.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about what it means to be a brand ambassador. The technical definition is someone, especially a celebrity, who is paid to endorse a company’s products or services.
But in the age of social media, that definition has changed a lot.
The person no longer needs to be a celebrity, and that person no longer needs to be paid.
In fact, as soon as one of your customers endorses your brand to anyone else, they become a brand ambassador.
When you start encouraging brand ambassadors, it’s great PR, it creates brand loyalty, brand trust, and gives your marketing platform legs to work without you having to.
Awesome! So your next natural question is probably, how do you turn customers into brand ambassadors?
The short answer is to engage with them online and off. Have conversations with them on social media. Hold events where you, and your brand representatives, can personally engage with them. Let them see that you’re not just a company, you’re people too. Show them how much you care by providing out-of-this-world customer service. And every once in a while, offer a promotion or deal that gets your customers excited.
People want to be excited about the brands they support. Give them a reason to be excited about yours.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth
In the age of digital marketing, you might be skeptical about this one. But no matter how digital our marketing strategies get, there is nothing more impactful than human connection.
Rewarding your customers for recommending your products to their friends, running contests to give away merchandise (but remember – giveaways that contain cannabis is a no-no! Stick to accessories, merchandise, and swag when it comes to giveaways and contests), and even inviting your customers to share your digital content on their social media pages are great ways of creating the kind of positive dialogue that you want.
And ultimately, the more people talk about your brand, the more positive PR you’re getting for your business.
This is a new era for cannabis.
If you’re a cannabis business owner, this is a really exciting time for you and your business.
You have the capability to provide something really special to your customers.
But offering a super dank product isn’t always the be-all-end-all.
And the best part is that good PR isn’t impossible to achieve on a budget.
There are tons of things you can do today and every day that won’t break the bank to help your business get into the public eye in a way that’s positive, safe, and, ultimately, will bring the results you want.
Want to talk more about how to develop a kick-ass PR and marketing strategy for your brand? Feel free to reach out to us at the Seed Group. Our specialty is making YOUR specialty shine within the cannabis industry.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get started on taking your business to the next level today! Grow beyond your dreams, and let us work with you to grow your business to its full potential.