Dr. Denise Kandel, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University, famously coined the phrase “gateway drug” back in the early 1970s while studying drugs and addiction. Interestingly, while her study was funded to examine marijuana as a stepping stone to harder drugs, what she actually discovered was that legal drugs (such as alcohol and tobacco) are actually where youngsters start experimenting before moving on to hard drugs.
Somehow, through the power of marketing and advertising campaigns like Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” initiative, as well as public education, marijuana remained mislabeled a gateway drug despite Dr. Kandel’s research.
Cut to today . . .
Legal marijuana sales reached $9 billion in 2017, according to BDS Analytics, a company providing data-driven insights, market intelligence, and complete consumer understanding of the cannabis industry. Managing director Tom Adams told @AaronSmithCNN for his article, “The U.S. legal marijuana industry is booming,” he expects national marijuana sales will rise to $11 billion in 2018, and to $21 billion in 2021.
CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis compound with medical benefits, totaled $360 million in 2017, according to the Hemp Business Journal. The magazine’s publisher, Sean Murphy, told @AaronSmithCNN he sees the market growing to $1.1 billion by 2020 and $1.8 billion by 2022.
If you’re thinking about or already involved in a business selling marijuana products or accessories, you probably already know this . . . and a lot more if you’re going to be successful.
However, all the time, energy, and capital that goes into developing an innovative and beneficial product or service only gets you onto the marketplace stage. From here, you need to steal the spotlight and attract an audience of followers, promoters, and influencers to champion your marijuana-related product or service.
Here are 3 ways a talented marketing writer
can enhance your sales funnel:
1. Educate Your Buyer Persona
There are a lot of people who have been waiting for marijuana to become legal for medicinal and recreational use. Others are going to need to be brought up to speed, which is going to take some re-educating thanks to all those anti-drug false advertising campaigns.
Be aware not to stereotype your buyers!
Should Marijuana Be Legalized?
Examining data like this can give a lot of informed direction to your content marketing campaign. Based on this publicly available survey, a good baseline to start at (before examining any other data) may involve two buyer personas.
Buyer Persona 1 may be a Millennial or GenXer who likes marijuana, wants more sophisticated information on its benefits and uses, and expects a digital purchase and transparent delivery system.
Buyer Persona 2 may be a Baby Boomer or in the Silent Generation who needs a lot of fresh, fundamental information on marijuana and cannabis legislation; easy-to-understand explanations of the latest studies, treatments, delivery methods, and products; and may require some coaxing (free samples) to make a purchase.
The best content marketing campaigns grow from an abundance of authoritative product knowledge and insight.
Research is hard. Reading through the material, picking out the relevant pieces, and then piecing together a conclusion for informed decision making is as much an art as it is a trade. Your blog posts should do this legwork for the potential customers you want to attract.
Through a harmonious combination of guiding sign posts in the content and hyperlinks, users should be able to navigate your entire blog and learn everything they need to understand, order, and use your cannabis product or service.
For instance, you may want to start by writing a series of blogs on what real science now tells us about marijuana, including definitions of cannabinoids, terpenes, trichomes, and strain varieties. Any mention of these topics in future blog posts can link back to this original article to support depth of understanding.
Likewise, including real-world examples in these definition-based articles can link to more advanced blog posts discussing these concepts.
Excerpt from a sample blog post:
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the primary medicinal ingredients [internal link to blog post on medical uses of cannabis] in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most well-known cannabinoid, gives marijuana its psychoactive effect [internal link to blog post on “What to do if you get too high”], but more than 70 different cannabinoids have been discovered so far. One that has gained immense popularity is cannabidiol, or CBD, which is widely available to buy in the U.S. It has no psychoactive effects and has proven to fight cancer, epileptic seizures, Parkinson’s disease, inflammation, PTSD, and other ailments. [internal links to one or many blog posts on ailments treated with CBD]
This example highlights the navigation potential in text, but additionally, it’s advisable to also include hyperlinks to products and services a company offers, e.g., it’s reasonable to link “CBD” to a CBD product page.
If You Do Just One Thing . . .
Drop the nasally, spaced-out slacker jive, man.
The new cannabis user has specific health conditions to address and mixed expectations about how marijuana can help. Bridge the gap through straightforward guidance in a kind, professional tone.
Make sure the person writing your blogs has a developed understanding of the language of the cannabis industry. This increases the informational authority of your brand and the professional tone mentioned above. If your copywriter uses the term, “buds,” in a blog post, find another one. The accepted dispensary term is “flower.”
2. Tell The Story Of Your Business
No, no, no, no, no . . . put the business plan away. This story isn’t for the investors. The story of your business should compel people to care about your brand. You also need to deliver the product or service to solve customers’ problems beyond their wildest dreams, but there are other companies that do that, too. Call them, Your Competition.
The story of your business needs to make people care about it. That is the secret to every good story.
If you don’t care about the main character, everything falls flat.
That’s why romantic chemistry is so important between leading actors in a romantic comedy. If the audience isn’t in love with the lead characters and cheering for them to get together, the movie flops.
There’s a lot of innovation in the cannabis marketplace. New is exciting, and it also can be a little hard to trust.
YOU may be a committed entrepreneur with a prestigious business degree, experience at an industry-influencing company, and real capital . . .
There’s a senior citizen out there who imagines you living in your parents’ basement with a beard, body odor, and a bunch of plants under grow lights.
There’s another committed entrepreneur who’s coming up with a cooler-looking label.
CUT THROUGH THE NOISE and let your customers see what your company stands for by reporting on the actions it takes to fulfill its mission.
It’s hard to say what magic is in the story of your business. Typically it has to do with the founder(s).
Why run a company when you can collect a paycheck and sleep at night?
Is it to change the world like Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma?
Apple is famous for getting it right. Steve Jobs attracted dedicated followers who love his company and its products and can’t imagine living without them. Unfortunately, there’s no formula for being the cool kid in the marketplace.
By whatever means you get to the magic part of your business, make sure you show people! You see that spectacular sparkle every day, which is why you started a business and keep it running.
Open up and share that magic with your customers and potential customers so they see more than a product or service—they see you.
3. Optimize Your Website
Websites are not brochures.
They’re more than digital catalogs.
A high-quality website that’s easy to navigate can be your own digital mall of products, information, social connections, and entertainment—all with your brand!
Enough talk. Let’s look at the numbers:
A study on the trend of online cannabis purchases published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine offers an insightful look at the developing marketplace, as reported by @KristinLAMB in “The Latest Trend in Online Shopping: Marijuana”. In July of 2017, researchers used a pre-determined set of keywords tied to buying marijuana on the Internet to generate search results from Google. On the first two pages:
41% were mail-order marijuana retailers
In 2 out of 3 searches, one of these retailers came up as the first link
The point of the article (as stated):
People aren’t just searching for weed online. They’re finding it.
If you’re selling cannabis products, you’re already in a crowded marketplace that’s only getting more crowded as the industry grows. That’s why you can’t have a brochure website. Telling visitors about your company, showing them what you sell, and then not giving them a chance to buy is just a tease.
No matter what role your business has in the industry, your website needs to quickly educate visitors and guide them into your sales funnel . . .
. . . even in cases where you directly target a buyer persona in a blog post, such as addressing a cannabis topic related exclusively to the elderly. (Do nursing homes have to allow cannabis?)
But, to ensure your blogging net guides the most amount of searchers into your sales funnel, you don’t want any holes. Even if a Millennial searcher somehow lands on the cannabis-in-nursing-homes article, the functionality of the web page should enable a streamlined transition to more relevant content.
This may sound like web page-designer work, but this connectivity often comes from the copywriter. Blog posts have evolved into a new form of storytelling, and when done right, they can be an illuminating and educational choose-your-own adventure for your potential customers to discover your products and services.