Cannabis Business Marketing 101: All The DOs and DON’Ts to Consider

Nov 17, 2021 | Cannabis Laws & News, Dispensary

There’s a reason you don’t open a magazine and see a plethora of pot leaves, or see TV ads for marijuana either. When it comes to cannabis business marketing federal restrictions and state compliance requirements make advertising that much more complex for cannabiz owners.

How do cannabis brands advertise successfully and what are some DOs and DON’Ts to keep in mind for cannabis marketing strategies? Keep reading for those answers and more!

Up First: State Regulations & Requirements

The first thing to understand for cannabis business marketing is your state’s specific advertising regulations or requirements. Each state’s legislation and rules vary, so what could be acceptable in one state may not be in another.

By neglecting this first step in designing your cannabis marketing strategies you could be met with disastrous results from the start. Most violations come along with hefty fines or even license suspension in some cases.

For instance – TV advertising is allowed in Colorado, with the clause that the advertiser must provide “reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience for the program on which the Advertising is to air is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.”

But in Massachusetts, ‘Registered Medical Dispensaries’ AKA RMD’s can’t even “produce any items for sale or promotional gifts, such as T-shirts or novelty items, bearing a symbol of or references to marijuana or MIPs, including the logo of the RMD.”

Once you’ve determined what you can and can’t do in your state, the following list of DOs and DON’Ts are key to riding the latest cannabis marketing trends, and legally so.

The DOs and DON’Ts of Cannabis Business Marketing

Now, let’s go through top expert advice for successful cannabis marketing strategies, and the do’s and don’ts to follow.

DO strengthen your brand’s strategy

One of the biggest mistakes cannabis brands, operations, and businesses make is rushing their brand strategy or development. If you learned anything from the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

That doesn’t mean you have to take your time strengthening your branding but focusing on having a clear, well-planned vision, consistent messaging and graphics are a surefire way to establish customer recognition and loyalty moving forward.

DON’T try to blend in

Let’s get real, there’s only so much you can do with a pot leaf in regards to imagery and advertising. Don’t blend in with the crowd, stand out from it, and consider trademarking brand names, logos, or phrases to further solidify your cannabis marketing strategies.

DO use social media carefully

It’s likely you’ve seen the negative outcomes of using social media incorrectly, or even at all, by cannabis brands. Without notice, and sometimes without cause, Instagram and Facebook have a notorious history of shadowbanning or suspending accounts that go against their terms and conditions. They adhere to federal guidelines, and not state-specific regulations so don’t think you’ll be able to fight it by saying ‘but it’s legal here’.

In reference to how to do so ‘carefully’ below are some general guidelines for cannabis digital advertising as recommended by the Cannabis Industry Journal:

  • No claims of health or medical benefits
  • No elements that could appeal to children (cartoon characters, etc.)
  • No false or misleading statements, including those made about competitors’ products
  • No testimonials or endorsements (e.g. recommendations from doctors)
  • No depiction of product consumption
  • No pricing information, potency statements, or promotional offers
  • Ads for infused products must state “For Adult Use Only”

Most cannabis brands use social media as a way to ‘educate’ consumers versus ‘promote’, to stay within the regulatory lines.

DON’T discount using brand partners, influencers, or ambassadors

Influencers are just as prevalent in the pot industry as they are in others. Don’t discount the use of ambassadors, or influencers to elevate your brand’s exposure or increase awareness. Like cross-product promotions, partnering with like-minded brands from other industries can be just as helpful for achieving the same goal.

DO use media coverage to your advantage

A little good deed will go a long way, especially in the cannabis industry. Recently, many cannabis industries have been volunteering their time, or donating money to good causes and getting media coverage for it.

This is a dual-purpose strategy that will not only get good press but also helps reduce the stigma that’s often associated with cannabis and typical ‘stoners’. When cross-promotions, and media coverage, you could think about sponsoring community events or teaming up with a charitable organization for extra exposure.

DON’T forget about Federal guidelines

A good piece of advice comes from MarketVeep, and simply states: ‘promote your business, not cannabis’. Or, focus on brand promotion and awareness versus the promotion of actual products. This can be especially helpful when considering federal guidelines prohibit advertisements that show consumption. So you’ll want to keep the puff, puff, passing out of the public eye.

DO use email & text marketing to capture leads

Email and text or SMS marketing is an up-and-coming cannabis marketing trend that gives you a direct connection to your potential customer. If you’re a dispensary, it’s likely you already use email and text to communicate with consumers and don’t get lazy on the frequency.

Consistency is key with any form of communication. In regard to other brands, consider offering an e-book, exclusive guide, or downloadable piece that’ll lure in potential customers and snag their contact information for future promotions, in the process.

The best part of an email or text marketing is as long as you’re CAN & SPAM compliant, you’re freer to communicate about cannabis in the private setting vs. public websites, social media platforms, etc.

Also, keep this stat in mind – nearly 60% of marketers that Hubspot recently surveyed indicated email was their biggest source of ROI.

Navigating the Marijuana Marketing Maze

Now that you have a list of DOS and DON’Ts for cannabis business marketing, you can better navigate the industry’s maze for advertising. With these tips in mind, go on and build your very own successful cannabis marketing strategies for your Cannabiz.

As always, stay tuned for more Cannabiz Connect features on actionable tips and guides for winning in the world of weed.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Courtney Trzos</a>

Courtney Trzos

To Courtney, it’s always 420 somewhere… After attending Michigan State University and working in communications for over 10 years, she took her passion for cannabis, professionally. In 2017, Courtney began freelancing as a writer for cannabis brands across the globe, promoting the therapeutic and recreational use of the plant, while helping her partner cultivate crops full-time, and learning more about the industry from a seed-to-sale perspective. Get in touch with her and follow her journey at