What does every dispensary want?
More visibility. More visits. More sales. More revenue.
How do you make that happen?
- Build a great dispensary brand.
- Leverage that brand with effective SEO and SEM.
- Maximize your visibility on third-party platforms like Weedmaps and Leafly.
- Grow your following on social media.
- Build brand awareness on YouTube.
These are just some of the marketing strategies dispensaries can use to get more of everything they want, but did you notice something similar about them? They all have one thing in common. They need content.
Marketing has an insatiable appetite for content, and the better it is, the more effective the marketing will be. So where does all that content come from? Well, it could come from something you already have. It could come from your dispensary. That’s right:
Your cannabis dispensary is a content machine.
Creating Branded Content
I have a rule: Never talk about marketing without talking branding first. Branding always comes before marketing. If you don’t have a brand, there’s nothing to market. Even if you think your brand is perfect (it isn’t), this is a worthwhile exercise 100% of the time.
“The Superhero Questions” are the framework I use to create or evaluate a brand. Superheroes do everything a great brand should. The Superhero Questions are designed to refine branding concepts so they can become the marketing strategy that will shape every interaction consumers have with your brand:
1. What’s your origin story?
Superman. Batman. Spiderman. They all have great origin stories. We connect with them and they connect us by expressing our shared values, struggle, and humanity.
2. What’s your ethos?
An ethos gives people something to connect with and support. Cannabis is a culture and a community. Speak to it. Shared values build connection. Give your audience a reason to invest in you and root for you.
3. What are your superpowers?
Maybe you can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, but what can you do better than anyone else? What makes your dispensary special? It could be your menu. It could be your customer service. Be extraordinary to distinguish your dispensary from the other choices in the space.
4. How are you instantly recognizable?
Batman, Superman, and Spiderman’s logos are all unmistakable for anything other than who they are and what they stand for. This is the standard that you should strive for with your dispensary logo and content.
5. How do you serve the unique needs of your community?
Don’t ever forget where you are. Dispensaries serve their communities just like Batman serves Gotham. All cannabis consumers are not the same. The glitzy store that kills it in Venice Beach might tank in a blue-collar Michigan suburb. This principle extends to menu and everything else you do. Give your community what it wants or another superhero will swoop in to save the day.
6. Does your name tell people who and what you are?
Batman hunts at night and his lair is a cave. Superman is literally a super man. Actually, he’s an alien. But he’s still pretty super (Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive.)
Your brand name is essential. Your dispensary’s name will become the word for everything poured into the brand. It simply must be evocative of who and what you are.
Now, let’s talk content.
The Types of Dispensary Content
There are so many dispensaries out there just reposting stock brand assets on Instagram and calling it a day. This is not a content strategy. This is shitposting. This is a bad look for your brand. It’s embarrassing. Sometimes when you can’t do something right, you’re better off not doing it at all. This is one of those times.
An actual content strategy gets creative and covers these bases.
Your content must be on-brand, creative, and compelling. If you can do that and hit all four of these bases, that’s a dispensary content grand slam. Why not swing for the fences?
Dispensaries are more than just a place people go to buy weed. They’re also a place where people go to learn about weed and your budtenders are the source of this knowledge. They are also the public face of your brand and build the relationship between your brand and your customers. This is an organic exchange that happens every day, hundreds of times. Why not leverage that to create educational content?
I’m not suggesting that you shoot videos of customer interactions. That’s problematic for several reasons. But you can shoot content with your budtenders that tap their knowledge and expertise to educate your audience on different brands and products.
As CMO at Tropicanna, I created a segment called “Weed Time Machine” where a budtender would choose a product to bring back in time to a famous moment in history and explain why that product would save the day. It was fun, it built the relationship between our staff and our audience, and it educated our customers on the product.
The only legal cannabis available for a long time was medical cannabis. As amazing as medicinal cannabis is, sometimes we forget that cannabis is also fun. The disconnect is kind of crazy when you consider that most people start smoking weed to have a good time.
Recreational cannabis opened the door to the fun side of cannabis and fun was at the heart of Tropicanna’s branding. One way we communicated this brand value was with a segment called “Entry Song”. On “Entry Song”, a budtender was asked to pick one song that would play every time they entered a room. Then we would blast the song and shoot them entering the dispensary in all their glory. Super fun.
We also shot this segment with influencers to reach a larger audience with our brand message. Tropicanna became known as the spot that made shopping for weed a good time.
The best dispensaries serve their communities. You can do this with your menu by providing products that your community wants. You can do this with a local hire policy that gives jobs to people in your community. You can also do this by helping your community with a problem.
Tropicanna is located in urban Santa Ana and some neighborhoods in that city are food deserts (areas where residents have few to no convenient options for securing affordable and healthy foods). Community gardens are one way to transform food deserts into food sanctuaries and provide health and freedom by empowering people to learn about healthy diets and how to grow their own food.
At Tropicanna, we volunteered and provided other resources to CRECE, a local community garden that supports and advocates for BIPOC urban farmers and food stewards to create a just transition to a community-owned food system. We shot content around our volunteer effort to help CRECE build support for their garden.
It seems like every cannabis company wants to be a lifestyle brand and why not? Cannabis is a lifestyle. But you’re going to need a couple of things to make that happen: dope merch + lifestyle content. So, what to shoot? You likely have some staff with special talents or interests. That’s a great place to start to keep it in the family.
At Tropicanna, we were fortunate to have a sponsored skater on the team. Skating and weed are like gin & juice and it was a perfect fit for the Tropicanna brand. We sponsored him for competitions, but we’d also hook him and his homies up with merch, product, and shoot them skating all over Santa Ana. It was some of the coolest content we ever shot.
Content Creates SEO Value
So, you’ve refined your brand. You’ve created some amazing content that connects with your audience. Visibility, traffic, sales, and revenue are up. You’re selling more weed than ever. But that’s not all you’ve done.
Have you noticed if your website’s rankings improved? Well, check your Google Search Console or talk to your agency. It’s likely that it has because quality content also improves Search Engine Optimization by driving engagement and conversions.
1.Google Likes Video Content
Google’s algorithm values two things above all else: your content’s quality and relevance to a user’s search terms. But Google looks at more than just the text on your site. It also looks for other types of media. If you have a mix of text with video, it can boost your SEO.
2. Content Drives Traffic
Google also looks at the amount of traffic on your site. Potential customers are more likely to visit your website when they watch a video on YouTube or social media than with other types of content.
3. Content Drives Engagement
If people visit your site but don’t stay long, Google reads this as a sign that your content’s not very good. Video content engages people and keeps them on your page longer. This improves your bounce rate which improves your rankings.
4. Content Drives Backlinks
Organic backlinks are a key factor in Google’s SEO rankings. The more viewers that link to your content and domain, the higher your site will rank, and people are more likely to link to video content.
5. Content Drives Conversion
All these SEO gains mean less if you don’t make a sale. Video content improves conversion and therefore improves your search engine optimization’s ROI.
Branding + Content + Marketing = More
Strong branding makes great marketing work, but great marketing has an insatiable appetite for content. Feed it by leveraging your dispensary, your team, and your community to create quality content that delivers what every dispensary wants:
More visibility. More visits. More sales. More revenue.
If you’d like to know more, hit up deep roots partners anytime. We’re always here to help.
JP Donahue is a former corporate litigator turned successful writer, with over 25 works produced for major film and TV studios. He’s also a founding partner of Tropicanna, one of Orange County’s top cannabis retail brands. Leveraging his experience in both Hollywood and cannabis, JP advises dispensaries on branding, marketing, and operations. He’s a Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, certified Yogi, meditator, dog father, and a member of the New York State Bar and Writers Guild of America West.