In today’s episode we will discuss the challenges that cannabis businesses face in terms of advertising and marketing their products, including strict rules and regulations and the risk of ads being taken down by platforms like Google and Facebook.
Maria Mcliggott, will offer tips and solutions for ensuring that ads are successful and reach their intended audience. We will also cover strategies for successful native content marketing, including creating a podcast or blog, working with influencers, and using buzzwords to get around restrictions on mentioning cannabis on social media platforms.
Tom Mulhern: One thing I keep hearing over and over and over and over and over again is that paid ads and like actual marketing.
Is so hard because ads get taken down or they, they, you know, people work on these campaigns for so long and then Google or Facebook or whoever just takes it down. So what can dispensaries or, or cannabis companies do? Like we need help here, Maria and I think that you might have a solution for us.
Maria Mcliggott: Cannabis business owners might feel like the entire world is out to get them. There's so many hurdles to jump over, so much paperwork to file, a lot of steps to take to finally get your business open. And then when you do, you might hit another wall. Realizing that advertising your business is a lot harder than you thought.
So cannabis advertising has tons of rules, laws, and regulations surrounding it. And even if you are doing everything right, your ads still might get taken down by the platform that you're advertising on. But don't worry, because I have some tips for you to make sure that your ads don't get
Tom Mulhern: Are there certain platforms that people can use for cannabis advertising where they won't get flagged? Like I guess that's probably the safest place to start is, you know, if there's already a cannabis audience, is there a place that you can advertise that they're not gonna pull you off of there?
Maria Mcliggott: Yeah. So there's actually a few platforms that allow cannabis imagery and wording to be used in your ads, as long as it's in states or countries where cannabis is legal. So Twitter currently allows cannabis imagery and wording to be used in advertising as long as you are Health Canada certified and you're not advocating for cannabis use.
Tom Mulhern: Does that mean you're not pushing cannabis on people, but how can you advertise without advocating for cannabis use?
Maria Mcliggott: A lot of the cannabis advertising laws are going to be similar to tobacco advertising laws. So just the same way that a lot of the cannabis packaging is moving towards being similar to tobacco packaging, cannabis advertising is gonna be about the same. So you can't have pictures or videos of people smoking weed or talking about how good the weed tastes, how high it makes them, anything like that.
But you can advertise your actual dispensary and you can use pictures of cannabis.
Tom Mulhern: Now, are there cannabis specific like platforms that you could use as well? Like Twitter obviously is the big one, but are there cannabis specific ones?
Maria Mcliggott: Most of the cannabis websites are going to allow advertising things like MJ Biz Daily, Leafly, Roll it up. They're all gonna allow cannabis advertising, but of course, you have to follow the laws and regulations in your country or state. Some states just allow C B D or hemp ads, so you might wanna just check out your local regulations to make sure that you're following.
If you're thinking about advertising cannabis on Twitter, you're gonna wanna contact one of their advertising reps so they can set you up with everything that you need. One of the things they're gonna make sure is that your Health Canada's certified, otherwise you won't be able to advertise.
Tom Mulhern: What about advertising on other platforms like, Instagram and Reddit or TikTok or some of these big social media platforms. Is there a way to do paid ads on there, or is that just not even a smart idea?
Maria Mcliggott: Yeah, so you can definitely still get around it even if you can't use cannabis wording or imagery. So some things that you should keep in mind while trying to advertise your dispensary is don't use any cannabis related words in your headline or the copy of your ad. And you also can have any cannabis related words on the actual landing page.
So that's gonna get you flagged immediately along with any cannabis imagery of course. Advertising platforms are really good at catching anything cannabis related, so any word, you might think you're being sneaky, but you're probably not. So any cannabis wording, imagery, even if you just have a little cartoon drawing of a, a cannabis leaf, they're going to find it and they're going to flag it.
Tom Mulhern: What are some other creative ways that you can do cannabis advertising for your business? What we've done is we created a podcast like, you know, we created the Kaya Cast to kind of share what Kaya Push is doing. We can say pretty much anything we want on here and it's a great way to advertise, different brands and we've been able to spotlight partners and cool organizations that are doing cool stuff cuz a podcast is really a platform where you can share anything. But is there other creative ideas of ways you can advertise your cannabis business?
Maria Mcliggott: So native content is going to get you pretty far as long as you're creating valuable content. So a podcast, you might wanna create a blog, you could get into influencer marketing. So most of the social media platforms allow you to say the words cannabis to show cannabis, as long as you're not advertising it.
And as long as you're not glorifying the drug or again, advocating for its use. You can actually advertise your dispensary on Facebook and Instagram as long as you're not mentioning cannabis. So the word dispensary is totally fine to say. You can also use buzzwords such as buds, special tobacco, tomatoes, those types of things. Just a tricky way to get around social media
Another tip is to check out what your competitors are doing or big dispensary chains. How are they advertising? Maybe you can replicate something similar so you don't have to come up with the tricky ways around it.
Tom Mulhern: There's lots of creative ways to get around those rules and not in like a sneaky way, but you know, we're advertising such a great product, such an important plant, you have to be creative. You have to think outside the box to be able to advertise properly on these different platforms.
Maria Mcliggott: Every business deserves to advertise, and you're gonna wanna bring people into your store who might not know that you exist without ads. So you can find some creative ways around it. But always remember to stick to your local regulations when advertising cannabis. And another important thing to remember is that cartoons cannot be used to advertise cannabis.
You might think that your cartoon pot leaf is cute and it's gonna drive business, but it's deemed as advertising to children.
Tom Mulhern: You said you can't use any sort of cannabis imagery, but what if your logo is like a pot leaf and like a little cartoon guy, like what do you do then?
Maria Mcliggott: If your logo is trademarked, sometimes your cartoon might be okay. I know other companies who their, their logo is trademarked and it was kind of grandfathered in, but otherwise, generally social media is going to reject your ad if you have your logo on it and it is pot leaf related. So if your logo contains any sort of cannabis imagery, it's best to come up with a logo version that just doesn't have that imagery. It's unfortunate, but it's the way that it is.
Tom Mulhern: So it sounds like to be able to do some of this digital advertising, there's a lot of hoops that you have to jump through, but at the end of the day, you're able to do it. Is that correct?
Maria Mcliggott: Exactly. And if you're a cannabis business owner, then you're basically a gymnast because you are jumping hurdles all day long.
Tom Mulhern: There's nothing easy in working in this industry, but it's so rewarding and it's even kind of fun. It can be like a, a puzzle that you have to figure out creative ways to, get your advertising out there and get your products to the people that need them.
Maria Mcliggott: Honestly, there's nothing more rewarding than when your ad got denied 50 times. You went back and forth with it and it finally gets accepted. It's the best feeling in the world.