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Getting Shout Outs: 3 Tips for Making Influencer Marketing Work for Your Marijuana Business

March 22, 2017
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Marijuana IndustryThanks to an industry-wide stigma and some tight regulations, trying to draw customers to your dispensary can feel like an Everest-level uphill battle.

Maybe you've thought about advertising, and have been forced to think again.

Even in Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal, you have to prove that more than 70% of a TV station's audience is over 21 to have your ad legally considered. And if you can? Most networks will still shoot you down. The people just don't want pot to be promoted.

Why, exactly? They're thinking about the children.

According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA), roughly half of parents have tried toking up, and about 40% of them are in favor of legalization. But promotion?

80% of parents in Washington and Colorado feel strongly that marijuana advertising should be totally banned; on TV, on billboards, in magazines– everywhere. The reason they cite for their vehemence is preventing the potential influence ads could have on their kids, an ultimately noble and sensible goal.

So, with marketing's most traditional route nixed from the table, what can you do to get the word about your dispensary out there?

Easy: Influencer marketing.

Currently, the most in-vogue promotional tactic around, the concept of influencer marketing is simple.

  1. Look for social media users and bloggers in your area who are talking about pot and the pot industry
  2. Find the ones with the most followers and likes, and ask them to give your dispensary a shout out
  3. Watch your own social pages grow, and your customers roll in

Sounds easy enough, right?

But there's one piece of the puzzle we haven't mentioned: actually getting the influencers to give you a shout out.

While it's sweet to believe that just asking nicely will do the trick, influencers are not unaware of their power. These social media stars usually won't give you a shout out if you have nothing to give in return. So how can you get them to give your dispensary some love? These 3 tactics can help you get local influencers to promote your dispensary.

  1. Give them some product

While this is the most traditional route for getting marijuana industry influencers on board, it's also one of the harder ones in the pot industry. Because marijuana is so strictly regulated, you're going to want to make sure your gift isn't breaking any laws.

Good news– if you're in Maine, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington or Alaska, where recreational pot use is legal, it's a-ok to give some (usually up to 1 oz) to your local influencers as a gift.

Be careful, though. Having marijuana is legal; mailing marijuana, however, is not. You're going to want to deliver this product by courier, by hand, or by inviting the influencer to stop by. Otherwise, you could get in trouble.

  1. Offer them–and their followers– a discount

Most influencers care about one thing, and one thing only: growing their follower base.

For them, being able to pass a discount on to their followers means attracting more people to their blog or Instagram account, and the more followers they have, the more discounts they get. It's a cycle that proves extremely lucrative for the influencer, so it's in their best interest to have tactics in place to make their followers stick around. 

Offer the influencer a hefty discount at your dispensary, and then give them the ability to pass those savings on to their follower base ("customers at mike's dispensary can get 10% off this month by mentioning my blog post!"). If you can turn their growing follower count into your growing follower count, your dispensary is going to be in good shape.

  1. Suggest cross-promotion

This won't always work for smaller dispensaries with a low customer count, but if your sales are already strong, you may be in a good position to offer local influencers a cross-promotion deal.

What this means is simple: if they promote you, you'll promote them. 

A typical exchange could mean the blogger offering your dispensary a shout out once a week, in exchange for you incentivising your customers to follow their blog (usually by offering a discount or a free gift, like $5 off or a branded lighter).

Because following a blog is easy, your customers are likely to participate. Because shouting out a dispensary is easy, your influencers are likely to participate, too.

These three tactics are a good place to start if you're hoping to work with local influencers, but don't be surprised if you have to use more than one, or if they ask for a fee. Like any other media outlet, being an influencer is a business; you can't expect them to work for free.

On the plus side, if you can get your influencer marketing rolling, you're likely to enjoy a ton of likes, follows, and customers. If you are looking to branch from the norm a bit you can check out our little-known cannabis social media platforms.

By following this guide, you are setting yourself up for local success through shoutouts from local influencers.  Keep your network expanding and you may even become an influencer yourself.

Categories
Articles, Education, Social Media
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