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Wednesday December 5, 2018

Updated on 8/3/2021

By Michael Walters


Competition in the cannabis industry is heating up in many states across America. And with hundreds of dispensaries to choose from, consumers now have more options than ever for purchasing cannabis products. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important for dispensaries to employ effective digital marketing strategies that draw in customers and raise brand recognition.

In the age of progressive cannabis reform, breaking free from the pack and gaining market share can be an arduous task – especially with the bustling nature of the burgeoning marijuana industry. For example, in Denver, CO, there are over 500 cannabis dispensaries. Competition is stiff, and the rise of brand favoritism is evolving the consumer landscape on a daily basis. So, what can dispensaries do to set themselves apart and increase their visibility to new and existing customers? The answer is increasing their online presence and building out a robust marijuana advertising plan through the most up-to-date dispensary marketing strategies.

Successful Dispensary and Marijuana Marketing

The internet, as we all know, carries with it some serious clout. And in the age of consumer reviews and access to information, it’s remarkably easy for people to simply look up a business and determine whether or not they wish to spend their money there. Think about it this way, when was the last time you went to a new restaurant without checking out the reviews? Or trusted your car for repairs at a brand new auto body shop without doing some due diligence online? Hopefully it wasn’t too recent or you may have risked a poor experience.

Consumer Reviews
Having a quality online presence is imperative in the age of consumer reviews. photo credit

It’s true, the internet has changed the way we interact with businesses and brands. This trend isn’t only applicable in conventional markets, either. The importance of digital marketing extends all the way to the cannabis industry and is becoming more crucial than ever. In fact, the argument could be made that digital marketing is even more important for cannabis dispensaries due to growing industry competition and the restrictive nature of marijuana marketing via more traditional methods (i.e. commercials, print media, etc.).

Amidst the bustle and competition of the cannabis industry, brand visibility is critical. For dispensaries, the need for an effective digital marketing strategy is paramount. So much so that dispensaries who neglect their online presence are falling behind in both consumer appeal and overall sales.

The stats don’t lie. When searching for dispensaries, 75% of smartphone owners will use their cell phones to address an immediate need, resulting in many cannabis consumers searching for “dispensaries near me” on Google. Unsurprisingly, dispensaries without an online presence are at an extreme disadvantage in this scenario because there’s literally no way a potential patron could find their business. This is why targeting consumers through digital marketing strategies is so imperative.

New Data on Cannabis Marketing

As mentioned above, Google (especially Google Maps) is a dominating force in the world of digital marketing. That’s why securing placement for your business is essential to drive traffic through your doors. Recent data backs up this notion as well. The Google 3-pack is the first thing that appears on Google search results, making it crucial for dispensaries to show up there or risk losing sales. According to a study conducted by comScore, Neustar Localeze and 15 miles, 78% of local mobile searches result in an in-store purchase – resulting in some serious business! These local searches could quite possibly make or break a cannabis dispensary’s business, and with over 600,000 local searches being conducted each month, they cannot be ignored.

Increasing Brand Exposure through Strategic Dispensary Marketing

If you’re a dispensary owner or involved in the operations of a cannabis business, boosting your local online presence and local content syndication are great ways to improve overall brand exposure. You’ll also want to focus on getting into the Google 3-pack. Here is a step-by-step strategic dispensary marketing plan to help get your business in that coveted spot:

Steps to Getting in the Google 3-Pack:

  • Optimize “Google Business” information
  • Utilize original copy with useful, detailed descriptions
  • Optimize your dispensary name online
  • Add quality images
  • Push for lots of consumer reviews
  • Provide an incredible customer experience
  • Integrate SMS system to incentivize consumers for reviews
  • Build a robust social media presence
  • Publish local content that is original and informative

Projections for Dispensary Advertising

Progressive cannabis reform is spreading, as evidenced by Canada’s recent legalization push and the success of three American states (Michigan, Utah and Missouri) during the 2018 midterm elections in November. While this is fantastic news for cannabis consumers across the globe, marijuana business owners need to see this progress as an opportunity to boost their exposure to new consumers and potential customers. After all, competition in the cannabis industry is only going to increase, and those who think they can get by without an online presence are going to miss out on hundreds of thousands of sales. That being said, there’s time to solidify a strong online presence and bolster discovery – but it’s running out quick.

Cannabis marketing is still in the early stages of evolution and is constantly changing. One thing is for certain though, digital marketing is here to stay and can define the success of a marijuana business. As the years go by and more states and countries legalize cannabis, consumers will be exposed to hundreds of options and places to spend their dollars. Will your business be one of them?

What are your thoughts on dispensary marketing? Share them in the comments below!

Photo Credit: rawpixel (license)


Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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