How to Write a Cannabis Dispensary Marketing Plan

When writing a sustainable and profitable marketing plan for your cannabis dispensary, there are critical things to consider that you may not be aware of. As a top marketing firm in the cannabis space, MOST can guide you through the challenges of this rapidly changing, semi-legal industry.  

While the cannabis industry is undoubtedly still in its infancy, the team at MOST has been working tirelessly to amass a database of business consulting materials. Within this ever-expanding pool of knowledge, we have been working to establish best practices for marketing in the industry. 

Unique Challenges with Marketing Cannabis Dispensaries

Cannabis dispensaries face unique challenges with marketing for a couple of reasons. 

For starters, as physical, retail businesses, cannabis dispensaries must develop multi-tiered marketing plans to give themselves exposure in-person as well as online. Therefore, when it comes to developing the basics of their marketing strategy, dispensaries have a good deal in common with other “brick and mortar” establishments such as restaurants, coffee shops, and department stores. 

Secondly, cannabis is considered a heavily “regulated industry” like alcohol and tobacco. Due to this designation, cannabis dispensaries are more limited in available marketing avenues than other retail businesses. Just as cigarette companies cannot market their products through television commercials, cannabis dispensaries can only utilize less mainstream forms of exposure. Moreover, the regulations set forth on cannabis dispensary marketing options vary from country-to-country and state-to-state.

The Writing Process

As industry-leading cannabis consultants, the team at MOST have found it valuable to plan and structure your dispensary marketing plan before you begin the actual writing process. This preparation involves careful market research that will compliment your chosen writing method. 

First of all, the writing process for a dispensary marketing plan should always begin by researching your chosen market. Importantly, if your dispensary is poised to launch in an adult-use market such as Nevada, the marketing plan must follow the regulatory and business criteria of this specific niche. In developing a successful roadmap towards business growth, its advisable to amass info on such topics as competitor landscape, consumer demographics, market seasonality, and partnership opportunities. 


When it is finally time to sit down and write your marketing plan, it will be very helpful to outsource some experienced help. To this end, you can look to a cannabis consulting firm like MOST for a targeted marketing plan template. Similarly, our cannabis marketing professionals can work hands-on with you throughout the entire writing process if needs be.

Considerations for Dispensary Marketing Plans

There are a few contingent details that must be addressed in writing a successful marketing plan for your cannabis dispensary. While different business owners may emphasize one of these elements over another, each must be addressed in some capacity concerning both legality and profitability. 

Value Proposition

One of the most valuable elements of your cannabis dispensary marketing plan is that of a value proposition. According to the Investopedia website, “The value proposition provides a declaration of intent or a statement that introduces a company’s brand to consumers by telling them what the company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves their business.” 

Importantly, your cannabis dispensary’s value proposition will help define your brand among competitors and will be central in rolling out sequential marketing and sales efforts. Therefore, MOST recommends that you take your time in developing a value proposition, as it is vital in creating a lasting brand identity.

Compliance

Due to the fact that the cannabis industry is highly-regulated, all marketing operations must fall in line with company compliance protocols. As such, it’s of utmost importance that your marketing plan is written under the guidance of your legal team and/or compliance personnel. 

By developing a marketing plan that respects local cannabis laws, you will ensure that your dispensary operates without legal infringements that could threaten your licensing. Moreover, by following local regulations to the letter, you will build a respected reputation with fellow business owners in your community. 

Digital Marketing

It should come as no surprise that digital marketing will be an essential part of your cannabis dispensary marketing plan. To this end, leading cannabis companies go to great lengths to ensure that potential customers can easily find their business on the internet. 

Because cannabis is federally illegal, many traditional digital marketing avenues are not an option for dispensaries - these include Google Adwords, Youtube, and Facebook. Therefore, a well-designed digital marketing plan will be focused on search engine optimization (SEO) to drive organic traffic to your dispensary website. Even more, it will include digital ad campaigns on such cannabis-specific platforms as Ganjly, Leafwire, and Massroots.

Traditional Marketing

Due to the fact that cannabis dispensaries are brick and mortar businesses, they must utilize traditional marketing avenues in conjunction with digital marketing efforts. Traditional marketing avenues for cannabis dispensaries include billboards, signage, flyers, and charitable works. 

The avenues you choose in your dispensary marketing plan will be a reflection of your market segment as well as business goals. For example, in the state of Colorado, many of the counties do not allow cannabis dispensaries to advertise on billboards. To pivot around this regulatory hurdle, dispensaries realized they could market their businesses through the Colorado “Adopt a Highway” program. By sponsoring specific highway segments, Colorado dispensaries now have exposure on “Sponsored By” signs throughout the state - without infringing on any local laws.

Marketing Budget

A realistic budget will be instrumental in developing your dispensary marketing plan. Yet, as many business owners know, marketing constitutes one of the most difficult expenses with which to track a discernible return on investment (ROI). Therefore, your marketing budget will likely have to be based on overall business performance - as opposed to money earned directly from a specific ad campaign, for example. 

Looking at growth initiatives, you should base your marketing plans on as verifiable of data as possible. To illustrate, if customers at your dispensary report finding the business through internet ad campaigns or Google searches, it could be a good idea to increase spending on digital marketing and SEO.

Summary

MOST has both the tools and experience to guide you in creating a cannabis dispensary plan successfully. To this end, we recommend that you follow some specific criteria in the research and writing process. Importantly, you must account for the multi-faceted nature of the dispensary business and include both digital and traditional marketing avenues. Finally, in following such critical guideposts as value propositions and compliance protocol, you will cover the regulatory restrictions on cannabis marketing while also ensuring you remain competitive in the marketplace.