The Rules of Content Marketing for Cannabis
Content marketing isn’t new.
Brands have used content to tell their stories for hundreds of years, and storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication (cave drawings are content).
But today, the word content isn’t just overused; it’s misused. Marketers aggressively use the phrase, “content is king,” like it’s going out of style.
The phrase “content is king” is going out of style, by the way.
Most people – marketers included – don’t know what content means anymore. And cannabis industry pros, from dispensary owners to cultivators, edibles manufacturers to extractors, frequently come to us with an urgent need for more content.
Why? Because they think content is king. “Content” gets attention.
Let’s assume the latest viral YouTube video received 80 million views – that’s a ton of eyeballs. But what does viral video content do for the culture of your cannabis business or brand? It’s content in the broadest sense, but it’s not memorable, meaningful, lasting, or useful.
We consume content all day, every day – it’s unavoidable. But the content we passively consume in 10-60 second snippets is a far cry from the Netflix series that has us pinned to our seats for 90 minutes (or longer).
Not all content is created equal.
And humans crave a good story – we want to connect with a narrative. When it comes to cannabis marketing, customers are loyal to dispensaries, products, and brands that consistently deliver meaningful stories and experiences.
Meaningful content attracts – and retains – customers.
Experts say that the average adult attention span is now 8 seconds. While that might be true, it doesn’t explain why people flock to theaters for three-hour films (in a pre and post COVID world) and why, despite claims that only binge-able content is useful, “readers across the world are finding solace in War and Peace.” (The Economist, April 2020)
It’s time for marketers and cannabis business owners to reevaluate the content we create and consume. Because most of what passes for content in 2020 is designed only to capture attention momentarily. But the best content educates; it’s meaningful and lasting – and everything is content.
Here are a handful of cannabis-focused content marketing rules to get you started:
Understand your audience.
You have to understand your audience to create useful and memorable content. And I don’t mean a surface-level understanding. It would be best if you created a psychological profile that paints a full consumer portrait. Here’s what you should ask:
•What are my customer’s concerns?
•What are their challenges?
•What kind of content do they like to consume?
•Where do they get their news and entertainment?
•How can my cannabis brand or dispensary solve my customer’s problems and enhance their lives?
Don’t underestimate your audience.
Your customers aren’t stupid; they can sniff out a sales pitch. Don’t spoil great content with a blatant pitch for products or services – unless you tell them that’s the purpose.
Smartly promote your cannabis brand or dispensary. Today’s most successful social media and television ads focus on solving challenges and customer outcomes – not product benefits and features. And while it is your responsibility to talk about the cannabis products you create, cultivate, or sell, it’s also your responsibility to present products helpfully and authentically; help not hype is our mantra.
Create relevant content.
Local cannabis dispensaries wanting to engage with a regional audience must focus on answering the questions asked by their customers. Include customer concerns in your content, and you’ll see a positive change in engagement. You’ll also gain a personable and trustworthy reputation.
Generate factual content with personality.
To reach cannabis content marketing nirvana, you must generate relevant and factual content with personality. Everything you share needs to resonate with your audience, and your purpose must be clear and free from falsehoods. And it’s okay to be sassy, humble, comedic, or severe – pick a tone and stick with it.
Don’t work without a strategy.
Your content marketing strategy is the foundation for every ‘rule’ mentioned in this blog. Because creating and publishing content without a documented strategy is like building a house without plans.
Content strategy is a mindset and a process, and it evolves and changes. But with a content marketing strategy in place, your customers become the guiding force behind every blog, video, tweet, and Instagram or Facebook post. Your content strategy pinpoints your customer’s needs, identifies how your cannabis dispensary or brand meets those needs, and creates a content roadmap (and schedule) to share your solution with the world.
Prioritize quality over quantity.
Marketers and brands often flood social media with content to stay in the conversation. Because if you publish tons of content, more people will see it, right? Not exactly. If 100% of your content is exceptional, sure, publish posts all day, every day (but beware of audience fatigue). Most cannabis brands and dispensary chains don’t have a team of content writers and videographers creating exceptional content for them every day – chances are, you aren’t working with unique content 100% of the time.
Craft thoughtfully (and expertly) written blogs and articles that stand the test of time and position you and your brand as an example-setting thought leader. And create high-quality sharable videos for social media that inspire and engage your audience. Having one piece of content that’s shared often is better than publishing endless posts that no one shares.
There’s nothing new or revolutionary about cannabis-focused content marketing. And that’s fine because new and innovative isn’t your goal. Your goal is to deeply understand your industry and audience and create lasting and valuable content that people want to engage with and share.