Cannabis Advertising 101: Steps to Market Your Business

Many people feel that to advertise their product they need to list all the selling points and as much detail as possible all in one ad. They feel the only way customers will get excited about a new product is if they know how it’s different from the competition. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The most memorable ads are simple and to the point. In this case, less is more, and this is especially the case in cannabis-focused publications where text-heavy, overcrowded ads are often the norm. A good creative agency should always look for unique, clever ad concepts that make consumers look twice. It’s important to realize an advertisement is an invitation for potential buyers to learn more about your brand and if you catch their interest, they will seek out more info on your website or look for the product in retail stores.



Of course, there is no one formula for a perfect ad, and there are exceptions to every rule. Some text-heavy ads look great if designed properly with a good concept in mind. But too often the feedback we receive at Wick & Mortar is “Looks great, but — We need you to add XYZ.” It’s important to remember that choosing what to include is just, if not more, as important as what to leave out. Sometimes adding just a few extra lines of text can take a simple, elegant ad and make it look cluttered and confusing.


6 Steps to Advertising Your Cannabis Business

When we take on clients at Wick & Mortar, the first asset we consider is the brand. Why? Because if you don’t have a strong brand at its core, it doesn’t matter how creative or innovative we are with our advertising tactics – It’s going to fail. If you have the dollars to advertise, we highly encourage you first to evaluate where your brand stands.

Sit down with your team and ask yourselves these questions:

  1. Are we solving a problem for our audience? Who are they?
  2. Have we built a brand that resonates with that audience? Is our mission statement powerfully speaking to them?
  3. How does our product stand up against the competition? Do we have a product people love?
  4. Have we enabled our product to ‘catch-on’? Is it shareable? Does it have the assets needed to go viral?
  5. When we launch our ad campaign, is our product readily available for purchase? Is our storefront ready for the increased traffic?
  6. Have we exhausted unpaid media first? Have we invested in SEO? Content marketing? Email marketing?
  7. What have we learned from these unpaid channels? How is our messaging resonating with our target audience?

Asking yourself these questions will help you and your team clarify your brand, its message, its purpose and clarity whether it’s positioned for success. If it’s not, go back to the drawing board. Don’t waste ad money when you have a rocky foundation. Dial in the above and when you feel confident, it’s time to move into the creative process and start advertising.


1. Define Your Campaign Goals

When you create your ad campaigns, you always want to have the end goal in mind at all times. What are you looking to accomplish? What does success look like to you? You may be seeking to get a new customer to come to your store or use your product for the first time. You may want your audience to understand what the primary benefits – and we say benefits, instead of features for a reason (see ‘Clarify Your Message’). You may be looking to create more brand awareness and keep continuously engaged with your audience. You may be looking to increase sales or increase foot traffic.

Whatever it may be, you need to define your primary goal so you can properly measure and track its success and impact. Document your current stats and compare them once the campaign has launched or concluded.



2. Define Your Target Audience

Your audience is composed of present and future customers. If you took the time to answer those questions above, you should have this dialed in already. It can be incredibly exciting to move into advertising your product or storefront, but no one likes watching their money spiral down the drain. So, make sure you’re advertising to the right people.

Who is Your Target Audience? Be Specific:

  • Where do they spend their time? Which channel? What do they read?
  • What are their pain points? How can you solve their problem?
  • Are they male, female or is it a split demographic?
  • Is your audience consumers or business professionals?
  • What is their personality? How do your product and offers resonate with them?
  • What is their age demographic? What generation are they in?
  • Who is influencing their buying decisions? Any particular influencers?
  • Is our product priced within their income level? How does our product compare to their other options?

Take your ego out of the equation – While relevant to all steps of the creative process, it’s especially relevant to defining your audience. You may think you know who you’re talking to, but until you ask yourself these questions and entirely honest with yourself, you won’t know to answer this question.



3. Define Your Budget

Your budget is determined by your goals, which is why it’s the first step in advertising your business. Everything is centered around your goal and its success is rooted in its relevance to your target audience. Therefore, defining your budget is relatively straightforward. Just work backward from your goal. For example, what will it take for you to reach your goal of 100 new email subscribers? 10,000 website visitors? 5,000 site visitors? Take a look at what media you’re using – Facebook ad campaign, banner ad, etc. – What is your conversion rate?

If you don’t have this data yet from previous campaigns, we suggest you start with an allotted sum of money. Part of getting started is investing some money to see what sticks and what this conversion rate looks like for your brand. Of course, the key is to optimize this metric and increase conversion rates, which we’ll talk more about in the last step of this process.



4. Clarify Your Message

Your brand’s messaging and how it’s implemented into your advertising campaign is of crucial importance. What is the core message you’re looking to convey to your audience – If you took the time to answer the questions at the beginning of this article, you would’ve already reflected on this?

There are 4 main components to a marketing message:

  • The Hook: A short phrase or jingle to catch the audience’s attention
  • The Slogan: A consistent and memorable phrase used in conjunction with your brand
  • The Appeal: The ‘attractiveness’ of the product or offering
  • The Value: The benefit to your audience

Now, we spot on this above about including the benefits, not necessarily the features? Why? Because your consumer wants to know what’s in it for them. Features are the building blocks, but what are the benefits? So, you have beautifully designed shelving and glass cases. What’s the benefit? “Peruse through our products quickly and easily with our expertly designed displays”.



5. Identify Relevant Media Channels

As a business in the cannabis space, your options for relevant media channels are endless. While this is true for most industries, the cannabis industry has fully capitalized on the media aspect of the business and its growing community. However, it’s also important to remember that focusing on cannabis industry channels are not the only avenues you should be pursuing. You should also be looking at mainstream channels because as you know, the community of consumers is growing – Don’t pigeonhole yourself.

Nevertheless, when deciding which media channels to pursue, we’ve included a list of both niche magazines, b2b websites and ad networks for you to research:

Niche Cannabis Magazines:

Niche B2B Cannabis Websites:

Niche Cannabis Ad Networks:


6. Launch Campaign & Continue to TEST

Once you’ve chosen your media channel and ad medium – whether it be a banner ad, a native newsletter ad, an event sponsorship, or something else completely – it’s time to launch your campaign. This is when the fun begins, and you get to start seeing the results of all your efforts. If you’ve properly done your homework and dialed in all the right questions and answers, you’ll have a strong start.

But, launching your advertising campaign doesn’t stop there – Now it’s time to test and tweak, test and tweak, and test some more. You’ve created a strong foundation, but from this point forward, the success of your campaign comes down to testing and adjusting your ad creatives, placement, medium, etc. There is a multitude of moving parts, and now it’s time to see how you can increase your conversion rate and get the most ‘bang for your buck’.



Secure Strong Campaign Leadership

So, how do you ensure a successful campaign? Every step of the creative advertising process comes down to the right leadership and the right team. Whether you have your in-house marketing personnel or you’re working with an agency like OMD, you want to ensure you’ve found the right fit. You want to work with a team who asks the right questions, has the right skill set, and understands the cannabis market on another level.

It comes down to strategy, concept, and execution – And that’s how you can successfully advertise your cannabis business!

Let’s Make Some Work