By Deanna deBara
You want to get as many new customers into your dispensary as possible. But with the cannabis retail space becoming more competitive every day, you can’t just expect a flood of new customers to rush in the second you open your doors. You need the right marketing strategy to break through the clutter, grab your customers’ attention, and drive new business for your dispensary.
“Marketing is a vehicle for [consumers] to get familiar with the brand, the company, the dispensary and what they’re about,” said David Hua, CEO and co-founder of Meadow, a software company that creates point-of-sale (POS) solutions for cannabis dispensaries and recently announced an integration with Weedmaps. “Now’s the time to … use marketing to create an identity around your brand and the dispensary experience that you’re looking to deliver.”
But what exactly does that marketing strategy look like? What are the different tactics you can use to drive new customers through your door — and, just as importantly, keep them coming back?
Make yourself searchable online
In order for new customers to do business with you, they need to know you exist and know where to find you. Building an online presence and making your dispensary easily searchable online checks both of those boxes.
You’ve probably heard the term “SEO,” which is short for “search engine optimization.” Your eyes might glaze over at the term, but, essentially, you’re just trying to make yourself as searchable online as possible. It’s estimated that Google handles more than 60,000 searches every second — if someone searches “dispensary near me” you want to show up!
Create profiles and listings on any sites where your customers might search online, such as Weedmaps.
“So creating online profiles — the basics of Google [Maps], a Yelp page, a Weedmaps menu, where[ever] the customers are — and just making sure you have the right information so when people search, you appear,” Hua said.
Making yourself discoverable online is not only an easy way to connect with new customers, but it can also be much more cost-effective than other marketing strategies.
“This is one of the easiest ways and highest return on investment (ROI) that an operator can do to get more eyeballs [on their cannabis business], because people are searching and it’s about meeting them where they can find you,” Hua said.
Easily drive transactions where your customers are researching and make your online menus shoppable. Enabling online ordering on Weedmaps or using a menu embed on your website helps your customers easily flow to a checkout page and increase your sales. Once they are in store, use the opportunity to educate them on your product selection and availability to further encourage product browsing and tie in their online experience to your offline one.
Offer a variety of discounts and promotions
For many consumers, choosing which cannabis dispensary to do business with will ultimately boil down to one thing: who has the best deal. In fact, two in every three people on Weedmaps are there looking for a deal.
“People like seeing discounts or promotions,” Hua said.
If you want to capture those customers, you need to make sure you’re offering a variety of deals to get them through the door.
Discounts and promotions are vital to luring in curious and experienced cannabis consumers. Some common discounts are for first-time customers, family and friend referrals, or daily deals. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)
There are a variety of discounts and promotions you can offer to grab a new customer’s attention and get them shopping at your dispensary. Some of the most popular include:
● First-time customer discounts. Giving a discount for first-time customers is a solid strategy for driving new business. Just make sure you have other marketing strategies (such as a loyalty program discussed below) in place to keep them coming back. Otherwise, you could have a wave of first-time customers coming in to get their discount — then taking their business elsewhere.
● Referral discounts. One of the best resources for getting new customers to your dispensary? Your existing customers! Offer a referral discount whenever an existing customer brings a new customer into the store; that will incentivize your existing customer base to spread the word about your business — and will drive plenty of new customers through the doors.
● Birthday discounts. People love feeling special on their birthday — and offering a birthday discount is a great way to ensure they spend their birthday feeling special at your dispensary.
● Themed discount days. Having themed discount days (for example, offering 15% off pre rolls each Monday) is a great way to promote your top-selling products, categories, and brands — and the promotion can also entice new customers to come into your dispensary to get a discount on their product of choice.
Offer customers a loyalty program
Discounts and promotions are a great way to get new customers in the door, but if you want to drive repeat business, you need something that will keep them coming back.
And that’s where loyalty programs come in.
“Once you get a customer in, how do you keep them coming through your doors over and over again?” Hua asked. “From what we’ve seen, customers like loyalty [programs]. They like to be able to get points or earn rewards for shopping at their … favorite dispensary.”
Offering a loyalty program, through which customers can earn rewards or discounts based on their purchases, is a great way to drive repeat business. Not only does it incentivize customers to keep coming back to your dispensary, but it also can incentivize them to spend more on each purchase (“I just need 15 more points to get a discount on my next visit!”).
Look for partnership opportunities
Is your local health food store hosting a tasting event? See if you can set up a booth and offer non-infused versions of your products for attendees. Is there a big snowboarding expo rolling through your town? See if you can sponsor a booth or donate some prizes. Look for opportunities to partner with local businesses.
“We’re starting to find that a lot of other businesses…are willing to align with dispensaries,” said David Farris, Director of Marketing for Planet 13 in Las Vegas, the world’s largest cannabis dispensary. And those partnerships offer the opportunity to get your brand in front of an entirely new audience — and drive those customers into your store.
Partnering with other businesses gives you direct access to their audience — and also gives you the opportunity to convert that audience into customers for your dispensary.
Keep in touch
One of the fundamental rules of dispensary marketing is that it doesn’t end with the sale. If you want to continue to drive more customers through your doors, you need to continually market to them — and that means capturing their information and keeping in touch.
When a customer signs up for your loyalty program, get their email address and cellphone number and have them opt in for texts and email communications. If you host an event, have a sign-in sheet so you can get attendee information and add them to your contacts. Continue to send targeted marketing messaging — including promotions and discounts — to drive those customers back into your dispensary.
Dispensaries should communicate regularly with customers. Develop lists for email circulars and text message blasts. Encourage guests at events to sign in and save that information. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)
Still need ideas? Link up with your Weedmaps representative.
If you’re still in need of ideas, call up your Weedmaps or POS representative. Many of them have years of experience working in the cannabis industry and are well versed in the latest trends and marketing tactics. If you haven’t connected with your team in a while, there’s no better time to reach out and gameplan for how to get more customers.
With all these fresh ideas and resources at your disposal, get out there and find those customers! There’s no denying that cannabis retail is competitive. But with these strategies, you have everything you need to grab your ideal audience’s attention and drive new customers through your door. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get those customers!
Feature image: Dispensary owners have so many tools at their disposal to attract first-time customers and keep consumers coming back. Businesses should look at maintaining customer contact lists, stay active on social media, and offer discounts. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)