Cannabis companies, faced with strict regulations from popular social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, & Snapchat are now looking to traditional marketing methods like events and merchandise to market themselves to new audiences.

Facebook and Google have approached cannabis companies the way it has the alcohol industry by banning paid promotions, & even going so far as to ban cannabis related posts & accounts. We’ve received dozens of complaints from cannabis retailers that have had to restart accounts after hitting 10k+ followers, simply for having cannabis related content on their page. Paid ads of all cannabis products are restricted from appearing in paid spots in Google search results and Facebook and Instagram news feeds, whether they are promoting legal CBD products made from hemp, or THC-infused products, which makes people high.

While there’s some cannabis brands that look to loopholes to bypass social media restrictions, such as the use of influencers, others don’t want to chance their accounts being shut down, according to Olivia Mannix, co-founder and CEO of cannabis ad agency Cannabrand.

One way is events. One company, GreenRush, an online marijuana delivery platform, is hosting a series of events in which cannabis brands selling on its platform will educate attendees about their products and have them delivered straight to the event.

Denver-based dispensary The Health Center hosted its first event in September 2018, and plans on bringing more to Denver in 2019, with the goal to generate more audiences it can retain. The event was targeted to health professionals and focused around education about medical marijuana.

“It has helped the brand by reaching out to a professional, historically more conservative, group that realizes that cannabis is not so taboo anymore,” said Tiffany Goldman, co-owner of The Health Center.

Merch is also growing in popularity. Cannabis companies are now selling their own branded merchandise, something that does not come with state restrictions. By selling hats, T-shirts and other items with only logos, and veering away from pot leaves or red, yellow and green Bob Marley flags, cannabis companies are getting away with marketing themselves on social media, and therefore driving new customers to its site. Not only does this help generate additional revenue for dispensaries & online retailers alike, but offers a way to build consumer loyalty, brand awareness, & “free” traffic.

Oregon-based LTRMN, a cannabis distribution company which sells marijuana in all forms through various brands like Bezel and Cabana, is currently planning its second clothing line for spring. Its first line was made up of all black hats, T-shirts and athletic socks with nothing but the embroidered white logo LTRMN on them. Mike Reeves, CEO of LTRMN, said the company has seen success with promoting posts on Instagram that only contain its clothing.

So far, the clothing line has made close to no money for the company — Reeves says it’s more of a marketing expense.

It’s not the only one taking the merchandising approach. In January, Ignite, which sells CBD drops and vapes online and through a dozen dispensaries in California, began selling its own line of merchandise online. In two weeks, ZenPup, which creates CBD-infused products for dogs, will sell exclusive T-shirts online and distribute to influencers. After T-shirts will come beanies and sweatshirts, said Nicholas Weatherhead, CMO and co-founder of Zenpup, who added that the company wants it to feel like a Supreme-inspired streetwear drop.

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For online retailers especially, & newly founded CBD companies, pressure faces to reach the top of Google search results through online methods such as search engine optimization.

Sapling grows cannabis companies. We help cannabis brands find their voice, mission, & audience in a fast growing, ever changing environment. We focus on web design, branding, & search engine optimization. Learn more about us & our mission to do good at Sapling.cc

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