Here at Sapling, we’ve been hard at work, quietly keeping our heads down, & supporting brands growing in the cannabis space. It’s been a crazy year for us, as the 2018 Farm Bill passed & flooded the industry with thousands of new brands, products, & consumers.

With such an influx of new & exciting companies entering the industry, also exponentially increases your own competition, & fight for your slice of the pie.

There are 5 main trends & strategies that we want to highlight that your business should focus on in 2020.

1) Micro-Targeting

Microtargeting is (also called microtargeting or micro-niche targeting) is a marketing strategy that uses consumer data and demographics to identify the interests of specific individuals or very small groups of like-minded individuals and influence their thoughts or actions.

Micro-Targeting is the love child of predictive analytics and data insights. It’s what you do with all that precious data you’ve collected.

How does micro-targeting work in advertising?

Here’s how it works: Let’s assume your end goal is conversion—someone purchasing your product or service.

First, identify the actions/attributes of people who have already purchased your product. Next, gather the data about them: their age, location, income, education, etc. Then you can layer on additional attributes, like travel enthusiasts, pet owners, gamers, whatever traits are attached to consumers in the larger audience.

Here’s where it comes into play: many industries heavily tied into big data benefit very acutely from micro-targeting campaigns. As data becomes an integral core of the cannabis industry, micro-targeting will be one of the most beneficial resources in a marketer’s playbook.

2) Display Advertising

Businesses servicing the cannabis industry currently face a plethora of regulatory hurdles, as well as increased competition. State laws require dispensaries to keep their marketing efforts within their state borders. They also require that creatives run by dispensaries do not target children. Licensed product manufacturers, extraction companies, and producers are all in the same boat.

Traditionally, dispensaries and delivery services would be forced to pay premiums to advertise their business on popular websites like Weedmaps or Leafly in the hopes of attracting more visitors to their dispensary, simply because that’s all that was available. However, times are changing and platforms are beginning to takeover.

MANTIS is an invite only digital ad network that gives you access to 500+ major websites & publishers like Leafly, HIGHTIMES, Barstool Sports, & More! The platform is currently generating 165 Million impressions/month.

Click here to speak with a rep about advertising your brand on the MANTIS platform.

3) Influencer Marketing

Ask five people to define the term “influencers” and you’re sure to get six answers. Lately it seems that almost everyone is ready to harness the powers of influencers and yet struggles to harness their own understanding of them.

Influencers are seen as the latest marketing panacea – and their power can be remarkable – so the question becomes: how do brands, especially cannabis brands, engage influencers successfully?

For cannabis brands, there is good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the good news. The good news is that the world of influencers has not yet been saturated in the cannabis industry. Cannabis brands can be smart about with whom and how they engage, and build their influencer network with the knowledge built on other brands’ successful and less-than-successful ventures. Cannabis brands can partner with influencers more strategically and optimize these types of campaigns. This level of control and knowledge from the get-go is an asset many brands wish they had, after running less-than-stellar influencer campaigns in the past.

Now for the bad news. The bad news is that because of cannabis’s federal legal restrictions in the U.S., utilizing influencers can be tricky. Tech companies such as Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Twitter, and Snapchat bar users from actively advertising illegal substances, and that includes cannabis, regardless of state-by-state legality. Because influencers build followers of tens-and-hundreds of thousands, partnering with cannabis companies can be risky because these influencers can potentially lose their accounts and followings.

However, this has not stopped a burgeoning market for cannabis influencers, and many cannabis influencers are using their clout to get the terms of service agreements changed on tech platforms. Cannabis brands who partner with influencers can be assured the partnership is one they believe in and will fight for. The power of influencer marketing is in partnerships, and the cannabis brands that find the right influencers will find a passionate group ready to help their followers to the right products.

4) Transparency

With the recent vaping crisis, & fraudulent products on the market, consumers are more weary than every about the quality of their cannabis products.

A key trend to jump on early is total transparency in your company. Where is your cannabis sourced from? How are the extractions performed? What pesticides were used on the plant?

Testing all of you products thoroughly for potency, consistency, & cannabinoid/terpene profiles will inspire consumer confidence & build brand loyalty. Consider adding unique QR codes to a recent testing of a single specific batch or product that consumers can easily access & understand.

5) Building Relationships

In the next few years, we imagine the cannabis industry will not only grow exponentially, but become much closer & connected. The single most important thing you can do for your brand is to connect with consumers on a one-on-one emotional level.

What do you do to give back to your customers, & patients?

How do you include your customers in your company/brand?

Are you involved in your local community, or as a bigger brand, do you engage with customers at events?

Rather than just telling customers about your business, have conversations with them. If you have employees, teach them how to effectively communicate with customers. Instead of waiting for customer service to become a problem, foster communication skills with customers while onboarding new employees. Maintain an employee policy, requiring timely follow-up, to make sure the customer’s needs are met. Make sure your staff returns voicemail messages and emails promptly.

Whether customers have a good or bad opinion about your business, they will make their feelings known. Invite customer feedback to show you are listening. Place comment cards on your business counter, or conduct a survey.

In the end, just make sure that you are listening & responding to your customers, because without them, you won’t be in business!

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