When it comes to promoting your CBD Business, you’re better off knowing which type of promotions work, and which do not…
Unless of course you are into losing money for no good reason, which we’re sure you’re not, what are the most effective CBD promotion streams?
Well, let’s start with the ‘Marijuana Business Factbook 2017’, as per an MBD report from a while back. According to those statistics, promoting your cannabis business via word of mouth and social media are the best ways to get your brand out there, and into the minds and psyches of consumers… But what are you supposed to do to gain traction up until that point? After all, just relying on word of mouth can take months, even years to build to a sustainable point.
Of course one issue that plagues such businesses is the fact that many platforms such as Google and Facebook, will not allow certain forms of advertising, lest they fall foul of the law. So many companies have had their ads taken down on social media, and online platforms refuse sponsored links due to federal law.
Advertising restrictions continue to affect the hemp and CBD industry, with one Alaska town removing CBD ads from city buses rather than face possible complaints about them. A borough in Fairbanks took down Aurora Apothecary ads on buses promoting CBD.
The bus system said that no one complained about the ads, but pointed out they should not have been accepted because they could spark controversy.
North Star Borough transportation director Glenn Miller told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the ads were “not worth a lot of complaints.”
Aurora Apothecary owner Kemp Lankford told the newspaper that, even though hemp-derived CBD was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, authorities cited recent guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that CBD cannot be added to foods, dietary supplements or cosmetics as a reason for the removal.
Many hemp businesses say the Farm Bill has not solved the hemp industry’s difficulties finding advertising opportunities.
As such, many of the biggest cannabis companies spend a lot of time and money trying to second guess which ads will be approved and which will not. A thankless task, which takes a lot of manpower and drains resources. So what are companies to do with one arm tied behind their back?
On Feb. 26, Dos Gatos Coffee Bar owner Dick Nelson was shocked to see an email from Facebook saying it does “not support ads for (his) business model.”
A month earlier, Dos Gatos tried to “boost,” or advertise a Facebook post letting customers know CBD oil could be added to a drink of their choice. The post contained a simple picture of an East Tennessee Hemp Company bottle of CBD oil, with a brief description telling the audience how it could be added to “your favorite drink.”
“(Facebook) refused to let us boost it and said something about you can’t advertise illegal things,” Nelson said. “They didn’t say it was illegal, but they said you can’t advertise illegal things.”
Facebook also disabled Dos Gatos’ advertising account indefinitely, preventing Nelson and Dos Gatos’ social media manager Hannah Huffines from advertising any other posts. Nelson attempted to appeal, but Facebook upheld the decision with little explanation, except citing the post did not follow its advertising policies.
Under Facebook’s advertising policy, it lists 30 categories of “Prohibited Content,” including the sale of body parts, low-quality or disruptive content, drugs and drug-related products, and unsafe supplements.
Although the Johnson City Press could find no mention of CBD in its advertising policy, Facebook spokesperson Veronica Twombly clarified the decision in an email.
“Our advertising policies explain that ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs. Our policies do not preclude people from discussing cannabis and its potential benefits or advocating for its legality, but content and advertisements that look to promote the sale of cannabis or cannabis-related products, including purchasing medical marijuana cards do violate our policies,” Twombly stated.
“When it comes to hemp and CBD specifically, we allow the advertisement of any non-ingestible hemp products without CBD. Any products that contain ingestible hemp and/or CBD are not currently allowed, nor any products that are ingestible or allude to psychoactive effects. We continue to review our policies over time so we can better understand different perspectives and the impact of our policies on different communities globally.”
As long as CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is derived from a hemp plant and not a marijuana plant, and its delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration is below 0.3 percent, it’s legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December. Additionally, hemp and hemp-derived products are no longer considered Schedule I controlled substances.
However, current FDA rules still consider CBD an illegal dietary ingredient, but FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has told lawmakers he would form a working group to revise the CBD regulations.
Since Facebook also owns Instagram, Huffines said Dos Gatos is prevented from advertising on that social media outlet, as well.
“Social media is critical to our presence, and it’s hard enough even with the occasional paid post to know that we’re effectively reaching and engaging with our customers,” Huffines said. “It’s a legal product. The CBD we carry is completely THC free beyond that. What we’re doing is not wrong and being punished in such a long-term way is crazy to me … Not being able to run online advertisements negatively affects our shop in a real-life way.”
Facebook’s blanket policy forbidding CBD and cannabis-related content has also troubled Safe Access Tennessee President David Hairston, who advocates for medicinal marijuana.
“They routinely block our ads,” Hairston said. “We do not sell or promote any products. we do not promote drug usage. They basically restricted our free speech rights. There is no question about it.”
For example, Hairston attempted to advertise, or “boost,” an editorial from a Tennessee newspaper about marijuana, and it was rejected.
On Sept. 19, Hairston once again attempted to boost a post with an image of Safe Access Tennessee’s purple heart logo and the text, “Go Register to VOTE and Like our Page. We Fight for Patients!! Join Us in Restoring our Medical Freedoms from the cruelty of Prohibition. We are the Tennessee Chapter of the Americans for Safe Access.” A link to Tennessee’s online voter registration website was also part of the post, but it included no mention or reference to marijuana.
Hairston joined 23,978 others in signing a National Cannabis Industry Association petition on Change.org calling for Facebook to stop censoring the marijuana industry, advocacy groups and regulators.
“NCIA itself has also seen our ads and boosted posts rejected, even though we are merely promoting political and educational events such as our annual Lobby Days in Washington D.C. and our regional Quarterly Cannabis Caucuses,” the petition states.
In December, WMCActionNews5 reported three West Tennessee cannabis-related pages, all managed by the same man, were removed from Facebook because they “promote the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals.”
The fact that numerous states across America, as well as a number of countries in Europe move to end the prohibition of cannabis, decades-old taboos have very much taken root, and that is a massive challenge in and of itself.
So what options are actually left on the table for CBD companies wanting to advertise and promote their products? Well, cannabis dispensaries can promote their menu items, specials, deals, dispensary events and updates through text message marketing. According to the figures, dispensaries who use text marketing typically see a 5 to 10% increase in foot traffic for each text sent.
Advertising and marketing campaigns can also be done via newspapers and magazines. They are in fact the most frequently used mediums for ancillary and plant-touching companies to effectively spread their message.
Why CBD Marketers Are Turning to Endorsements to Get Their Message Out
Tactic is proving effective in promoting the non-intoxicating products.
As marketers work to counter the perception that marijuana is only for potheads, there’s a similar battle being fought on the CBD front—even though the product doesn’t get users high.
One method that has worked extremely well for cannabis & CBD businesses, especially local retailers & dispensaries is search engine marketing. This has proved especially useful, since Google’s search algorithm doesn’t block results or discriminate against CBD & cannabis retailers. It’s essential to manage your Google business & maps listing, work on raising reviews, & spending more time on building organic content.
At the end of the day, you have to learn to work with what you’ve got – We’re in an extremely regulated industry, so we must find creative ways to spread brand awareness. This can also be done with a well designed website for cannabis brands.