With the legalization and regulations on Canada’s cannabis industry set to take effect in quarter three of 2018, the arena of legal cannabis sales is under intense scrutiny. If your business is one of the hundreds set to be affected, satisfying the laws of distribution will be a priority. There are many factors to consider regarding packaging, advertising, and the possibility of teaming up with an experienced cannabis marketing agency.

You probably have a series of questions on the tip of your tongue, this guide should provide the answers.

The Complicated World Of Legal Cannabis Distribution In Canada

As a manufacturer or seller of cannabis, you don’t need to be told about the beneficial aspects of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Likewise, when consumed in moderation, it can be a relaxing stimulant for personal use.

The new regulations will make it more accessible for responsible companies to help patients receive their prescriptions as well as recreational dosages. However, it has been a long journey for Canada to reach this landmark watershed moment.

Nationwide bans on all marijuana sales were first introduced almost a century ago in 1923, and it has only been since 2001 that regulated usage has been permitted. Following the government’s passing of the Cannabis Act 2017, forecasts suggest that annual sales will top $4bn.

Nevertheless, individual companies face a lot of hard work if they are going to see sustained success. In Alberta, for example, there will be 250 new cannabis businesses to join those that already exist from the previous era of regulated prescriptions. There are many issues to consider, such as the rule that individual companies cannot have more than 15% of the total market share. While designed with fairness and responsibility in mind, it does lead to intense competition.

As well as those simple rules, there are a variety of legal guidelines that need to be satisfied with all packaging and advertising elements. Even with the more relaxed rulings and greater opportunities, the cannabis industry will remain one of the strictest legal markets, making it a minefield in terms of advertising. Joining forces with a Canada cannabis marketing agency will at least take care of those elements, leaving you to focus on the other equally crucial aspects of the operation.

A Brief Look At Canada’s Marijuana Advertising Laws

Given that regulated medicinal marijuana sales have been possible for nearly two decades, there are already a number of laws in place. This list of current regulations includes.

No misleading information on any marketing products, and mandatory packaging labels.

  • No marketing to minors. This means only promoting products in places where the audience is at least 70% over 18s. Websites must also contain age verification systems to enable access.
  • No posters or in-store marketing elements can face the street.
  • No cannabis sales can be associated with skilled activities, such as driving.
  • No packaging can promote the use of the product, instead, it must focus on the brand element.

Furthermore, other laws will be implemented once the legalization of personal sales is finalized. This will make it an even bigger challenge for marketing teams, especially those that lack the necessary experience of this immensely difficult arena.

Artisans on Fire has worked with over 20 cannabis brands, consistently finding the right balance to stay within the legal guidelines while giving brands the best chance to stand out with the key demographic. This provides the strongest possible foundations heading into the transitional phase while that commitment to legally-complicit yet successful results will remain indefinitely.

Getting this aspect of the operation wrong can lead to serious legal repercussions. Moreover, having to rectify those mistakes constitutes a considerable waste of time and money. Mastering this aspect at the first attempt is the only viable solution, which is why choosing the best cannabis packaging design Canada has to offer is so crucial.

Online Restrictions For Cannabis Distributors

The legal restrictions imposed by the governing bodies is only half of the battle. While the Canadian government has lifted the bans to legalize responsible marijuana sales, it doesn’t have any real influence on the regulations of global websites and well-known online platforms.

Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other major online platforms still view cannabis as an illegal substance. After all, its usage for recreational activities is not permitted in a number of territories. This erects a huge obstacle when looking at paid advertising on those sites. Ultimately, companies are not allowed to promote their business or products that relate to associated user searches. This is due to the conflict with the policies laid out by those respective companies.

While paid marketing is damaged massively, organic digital marketing schemes can still be used. Once again, though, the restrictions on content means that a specialized cannabis marketing agency is the only way to unlock the company’s full potential. When combined with those PPC limitations, failure in this environment can make it almost impossible to gain the desired web presence.

Given the significance that digital marketing plays in modern business, not least because new audiences will actively search the internet for their marijuana needs over the coming months, finding a way to climb over those hurdles is key.

Modern Marketing For Marijuana Retailers Old And New

Whether yours is a new business or an established operation, tackling the marketing minefield in a professional and strategic manner is the only solution. With an experienced and passionate Canada cannabis marketing agency by your side, you won’t go far wrong.

As with all other business endeavors, a successful marketing stream needs to cover all the bases. Here are the key aspects that will ensure your company stays one step ahead of the competition at all times.

Product Packaging

First and foremost, all packaging materials need to satisfy the legal requirements as set out by the  Cannabis Act 2017, which builds upon those existing laws. The aforementioned clear, accurate and prominent labels will hold a huge influence. However, that shouldn’t stifle your creativity altogether.

Logos are a vital aspect that can distinguish your products from others. Cannabis packaging design Canada can help you through the process of designing a standout logo while also positioning them in the best place.

Another option is to use a unique packaging material that immediately sparks a reaction from the customers.

Website Design

While restrictions on age verifications are in place, the company website is still a central focus of any successful marketing plan. It influences everything from SEO and social media performances to trust levels gained from the consumer.

The website should represent your brand to gain interest in the products. It should also be optimized for mobile as well as fast loading times. Not only does this impact the user experience, but it also aids the bid for stronger SEO.

If the venture also utilizes online sales, the website needs to gently push visitors towards a completed purchase. Conversion rates are central to the success of an e-commerce site. Either way, a strong website feeds into a better company performance.

Organic & Local SEO

Given the limitations imposed by the fact Google AdWords doesn’t like paid searches based on the words cannabis or marijuana, the need for organic and local SEO is higher than ever. An experienced cannabis marketing company is the best route to success for a higher ranking page.

The restrictions can actually work in your favor as you bid to stand out from the crowd. After all, many will fall victim to those policy conflicts, which will result in penalties. By avoiding this fate, you instantly gain an advantage over many of the competitors.

In addition to building a site where keywords and other items help users find you by searching for terms like “cannabis sellers” (which is still perfectly fine for organic SEO purposes), you should consider localized SEO. Most clients are going to be from the local area, and most will add the name of your town or city when completing their searches.

Finding the formula to manage both organic and local search engine optimization in an efficient manner will make a world of difference.

Paid Searches

PPC and paid social media adverts won’t like campaigns built around what they consider to be illegal words. However, you cannot ignore the need for paid advertising, even when your site sits at the top of those organic searches.

There are alternative platforms where campaigns revolving around this ‘controversial’ subject matter are fine. Furthermore, with a creative team behind you, there are ways to still get your company seen via paid social media and Google AdSense searches. The ability to make the most of those opportunities is something that separates Artisans on Fire from many of the other agencies out there, especially those that don’t specialize in this area.

While paid searches are fundamental to the marketing strategy, they can only be considered a success when they are cost-effective too.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is one environment where cannabis retailers and distributors can thrive just like any other company. While you have to be careful on certain aspects relating to the industry, this is the ideal opportunity to grow an audience and gain genuine insight into their needs and expectations of the business.

There’s no substitute for regular interactions, and social media can open up a 24/7 dialogue. Letting customers become a part of the conversation encourages them to help drive your business in the right direction. Meanwhile, they can often introduce friends and families to the business too.

These channels can be one of the greatest weapons in your arsenal, not least in terms of engagement. Finding the right formula regarding tactics and activity levels will boost the cause greatly.

Email Marketing

The days of cold emails are virtually over thanks to advanced spam filters. In truth, though, trying this would be a waste of time, money and effort due to the tiny conversion rates. However, email marketing can still be a fantastic tool for keeping your company fresh in the minds of existing customers.  

Getting them to sign up through your website or in-store registrations opens the door to new opportunities. From promoting special deals or using affiliate and loyalty schemes to simply sending a birthday greetings, those tools can bring great results.

Offline Marketing

Given that the bulk of your trade will come from a localized customer base, traditional marketing schemes are a great addition. The strict laws may stop you from using posters or promoting the business in places where children are present. Still, some radio stations and publications are still viable options.

Likewise, in-store events and promotions can be utilized for great results. Direct mail strategies, when they satisfy legal restrictions, can be very useful too.

The Most Important Aspect For Cannabis Marketing Is… Branding

An understanding of the varying marketing resources gives the business a far stronger platform, but it counts for nothing without a strong brand image. With so many companies competing for business, yours won’t be the only one to make good use of those tools. Boasting the personality needed to stand out from the crowd could be the defining feature.

Again, Artisans on Fire’s vast experience of working with brands specifically in the industry is an integral feature when finding a cannabis marketing agency in Canada.

Whether it’s locating your place in the market, gaining a deeper understanding of the audience’s needs, or engaging with them doesn’t matter. Every aspect ranging from visual logos, color schemes, and packaging to the way you speak to clients will feed into the branding elements.

When the company is visible, trusted, and liked, great results will follow.

The Final Word

The marketing minefield is filled with many traps, and this rings especially true for Canada’s cannabis-selling businesses. Then again, the legalization of personal usage makes this a highly exciting time for established and new companies alike.

When the marketing strategies are mastered, unlocking the company’s full potential becomes far more likely. If teaming up with a local Canadian cannabis marketing agency can maximize your chances of doing that while also allowing you to focus on the business operation itself, it could be the smartest decision you’ll ever make.