From loyalty programs to regularly messaging customers, building a community and increasing sales takes strategy.


7 min read


This story originally appeared on Weedmaps

It goes without saying that you want to get as many new customers into your dispensary as possible. But with the cannabis retail space becoming more and 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 ideal 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. “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?

RELATED: 5 Things You Need To Know Before Opening A Dispensary

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.

Create profiles and listings on any sites where your customers might search online, such as Weedmaps. “So creating online profiles — the basics of Google Places, 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, it can also be much more cost-effective than other marketing strategies. “This is one of the easiest ways and highest 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 checkout 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. “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.

Image credit: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

There is 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. Obviously, giving a discount for first-time customers is a solid strategy for driving new business. Just make sure you have other marketing strategies 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 to feel 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 prerolls every 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.

RELATED: 7 Facts About Starting A Cannabis Dispensary In 2019

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?” Hue 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 and 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 whip up some CBD cocktails for attendees. Is there a big snowboarding expo rolling through your town? See if you can sponsor a booth or donate some merch for their raffle. 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.

The point is, 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.

RELATED: What I Learned From Visiting 50 California Dispensaries

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.

If you want to continually drive more customers through your door, you need to continually be in touch with them — so make sure you have what you need (namely, their phone number and email address) to make that happen.

Get Out There And Get New 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!

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