An even bigger question is, “How can you cash in on it?” As the industry continues to grow, there will be more companies fighting for the attention of a wider consumer base. You might think it will be easy to reach these new cannabis users, but chances are you’re going to have to learn to speak their language.
That’s why you should be thinking about how an influencer strategy could be one of the best marketing moves you could make.
The Rise of Influencer Marketing
If you haven’t heard about it already, chances are you’ll bump into influencer marketing sooner rather than later. Social media has given rise to a new twist on the tried-and-true celebrity endorsement deal.
Some social media users have built large and dedicated followings. You can think of YouTube stars who rack up millions of views on their videos or Instagrammers who have 100,000 followers or more. When these people post something, it reaches far and wide.
More important, these social media darlings have not just followers but dedicated fans. They trust recommendations from the stars they follow. For this reason, many marketers have been strategically partnering with influencers to get the word out about their products.
Finding Your Audience
One reason influencer marketing works well for those in the cannabis industry is because of regulation about marketing. Even as legalization has marched forward in some states, laws have been passed to restrict what cannabis marketers can and can’t do.
In Oregon, for example, marketers aren’t allowed to put down money for ads. That means no radio spots, no TV ads, and no Google ads either.
If you’re scratching your head, wondering how the heck you can get the word out about a great new product, well, you’re not the only one.
Social media and other digital channels are a boon for the cannabis industry. Posting about a new product or a sale on Facebook is often free and easy. The question for most marketers is how to reach a wider audience in these channels. Facebook throttles traffic to organic posts, which means your message might not reach its audience.
Partnering with influencers is one way to navigate these challenges. The influencer’s audience may overlap with your own, allowing you to reach more people than you might otherwise. Their posts may go farther.
They might also be able to reach a niche audience you’re having a hard time connecting to. Influencers with large fanbases may draw in a cross-section of people with a wide array of interests. Influencers with smaller followings might be speaking directly to a particular niche.
Finding the Right Influencer
Using an influencer strategy successfully is often a question of partnering with the right people. Some companies make the mistake of just hiring the person with the biggest following. This isn’t always the right move—just look at the partnership between Disney and YouTuber PewDiePie.
Another stumbling block for companies, including those in the cannabis industry, is to get outside your comfort zone. It’s easy for cannabis companies to team up with cannabis influencers, but the point of an influencer strategy is to get outside the cannabis sphere.
Easy—since you’re already in the industry, you’re likely reaching people who already use or are interested in cannabis. The “sweet spot” is those outside the cannabis sphere who might be interested, but aren’t involved or don’t know where to look. Partnering with the right influencer can help you reach these people and get them excited about your products.
One example might be teaming up with a wellness or beauty influencer to promote a new cannabis-infused skin cream. People who are interested in beauty might not be aware of just how good CBD and other cannabinoids can be for their skin.
Another great example would be forming a partnership with a food blogger to showcase edibles. You might even consider a series focused on cooking with cannabis or hemp to show how easy it is to add the health benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids to a meal or treat.
Tips for a Better Influencer Strategy
With so many influencers out there, you’ll want to create a weighted rating system so that when it comes time to negotiate pricing, you can ensure you’re getting the best return on your investment.
Before you sign any influencer, there are three key factors you’ll want to weigh:
- Reach – how many followers do they have? Keep in mind that numbers aren’t the be-all, end-all. Influencers with small but dedicated followings can speak to particular niches.
- Fit – how well do they align with your brand? If your brand speaks to the luxury market, someone who appeals to the “stoner set” may not be the right fit.
- Willingness to Partner – are they open to your brand, or do they already like and use your products? Someone who already endorses your products is probably willing to partner with you because they love what you do. Someone who has never heard of your brand may be willing to partner, but they might not be as enthusiastic as an existing devotee.
For more tips on tweaking your influencer strategy or a more general marketing strategy, check out the blog. We’ve done the research, so you can put it into action sooner.