targeting the cannabis industry on linkedin

cannabis-industry-on-linkedinLinkedIn is the ad platform we get the most questions about from our B2B clients focused on lead generation. At Canna Con in Seattle this weekend, most companies with booth space were companies marketing their services and products to Cannabis producers and processors. Including all types of businesses, from soil and seed companies, to HVAC equipment manufacturers, to ERP software providers, and much more. These companies’ target audience are marijuana producers, processors and retailers, but how do they find them? Well Canna Con and other marijuana industry events are a good start. But there are also online options, like LinkedIn, you can use to reach this audience. Legal restrictions from state to state prevent most cannabis related businesses from marketing directly to consumers. Facebook and Google’s advertising policies related to cannabis advertisings are opaque at best. They tend to shut down most ads with any reference to “cannabis” or marijuana”. LinkedIn is a little different. It’s Ad Guidelines state in pertinent part:

Drugs, Illegal Substances and Related Products. Even if legal in the applicable jurisdiction, LinkedIn does not allow ads related to prescription pharmaceuticals, drugs or any related products or services. Ads that promote illegal drugs, highs, herbal medicines and treatments, psychoactive effects of substances, or aids to pass drug tests are all prohibited.”

While you can’t market cannabis products on LinkedIn, B2B marketers in other industries still have the option to target marijuana and cannabis related businesses. LinkedIn will allow you to run pay per click online ads to this audience. You just need to know where to look.

here are 4 ways you can find an audience using LinkedIn Ads

1. targeting cannabis businesses by location

Starting with location targeting. This is interesting because it gives us an overview of how many people LinkedIn thinks are living in states where cannabis is legal. I included California because we think it will vote for legalization in the 2016 election. While it’s sort of interesting to know the population of the key target states, it’s not exactly what we’re looking for, so let’s move on.

2. targeting cannabis and marijuana businesses by company name

Another option is to select companies by name. Typing the first few letters of a word will get you a drop down box with suggestions. Once you actually select a company, LinkedIn will show you suggestions for other companies it thinks are similar. This is a good option if you know specific companies you want to reach. But for a broader audience, it’s inefficient since there are so few national cannabis related companies.

3. targeting cannabis and marijuana businesses by company category

So what other options do we have? We can search by industry category. Unfortunately, the categories are broad, and Cannabis or Marijuana are not included.Okay, we don’t need to spend any more time on that particular targeting option. And I think we can agree Job Title would also be inefficient.

4. targeting cannabis and marijuana businesses by groups

So that leaves us with groups. Which it turns out, may be a pretty great way to find your audience. You can even add location targeting to refine your audience further. However, how this works in LinkedIn could be improved significantly.

Currently, you don’t really have a sense of how large or active the groups are without doing some independent research first. 

However, you can use the ‘Consider Adding’ feature to quickly add multiple groups. After adding 12 groups located in the US and Canada, we were able to find a large audience of people who are in groups related to medical or recreational marijuana.We ended up with an audience of over 100,000 people to share our post with after using the ‘Audience Expansion’ option.

a few additional tips for advertising on LinkedIn:

  • Ads with photos do much better on LinkedIn
  • Define what action you want taken after someone clicks on your ad
  • Use landing pages with a strong call to action, otherwise you’re wasting your ad spend  

locations

Seattle

The Bay Area

contact

(206) 420-6121
info@thematters.group

hours

Mon - Fri : 8am–6pm PST

Sat - Sun: Closed

marijuana branding: how to craft a brand story

I once went to a speech given by the then-CEO of P&G, and he said something that I knew instinctively was true, and I’ve followed his advice ever since: Every brand has a story, and it’s your responsibility as the head of a company or marketing director, to tell it.

every brand tells a story

This rings true not only intuitively – it feels right – but has been corroborated from the extensive consumer research I’ve done over the years. People constantly look for cues from your product, packaging and messaging that tells them your brand story.  They want or even need to know what your brand story is so they can understand on an gut level if you fit with their sense of themselves, or if you don’t.  And they purchase accordingly.

There’s no question that people like stories, and respond to them on a deeply personal and emotional level. It’s almost a basic instinct that helps us communicate in a meaningful and memorable way. And we internalize the best stories as part of our lives, which should be your goal: to be the best brand storyteller possible. But there is a caveat here. Your brand story must be the truth.

It should not be a tale or what you’d like the story to be, but a story that rings true at every possible contact point, from name and packaging, to website and marketing communications. With today’s social media, any shading of the truth will be seen and instantly communicated, breaking the trust of your customers, and trust is glue that holds your brand and customer together. Without it, you will not succeed. In answering what is a brand? I pointed out that people want to associate with brands that either fit with their sense of self, or represent what they aspire to be. And telling your brand story in a memorable, emotional, and even entertaining way, helps them make that judgment.

so how do you craft a brand story?

First, as I’ve mentioned before, you must determine what your brand stands for. In a very real way, establishing what you stand for sets the basis for your brand story’s plot: it gives shape and meaning to the story you want to tell. Once you’ve clearly articulated what you stand for, begin to craft your story just like any writer, with a beginning, middle and end.

Beginning: Today’s consumer wants a product to be about more than just someone trying to make money. Of course they understand you want this to be a profitable enterprise, but what was that first glimmer that got you into the business? What is it about your ‘mission’ that gets you up every day and headed to the office? How do you want to make a difference in the world and in the life of your customers? The consumer truly wants to know the answer to these questions and, if you don’t tell them, I promise you – they’ll make something up that you may not like. Remember, aside from the product benefit, which is often the category benefit and thereby not necessarily unique, you want your customers to be inspired by who you are and what you do, and telling the brand story enables them to actually take part in your vision.

Middle: As companies grow, you’ll face challenges and market changes that may require you to shift the focus of what you want to achieve. When that happens, let people know – they need to understand why you’re doing something so they can continue to be a part of your brand franchise. Remember, your story is really an ongoing conversation with your customers that keeps them interested, involved and committed to the brand. Don’t exclude them or think they don’t need to know – they do. They’ll see or sense the changes or shifts in direction and will need to know that you still want and have a role in their life.  Otherwise, they’ll write the middle part of your story for themselves, and it may not be what you want.

End: Unlike most stories, there probably is no true end to your brand story, as you want it to unfold as long as possible. And while that may be, there should be a mental target of where you want the brand to continue moving, and your customers need to come on that journey with you. It’s always best if they can visualize that goal almost as well as you see it. In fact, as your customers, they want to join you on that journey. Having your customers share your journey in a way that they’re featured characters in your brand story, is especially relevant today when every company, brand and personnel move is magnified and spread on social media. If your customers are fellow travelers in your story, and feel a part of it, maybe even the cause of it, you will have their support and be much better positioned to overcome problems and obstacles without losing sight of that goal you share with them.  And in that way, your brand story becomes theirs, too. 

locations

Seattle

The Bay Area

contact

(206) 420-6121
info@thematters.group

hours

Mon - Fri : 8am–6pm PST

Sat - Sun: Closed

marijuana branding: what is a brand?

What is a brand? It seems everyone has their own definition, and I have mine. It’s sometimes easiest to say what it isn’t, especially in an area where there appears to be the most confusion, so here goes – a brand is not a name, logo or package design.

These are important, of course, but are really outward reflections of what the brand is rather than embodying its core essence. The true meaning is very straightforward: A brand is what your product or service stands for. It’s honestly that simple.  And in establishing exactly what you stand for, you provide the foundation for consumers to know what your brand has in common with them, and how you fit into their lives.

defining your cannabis brand

Defining your brand is as important for Canna brands as for any other consumer product or service. Who are you? Why do you exist? How are you better or an improvement over competitive products?  How do you make consumers’ lives easier or better? These are questions that must be answered early on, preferably before you even begin deciding what product or service you want to provide.

getting started

The first step in determining what you want to stand for is deciding the product category in which you wish to compete.  I know it seems simple, but I’ve seen many companies lack clarity in deciding on the category, often by saying, “What we offer is so new, so different that we’ll let the market decide for itself.”  Big mistake. Consumers need to know what category you’re in. If you don’t provide that information, they’ll group you with products or services they already know, and you may end up either competing against the wrong companies, or appearing schizophrenic, as each consumer has their own sense of who you are and what you offer.  Remember – if you don’t tell them, they will end up telling you. Once you’ve determined the category, you need to decide the primary consumer market you’re targeting. Who are they, what products are they using now, and why is yours better? In a very real sense, articulating what you stand for as a brand builds a bridge between your target market and your product that is the most important decision you’ll make.

I have a story that you may find useful in building that bridge for your own brand…

The head of a well-known creative agency I worked at once said something that, after years of consumer purchase behavior research, I know to be absolutely true: people may explain their purchases on a rational basis – who doesn’t want to look like they know what they’re doing — but their wallet is controlled by their heart.  Let me explain… I spent a number of years marketing package goods, specifically cleaning products like detergents and bleaches. That means I probably know more about getting clothes clean than anyone should. And we did a great deal of consumer research to understand why women – by far the majority of detergent purchasers – bought the brands they did. In numerous focus groups, held over a period of years, I saw that the specific detergent the woman purchased was, to her, the symbol of how she defined her role as a wife and mother.  If she bought Tide, for example, she’d relate it to the fact that her mother used Tide and, even though the daughter had to work and spend time out of the home, when she did the laundry, she wanted to ensure to herself that she valued the task and wanted to put just as much love into it as her mother did.  Seeing her kids and husband walking out into the world with clothes she’d cleaned made her feel she was fulfilling her role as a mother and wife, just as her own mother had. For the woman who purchased the less expensive store brand, she’d say that she had a responsibility to her family to be smart about where they spent their money and, she knew store brands cleaned almost as well as the higher priced brands, or at least the difference in quality was too small to pay more for another brand. In effect, she saw using the cheaper brand as a symbol of the importance she put on being the smartest shopper she could possibly be for her family. I learned from this experience, which has been proved over many different product categories, that if what detergent a person bought was a symbol of the mother or wife she saw herself as, then that emotional role was the essential and longest-lasting benefit of any brand. The deeper the emotional attachment the consumer has for your brand, the greater its ability to weather challenges, changes or new competitors. Your brand not only has a role in their life, you actually help define the sort of life they aspire to live and person they hope to be.

locations

Seattle

The Bay Area

contact

(206) 420-6121
info@thematters.group

hours

Mon - Fri : 8am–6pm PST

Sat - Sun: Closed