If your cannabis business is just starting out, chances are you’ve already run into some roadblocks with advertising. With a complex set of rules for every platform, it can be tricky to figure out where and how to effectively advertise––and that’s where influencer marketing comes in.
Cannabis Influencer marketing is helping businesses get around advertising restrictions by using individual promotion, and it’s now the fastest-growing method for online customer acquisition. Don’t miss out on this powerful marketing tactic: keep reading and find out how to use influencers to grow your customer base and start making money.
What is influencer marketing?
You already see influencer marketing all around: think Cardi B for Pepsi and Chance the Rapper and Burger King. Influencer marketing uses someone who is recognizable and popular to endorse a specific product, and to amplify a brand beyond its current audience. In the cannabis realm, it’s best to target influencers who are popular on Instagram and Youtube, as these two channels already host a huge volume of cannabis content and are (generally) more lenient with influencer guidelines.
Cannabis influencers use a wide variety of content to endorse products, from straightforward reviews to funny videos to multi-format campaigns. Some accounts focus on recreational usage, some are more educational, and others are essentially just eye-candy, but they can all serve the same purpose--to get more people interested in your brand and excited to buy your products.
Why is influencer marketing useful?
In order to succeed, every brand has to develop a core of loyal customers. Even if your product is world-class, this can be challenging, especially with the restrictions on cannabis marketing. Influencer marketing works because more than anything else, people trust personal reviews. When they see a social media personality that they like and follow promote something, they are instantly more likely to trust that product than another, and more likely to consider it for purchase.
• A recent Nielsen study found that 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising
• A recent, far-reaching influencer marketing study by Burst Media demonstrated a 6-to-1 return on investment
How do I get started?
You don’t have to have the cash to snag an endorsement from Snoop Dogg to find success using cannabis influencer marketing. The most important part is finding a cannabis influencer that aligns with your brand, and that will appeal to the audience that you’re targeting as potential consumers.
1. Define your brand and audience
If you’re already selling product but are still creating your brand, choose an influencer that gives you room to grow: instead of working with someone that has a very specific appeal and focused audience (think a dude with funny stoner videos and Bob Marley flags everywhere), collaborate with an influencer that has broad appeal and a wider audience (education-based cannabis accounts are usually a safe bet). Find out more about building your brand here.
Defining your audience will take some research, but it’s the most important part of building a profitable business. It’s an in-depth process (more info here) but it’s incredibly worthwhile: once you know your target audience, you know how and where to talk to them to create sales. Think about who will be attracted to your product and why--are you aiming for urban professionals that want innovative tech, or 55 and up buyers who are primarily interested in medical marijuana?--and what type of influencer would most appeal to that audience.
2. Identify the right influencer
Once you’ve determined your audience and brand, you can start looking for the right influencer. This doesn’t mean you have to devote half your budget to hiring the hottest social media stars--most of the influencer game is made up of micro-influencers, people with a few thousand followers to a quarter of a million. This is likely the sweet spot for your business.
Hashtag searches can you help identify influencers that share your audience’s passions and interests, and local accounts are great if the bulk of your customers are in your area. Also, be on the lookout for accounts that share content in a variety of ways--stories, videos, etc. Accounts with beautifully curated images are a good find, and the key for any account you’re considering is engagement. If a page has 12,000 followers but only gets a few dozen likes per pos and no comments, they’re not worth your money. A page with only a few thousand followers that gets hundreds of likes and a consistent volume of comments per post much more likely to be successful (and probably less expensive!).
Identifying the right influencer can be one of the hardest aspects of this process, which is why cannabis business of all sizes turn to agencies for help. At Gram, we can help you grow your reach on social media without having to use an influencer. Find out more about our services here.
3. Reach out
Found an influencer you think is perfect? Whatever you do, don’t be this guy:
“Dear [influencer.] We love your content, would you be interested in promoting our product?”
Influencers value their time like any professional, and the last thing they’re going to do is spend an hour researching a cold pitch to see if they like you. Always focus on what they want when asking to collaborate: make it hard for them to say no, and easy to say yes.
Only approach an influencer once you’ve checked out their content, have a plan or concept for a collaboration, and have a range of compensation options linked up. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you might have a tech solution they want, or new business opportunities you can connect them to. It might be straight up cash money, but make sure they know that you’re ready to pay them for their work.
4. Measure your results
This one is big! Any time you’re spending money on an advertising initiative, you need to decide on your goal and your measurements for success. Once you’ve worked with an influencer for about a month and run several product-specific posts, it’s time to see if your current process is working.
Did you hope to gain 20 new loyal customers from an influencer campaign, but only got four instead? Look at engagement numbers, product visibility, clicks on promotional posts, etc to figure out what needs to change before you start the next campaign.
Influencer advertising can be a great way to bump your profits, but it really helps to have an experienced team by your side during the process. At Gram, we put our cannabis marketing expertise to get your brand in front of the right people--growing your business and revenue in the process. Find out more about what we can do for you!