The global cannabis market is expected to be valued at more than $4 billion by 2022 with the most substantial growth projected in the United States. Both smaller and larger cannabis companies face increasingly fierce competition and must find an effective way to tap into the growing marketing while retaining loyalty from established customers.
This is not the only challenge facing today’s cannabis businesses. Because of federal regulations, traditional marketing platforms are not available to marijuana businesses like yours. Your cannabis company must find an effective, direct approach to reach out to your target audience.
Consumers are progressively tuning out commercialized marketing messages. Instead, they are looking for product or brand information from trusted sources. In a notable Nielsen survey, approximately 92% of those polled said they place more trust in recommendations from unknown sources, such as online reviews than in brand marketing.
How can your cannabis business overcome these obstacles? The perfect strategy to directly reach your target audience while establishing trust is to use influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
The traditional or old-school celebrity product endorsements are increasingly giving way to influencer marketing. Influencers are trusted individuals, such as social media icons or well-known bloggers. These people have built a huge group of loyal followers who trust their opinions and who are actively interested in what they have to say.
Influencers generally specialize in a specific niche or topic, such as fitness, health, parenting or other topics. Therefore, their followers usually have a specific demographic or special interest. From a marketing perspective, connecting with the right influencer provides you with direct access to an engaged, targeted audience.
A Linquia survey revealed that as many as 86% of marketers have used influencer marketing already. Of these marketers, 94& stated that it was effective for their goals. If your cannabis business is not currently seizing this incredible opportunity, now is the time to tap into this direct line to your target audience.
How Influencer Marketing Works
A Collective Bee study revealed that 3% of customers may be swayed to purchase a product touted by a celebrity. In comparison, as many as 30% of those surveyed may be enticed to make a purchase based on a blogger’s testimonial. Influencer marketing is so effective because a trusted source recommends the product or brand.
Influencers may tout your brand or products in various ways.
For example, a direct testimonial or endorsement of a product or the brand could immediately be sent to tens or hundreds of thousands of followers through a mention on Instagram or in a blog.
Some influencers establish Instagram storefronts, which can directly contribute to your revenue. While selling your cannabis company’s primary product in this fashion is not possible, selling branded hats, shirts and other merchandise are effective.
What Your Cannabis Company Can Expect
The benefits of a successful influencer marketing campaign are directly linked to the types of influencers who your business connects with.
For example, building trust is accomplished through mentions from influencers who are well-known in their niche and have high engagement rates. Brand awareness can be bolstered by connecting with leading influencers who have a huge following. Micro-influencers who have exceptional engagement rates may foster brand engagement.
Other benefits include improving or defining brand sentiment, driving conversions and promoting the launch of a new product. A successful influencer marketing campaign may take advantage of connections with major, mid-range and niche influencers to accomplish different goals.
Influencers produce their own content with lingo or jargon that understandably appeals to their target audience. These are individuals who do not keep tabs on their audience. Instead, they are a part of the group and have an innate ability to speak to their audience effectively and engagingly.
Cannabis companies like yours benefit through the direct connection that these influencers have with their audience. A side benefit is the ability to re-purpose some of their phrasing to improve your other marketing efforts.
How to Find Good Influencers
To maximize the benefits of influencer marketing, you must locate and recruit the best influencers for the job. This begins when you identify the specific goals desired from an influencer marketing campaign. Following the general rules of marketing, these should be SMART goals. This acronym stands for specific, measurable and attainable objectives as well as relevant and timely goals.
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
By defining what you need to accomplish, you can select the type of influencer who can most effectively help you to achieve your goals. Influencers generally fall into categories as an entertainer, a coach, an educator or a genuinely insightful and interesting resource in unique ways. You can drill down further based on their mass or niche reach.
If you monitor mentions of your brand, you may already be aware of a few advocates who you can transform into influencers. Another option is to identify brand-specific or industry-relevant advocates by researching hashtags on social media platforms. You can also locate potential influencers through the use of relevant Google alerts, Insightpool, BuzzSumo, HYPR and other sources.
For each potential influencer, focus your attention on a few key points:
- How many followers do they have, and who are their most engaged followers?
- What is the demographical makeup of the followers?
- How engaged are the followers?
- Does the influencer post quality content? Is that content relevant to your brand’s image?
Quality generally trumps quantity when analyzing a potential influencer’s followers.
How to Approach Cannabis Influencers
Influencers may have spent years building a loyal following by maintaining their interest and trust. They often carefully pick which companies they want to be affiliated with, and their selection process is not entirely based on money. They want to connect with brands that their followers can be passionate about or can benefit from. Influencers generally will not jeopardize the trust of their followers by connecting with a brand that they are not passionate about themselves.
Rather than approach the influencer cold, spend a few weeks following the influencer. Make a few comments on their account or platform to establish a connection. In addition to increasing visibility with the influencer, it enables you to gain relevance with the influencer’s followers.
When contacting an influencer directly and privately, create a precise, personalized email with a relevant subject line. Avoid making a direct offer, and instead extend an offer to discuss a mutually beneficial relationship. Your presentation to the influencer should present the reasons why his or her followers would be interested in the brand.
How to Compensate Your Influencers
Creating a compensation structure that is beneficial for your cannabis business and for the influencer can be challenging.
These are some of the more common compensation methods in use today:
- Cost per engagement
- Cost per click
- Pay per post
- Freebies based on predetermined objectives
- Cost per conversion or action
Working with influencers is unique from using other paid marketing platforms. You do not necessarily need to maintain a relationship with these paid marketing platforms. Instead, the relationship is purely monetary or commercial. On the other hand, influencers should be viewed and treated as business partners or colleagues rather than as a marketing outlet.
You can see that influencers are an essential component in a cannabis company’s successful marketing campaign. After defining your specific marketing goals, you can begin searching for the right influencers for your business to get the ball rolling on an effective campaign.
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