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2020 COVID-19 cannabis marketing

Advertising, eCommerce, and COVID: 2020 Best Practices:
A CMA Webinar Brief

By Vyla Carter

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, Scott Rabinowitz, the CEO of Buoyancy Digital, met with CMA members to discuss 2020 COVID-19 cannabis marketing. Rabinowitz focused on advertising and eCommerce, applying it to the cannabis industry during the pandemic.

Priorities During This Time

During a crisis, a brand should message people in a way to stay relevant while also staying viable commercially. According to Rabinowitz, there needs to be a radical new change of objectives with tangible justification because of the pandemic.

Rabinowitz drew from what marketers are doing in the general business world and applied it to cannabis.

When communicating during a crisis, a brand wants to be sensitive to emotion and also understand what part they can play in actually being a source of comfort for consumers. When thinking about cannabis marketing in 2020, you want to consider the target audience’s mindset right now. Customers’ mindsets have drastically changed from before the pandemic.

The speaker also emphasized that scaling back all advertising during this time is not the right move. He said that companies that did this are scrambling right now, as opposed to the brands that didn’t stop advertising. Brands benefited most not from stopping advertising, but from adjusting their messaging to the time.

Stopping all advertising still sends a message to the customers, Rabinowitz said. It gives the message that the company may be closed or is not providing their typical services.

A good thing to do right now is auditing and analyzing all current advertisements. Consider if they are still relevant. Also, look into how you could possibly change or refresh them to be more applicable to the audience now, post-COVID-19.

Brand Messaging and Advertising During COVID-19

The messages a brand is putting out are very important to 2020 COVID-19 cannabis marketing.

Rabinowitz discussed how focusing on the product benefiting well-being is a good key-focus right now. “We can’t make health claims, but we can talk about feeling good,” he said. Quality of life and sense of well-being have become much more crucial during the pandemic.

A brand should also emphasize how accessible their products are right now. Make sure that the customer knows they can get your products safely, in a no-contact way if possible. Also, let them know how you are keeping the customers and employees safe. Your advertising should address accessibility, this also applies to B2B brands, according to Rabinowitz. People want to know the shopping experience will be smooth and simple.

Now is a great time to use promos, but use them strategically. Do not do sitewide promotions. Instead, do more specific promotions, like a sale on a specific brand or product for a period of time. Use value propositions to draw in new customers and potentially more brand loyal customers, Rabinowitz said.

Rabinowitz also discussed premium and pay-for-access content. Currently, it is a good time to bring a premium experience to customers. Before, you could educate them in-store and give them an experience in person. Now, that isn’t always possible. So, consider what content you can give them and the pricing or subscription that may involve.

COVID-19’s Impact on the Cannabis Marketing Industry

During the webinar on 2020 COVID-19 cannabis marketing, Rabinowitz presented data on the effects of the coronavirus on marketing. He showed the audience how marketing spending has changed in the grand scheme and discussed why this has happened. He then went on to apply it to cannabis marketing and why it is important to this niche industry.

Along with spending change, the messaging brands are putting forward has changed. The use of performance marketing has gone down, while mission-based marketing and cause-related marketing has gone up. Rabinowitz explained why this is happening and how cannabis brands can leverage this messaging.

He also touched on what channels are being utilized most for advertising and why. Rabinowitz discussed the pros and cons of the unique channels that cannabis brands can use, even though they are different from the mainstream.

Watch the Full Webinar to Learn more about 2020 COVID-19 Cannabis Marketing

Rabinowitz went on to talk about presenting a consistent message in your marketing. He let the audience know how to do this and what channels are best right now. Social media, email, and SMS advertising were tactics he suggested to utilize, discussing the best ways to use them.

He also talked about how to evaluate advertising options and what questions to ask when doing so. He gave pro-tips on digital media buying in the cannabis space.

The webinar concluded with a question and answer session, where Rabinowitz answered questions from the live audience. Topics included tactics to get advertisements approved, clone sites, and digital advertising bidding.

To get access to the full webinar and learn more about 2020 COVID-19 cannabis marketing, become a CMA member today!

Already a member?– Log into your member portal.

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