SEO. SEM. PPC. CRM. CTR. CPC. These are marketing terms that you may have seen being thrown around when you dive into the world of marketing, but what does it all mean? And more importantly, how does it all apply to cannabis, if at all?
Going into 2018, there is an exponential influx of newcomers into the cannabis industry. Growers, vendors, distributors, dispensaries, and more. It’s a sea of green that’s extremely easy to get lost in if you don’t set off on the right path. So how does a new company rise from the unknowns to the upper echelons?
For basics, marketing your new cannabis brand on major social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google) is going to be an uphill battle. According to Facebook/Instagram Advertising Guidelines, “Ads may not promote or facilitate the sale or consumption of illegal or recreational drugs, tobacco products, or drug or tobacco paraphernalia.” Twitter also has a similar drug policy which prohibits the promotion of “drugs and drug paraphernalia globally.” And finally, Google’s official AdWords policy doesn’t allow the “promotion of illegal drugs, legal or synthetic highs, herbal drugs, chemicals and compounds with psychoactive effects, drug paraphernalia, or aids to pass drug tests.” While your traditional mindset is going to tell you to go after these, which isn’t a bad idea since you should always have a presence on the major social sites, that’s all it mostly will be. A presence.
And don’t you forget the risk of being taken down. Every single day, more and more cannabis-related pages are taken down. All those hours you put in crafting the perfect page? Gone. All those followers? Bye-bye. All the hard-earned likes? Up in smoke, pun intended. It’s a rough world out there for the cannabis social media promoter, and things can get rougher with alleged accusations of companies going behind the scenes and reporting their competitors in an effort to get them taken down.
Enter growth hacking. It’s THE buzzword for startups. It’s polarizing. It’s revolutionary. It’s what everyone wants. But what exactly does it mean? By definition, it’s the process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.
One of the most well-known examples of growth hacking comes from AirBNB. During their humble beginnings, they worked hard to distinguish themselves from Craigslist. They knew that even though Craigslist was more impersonal and scam filled, they did have the enormous user base that they couldn’t dream of competing with at the time. So, what did AirBNB do? They offered users who listed properties on AirBNB the opportunity to post them to Craigslist as well to increase visibility and gain access to that coveted prize, that enormous user base. However, the issue was that there was no sanctioned way from Craigslist to do so. Intelligently enough, AirBNB found out that Craigslist saves listing information using a unique url rather than a cookie, so they built a bot to visit Craigslist, snag a unique URL, input the listing info, and forward the URL to the user for publishing. The rest is history.
So how do you apply the principles of growth hacking to your cannabis business?
Let DATA be your master
Data driven processes are the key to excellence. After all, what gets measured gets accomplished. Words like Segmentation, Predictive modeling and Descriptive analytics should be part of your daily vernacular.
Failing is ok…but do it fast
Quick experimentation leads to accelerated outcomes. You will fail…a lot. But don’t be sad, failure is one of the best feedback mechanisms in an entrepreneur’s toolset. In this game mistakes may hurt you temporarily but being slow will kill you.
Don’t be afraid to break the mold
Most epic growth hacks have a dark side to them. Ask Craigslist how they felt about Airbnb growth hacking their platform to oblivion. Want to achieve unprecedented levels of growth? You better be willing to dip your toes in the murky waters. Be creative, data-driven and don’t be afraid to break the mold. (Keep it legal though!)
Adopt an “Inspector Gadget” mindset
Tools are a growth hacker’s best friend. Be resourceful and tool savvy. Need leads for your business? Want to grow your social media presence? Tools, tools, and more tools.
As hard as it might be, it’s time to quiet your ADHD coffee amped mind. Working in a startup environment often means that you’re a jack of all trades. Your attention span is usually spread out over 15 different deliverables with different degrees of priority. Build a framework of implementation that allows you to execute on a deliverable from start to finish. Don’t leave projects unfinished and stones unturned.
Use these fundamental tips as a starting point. Remember, growth hacking isn’t a clear and defined path. The team over at WoahStork have proven these tips extremely useful, building their audience from scratch in the most interesting ways possible. All while allowing patients to order cannabis online for pickup or delivery in a matter of minutes. Do get in touch with them if you find yourself with questions about growing your cannabis business.