Contrary to popular belief, "content marketing" in itself isn't a strategy. Rather, it's more a philosophy —
one rooted in creating content that actually provides value to readers, instead of constantly trying to push
a product or build a brand. What makes content marketing so powerful is that, as a side effect of providing
true value, brands who participate in good content marketing actually end up building immeasurable reputations
for themselves as authoritative, knowledgeable thought leaders in their industry.
So, why is content marketing important in the cannabis industry? In short, it can enable your brand to take a fresh, customer-focused approach to the content you create, allowing ideas to flow while you tap into limitless, important research: your customer's questions and needs. By implementing an authentic content marketing strategy that is truly driven by providing the best information to customers, your cannabis-related business can thrive in a young, growing, and highly competitive marketplace.
After all, many customers who come across your business are likely to be new to cannabis and its uses. That means they have plenty of questions, and the brand that’s able to answer those questions in the most complete, unbiased, and thoughtful manner is the most memorable. With all of that said, let’s get into the details of content marketing and how you can make it work for your cannabis company.
Elements of Impactful Content Marketing
You might think the first step to implementing content marketing is to plan out great, insightful content — but you’d be wrong. In reality, before a company can even come up with a content plan, they have to take care of some fundamentals. Without these elements sorted, any effort you put into your content marketing will be in vain.
The following components form the basis of any content marketing strategy. Skipping over them will only lead to wasted energy, as they truly are paramount to informing your content plan down the line.
The cannabis industry is growing, and it’s growing fast. The annual market value is expected to top
$30 billion by 2025.
That’s great news for those in the industry, but it also means you’ve got competitors around every corner.
So, what do you do to stand apart? It starts with creating a strong brand identity that your audience will
If you haven’t already begun working on your branding, you should start by reviewing the 12 major archetypes. While an archetype alone won’t define your company, it will put you on the path to creating a consistent brand image that represents your audience.
When you have a strong brand identity, people associate it with:
- Your customer’s backstory and values.
- A reputation of being trustworthy and dependable.
- An experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Fortunately, there’s a tool that can help you layout your brand identity so that you and everyone else will know you’re on the same page. It’s called a “brand book,” and it’s a handy document that will instantly inform anyone about who your brand is, how it should be represented, and how you want the audience to perceive it.
Your Next Move: Using a template or starting from scratch, lay out a brand book that details who your brand is. It should also touch on who your audience is (see below) and how your brand communicates with them.
When you’re thinking about designing your brand, who are you designing it for? To put it simply, if
you don't design the brand with your audience in mind, your audience simply won’t resonate with it.
That’s why identifying customer personas during your brand’s early development phases is essential to
coming up with a brand identity that will stick.
This step takes research because, even if you know the average person who walks into your shop is in their 30s, there’s a lot you don’t know about them, like their education, salary, or media preferences. These are all things customer research will reveal and they can all help inform your branding and marketing from here on out.
The typical customer persona includes:
- Job title
- Family status
- Media preferences
For instance, a retail shop may identify “Medicinal Matt” and “After-Work Alice.” The former persona could represent customers who consume your products for their health benefits, while the latter could represent casual users who come in every so often to try out the latest offerings.
Your Next Move: Using a template, identify 2-3 key customer personas and make a profile for them. Give them a name that you can refer to across departments so everyone is on the same page when you’re creating content or advertising for a given persona.
Last, but most certainly not least, the final foundational component of a content marketing strategy
is a critical one: keywords. Now that you know who your customers are and, by extension, who your brand
wants to be, you have insights that will allow you to start building out a keyword plan.
Using tools like Google Analytics along with keyword analysis and monitoring tools, you should plan to do the following:
- Identify the keywords your competitors rank for.
- Identify the keywords your competitors use for advertising.
- Identify other semantically related keywords your audience searches for.
Your Next Move: Using the right tools, explore the keywords your competitors target and find related keywords your audience cares about. Prioritize based on keyword difficulty, relevance, and search volume.
Understanding a Cannabis Customer’s Journey
In every industry, there’s a set of phases known as the “customer journey”
that help illustrate the changing mindset and knowledge level of prospects as they near a purchasing
decision. In the cannabis industry, it’s really no different, and understanding how the three phases
apply to your customers is essential to serving them the right content.
As you walk through the following phases, remember that a prospect has different needs in each one. For instance, a customer in the awareness phase needs a lot of introductory content, while someone in the decision phase is ready to buy, so they want to see pricing and purchasing options — not an article explaining the benefits of X, Y, or Z.
The great thing about basing your content strategy around keywords is that they can tell you a lot about the phase your reader is in. For instance, most people searching for “CBD side effects” are going to be in the awareness or entering the early consideration phase. Meanwhile, those asking about “CBD dealers near me” are generally ready to make a purchase.
With this knowledge, you’ll be able to show the right content, at the right time, to the right people. If you have strong calls-to-action (CTAs) tailored to each phase, you’ll also be able to capture and nurture leads, moving them through the sales funnel so that they ultimately become customers. So, with all of that said, let’s go through each phase in detail.
Your prospects enter the “awareness” phase when something first piques their interest about the cannabis
industry. This could be driving by your shop, seeing an advertisement online, or hearing about it from
a friend. Those in the awareness phase have a lot of questions, and knowing your customer personas will
help you answer the right ones.
For instance, “Medicinal Matt” is wondering about the potential health benefits of cannabis products. Meanwhile, “After-Work Alice” is thinking about casually trying them for the first time. Both of them are probably wondering about the side effects and potential risks of use, but they have different motivations and concerns, and their needs should be addressed accordingly.
To reach prospects in the awareness phase, you have to answer their questions. This usually means creating a lot of introductory content, which can be presented in FAQ pages, blog posts, short videos, and many other formats.
In your content, remember that the main purpose is to provide value through thorough, genuine answers. However, you should also provide unbiased background on your various products, discussing the pros and cons openly.
Examples of keywords that point to the “awareness” phase include:
- What is CBD?
- Health benefits of marijuana
- Can you get high on hemp?
Prospects in the consideration phase are absorbing information everywhere they go. They’re hungry for
knowledge, and they’ll typically spend a lot of time researching in their own way. Of course, these
days, that usually means looking things up online. Your job is to provide optimized, valuable content
that will appear as they continue searching for information.
As they become more informed about what’s out there, prospects will begin deciding what's right for them. After-work Alice may very well decide it’s not for her, but the ones that stick around are going to develop preferences based on the information they’re consuming. For instance. Medicinal Matt may come to the conclusion that a CBD capsule is the best product for him.
Beyond potential preferences for products, though, these customers are also going to develop a preference for who they want to work with. For these prospects, your best bet is start introducing them to your brand’s backstory, values, and what sets you apart. You should also show them comparison content between different brands and types of products to help them make an informed decision.
Examples of keywords that point to the “consideration” phase include:
- Best way to consume CBD for anxiety
- What to look for when buying CBD capsules
- Product A vs. Product B
As customers draw conclusions on the options they're considering, they enter the decision phase. This
is the phase where prospects are worth the most, because they have real “purchase intent,” meaning
they’re ready to place an order, start a product subscription, or reach out to you for a consultation
If you consider paid advertising, especially pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for keywords that show purchase intent, you’ll notice that the cost per click is much higher. That’s because these are clicks just waiting to turn into customers, and your job is to provide a frictionless purchasing experience to make sure that happens.
Examples of keywords that point to the “decision” phase include:
- Where to buy CBD capsules online
- Cannabis stores near me
- Best CBD dealers in Canada
Creating an Effective Content Strategy
You’ve got your customer personas and brand book laid out. You have a keyword plan in front of you. You
understand what your customers want throughout every phase of their journey. Now, we can dive into the
content plan behind your content strategy.
You’re ready to jump into the details of your content strategy, but not so fast! Content marketing
is often associated with written content, but it doesn’t have to be limited to written content. In
fact, your brand can do a lot by diversifying and trying various formats — including video.
Studies actually show that video content can build a reputation very quickly, increasing brand awareness by 54% and helping you cement your place in the niche to grow a following much faster. Of course, depending on how far you want to go, countless brands have also seen success by incorporating weekly podcasts and other creative forms of content into their strategy.
Types of content you might consider include:
Video Content: While you’ll need to invest some money to make sure the production quality matches your brand’s image, video content can help you reach people on more platforms and in a more effective manner. It’s a great complement to your written content, whether you’re covering the same content in a different format or expanding upon it with product demonstrations and more.
Audio Content: More than half of all Americans have listened to at least one podcast and the audience of regular listeners continues to grow. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need one. Podcasts are great if you offer a unique perspective on the industry, but are generally too time-consuming and untargeted for most local retailers to worry about.
Image Content: You don’t necessarily need a professional photographer or graphic designer, but outsourcing to one on occasion wouldn’t hurt. After all, great images are critical to the look and feel of your website along with social media posts. They’re critical on Instagram and very necessary on Facebook, where they can double engagement.
Diversifying your content calendar is a good idea, but be realistic about what you can create. It’s best to prioritize the creation of high-quality, keyword-optimized written content. Once you’ve got that going, you can consider expanding to other types of content.
After figuring out what types of content you’re going to post, the next step is to determine which
platforms you want to publish on. You should start with your own website’s blog, but you can expand
Consider platforms like:
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat.
- Communities: Reddit, Discord, and niche forums.
- Blogging Networks: Medium.com and guest posts on niche sites.
Going back to your customer personas, you should review the media preferences of your top ones to see what they use. You can also test out platforms to see your engagement rates. If a platform simply isn’t leading to interaction, cut it out of your strategy and focus your efforts on the platforms where you are seeing results.
Finally, this is the step where you’ll feel like your content strategy is coming together. Fortunately,
all of the work and research you’ve done up to this point will make building out your content calendar
(and planning the topics in the next step) as easy as can be.
If you’re not familiar with what a content calendar is, it’s a calendar that runs from January through December and shows all of your “content slots.” That is, it shows when you are going to publish what. To setup a content calendar, you need to decide:
- What type of content you’re going to post
- Where you’re going to post content
- How often you’re going to post
Once you have all of your empty slots in the calendar, being sure to account for seasonal changes and
holiday promotions, you can move onto the next and final step: planning out your topics. Luckily,
this work is almost entirely done, assuming that you came up with a thorough keyword plan earlier on.
Since content marketing is about giving readers valuable information, a keyword plan basically gives you all of your topics because these keywords tell you exactly what readers want to know.
Aside from question-based keywords, you can also decide what comparisons they're making (i.e., “CBD capsules vs oil”), what concerns they have (i.e., “CBD and weight gain”), and everything else they want to know (i.e., “where is CBD legal?”) to make a purchase.
Examples from Cannabis Companies
With your content strategy well underway, one thing you can do for inspiration is check out what your competitors are doing. Here are some leading examples from the cannabis industry.
As Emerald Magazine put it: “Siobhan Danger Darwish and Sloan Reed affectionately known as the Grow Sisters — have combined back-to-the-basics, sustainable farming methods with modern technology to build a brand, and empower others.” Over 90,000 followers on Instagram agree, plus they have a very professional YouTube channel to top off their strategy.
A lifestyle subscription box meets the cannabis industry. The Stoney Babe has marketing down-pat with a very niche audience. They also have their corporate social responsibility plan in order, promoting women-owned businesses in every box. As a result of unique branding, they’ve gained a cult following.
Those seeking manufacturing equipment will be quick to come across the marketing of Ethos Manufacturing, a company specializing in the production of cannabis products. With an interactive website and a thorough overview of their processes and products, Ethos Manufacturing helps move prospects through the sales funnel by using truly informative content.
Effective Marketing Starts with Your Content
Whether your business serves the cannabis industry at a local, regional, or global level, content marketing
plays a critical role in helping you build a successful brand. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. Once
you have your content plan typed up, it’s time to execute.
Here at Scripted, we have a database of the best writers in the cannabis industry who are ready to help you put your content plan into action. Plus, with our Cruise Control service, your content strategizing is done for you. Interested in learning more? Reach out to our team today or learn more about the professional cannabis writers you can hire on Scripted.