(originally published on 3/3/22)
When I started building Hi-Curious in 2019 as a platform for people who are curious about cannabis to connect and learn, I didn't think that by 2022 we'd still be facing the stigma and censorship on social media. But, in fact, it's gotten worse.
The Weedmaps Super Bowl ad, daily complaints, rants, petitions and campaigns aren't going to change the hearts and minds of decision-makers to allow cannabis content marketing. Only one thing changes minds, and that's money.
Money, and specifically banking, is the reason for the censorship. And, even companies with more liberal policies (I see you Twitch), will continue to have to contend with their banking relationships.
I know this banking issue first-hand because it took me 6 months and cost me upwards of $50K to find a merchant services company to take on Hi-Curious. None of the plug & play options were available for my development team. Any bank that is FDIC insured and federally backed cannot take on cannabis companies. We were turned down by Stripe, Square, and many more before we bit the bullet and coded in our ability to take debit and credit.
The point of this post is to invite cannabis creators and entrepreneurs to get creative and spend the next 7 years (or more) building defensible communities and strong businesses before cannabis legalization frees up companies like Meta and Amazon to take over.
So how can cannabis businesses get creative to reach their audience?
COMMUNITY: My opinion is that your email list is NOT your community. Your Instagram followers are NOT your community. Your community are your fans, the people who support your business, your message and are looking for your leadership. Hire a community manager, and make their sole job creating a virtual place where your customer can always find you and you can always find them. Treat your community like the VIPs they are and watch your LTV grow while building a network of brand evangelists.
EDUCATION: Cannabis education is extremely valuable, but, due to censorship, high quality product demonstration content will get censored. So, how can you become an educational resource to your consumer? Provide them with your unedited, uncensored content in a place where they can interact with it on their own terms. Use your primary social media platforms to share content that entices curious consumers to want to join your private community to learn more.
CONTENT: Content Marketing might feel impossible in cannabis. And, for sure, many brands aren't investing in content marketing because of the uphill battle of censorship, advertising restrictions and the cost of making good content. But, choosing not to participate in content marketing due to these challenges is a sure-fire way to keep your business a secret from your customers. If you're not posting on social media daily, it's as if your store or shop is closed.
So how can you make enough quality content to support the social media machine and actually reach your core consumer to build community?
The answer is in turning your business into a content marketing machine. Go live with a client instead of a Zoom call, take the deck you wrote for the meeting and turn it into 25 static posts that sell your idea, take that blog post and turn it into a podcast. Film everything, document everything, share everything.
If you like these tips, thanks in advance for your comments and questions. If you'd like to learn more about our Hero Content Packages and how to make better cannabis content faster on Hi-Curious, let's talk.