Updated: Apr 18
2019 was an epic year for CBD when South Africa welcomed the legal sale of CBD into retail. It allowed small businesses to grow and expand, and it also created a more open conversation around hemp and cannabis. It did, however, come with its own set of problems during the short period of legalisation. And then… came a new disrupter, COVID-19. This will have an impact on the way we do business going forward.
These 21 days of lockdown will give small businesses the time to address their current brand positioning. When CBD products first enter the market, brands were driving sales on pushing CBD concentrates. I hate to break it to you, but CBD is no longer a differentiating selling point for your brand, your competitors have CBD in their products as well. Even if you have a better product, than your competitors, this alone will not generate the sales you need to sustain your business. If you want your products to thrive, you will need to have a strong brand positioning with a comprehensive marketing strategy. If you’re going to your do your own marketing and advertising, find out who is your target audience, this saves advertising money. Always remember that marketing generate leads for your business, in return, these leads will bring you brand awareness, loyalty and income.
Oils Snake Salesman
Medical Hemp & Cannabis is being researched more scientifically to find out what the health benefits and impact is on the human and animal body. As a lot of this scientific, research is still in its infancy but CBD brands, are still making unsubstantiated claims. Resulting in labelling and messaging that is often unclear, making it confusing for consumers to learn about the efficacy and authenticity of these claims. Educating your consumer could be the one key differentiators that could help your business stand out from your competitors.
Other brands that weed wash the industry are those that falsely advertise products as containing CBD. Some products that have been tested have been shown to contain hemp seed oil only, or even other oils, anything but CBD. This damages genuine CBD products and brands, creating confusion and scepticism around the health benefits.
HINT! Education –
Engage with your audience by creating compelling educational video content.
Carry out surveys. These can be done online on your website and through social media. Don’t be afraid to show consumers how they can benefit from your services. You might also consider focusing on a particular niche.
How to retain your current customers while growing your business
With CBD being new to the South African consumer, marketing and education will be critical to attracting recurring customers. Affiliate marketing has been proven highly successful in the past, and you can look at local as well as international affiliates. Previously, only big brands tended to attract affiliate members. COVID-19 has caused a disruption in the industry, creating opportunities for smaller businesses to attract local affiliates. Even though this can be costly, it will generate brand awareness and drive consumers to your website.
What to do when your customers come to your site.
- Feature customer’s testimonials, this will boost your reputation and keep customers returning for more.
- Your copy must be friendly and educational, especially when it comes to your products.
- Create a funnel that collects visitors information, stay in touch with these visitors through regular blogs and newsletters.
- Reward your recurring customers by giving them discounts, and when they refer friends to your brand.
- Continued engagement increases the likelihood of customers returning to purchase again.
Once your consumers are building, keep connected to them through surveys, this will allow you to find out what your customer needs/wants are. Feedback from your customers will give you insight on whether your customers are satisfied, and the areas that need to be addressed or adjusted in your business.
Do’s and Dont’s of CBD Advertising
Let’s first look at Dont’s, these can damage your brand and restrict future advertising.
- Boasting about CBD’s medicinal properties is definitely a no.
- Countries have an advertising standard that they need to adhere to. If you copy content from international sites, you could infringe on these standards and also have your account or website closed down for copyright breach. Also, take into account that this also applies to Search engines and social media platforms as they have their own advertising policies.
- Website content – if your site contains information that is misleading and inaccurate, you may be taken down. You will not be able to register on search engines such as Google or Bing if you have been taken down. It can also impact on your social media marketing because of backlinks.
- Misleading advertising and the sale of cannabis products can get you banned and in more extreme cases, have your social media account closed down.
- You can not legally advise about treatments of specific medical conditions, disease or ailment using CBD. Only a doctor can do this.
- Most social media platforms adhere to US laws, included FDA regulations, this prohibits the sale of illicit drugs including CBD, hemp or cannabis products. Stay away from adding price tags to your products on these platforms. Some try and push the boundaries and sometimes get away with it. Still, one has to way up the possibility of losing an established account with followers.
Here are some Do’s
- You can highlight the potential medical benefits of integrating CBD into a daily health and wellness routine.
- Only make proven claims, if this can be backed by credible research documents. Link to these papers online.
- Educate consumers on CBD, but be careful how you word this, you can not mislead your readers.
- We are in the business of CBD, and so is every competitor. Instead of talking about the ingredient, make your product or brand the hero.
- Utilise your site and social media to collect contact details, so you can send newsletters and direct messaging.
- You can also ask influencers to promote your brand.
- Use affiliates to promote your products.
- What are the restrictions
- Despite CBD being legalised, there are local and international restrictions on advertising of CBD products and services. This limits brands with online stores from marketing their product and to raise brand awareness through referral marketing and content creation.
Here is some news; Google and Facebook to date do not allow marijuana-derived CBD advertising. They are considering a more lenient regulation for hemp-derived CBD. It is essential when marketing your CBD products that you know the difference. Educate yourself on social media and search engine restrictions to avoid potential pitfalls:
- Facebook changed its Advertising policies in 2019, to the following, cannabis-derived CBD is not allowed, topical hemp-derived CBD advertising is permitted. Be aware of the additional stipulations;
- Your website landing page can not have cannabis-derived CBD you will be blocked, and this can impact possible future advertising banning.
- Indigestible CBD advertising is not allowed on Facebook, this is against FDA regulations.
- CBD Oils are not covered under these regulations, however, keep to the rules and regulations of CBD to prevent getting banned.
Some pointers to minimise rejection or banning
- Do not include the term CBD in your Facebook domain name.
- If you need to, create a new Facebook account. Don’t mention CBD or cannabidiol anywhere on your Facebook page.
- Limit CBD-related keywords from your own website.
- Find a creative way to explain your CBD product to your consumers.
- You can use CBD and CBD product images.
- You can advertise on Facebook but do not mentioning CBD in the ad copy or image. Write content on the benefits of your product.
- Target audiences with an interest in “hemp oil.”
- Launch your compliant CBD campaign!
Google Ads (AdWords)
- If you are planning to run Google AdWords or do CBD product advertising, your ad could be taken down. You can also be banned from future advertisements, even if they are not CBD marketing ads.
- On a positive note, Google recently did a pilot project and ask selected companies in the CBD space to participate in a trial run for CBD advertising. Results have not been released.
- Illicit substance advertising is not allowed on Twitter, and they will take down any kind of CBD product advertising.
- You can use Twitter for brand awareness and marketing through content and education. Since Twitter’s advertisement policy applies only to products that are promoted, meaning paid advertising.
Here are some practical ways around Twitter rules;
- Post information like announcements of new products and link them back to your site.
- Publishing relevant information that will be well received by the cannabis community.
- Building brand awareness with frequent postings and engagements.
- Once again, refrain from making any health or disease claims about CBD, this could cost you your account.
- Instagram advertising policies on CBD are similar to Twitter.
- Instagram is a bit more lenient with CBD oils and related product advertising. The downside, Instagram can permanently shut your account down if you try to advertise a specific product, read their advertising policies to get an idea as to what is allowed.
- Educate your audience on Instagram and link back to your blog, otherwise resharing content from other CBD-focused Instagram pages.
- You can post inspiring and relevant images that reflect your CBD marketing campaign and branding.
- You can also use Instagram to publish videos.
- If you have a business profile, you can include direct web links via the ‘Story’ feature.
The Key to Marketing a CBD Company: Brand
To be CBD successfully in the mainstream market, branding in this market is critical for staying afloat. To grow in this market requires a great deal of diligence, consistency and patience. Here are some practical ways to optimise your brand.
Focus on SEO
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is the most organic way to build your brand online. This is not easy but is more cost-effective to the alternative, which is advertising.
- Hiring an SEO expert to help will be the best and fastest way to ensure your money and time is well spent.
- You will need to break through the CBD marketing rules. SEO “keywords” are considered a marketing and advertising medium, so choose your keywords carefully. Even though SA does not fall under the FDA regulations, search engines and social media platforms do so adhere to these laws. By implementing the correct SEO you will be able to allow visitors to find your website and be seen as a trusted thought leader.
- Most businesses will set up their site and not update it for a prolonged period. This could be due to not having the time, or if they have used an external resource to build their site or cost. You must do regular updates to your website, this can be done through blog posts, articles, product descriptions or weekly updates. Share your content on social media platforms, this will drive traffic to your site and allow you to climb up in your Google ranking. Ensure that you write easy to read and informative content, this will give you credibility and position you as an authoritative and influential leader in the CBD industry.
Attend trade shows
- Word of mouth marketing is still king. Attend industry trade shows to meet other industry players face-to-face. This will also allow you to find out what your competitors are doing. Showing what your brand has to offer this is an excellent opportunity to attracting a new audience and potential investment for your CBD business.
- Affiliate marketers are fast becoming the gateway to informing the world about your products. According to industry data, affiliate marketing expenditure will inflate by 10% over the next few years and will be worth $12 billion. Affiliate marketing accounts for 15% of all digital media revenue and back in 2017, web users clicked on affiliate marketing links over five billion times! The global affiliate marketing transactions surpassed $170 million during the same year 2017! Some trusted affiliate networks include ShareASale, CannAffiliate and Clickbank.
- Diversify your marketing CBD campaign, gives your brand a better chance to attract your target market generating leads for your business, leading to profits. Influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing segments in the marketing world today, 17% of companies claim to spend more than half of their marketing budget on influencers. This year, influence marketing budgets are predicted to inflate to 65%. Influencers that represents your brand must be familiar with the CBD market as we as the local and international guidelines. They should openly disclose their affiliation with the brand and in return, be able to attract the right audience.
- This is the oldest form of online marketing and allows you to directly engage with your consumer. You can send coupons and deals to your existing newsletter subscribers/customers, getting the word out about products will help improve customer relationships and retention.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
- Because Hemp, Cannabis and CBD regulations are continuously changing and if you do your own marketing, keep informed with local and international laws. Focus on the following:
CBD legal changes
- It’s no secret that cannabis consumption, in general, is becoming one of the fastest-growing segments in South Africa. Due to restrictions CBD marketing will have advertising and marketing challenges. There are also still questionable grey areas internationally around CBD legalities. Know your laws and stay updated.
- Remember to pay close attention to any news about the cannabis space, both with marijuana and hemp, it will have an impact on your brand. Some of the best cannabis news resources include:
- High Times,
- Canna Law Blog, and
- Marijuana Business Daily.
- Subscribe to local and international RSS feeds and email newsletters – just as a customer would do on your website/blog/online store.
- What Advertisers Need To Do Next
- If you are planning to do your own marketing, make sure that you can capitalise and generate leads, leading to potential profits. Here are some steps worth taking to get ahead of your competition.
- Before a customer lands on your homepage, they will use specific keywords to search for a brand or product.
- Be the website that Google ranks on the first page by conducting proper keyword research.
- Integrate keywords into titles, meta tags, picture descriptions, video descriptions and more.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- With your chosen keywords and phrases, integrate them into an SEO-optimized site that targets your niche market.
- Submit your website to as many directories as possible.
- Create meta tags and include strategically placed search phrases on pages, to maximise returns on your SEO-optimised site.
- If you are writing your content yourself, make sure your copy is keyword friendly with informative that keeps people returning for more.
- The link-building marketing technique never gets old.
- Guest posting on authority sites that create a link back to your website helps your site to rank higher on search engines. You will need to generate inbound links on your website, as well as outbound links. These can be done through website and blog articles to authority sites attracting more readers to your site.
- Just keep in mind that linked content is considered advertising. Make sure that you link to sites that have a good reputation and are reporting accurate information. You will not be protected from claims made by linked content.
- And remember, commercial (linking to) use scientific publications to promote product sales or discussions on potential health benefits, this may still be considered to be drug claims.
- Monitor your CBD marketing campaign, check if results are improving as time progresses.
- Various types of software can be utilised to view site analytics, including:
- SEMrush, and
- The word “Cannabis” is becoming global more accepted. If you have CBD products, then this is an excellent time to enter the retail market. Establish yourself as a well-respected brand before the market gets overly saturated. Ensure that you stay updated with industry news daily. Make your mark on the industry at large, establish trust and loyalty among your customer base.
Through social media and content educate your audience and build brand awareness, without using aggressive selling techniques that could get your account banned.
For the best chance, do your research before starting a CBD marketing campaign to better understand the limitations associated with the CBD industry, locally, international as well as online. Before you launch your product, make sure all claims you make are authentic, substantiated and are accompanied by credible scientific support.
Alternatively, you can hire an agency that specialises in the Hemp & Cannabis industry who can assist you through this transition. THC-A is a young and innovative marketing agency that are specialists in this sector.
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