The cannabis industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom due to a unique combination of circumstances, from various state legalizations and relaxing marijuana laws to the current public health issue. With a majority of potential customers staying at home, business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) marketing are taking advantage of online avenues, with social media at the forefront.
While B2C marketing targets individual consumers as customers, B2B marketing strives to convince other businesses to avail of what the marketer offers. In the current situation, B2C has more advantage using online channels, especially as it directly transacts with individuals who have sets of standards for engaging content, which generate sales.
On the other hand, B2B marketers usually have the goal of creating relationships on top of showcasing the profitability of their offerings. The cannabis industry’s B2C businesses may have a captive audience, especially medical marijuana patients and enthusiasts, but those in the B2B sector could have more difficulty marketing their products and services to other businesses. This is thanks to the notion that B2B promotions needs to be formal and business-like.
However, this should not be the case in any sector, especially in an open-minded and non-traditional industry such as cannabis. Below is an overview of the role of social networking sites in marketing B2B cannabis businesses.
B2B Marketing and the Cannabis Industry
B2B players in the cannabis industry include companies that provide equipment for cultivating and farming plants including lighting, fertilizers, growing tools and processing machines. Paraphernalia producers, manufacturers of infused products, transporters, and distributors are also considered businesses offering their products and services to other businesses.
When it comes to promoting their offerings, players are faced with a whole lot of obstacles, in light of the current federal standing of marijuana in the US, varying state laws, and competition. Remember, while the use of the plant is not a new thing, its legalization remains to be young and a lot of things are yet to be explored and addressed.
One of these is the federal law, which still lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug among LSD, heroin and ecstasy, as well as different state laws. B2B organizations in the marijuana sector are facing challenges when it comes to promoting their offerings as many marketing platforms they can use are subject to federal laws. Say, they successfully enter the market of their home state. Now, if they plan to enter another state’s market, they have to be mindful of its laws.
The next challenge for cannabis B2Bs is the competition, especially as the industry has been booming over the last few years, thanks to recent legalizations of medical and recreational marijuana. In fact, 33 states have created a medical marijuana program and 10 of which, plus the federal district of Columbia, have legalized adult-use. With strong reception among states, the sector has brought forth a significant number of B2B players, causing the expected cultivation market value to reach $45.6 billion by 2026.
Of course, the entire industry, including B2C and B2B, is still facing the stigma from more conservative groups, posing another challenge in their advertising endeavors.
Some Key Points in B2B Cannabis Marketing
Now, keep in mind that the business-to-business market, particularly cultivation, is expected to reach a whopping $45 billion in six years, which clearly shows that the B2B segment is thriving. Business-to-business companies use effective marketing techniques in order to arrive at such results. Here are some of the key points they are inclined to use when it comes to cannabis businesses.
Educate, Educate, Educate
One of the most important things about this kind of marketing is to focus on educating potential customers. As a business, marketers need to keep in mind that they are addressing other businesses. These organizations know the techniques and tricks companies commonly use to sell their products or services and may not be swayed by employing such a B2B marketing strategy.
The best way to convince prospective customers is to educate them. Remember, they are looking for the best solutions that could give them the best return on investment (ROI). This is also a great way to build a relationship with two businesses.
Because of this, companies need to show their audience the effectiveness and efficiency customers can enjoy when they avail of the offerings. In the case of the cannabis sector, it is important to illustrate how solutions can make cultivating, harvesting, processing and transportation more productive.
As mentioned, B2B marketing is focused more on educating and establishing relationships. This is why it is important to build a comprehensive network. Before the pandemic, businesses can network in industry events such as the MJBizCon. This was a great way to get in touch with other companies, learn from their best practices, and share expertise. These were also opportunities to showcase products and services a business offers.
However, with restrictions in effect, businesses can network through social networking services. These platforms are extremely flexible and have a wide reach, from individual consumers to other businesses. B2B cannabis players can post a varying range of content, from videos, texts and images to market their products or services. Moreover, it lets companies reach out to each other.
It is important to remember that the use of social media could be different between B2C and B2B. Sites such as Instagram is great for B2C marketing, but it may not be too effective for B2B. On the other hand, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have shown results for B2B.
Don’t Discount Content Marketing
The future is digital, which is why it is imperative for any business to create a digital content marketing strategy. It is easy to think that this technique may be applicable only for B2C, especially as the average individual consumer has at least one socmed account, which they use to view content online.
However, it is important to note that businesses who are prospective customers consume content through social media, as well. They also view websites. Understandably, companies expect their websites to speak for themselves, especially when it comes to providing valuable information to prospective clients. However, their sites could be lost in a sea of competitors when not marketed properly.
This is where content marketing comes in. Businesses make their existence known by using keywords and meta-tags related to their services. Combined with high-quality and relevant content, the company can get their websites to rank in Google search rankings. You can also market your website through posts.
Social Media is Key
With the previous points, it is apparent that social networking sites plays a huge role in B2B cannabis marketing. It serves as a platform for promoting products and services, while also offering a chance to network with other businesses, which are potential consumers. Moreover, it provides a way to establish a strong brand on which individuals and companies can base their perceptions.
Using Social Media in B2B Cannabis Marketing
Given that socmed plays a significant role in B2B marketing, you might be wondering how you can use such platforms for your cannabis business. Here are the best practices when using socmed in B2B cannabis marketing:
Know Your Goals and Audience
Any owner knows that venturing into the business world means that you have to determine your goal and audience. As a cannabis company, your goal involves providing cannabis-related products or services to your target audience. The same principle applies to socmed marketing. You want to make sure that you have a clear goal about what you want to use your account for. Plus, you need to study how your market consumes uses such media.
As you are enticing other businesses to work with you, want to make sure to shift the focus on the company itself, not the person behind it. This shows that you are paying attention to their own vision and mission, and that your business is here to help them get what they want. So, if you are a producer of high-quality infused products wanting to work with a dispensary, highlight how your products can help elevate the shop’s name.
Establish a Persona
Before you go and get in touch with your potential customer, you want to make sure that you know who your business is, which will translate to how you want your business to recognize you. This process of creating a brand and strengthening it is important not only in establishing a business but also in marketing it.
For your account, you should see to it that you communicate with prospective clients in a way that conveys your brand. This is the persona you want them to see. Now, the type of persona you put forward depends on your brand. Being a cannabis business means that you want to communicate the value of your service in a manner that is memorable and unique to your brand.
You might think that your social media identity should be business-like because you seek to work with businesses. However, remember that you should be on-brand, so there is no need to take on a formal and possibly boring approach. Why not take a page from Wendy’s as they banter with consumers and other businesses on Twitter? Just make sure that the personality is consistent with your image, message and reputation.
Always Highlight Compliance to Regulation
Now, content marketing through the web and social media can be tricky. In digital marketing, businesses have the option to get pay-per-click services, which allows their webpages and sites to appear on the top of related Google search results. Social networking platforms also show paid or sponsored ads.
However, Google and some social networking sites are bound by federal law, which still considers marijuana and any related product illegal. This means that you will not be able to use pay-per-click services.
The best thing to do is to go the organic route, which involves marketing content. In doing so, you want to make sure that you emphasize that your products or services abide by pertinent laws, especially those in the state you are operating in.
Reel in Real Audience Through Your Employees
There is nothing more convincing than having your employees testify to your commitment to your products, services, and industry. This is called employee advocacy. Experts say that people are more likely to read a post about a brand when it is published by a friend as compared to a post published by the brand itself.
Say, you have 10 employees share your company’s post to their 100 friends. You have already increased the likelihood of your post being seen by more than 900 people. However, keep in mind that getting your employees to post brand-related products on social media can be difficult. So, make sure to give them the right tools to encourage them to do so.
How does this related to B2B, you ask? You see, employee advocacy can make your company look appealing to potential business customers as it conveys solidarity and loyalty. This can indicate a strong system and support from both employer and employees’ sides, which can translate to an efficient and productive provider.
Encourage User-Generated Content
Content generated by the company and shared by consumers and employees alike are definitely useful in marketing your business. However, you want to encourage your customers to generate their own content. Now, you might think that this is easier if you are a B2C company, as they can simply take photos of your product or services in action and post them on social media, complete with a hashtag.
Well, worry not because B2B players can also urge customers to create their own posts. This can be done by providing free samples, demos, and trials. For example, offering a cannabis dispensary some samples of your products can inspire them to post a thank you message with a photo of the items.
The Bottom Line
Business-to-business marketing can be tricky, but with the help of social networking sites, you can create a strategy that works best for your cannabis company. With this overview of B2B marketing and social media, you have higher chances of reeling in customers.
Have we missed any point about the importance of B2B marketing strategies to use for your cannabis business? Let us know!