A Guide to Marijuana Marketing & Advertising


Marijuana legalization is just around the corner in Canada, and there is a lot of discussion on what kind of rules and regulations will be in place for marijuana manufacturers to be able to advertise their products to their customers. Unfortunately, it looks as if they are going to be some rather harsh restrictions that will make it more difficult to advertise marijuana than for other, more conventional products. However, there are some pretty good methods out there for advertising. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways that you can get the word out there about your particular brand or product.

Direct Advertising

One of the methods that can be used without any real restrictions is direct advertising. You can do this several different ways. Direct advertising used to mean mostly advertising through the mail. Of course, advertising through the mail is rather expensive, and it is much easier to send out email. But the problem is, you have to have email addresses and permission to send stuff to them before you can. This is not the case with mailing advertisements. There are no restrictions on who you can mail things to, but you are going to have to pay for the paper, the printing and the postage.


Branding is tricky with marijuana. Right now there is talk of limiting the amount of branding that marijuana companies can do. Basically, the only branding that lawmakers are launching on marijuana packaging is identifying markings, age restriction warnings and to warn against irresponsible use. The government is asking for branding to be restricted to the same rules that govern cigarette manufacturers – that the colors and branding images will be very basic and limited and that no celebrity endorsements will be allowed. Unfortunately, they have also banned the use of customer testimonials which will be difficult for websites and places where the product will be sold.

Social Media Following

You can definitely advertise to your social media followers, but not in the sense of actually posting and paying for advertisements. You can simply create messages within the guidelines of whatever social media platform that you are on to your own followers. Unfortunately, with some social media platforms, this severely limits the amount of people that you can reach.

But in general, creating a social media following and keeping them entertained while sneaking in advertisements about your products is going to be a really effective way to keep people informed and maintain interest levels. There are brands out there right now that are doing exactly that and have been able to get huge social media followings.

Digital Advertising

Digital advertising is pretty restrictive in North America when it comes to marijuana advertising. Whether you’re talking about advertising on Google and Facebook (including Audience Network), using integrated social media advertising campaigns or even going with third parties, there are some pretty big restrictions on things like marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes and even pornography and erotica. When it comes to marijuana, social media platforms are very hesitant because the restrictions or rules are different depending upon the part of the world that you’re in.

The best way to determine whether you can use a platform’s advertising to push your brand is to read their terms and conditions carefully. You can also advertise on third-party websites that are friendly to marijuana where you deal directly with the owner of the site.

The current opportunities in digital lie within direct site buys as well as limited ad exchanges that allow for marijuana advertising.  You could also setup an affiliate program as well to entice other publishers to advertise your products on their sites and pay out on a revenue sharing model in order to attract new users.

Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Obviously, we already discussed the direct-mail campaign, but traditional forms of advertising such as print advertising, television and radio may be used depending upon the laws governing the advertising and the policies of the company providing the advertising. The best rule of thumb to go with is to advertise with print magazines that are marijuana friendly and consider marijuana restrictions about the same as alcohol.

If you do not see advertisements for alcohol with a particular medium, then you’re probably not going to be able to get advertisements for marijuana there. Keep in mind though, television and radio advertising is no longer that relevant anyway. Instead, you may want to be focusing on online video platforms and podcasting.

Events/Community Involvement

Getting involved in the community or setting up an event is one of the things that you can do to promote your product without running into any restrictions. You can either be part of an existing event or you can set one up yourself. If you are part of an existing event, then you will have to find out what their policies are regarding your product, but if you were to set up an event yourself and get people to come to it then there aren’t really restrictions to deal with unless the venue you have rented has a problem.

With community involvement, you simply are trying to build a relationship with people and let them know that your company is out there. While some may not appreciate you being involved, most will, no matter what your product is, and getting involved will let your customers know that you actually care about the community.

Search Engine Optimization

One of the best ways that you can promote your product and ensure that your branding gets out there is through the use of search engine optimization. Search engine optimization means that you get your website ranked higher than the competition for certain keywords that your customers are going to be using. It involves a variety of techniques, some of which are done with your actual website and many of which are done off site.

The bottom line with search engine optimization is that there are no restrictions whatsoever on building a website and getting yours ranked high, even if the search engine itself has policies on advertising marijuana. For example, you may not be able to advertise marijuana with Google AdWords, but you can still get your website ranked higher than others for the keywords that you are going after. Google has very few policies and restrictions on this.


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