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Dispensary Marketing & SEO Domination in 2019+: The Dopest Guide

by | May 21, 2019 | Cannabis SEO

Updated 7/23/19

In a saturated and highly competitive medical marijuana market, such as the one here in Oklahoma, creating and implementing a thorough and effective cannabis dispensary marketing strategy is absolutely essential to the ongoing success of your business.  

Let’s take a look at some marijuana market stats… 

Cannabis Industry Trends and Dispensary Insights

  • Spending on legal cannabis worldwide is expected to hit $57 billion by 2027 (Forbes)
  • The largest group of cannabis buyers will be in North America, going from $9.2 billion in 2017 to $47.3 billion a decade later (Forbes)
  • Sales of medical and recreational marijuana are going to reach $4.75 and $6 billion in 2019 respectively. By 2023, both forms of marijuana will be higher than $20 billion before hitting $24 billion in 2025. (Statistica)
  • Medical marijuana sales are expected to account for between $5.9 billion and $7.3 billion in sales in 2022. Meanwhile, recreational weed should tally between $12.1 billion and $14.8 billion in sales that year. (The Marijuana Business Factbook).

For at least half of the population, owning a successful & legal marijuana business is a dream come true. It’s probably why there are so damn many of them in Oklahoma right now.

But, as you already know or will soon be finding out, there is a gigantic difference between opening a dispensary and running a thriving dispensary. 

And if you own one or more of the 1,673 Oklahoma dispensary licenses (as of the date of revising this blog post) while there are many variables when it comes to running a successful retail business of any kind, there are also some universal truth which we can count on.  One of these, in particular, which we will be focusing on primarily today, is the Pareto principle – better known at the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity.  

Applying Pareto’s Principle to Your Dispensary Marketing Plan

In case you are not familiar or need a quick refresher, this rule states that, for many events and situations, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  When the rule was first named, after italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, he noted the 80/20 connection by first showing that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population.  

In business management, 80% of sales come from 20% of clients.  There are also many natural phenomena that have been shown to have this 80/20 distribution.  

When it comes to running a successful cannabis dispensary, the 80/20 rule should be applied to assessing where your business stands in overall context of the marketplace and also, where you are spending your time and investing your money.

By applying this rule to your dispensary marketing ideas, you will have a way of making decisions easily and definitively, that you may not have had previously.   

Before we dig in, let me tell you a little bit about how I got here and what this is all about. 

The Making of a Cannabis Marketing Samurai

My name is Mitch Smith.  When I was 15 I was kicked out of high school for marijuana.  And after a life of continuing to pursue my hobbies and becoming a digital marketing ninja on the side, combined with the passage of SQ788, life has done a full circle.  I am in a good place, doing what I love to do.  

In 2005, at the age of 18, I obtained my Oklahoma real estate license, and that was my entryway into the high-end custom home building and eventually, mortgage industries.  

In 2013 I survived a nearly fatal car accident, which was my exit from the mortgage industry.  In 2015 I discovered Athabasca and was healed from those injuries entirely. 

After being healed, I launched FogPusher, a web design and search engine optimization company that specializes in growing small to medium size businesses with digital marketing technology.  I still run this business today, however, my primary emphasis today is on the cannabis industry (obviously).

I am highly selective about the clients I will work with, particularly if they are outside of the industry.  I found my niche. 

In 2017, I had an epiphany regarding my previous live in both the real estate and mortgage businesses, and I applied my newly-found digital marketing skills with that experience to create ifunnel, a mortgage lead generation agency.  Once SQ788 passed, creating a legal marijuana legal for licensed medical patients and businesses, I have shifted my digital marketing focus primarily to serve cannabis industry business owners.

Navigating Your Way to Marijuana Business Mastery

The objective of this article is simple. Navigating the world of dispensary marketing can be overwhelming. This article simplifies the entire situation for you, allowing you to focus on improving the areas of your business where you will see the greatest returns on your time and investment.

As a digital marketing professional, I get to help business owners do more of what they love doing by doing what I love doing. Creating this guide is just one of those ways.

Let this dispensary marketing and growth guide pave the way for your dispensary’s success in 2019 and beyond.

Table of Contents

#1 – Get a pulse on your marijuana market by connecting with the right pages and groups.

#2 – The Fundamentals: Cover Your 3 P’s (Product, People, and Pricing).

#3 – Optimize Your Digital Visibility.

#4:  Simplify Your Transactions and Minimize Cash on Hand

 

#1 – Get a Pulse on Your Local Market by Connecting With the Right Pages & Groups

Optimizing your dispensary marketing efforts starts with connecting yourself to the right resources.

The resources here apply specifically to Oklahoma cannabis dispensary owners but you should have similarly equivalent resources in your state if you are not involved with those already.

The r/OKmarijuana Subreddit

This group is highly valuable to you, as a dispensary owner, because many of Oklahoma’s medical patients are on here giving feedback about local dispensaries.

Many of them complain or make recommendations for improvement. If you are not a member of this subreddit, you should join right now, and make a point to look through new posts on a daily basis (or hire somebody like me, to do that for you).

Not only does this subreddit give you a pulse on the Oklahoma cannabis market, but it also gives you the opportunity to engage with customers and to promote your business (which I recommend doing, but go easy on it). business.

If you have never used Reddit, I highly recommend sticking to the OKmarijuana group.  Reddit can consume your life if you are not careful.

Oklahoma Cannabis Country Facebook Group

You will get similar value out of this that you will get from Reddit, however, there are a few reasons you may find Facebook to be slightly more or less valuable.

For one, on Facebook, you can see exactly who the person is that is making a post or replying to yours.  On Reddit, there is a layer of anonymity as alias names are used.

There are pros and cons to this.  Sometimes people will be more transparent when they know their personal name is not tied to what they are saying.  You can sometimes get a better idea of how people REALLY feel on Reddit. Whereas on Facebook, there will always be a hint of censorship as people can clearly see who is talking.  

Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Insiders Facebook Group

I personally made this group as a resource for growers, processors, dispensaries, and any other businesses that contribute to or help advance the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry.   My first group was recently erased forever for violating a Facebook community guideline (and they specifically said they were not going to tell me which one).  So we had to start fresh with this group.  I made some revisions about the sourcing policies which I feel will likely make the chance of the group being erased forever a much smaller possibility.  

Canna Solutions Newsletter for Dispensaries (if you are in Oklahoma)

Before worrying about anything else, make sure you have a pulse on high-quality cannabis products you can inventory and sell at your cannabis store.  Without this, you don’t have much to work with. 

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana B2B LinkedIn Group

I set created this group because, as legend has it, LinkedIn seems to be far more welcoming of the legal cannabis market.  It is still against LinkedIn guidelines to sell drugs, so I would still recommend avoiding pricing discussion.  Luckily, they have a built-in messaging platform, where you can easily reach out to anybody you please.  

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

Unlike the other resources, which are groups to join, with the OMMA, you simply want to make sure you follow their page.  

For bonus points, you might consider changing their post visibility so that you see their posts first.  Sometimes they post updates which are directly relevant to your business and there is no sense in not clicking this simple button to ensure you don’t miss out on any major industry changes that affect your medical marijuana business.

To do this, visit the OMMA’s Facebook page, and make sure the check boxes indicated in the image below are checked.

‘See First’  and Notifications – ‘On’

Now, you will see posts from the OMMA prior to seeing anything else on your news feed.  

Oklahoma Cannabis Business Network (The Forum)

The forum on the OSBN website is a great resource to source product, sell product, and discuss other business-related matters.  The signup is fairly simple ad the website is easy to use.  It’s similar to a Craigslist of the Oklahoma medical marijuana business. 

 

#2 – The Fundamentals of Marketing: Cover Your 3 P’s (Product, People, and Pricing)

Before we get into specifics of the digital marketing and business optimization strategies you can (and should) be using to optimize your cannabis market share, we need to cover the fundamentals.

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender.”  – Mahatma Ghandi

Additionally, ask any of the most successful NBA and NFL coaches of any time over the past 100 years and they will tell you the same.

Fundamentals are everything when it comes to success.  And your marijuana dispensary business is no exception. It all starts with your product…

Sourcing Top-Shelf Cannabis Product

If your business is closer to one of the larger cities in your state (like Oklahoma City, for instance), sourcing quality product should not be much of an issue. Dispensaries located in the more rural areas of the state are likely going to need to put in a bit more research/work to find quality suppliers, as many of the growers are maximizing their efforts by targeting metro areas.

There are several ways to ensure you are carrying the best products and to ensure, with a relatively significant degree of assurance, that patients will purchase the products off of your shelves.  These are the best approaches I have learned to find dispensaries and processors:

  • Using Facebook, I would first join the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Insiders group, then follow the recommendation which suggests that you send me a message with your dispensary information and the types of products you are looking for.  Then, I would start manually looking for brands that you find on the Weedmaps menus of other dispensaries in Oklahoma and I would message those companies directly. This can take some time but it’s well worth it once you have some quality suppliers established.
    The key to Facebook is to not solicit suppliers in the groups or from your page or from anywhere, and you also want to avoid selling any products.  Running deals, mentioning any kind of pricing, etc..  is a very gray area and if anybody feels like flagging your posts, you can start to run into some issues.  It’s best to avoid soliciting via posts altogether.
  • Using Instagram, you basically follow the same strategy.  I actually have had more luck with Instagram than anywhere else, simply because you can see the images of what the companies have going on.  I recommend sending inroductions that include your OMMA license number and complete details about what you are looking for.  By communicating clearly and providing all of the necessary details from the start, you are going to save time for all parties involved.  Copy and paste your template and keep doing that over and over.  Instagram will continue to give you other recommended profiles similar to the ones you are looking at, which makes the process somewhat simple, although very repetitive.
  • Another strategy which Ponca City Dispensary and I had some great feedback from, was mailing a postcard to every registered grower on the OMMA list and directing them to a landing page to learn more about their business.
  • If we end up working together, I am more than happy to help you source product.
  • Prioritize quality over getting the best deal.  It doesn’t matter how cheap you can sell flower.  If it’s not any good – you will never be able to sell it and your customers are going to complain on Weedmaps, Reddit, Facebook, Google, and everywhere else.

Attracting and Screening the Right People (Employees)

Finding quality people is one of the most challenging considerations for any businesses – particularly for marijuana industry businesses.

Here are some important questions to ask, prior to digging into the market of eligible employees.

How do you (personally) differentiate between quality candidates and people who just want to get high?  Does it make any difference to you?

Do you even want to hire non-patients?

Is it more important that the candidates know how many grams are in an eighth, ounce, or pound or would you rather teach a newbie?

Do you want somebody who is familiar selling pot on the black market or somebody who is not familiar, that you can show the ways?

These are all important questions to ask yourself prior to hiring, and the truth is, there is not a single, correct answer that will work for every business. Once you define your most ideal candidate, structure your application and interview questions specifically to help you efficiently identify your most likely quality candidates.

I recommend adding a ‘We’re Hiring’ page/form to your website, which allows applicants to answer some customized questions and upload their resumes.  You never know when you might need additional help, and sometimes you have to screen through quite a few before finding quality candidates. It’s best to get this set up ASAP, if you have not done so already.  (or we can do it for you).

Offer Competitive Cannabis Pricing Without Losing Your Shirt

With tools like Weedmaps, this one can be tricky, however, there is a solution.  By providing your customers with a consistently high-quality buying experiences and cannabis strains, you can easily overcome the feeling that you need to have the lowest prices in order to maintain consistent business.

Below are a handful of ways you can approach this pricing situation – which is only going to become more important as the market continues to mature.

  • Include tax with your pricing.  While this might make you appear to be more expensive to customers shopping you on Weedmaps, it will be a pleasant surprise when they do.
    The alternative to this is obviously to not include a tax on transactions, which instead, provides a slightly negative experience when your customers are checking out.  It’s always better to plan to surprise your customers rather than tagging on extra cost at checkout.
  • Use a cashless ATM to process payments (generally a flat, $3-$4 charges which may be passed onto the customer).  Include that transaction fee in your pricing, assuming that everybody will be using a debit card, then offer the transaction fee as a direct discount for customers that pay with cash.
  • Consider creative ways you can add value to every transaction.  Maybe stock up on half gram prerolls or edible sample packs to give away as surprises with every transaction.
    This will leave your customers with a positive feeling when they leave your shop, they will be much more likely to tell others about their experience, and there is a much greater chance they will come back to buy whatever it is you just gave them a sample of.
  • Evaluate and optimize your customer’s buying experience and make improvements everywhere you are able.  Keep Starbucks in mind when you do this. Starbucks has some of the most expensive coffee but they also have some of the most loyal customers.  It’s not about the price their customers are paying – it’s about the experience they have when they buy it.

Here are some questions to help you get the experience optimization process started for your dispensary:

  • Are your employees wearing uniforms or lab coats?
  • Are your budtenders wearing gloves every time they handle product? (very important)
  • How can you cost-effectively improve the vibe of your shop?
  • Are you cleaning your shop consistently?
  • What kind of music are you playing?  Is it at the right volume?
  • How does it smell in your dispensary?
  • Consider burning some Santo paolo to neutralize the marijuana smell naturally.
  • Is the temperature comfortable?
  • Are your products displayed in the most professional and interactive manner possible?
  • Are your customers being greeted in a way that makes them feel comfortable without adding pressure to their experience?

#3 – Optimize Your Digital Visibility

In today’s day and age, the key to obtaining new patients/customers is to attract their attention in the right way at the right time, online. Maximizing your visibility is essential because the more visible you are, the more patients you are going to attract.

For the sake getting the most bang for our buck, we can safely cover our bases so long as we have the following digital channels covered – listed in order of importance.

  1. Your Website
  2. Weedmaps
  3. Google My Business
  4. Facebook
  5. Instagram
  6. Leafly

Set Up a Strategic, Responsive Website That Accurately Represents Your Business.

Dispensary websites don’t have to be an expensive undertaking, however, you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to this particular component of your dispensary marketing efforts.

For the sake of the local dispensary SEO domination you are about to embark upon with the help of this article, your dispensary website can be most effectively viewed as a central hub in which all of your other directory listings point/link back to. 

It does not have to be expensive or complicated, but it does need to be professional, thorough, ideally include a menu which is not from Weedmaps (I’ll get to that in a minute.  and include a privacy policy/terms of conditions (legal internet jargon).

Some of the features I recommend including on your dispensary website:

  • A page for potential employees to apply and upload their resumes
  • A page for potential processors to share information about their business, license information, products, pricing, and contact info
  • A page for potential growers to do the same
  • A menu page (I’d recommend using Dutchie, which is currently free, rather than Weedmaps’ embeddable map)
  • An ‘About Us’ page telling the story about how your marijuana dispensary came to be
  • A ‘Contact Us’ Page which includes your hours of operations, a contact form, your phone number, and an image of your business.

Set Up and Complete Your Weedmaps Business Page

Weedmaps, with over 6 Million monthly visitors, is the next most important consideration as you prepare to optimize your brand’s visibility.

I just recently received updated pricing from weedmaps and here is how their packages look.

This information is quoted directly from Weedmaps.

_____________________________________________________________

FREE Listing

  • Our free listing will consist of the following:

    • Business Name

    • Address

    • Telephone number

    • Email

    • Hours of Operation

*No menu, no login, and no listing access to update any details

BASIC Listing  $420.00 monthly

  • Full access to listing

    • Logo

    • Menu

    • About Us

    • Photo Gallery

  • Algorithm-based for ranking

  • Larger Icon visible from map view

FEATURED Listing call for pricing and availability  (Note: I believe these are sold out in the entire state but it might just be OKC.  You will want to double check as things can always change.)

  • Home Page placement that is limited to 20 maximum

  • Map page guaranteed visibility within the region

  • Full access to listing

Additional Products

The products listed below would be in addition to your listing page and cannot be combined with a free listing.

BASIC Deal $295.00 monthly

Access to create deals to advertise on the regional deals page

Deals can be run in other regions

Can run multiple deals in multiple regions

FEATURED Deal call for pricing and availability

Homepage placement

Limited to 10 maximum

NEARBY Listing call for pricing and availability

Advertising your storefront in another region (example OKC store advertising in Edmond)

Homepage placement only in the nearby region, will not display from Map View

pricing and availability is subject to change without notice.

_______________________________________________________________

My personal recommendation when it comes to Weedmaps as of today’s date is that you go with the $420/month package, but make sure you have a game plan in place for completing and optimizing the profile, including your entire menu with images, and setting up online ordering.  

If you use Weedmaps correctly and you have a quality product which at least competes in the market, you should definitely be able to justify the $420 investment.  On the other hand, if you do not complete your Weedmaps profile and menu and update it on a regular basis, you will probably not get the same return on your investment as you would have otherwise.

The major cannabis industry point of sale systems like Flowhub and Greenbits both offer Weedmaps menu integrations, whicn is great because you can keep up with all of your inventory in one location without having to worry about changing it everywhere every time you get something new or run out of something.

That said, you also want to be aware of this.  Having a menu on your website is very important.  Weedmaps offers the ability to embed the menu from their website into your website but ideally, you will not go that route.  Weedmaps menu integration isn’t very mobile friendly, so the only way to show your menu if you are using Weedmaps embedded menu is to link directly to your Weedmaps profile.  And the downside to that is that you will inevitably turn some people who were planning on buying from you into shoppers who found a better deal somewhere else.  

The alternative to this, which I do recommend looking into, is a free (as of the date of writing this) menu service which also integrates with the major POS systems, but it does so in a way that doesn’t send shoppers back to the open market to see your menu.  It is contained entirely on your website or on theirs, and it also has an online ordering platform.  I recently met with this company to learn more and they are operating on venture capital money for the time being.  Their menus are much cleaner than Weedmaps embedded menus and I feel like this is definitely an ideal consideration.

Having a presence on Weedmaps is ideal but sending people to Weedmaps when they weren’t using it, to begin with, is far from ideal.

Here is an example of a Dutchie menu, for a dispensary in Oregon.  

Optimize Your Google My Business Visibility

Many of the patients/marijuana consumers in your market are going to simply use Google to find you.

Your Google My Business listing is free and provides you the best opportunity to get discovered by new patients looking for medical cannabis dispensaries near you.

To set up your Google My Business profile, visit Google My Business and make sure you have created a profile for your business.  Once you provide the basic details about your business, Google will need to verify the information is accurate.  Most of the time they do this by mailing a postcard to your business. Once you receive it, you will need to follow the instructions on that card to make sure it is verified.

Once you have a verified listing, the next step will be to optimize your visibility/positioning to new and existing patients/customers looking for a dispensary on Google.

Although Google keeps their ranking algorithms proprietary, there is a method which I have used consistently to rank businesses in the top 3 local Google search results, which is where you ideally want to be.  Studies have shown most searchers will visit one of the top 3 local businesses they see in their searches within 24 hours of searching.

How to Dominate Google My Business Rankings

Step 1: Verify and complete your GMB profile.

Use original images.  Choose ‘Cannabis’ as the business type.

Provide your hours of operation, a link to your website, a phone number, and everything else Google wants to know.  The more you give them, the more likely they will be to show your business to potential customers.

When you create your Google My Business account, you’re going to see a page that looks like the image above. Each of the tabs on the top of this page represent different types of images and

Step 2: List your business’ Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website, Consistently, Across All High-Quality Local and Industry-Specific Online Directories.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These listings are called citations.

Another significant GMB ranking factor is the volume and consistency of your business citations across other relevant/high-quality online directories.

Hear me out here as I’m about to give you the secret sauce.

There are 2 categories of online directories: Local and Industry-Specific.  You need to be in as many of each, as possible (only high-quality, though).

The local directories are going to be sites like YP.com, BBB.com, Yelp.com, etc…  These are websites that are designed to provide information about businesses in a specific local area.

The industry-specific directories are going to be any and every credible cannabis dispensary directory you can find.

Fortunately, this is a much easier process to help you navigate today than it was in the past.

In the old days Here is how we had to go about you go about finding all of your local and industry-specific directory listings. We still do this manual process but now the automated technology saves us a lot of time.

In order to double check the SEO work manually, first you must conduct a Google search for ‘Dispensary [enter your city or ‘near me’].

Next, scroll down the first 5 pages or so, making a list of every site that appears to allow you to create a business listing (citation) on it.

After those 5 pages, do the search again, this time for ‘Marijuana near me’…  Then keep adding to your list.

Next, you want to visit each one of those directories and create a complete listing for your business, using the exact same spelling, syntax, etc… as your Google My Business listing.  This is extremely important. If your address is spelled with an St. on Google, spell it the same on every one of these other directories. Also, be sure to include a link back to your website on every single one.

This can be a slightly monotonous task.  You can always this work out, also. (Hint, we can manage all of this for you).

It’s actually impossible to stay on top of eliminating duplicate or inconsistent listings across all of the directories that need to be submitted to. We also manage submissions to all of the top business information aggregation services, which manage the updating of many of the smaller directories out there, but which are also still very important in the grander scheme of things.

Step 3: Create (or hire someone to create) Well-Written, Valuable, and Relevant Content on Your Website.

Your ranking on GMB is significantly impacted by the quality of your website and the relevance of the content on your website to the search being conducted.

Be sure to include custom content on your website. Use custom images, make sure your website is mobile-friendly, that it loads quickly, and it’s easy to navigate using a mobile device.  (This is also something we would be happy to help you with.)

Step 4: Gather Real Reviews from Real, Satisfied Customers.

Gather real reviews from real customers on your Google My Business profile.  To leave a review, the customer simply needs to pull up your Google My Business listing (the way it shows up when you search for it), then click on reviews.  The user will then be given the option to submit a review.

You can get a good feel for approximately how many reviews you need based upon the profiles of your top competitors in your local market.

Build a Loyal Following and Engage With Your Customers on Facebook

The trick to running a successful dispensary page on Facebook is to share engaging content that is relevant and interesting to your followers.

I personally create a calendar for the month and plan out the types of posts that I will be generating on each day of the month.  Not only does this help me get more work done in a much more efficient way, but it also helps me to plan and strategize the voice/message that we are using as we speak through the brand.

For my clients, I generally break the posts up into these categories: advocacy, humor, polls, promotional, random/off-the-wall viral stuff, and images of medicine – maybe through sharing images our growers are posting on their pages or by taking some original shots of our own.  

The content plan you implement should be in alignment with your overall business branding.

I recommend scheduling out your posts, at least for the week.  That way you don’t have to keep messing with it unless you just want to.  I’m all about finding ways to minimize and reduce redundancies in my work, and this is one of the ways of doing that.

Scheduling Facebook Posts | Dispensary Marketing

Pro Tip

You should always use an image with every Facebook post, whenever possible. The engagement stats show clearly that users engage with image posts much more frequently than they do with text-only posts.

Canva is an excellent, free social media/image editing website which allows you to use your custom images and customize them with text and anything else you desire.  I highly recommend checking it out.

Build a Loyal Following and Engage With Your Customers on Instagram

This is fairly straightforward and is definitely worth doing.  Since you already have custom images you are sharing on your facebook page, share them also on Instagram.  But do yourself a favor and diversify your dispensary social media marketing efforts.  Focus on your customers/patients and not on selling marijuana, which is against the use policies for Facebook and Instagram, and will eventually get your profiles removed from the platforms. 

In recent years, many Facebook users have made a transition over to Instagram.  You will be unable to capture the attention of these customers unless your Instagram game is on point.

There are 3 primary components to running a successful dispensary instagram page:

  1. Complete your profile, including a custom description, your address, website, phone number, logo, etc…
  2. Post engaging, informative, funny, and entertaining images (preferably original).  Pro tip: Instagrammers like pretty bud pictures, especially ones you have in stock and available for purchase.
  3. Identify the most beneficial hashtags for your particular market and use those consistently, with every post.   Check out this list of the top 21 tools for instagram hashtags (many are free) to help you compile a list of the most beneficial hashtags for you to be using.
  4. Follow and engage with your customers.

Establish a business profile on Leafly (optional).

Leafly is significantly more expensive than Weedmaps (which is actually free for Oklahoma dispensary owners right now) but it does have its place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the deal.

Leafly has the top Google ranking for nearly every kind of marijuana strain out there.  This generates a significant amount of traffic – no doubt – but, as a medical marijuana patient myself, I personally prefer the Weedmaps dispensary locator over the Leafly setup when I am interested in making a purchase.

As a patient, I personally find Weedmaps easier to use.  I still use Leafly, I just use it for strain research – as do most others.

Additionally, most people are not shopping for specific cannabis strains. In my experience,most customers want to come in to the dispensary to check out the inventory at the shop and make a decision from there, not the other way around.  

If you do decide to get in with Leafly, I am sure the investment (a few thousand $/year) will more than pay for itself if you use it to its full extent.

Just be sure to upload your entire menu and complete your profile to your best abilities.

#4:  Simplify Your Transactions and Minimize Cash on Hand

Since SQ788 passed here in Oklahoma, I have been diligently researching all different kinds of merchant and ATM solutions to help my clients implement solutions that make life easier on customers making purchases.

As a result of these efforts, I have identified the 3 different ways that dispensaries are going about helping customers/patients experience seamless transactions. 

Provide Easy Access to Cash With an ATM Machine

The first of those methods is to purchase or lease an ATM machine that dispenses cash to your customers who don’t have cash on hand.  If you set up an ATM with transaction fees, you are charging your customer to do business with you.  Sure, it is a convenience over not having one, but it still takes away from your customers’ buying experience.

Additionally, having the additional ATM cash on hand poses additional security risks to your business.

ATMs can (and do) work, but I couldn’t help myself but ask, “is there a better way?”

There are a couple, actually.

Pre-Paid Rewards Cards… At the Potential Expense of Customer Loyalty

One of these systems works on a pre-paid rewards card system, where customers upload cash onto cards that can be used to make purchases in your dispensary.

Since Visa and Mastercard refuse to knowingly process medical (or recreational) marijuana transactions, these pre-paid cards provide a means of circumnavigating that entire system.

Instead, customers upload money onto their card, then the money on that card is deposited into your bank account.  While there are aspects of this system which appear at first glance to be advantageous over the ATM, there are also some downsides.

Many of the companies that offer these services have programs that incentivize your patients to buy throughout their network of dispensaries.  Essentially, your patients are, in some cases, driven to your competitors because they are also using the card system.

The question with all of that becomes, “How are you supposed to go about establishing customer loyalty when customers are being offered incentivized discounts and promotions to use their cards at competing dispensaries?”  It’s a question worth asking/investigating prior to jumping into anything.

The ideal system would make it easier for customers/patients to use their debit card, allowing for a simple, hassle-free transaction, that does not incentivize them to take their business elsewhere in the future.

And I just so happened to find one.

Make Life Easier on You and Your Customers With a Cashless ATM

Cashless ATM transactions work similar to normal ATM’s, however, rather than withdrawling physical cash, the money is digitally withdrawn from the customer’s account, and deposited directly into your bank account.  

Here are some of the advantages I found for using cashless ATM’s for your cannabis dispensary business:

  • Accept PIN-based transactions.
  • Give your customers the convenience to withdraw money in your store when they make their purchase.
  • No operating costs. No credit or debit card fees.
  • Earn money on each approved transaction.
  • Does not require merchant to change from current bank.
  • Eliminate cash from sales transaction: savings cash handling and management, reduce risk of employee theft when you have cash on hands
  • Quick, easy approval setup. No integration with POS system necessary

That’s about all for now! Check back for updates, as this is an evolving work in progress. As always, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if there is anything I might be able to help you out with.

Looking for more digital marijuana marketing resources? Check out these 8 ultra-dank local SEO strategies for dispensaries.

TTFN

Mitch Smith

Mitch Smith

Business Development Strategist

Cannabis enthusiast and entrepreneur dedicated to progressing the cannabis industry utilizing the experience and skillsets I have developed over the past decade in business development and running a digital marketing agency. In my ‘free time’ you can find me (usually) in OKC producing music or playing with my pup.
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