Target audience

Integrated Marketing and Public Relations: One Message Fits All

When a company wants to promote something new like a slogan or campaign, integrated marketing is the smartest way to do it. Integrated marketing uses various mediums at the same time to get a message out. There may be marginal differences across all platforms, but the goal is to have the overall message remain consistent. Whether the medium is TV, web, print, or social networks it must be recognizable to your audience and each strategy must support all platforms.

A proven best practice is to meld modern and traditional marketing strategies. It ensures that anyone who should receive the messaging does by taking elements of old school and new school marketing to reach consumers where they are. Though the integrated marketing goals may be different, like building brand awareness or driving traffic to your website, the one thing they need to have in common is having an alliance with one another. 

  • Integrated marketing campaigns are powerful for several reasons:
  • Reach a wider audience
  • Brand presence on all platforms
  • Keeps your brand top of mind
  • Builds trust through familiarity
  • Share of marketing assets
  • Allows current customers to spread the word

Importance of integrated marketing.

Let’s say you come across a new brand on Instagram and want to learn more about it. The first thing you do normally is go to the brand’s website. However, the website looks and feels completely different, because what they have up on Instagram is a new marketing initiative and is not consistent with the brand you are seeing on the site. If the website has messaging that differs from their social media, the consumer cannot grasp the gist of the brand. The last thing you want to do is confuse potential buyers.

An example of doing integrated marketing correctly is The Wellflower. Their provisioning centers have a sister company cultivation called Scout Cannabis. Both brands have the same color scheme that carries on throughout all of their marketing on all platforms. Whether you are on their Facebook, in one of their three stores, or looking at an internal email signature, the look and feel of these brands flow together nicely.

Audience Targeting for Integrated Marketing Communications.

No matter what your product is, taking time to define exactly who you are targeting is crucial. The demographics of your audience should include current and potential customer profiles. Things to take into consideration are occupation, age, education level, gender, income, family situation, and geographic location.

Things to consider are:

The needs of your target audience.

The wants of your target audience.

What it is that you are doing or offering that is different from your competitor(s)

How do PR and integrated marketing work together?

PR has evolved through the years. Your media relations are still important but there are so many more baskets to put your eggs in these days. Twenty percent of all newspapers in the United States have folded or merged since 2004, so you can’t count on this medium like you used to, but TV and radio news still hold a lot of power and the medium reaches thousands and thousands of people. One of the most important aspects of a media outlet picking up your story is amplification and credibility. Despite issues with the public and media trust nationally on the local level news outlets still have credibility and reach.

Integrated marketing is when your media efforts complement your marketing efforts. Internally and externally, your messaging must be consistent and ubiquitous. 

Integrated marketing is not a new concept but it’s an important one. Your brand’s message points pull together as a whole through this marketing concept and competent public relations professionals know this and can assist you. There is a lot of information coming at us these days from different people on different platforms. Integrated marketing delivers one distinct message regardless of where it is going out and that makes it easier for everyone.


Nonprofit and Charitable Giving: Cannabis and Community

The legalization of cannabis has created an entirely new industry that is doing more than just generating tax revenue for municipalities. It is greatly benefiting nonprofit organizations and supplying volunteers needed for various events and activities. Many of the founders of cannabis companies began as caregivers and have a strong sense of community. They welcome opportunities to give back. It does seem like things are getting a little crowded in certain cities regarding the number of dispensaries. So how do you set yourself apart from the competitor down the street? A strategic community outreach plan is a solid way to exhibit your dedication to the community.

Giving back

The initial enthusiasm of opening a cannabis business wears off a bit after a few months. One of the best ways to keep up momentum is through community engagement. Since there are many barriers when it comes to marketing and advertising for cannabis. The more involvement you have with neighbors, neighboring businesses, and nonprofits the better. For example, Pharmhouse Wellness in Grand Rapids along with Redemption Cannabis did a turkey giveaway in 2021 that received significant media coverage and drove sales. The companies gave away one hundred turkeys on Thanksgiving Eve. This charitable event showed people that these are companies with a true commitment to the people in the communities they operate in.

Volunteering time and money. Charitable giving for nonprofit organizations.
Volunteering gets noticed.

We’ve seen Muskegon-based companies like New Standard Park Place and MJ Verdant partner with Stand Up for the Cure and Grassy Knoll has an ongoing relationship with The Noah Project. 

Event donations to nonprofits

Most grand opening events have a charitable donation aspect as well. The Wellflower in Ypsilanti donated a portion of proceeds from their grand opening event to We The People Opportunity Farm. This organization supports a workforce of formerly incarcerated individuals. They also have paid internship opportunities and free food distribution. The nonprofit organization a company chooses to partner with for their grand opening usually ends up being a partner in co-promotion moving forward. This shows a true commitment to the cause so it is important to choose a nonprofit you fully believe in.

To go a quantum leap further, Oops Cannabis is helping Ukrainian emergency relief efforts in their own way. This company changed the name of their Russian Diesel cartridge product to Ukrainian Diesel. This product name change drove sales significantly because provisioning centers felt good buying them. Oops is dontating one dollar of every cartridge sold to a relief fund. Now that’s global community outreach!

Nonprofit fund guidelines

There are some challenges cannabis companies encounter when approaching nonprofits for engagement opportunities. Cannabis is still an illegal substance at the federal level so not all nonprofits will gladly receive funds from the industry. Federally funded nonprofit organizations must be choosey about who they accept donations from. A charity may not want to accept donations from a cannabis company because of the stigma that still exists. Accepting these funds could affect how other supporters view them and cause them to lose money instead of gaining it.

Make a plan

There are several things to consider as you choose what your community outreach plan will look like. What do you stand for? What do you have true conviction about? Define your company values and make sure they relate to your charitable donations.

To donate funds is one thing but to walk the walk and volunteer when an organization you care about needs assistance is going above and beyond.  As the saying goes, “Actions speak loud than words.”

As the cannabis industry continues to expand it becomes even more important to create a plan for community outreach so that you can hit the ground running. Make sure your company leadership is in agreement with the plan so execution will go smoothly and set the best first impression with your community as possible. If you are unsure how to begin, Canna Communication is ready to help you consider a strategy and tactics for community giving. We’re here to collaborate with you to ensure you put your best foot forward with community outreach efforts and beyond.

Successful Cannabis Promotion on Social Media

The social media platforms have made cannabis companies social media misfits. As a cannabis company, if you have not been scared off or annoyed beyond recognition by this point, we applaud you. You realize everyone is pushing out the same content with a different brand name because that’s all anyone can really do. You also realize your presence there is expected and necessary. It’s all about how you look at it though, so make your brand stand out from the herd. Be creative and have fun with what you can do and dismiss what you cannot, but whatever you do, do not push the boundaries. These platforms can and will suspend or permanently remove your account if you do not adhere to their guidelines, so you must know what they are.

Ultimately, what really serves your cannabis company is driving traffic to your website. Your website is your online storefront where you can showcase your goodies and the deals you are offering. As your web traffic increases so does its quality rating with Google which is advantageous in searches. Your social media channels can certainly help get people to visit your site, so they serve a meaningful purpose. Here are some guidelines to adhere to, so you can make sure to stay in good standing.

Very strict regulations are an ongoing battle for cannabis businesses marketing on social media. Cannabis violates every platform’s terms of service and community guidelines just by being there and every cannabis brand wants to dominate. Unfortunately, today you can only expect to reach about 3 percent of your audience on most social media platforms. Even with amazing content, algorithms change often, and hashtags help, but not as much as most people think. 

Simply put, follow the rules and you’ll be fine and remain in good standing.

You can post…

Educational, informative content.

Advocacy content including data, statistics, quotes, legislative updates, health reports, research results, and so on.

Images of products – just don’t post anything that implies the products are for sale, trade, or delivery.

Keep an eye on all social media updates to its guidelines so you’re always adhering to the current rules. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and Tik Tok.

Closely monitor the activities on your page, particularly if you outsource content creation, sharing, and communications on your business page to a marketing agency, freelancer, or another third party. It’s equally important to monitor your employees’ activities on your page as well to ensure they comply with Facebook’s rules.

You cannot…

Say that a product is for sale, trade, or delivery.

Ask people to buy a product, i.e. put in bio “Nothing for sale and 21+ only” 

List prices.

Encourage people to inquire or contact your business about a product.

Show images that depict the sale of cannabis products.

Post anything that gives instructions on how to grow, sell, or use cannabis.

Provide any contact information for people to buy cannabis products.

Make any medical claims.

Safe content looks like this:

Budtender bios and recommendations 

Cultivation behind-the-scenes

Cannabis lifestyle imagery and content

Memes for cannabis enthusiasts, nothing cartoonish or child-related, i.e. Mickey Mouse

General cannabis education

Product education

Dosing tips and guidelines

Having an experienced marketing team creating your content makes a difference, but not everyone has access to that initially. If you are going at it alone to begin, start with some objectives you can measure like increase in number of followers per month and number of engagements per post. Focus on the power of your social content more than the frequency. Variety is the spice of life, so get creative and bring something new and fun to your audiences. A lot of different types of people use weed. You can still stay on brand and market to Deadheads and soccer moms alike. Sometimes they are the same people. Never judge a book, right?

post it notes to show the branding process

Branding Brings Connections to Your Work

Think of some of your favorite brands and why you like them. The most successful branding efforts bring connections to you, they speak to your heart, not talk at your head. We humans act according to the way we feel, so if you can make people feel a certain way they’ll stick with you. To make this happen you must understand and embrace your “why.” Why does your company exist? If your why is at the core of your brand it separates you from every other company that does what you do. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

When a brand creates an experience or evokes an emotion repeatedly, over time it builds loyalty and therefore consumer loyalty. If you have a core purpose frame your identity, as opposed to tying your brand solely to the actual product, and you set yourself up for success and longevity. Take for example, the Kenneth Cole brand. Through focused branding, it has been donating a percentage of profits to AIDS research and awareness since 1985, so people feel like they’ve done something good when they spend their hard-earned dollars with Kenneth Cole. They aren’t just selling footwear and handbags. This is a perfect example of a purpose-led brand that ties its purpose to a singular tactic. Bissell is another fine example with its Bissell Pet Foundation. A portion of profits from this corporation go to helping homeless pets. You see branding is not just a logo and template to follow for all advertising. It is looking at what your relevance, coherence and credibility are. Link your brand to a perceived positive impact and you’ve got something that separates you from the rest of the businesses in your community.

a red ribbon to symbolize a brand connection

Emotion inspires action and branding is the key!

This is where amplification comes into play. It is not sufficient to just push out content. You need to amplify your message by using the media, advocacy, influencers, native social media and advertising where you can. Most platforms have very specific rules about cannabis advertising, but it can still be done and being newsworthy and relevant helps with amplification.

Deep down the cannabis consumer wants more than to just buy weed. They can do that almost anywhere these days. Your employees want to do more than just sell weed. The attrition rate is just as high in the cannabis industry as it is in the restaurant industry. So how do you get good people to stay and not jump ship for the highest (pardon the pun) bidder and keep customers coming back regardless of what deals are going on down the street? People want something to identify with, so what resonates with them will sell them. Express what you stand for, so it does some actual good. You gotta live it! The people that work for you need to be inspired by it and that feeling will translate when they interact with your customers.

This is particularly true in cannabis public relations and marketing. Redemption Cannabis in Jackson, Michigan is a perfect example of a cannabis company with a purpose. Ten percent of all revenue goes to those affected by the war on cannabis. These funds are mostly used in cannabis conviction expungement efforts. On a national level, Ocean Cannabis is a brand committed to ending the cannabis plastic problem. By sourcing their packaging from 100% reclaimed and recycled plastic found in oceans, each product purchase recovers the equivalent of fifteen straws or one water bottle worth of recycled plastic. Their goal is to “smoke the ocean clean, one joint at a time.”

a photo of a person ligthing a pre-roll to illustrate branding a cannabis business

Humor goes a long way when you’re trying to connect with a person or group of people too. You know that person that wasn’t that attractive to you at first, but then became more attractive as you got to know them better because they were kind, funny, clever, compassionate, smart, etc? Your brand is no different. Make people laugh—because cannabis consumption is for better health and fun! Humor creates a sense of intimacy before they even walk in the door. From there you can create retention with stellar customer service, ambiance and products. 

What’s Your Plan?

Do you have an actual corporate business purpose statement? Is that statement backed by a solid activation strategy? You planned for your cultivation and/or retail store, but how about your brand. How much went into developing what the consumer recognizes your product as? Noteworthy advice: Transcend the ego of your bottom line, your investors, the pressure of outdoing everyone. Stand for something that speaks to people like they are actual human beings, not just dollars.

Decide your purpose. Mean it. Stand by it. Seek the assistance of marketing and public relations professionals to build your brand. You are good at what you do and we are good at helping you express to consumers why you do it.