Hello =) and welcome back to “The Best Approach to Cannabis Marketing” Blog Series! In our previous blog, we focused on cannabis retail marketing — specifically regarding the Grand Opening and partnerships.
In this blog, we’ll be diving further into cannabis retail marketing and the Grand Opening. Read on as we discuss how to prepare for your Grand Opening, what you should do on the big day, what happens after you open, and how PufCreativ can help your efforts.
Grand Opening Prep
Now that you’ve identified a majority of your partners, this is an excellent time to start your marketing preparations for the Grand Opening. Although you may not have a hard date on when you can open your doors, there are steps you can take in order to ensure you have a successful Grand Opening and future for your business.
Here are our suggestions:
Plan For the Future
It’s time to begin your cannabis retail marketing future planning. Yes, you will be planning for a successful Grand Opening, but you have to realize: once you open, you’re open everyday!
That being said, almost all of the marketing platforms you utilize for your Grand Opening you’ll also be using after you open on the day-to-day. Here are some topics to discuss and write down with your team:
It can be hard to plan, create goals, set timelines, define roles, and map out a strategy without knowing what’s financially feasible for your business. One of the first conversations you should have with your team is assessing your budget to see what’s realistic for you in the short-term (and long-term).
From a marketing-specific perspective, we always suggest spending sufficient money and time early on, in order to avoid wasting time and capital in the future.
Goals & KPIs
It’s smart to map your goals and key performance indicators prior to diving into your planning. Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself to help ignite your process:
- How much do we want to gross on our Grand Opening and then average per day to follow?
- What’s our goal for our average ticket size and how can we influence those purchase trends?
- How many customers do we want to sign up for our loyalty program before opening?
- What’s a realistic timeline to outrank our competitors on Google?
- How many social media followers do we want to acquire on each platform prior to opening and then month-to-month?
- How many press hits do we want prior to opening?
Now that you’ve dialed in your finances and goals, this is a great point to start mapping out your timelines. Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself to help ignite that process:
- What is our target and most ideal Grand Opening date?
- When should we formally sign contracts with each strategic partner?
- When should we officially launch our website?
- When should we start our SEO, social media, advertising, and PR routines? (Do we space this out? If so, how?)
- When should we (the core team) personally announce our involvement in the project and launch dates to the public on social media?
- When should the general public sign up for our customer loyalty program?
Roles and Responsibilities
Now that you understand your budget, goals, and timelines — it’s time to identify who is going to execute and keep track of the deliverables required for a successful launch and the day-to-day.
Whether it’s an agency, members of your core team, or folks you hire to fill one or multiple roles, here are some examples of roles and responsibilities you’ll need to consider from a marketing perspective:
Typically, this role involves project management, community relationship management, partner relationship management, and oversight of all the marketing.
This role entails updating the website, securing the website, backing up the website, and availability for emergencies.
This individual would be solely focused on your SEO strategy, implementation, and data oversight – in order to make more informed and strategic decisions.
It’s great to keep your site up-to-date with fresh, relevant, and engaging content. Blogs help with consumer engagement, education, and keyword rankings, giving your SEO a nice boost.
Social Media Manager
An experienced social media manager who consistently posts intentional and quality content can help attract, educate and retain customers.
Public relations efforts are great for exposure, trust, and backlinks. It’s smart to have someone who keeps up with press releases, media relations, and problem solving public communication efforts.
As a cannabis retail operator, you’ll not only need graphics for your digital assets, but you’ll also need graphic designs for your print items, such as: signage, sales materials, education, POS displays, swag, etc. It’s good to have someone available to handle this on the day-to-day.
From our experience, high-resolution photography and videography performs the best on websites, social media, and ads. Having someone (or a group) that handles this routinely will be super helpful to all your marketing efforts.
Whether you have someone in-house who handles your advertising, or a partner, it’s great to have someone who strategizes your campaigns and makes sense of all your marketing/ad data.
We’re seeing that a majority of cannabis sales are taking place online, making ecommerce extremely vital for your customers and business. It’s smart to have someone who specializes in ecommerce keeping an eye on your platform, strategy, and future opportunities.
Now that you’ve mapped out your finances, goals/KPIs, timelines, as well as roles & responsibilities, it’s time to put together a comprehensive marketing strategy as you prepare for your Grand Opening and the days to follow.
The more creative and monetized your marketing is, the more impactful your strategies will be in the short-term and the long-term. Here are a few examples of places to start:
Organize & Plan
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to (just) your marketing, let alone your entire cannabis business. The more organized and further ahead you plan, the better.
Keeping in mind there are some great all-in-one options out there and folks should certainly do what’s best for their business, here’s what we use to keep track of day-to-day communication, project management, file organization, etc:
Quick day-to-day internal communication & file sharing
Project Management Tool
Integrates with Slack
Emails, calendar, collaborative drive, sheets & docs
Integrates with Slack
The purpose of good creative is for it to make your strategies more impactful. We first suggest mapping out the following game plans in your project management tools and calendars, with the purpose of keeping an alignment between all of the following efforts:
We’d suggest scheduling out your website launch, your integrations, and a routine for maintenance, back-ups, security, updates, etc. The sooner you launch a well- designed and developed site, the better for SEO.
SEO & Blogging
SEO is extremely important for any retailer (and also beneficial for your Grand Opening).
We’d suggest mapping out your SEO and blog routine for at least 6 months to a year with (at least) monthly data check-ins.
There are some great tools like Moz or Semrush to help plan and track your SEO analytics and routines.
Social Media is also a very important tool for cannabis retailers, especially when done correctly.
Investing in tools like Brand Watch can help you build out a calendar, schedule posts, and track data, yes, but they also allow you to listen in on trends, competitors, and your target demographics — in order to make your social media efforts the most impactful they can be.
We’d suggest mapping out your posts leading up to the Grand Opening and at least one to two months to follow. Getting ahead on holidays is also very crucial.
Scheduling out your Ad Strategy would be smart for it to be most effective. Your content to start would typically be call-to-actions (CTAs) leading people to your customer loyalty program so they can receive updates about the Grand Opening.
Once you’re open, your call-to-actions will be more ecommerce driven. We’d suggest to start running ads (at least) 3 months prior to opening and then monthly to follow, assuming you’re seeing positive results in the 3 – 6 month range.
Now that you have an idea of your Grand Opening, it’d be smart to draft a press release and pitch list of local, state, and national media companies. Quality PR is always helpful. In this case, you’ll want to release this campaign when you have a hard opening date.
Be sure to keep organized track of your pitches, planning ahead for your future pitches and nurturing your media relationships.
We see that quality photo, video, graphic design and animation is most effective, but can be a pain point for many cannabis retailers. Creating a calendar and/or schedule for your content creation will save you both money and time, and when re-purposed properly, will result in a higher conversion rate.
Since you don’t have as much to work with prior to opening, it’d be smart to get ahead on your intentional content creation efforts.
Now that you’ve organized and planned, it’s time to finalize your creative direction for your marketing channels. Some of this may have been mocked up during your branding process, but now is a good time to make your final decisions to save you from future headaches.
We typically put the following creative direction assets in a collaborative Google Slides presentation that aligns with the branding:
We like our cannabis retail website designs to be clean and crispy, with a great UX/UI and visuals that differentiate your cannabis retail business — all while keeping sales, SEO, and lead gen in mind. We like to map out our website and app designs in Figma prior to development.
As mentioned before, we like to start our social media process by using a social listening tool to analyze competition, trending topics, and influencer data in a particular area. We use that information to align with the creative exploration of the uniqueness of your brand.
At this point, it’s good to know what your profiles will look like and start mapping out the creative styles of your posts, graphics, and animations for months to come. It’s great to get your entire team to agree on a long-term direction (and have that direction based on data aligned with your branding ethos).
Since you’ll most likely be kicking off your ad campaign sooner than later, you’ll need to be creative for those ads. Having a direction and/or templates to work with will save you time and money.
The same goes with emails and SMS marketing. It would be in your best interest to have an idea of what the designs will look like when implementing those efforts so you’re not scrambling.
Whether you’re handling your photo, video, and/or graphic design in-house or contracting it out – knowing the style, light filters, and other guidelines prior to actually creating content for your marketing efforts will make your life way easier.
Kickstart Your Strategy
You’ve organized, you’ve planned, and you’ve finalized your creative direction for your marketing platform. Now it’s time to launch your cannabis retail marketing strategy in preparation for your Grand Opening and the daily operations to follow.
Here are a few suggestions on what moves to make next to get the wheels turning and start your creative customer acquisition:
It’s time to develop your clean and strategically-designed website. This is also when you’ll integrate all of your tech stack. We like developing sites that are clean on the front and back end, while keeping SEO in mind along the way.
You’ve put so much time into your website so you can focus on results and not having to fix errors or redo your site over and over again.
As you dive into website development, it will be good to arm the development team with the approved SEO keywords and game plans. While development is taking place, this would be a great time to set up your Google My Business profile and other search engine directories, if you haven’t already.
You could also begin your blog life cycle to start your arsenal of SEO-friendly content. Finally, once the website launches, it’d be great to initiate your SEO game plan and index your site with Google. It will be good to start popping up at the top of search engines prior to opening.
Now that you’ve created a social media and content strategy that aligns with your brand ethos and target demographics, it’s time to push forward your social media life cycle.
You can now compliantly promote your grand opening and provide education for your following to tune into.
It would be smart to get comfortable with your systems and ahead of schedule with your content planning, in order to keep your social media effective and purposeful as you post daily and/or weekly moving forward.
We love advertising because it can drive immediate target traffic to your website.
Even though you’re not open, you can still direct users to your incentivized loyalty program so they can stay up-to-date on your Grand Opening, stay informed on your specials, and get used to your routine once you’re open daily.
Compliant programmatic and Google ads would be a great place to start. Once you’re open, you can direct those ads right to your store or a safe landing page.
Local and national PR will not only give your SEO a boost and provide great content, but it’s also an effective way to keep folks tuned into your approval, Grand Opening, your story, and to build validated trust.
Folks love to see a good story in their local paper or media outlets that they can resonate with and plan to check out.
Since you’re launching your marketing platform, you’ll want to start taking high-resolution photos and videos to keep your marketing channels up-to-date with fresh content. Furthermore, it’d be smart to also start designing your printed marketing and educational materials, since different forms of print take different amounts of time.
Share With the World!
Now that you’ve got your cannabis retail marketing efforts aligned, it’d be a good time to share your project with the world outside the business marketing channels. Here are a few suggestions for when you get to this point in your project life cycle:
It’d be ideal for you to do an initial announcement of your new cannabis retail project through your social media channels and/or personal blog. Additionally: text, email, and direct messages with family and friends would also be smart to garner initial website traffic and social media followers.
Any type of press regarding major updates would be good to share on an ongoing basis moving forward.
On top of your personal channels, it’d be smart if you have your core team and any key personnel do the same on their social channels, personal blogs, texts, emails, etc.
The more targeted friendly traffic, the better!
Friends and Family
Taking things a step further, having your and your team’s family/friends share your project on their social channels, blogs, emails, etc. would be very beneficial. I’d suggest only asking folks you’re very comfortable with in order to avoid putting a bad taste in anyone’s mouth for being too pushy.
This could cost some extra money, however, be sure to also consider utilizing cannabis influencers. Local influencers in your network sharing your project on their social media could be a great way to get folks tuned into your special unique offering that you’re bringing to the community as a cannabis retailer.
The Soft Opening
Prior to the official Grand Opening, we suggest executing a Soft Opening about 1-2 weeks prior, in order to work out any issues that need to be addressed, and to test your operations to ensure the Grand Opening and days to follow are smooth. Here are our suggestions of who to invite to your Soft Opening:
Friends & Family
Close friends and family who can give you productive constructive criticism would be great to have attending your cannabis retail Soft Opening. They’ll be able to give you a fresh perspective, and can potentially ask questions that will help you prepare your staff for the opening of your doors to the public.
It’d be smart to have your partners, key personnel, staff, and investors at the Grand Opening — to help celebrate all your hard work up to this point, and to build confidence amongst stakeholders that the Grand Opening and days to follow will be a success.
It’d be smart to also invite the mayor of the town you’re approved in, plus any other members of the local municipality, to show they should be proud of your approval and that your business will be a success.
The same goes for inviting any other municipalities you may be targeting — to show them they can be confident in your cannabis retail business being in their town.
The Grand Opening
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the big day! After months of preparation and promotion, it’s finally time for your Grand Opening. This is an exciting moment for your business, and you want to make sure you make the most of it from a marketing perspective.
Here are some suggestions for what you can do on the day of your Grand Opening:
Photo & Video
It’d be beneficial to capture the excitement of the day through high-resolution photos and videos of your ribbon cutting, store, customers, and staff. You can share these visuals in real time on your social channels and also use them in future marketing campaigns.
Be sure to be active on your social media throughout the entire day. Share photos/videos, and use tags/hashtags to increase visibility. Encourage or incentivize (depending on state regulations) your customers to share photos or videos on their social media, as well as to tag your accounts.
Write a follow-up blog post about your Grand Opening to share on your website and social channels. Highlight the best moments from the event and be sure to include photos and videos.
Reach out to local media outlets to invite them to your Grand Opening. Offer them a tour and the chance to interview you and/or your staff. This will help generate buzz and increase visibility of your cannabis retail location.
Data & Customer Acquisition
Make sure you’re collecting customer data throughout the day via your website customer loyalty programs, in-store sign-ups tablets, QR codes, and social media. This will allow you to stay in touch with them and continue to directly promote your business.
What Happens Next?
After the excitement of your Grand Opening dies down, it’s important to keep up the momentum since you’ll now be in day-to-day operations. Here are some suggestions to keep your customers engaged and continue to promote your business:
- Follow up with your customers who attended your Grand Opening and continue to tastefully follow-up with them; also consider offering them a special discount on their next purchase.
- Stay consistent with your routine, strategy and approach to your marketing platform that you’ve worked so hard on over the past months or even years.
- Plan future events: Keep the vibes flowing by planning product launches, workshops, and community outreach programs.
- Analyze your data: Use the data you collect to inform your marketing strategy going forward. It’s good to look at things like customer demographics, purchase patterns, and social media listening.
PufCreativ: Here to Help You Execute & Capitalize on Those Critical Moments in Marketing
At PufCreativ, we understand how important it is to make the most of critical marketing moments like your Grand Opening. But, not to worry, our expert team is here to help!
We can (not only) set-up your entire brand and marketing platform properly, but we’ll also help you plan, execute, and analyze your marketing campaigns to ensure that you’re reaching your target audience and achieving your business goals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you grow your cannabis retail business.
* Always keep in mind: these strategies are subject to change from state-to-state depending on the state’s cannabis rules, regulations, and compliance guidelines.
If you have any questions – always feel free to reach out to us at hello@Pufcreativ.com – or we can Get Started on a project right away!