7 Ways to Market
a Dispensary in 2021

By Liam Noonan


Global sales of cannabis surged over 40% to just about $22 billion in 2020. Strong performance numbers throughout the pandemic helped these numbers, but the growth is here to stay. It’s still early days in the legal cannabis industry, but dispensaries already face intense competition for market share. This is especially true in unlimited license States like California. 

One way to cut above the noise is with dispensary marketing. Some of the most common avenues include SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, Billboards, Digital Ad Networks, and plenty more. Continue reading for a full list of the best converting ways to market your dispensary in 2021.

1. Start With Brand & Competitive Research

Before you decide on a marketing budget and strategy, it’s important to dive into research so you can fully understand your brand. At the same time, you should also take a look at your target demographic to better understand your potential customers. Market research is vital in understanding more about your local market, pricing, best-selling products, competitors, and more. In our opinion, competitor research is a must prior to developing a full-fledged dispensary marketing strategy. 

2. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO 

screenshot of apothecarium website

In 2021, your dispensary needs a functional website to win over customers’ eyeballs and wallets. Before stepping foot in the door, your dispensary visitors most likely checked out the website. In our opinion, local SEO is the most underrated form of digital marketing for your dispensary. To be more specific, Local SEO is the practice of growing the local awareness of your dispensary by optimizing for Google results.  

Local SEO tactics for Cannabis dispensaries include optimizing for the google map pack, location-based keywords, directories, and Google My Business. Google’s local SEO algorithm takes into account ranking factors like backlinks, content, off-site factors, and more. Ensuring your website is optimized for local SEO will take time and patience, but we believe the potential results and traffic make it all worth it. 

The overall usability or user-friendliness (is that a word?) otherwise known as UX/UI is part of how Google ranks your website. When people stay on your website, Google is happy. You should take extra time and care into making sure your online ordering system, blog, contact page, and more are easy to navigate. You can see some of our favorite dispensary website examples here

3. Invest in Content Marketing

screenshot of a dispensary blog page

You’ve probably heard the cliche marketing term “content is king.” It’s a little cheesy, but not too far from the truth. Adding a quality blog to your site and regularly posting, helps your site build SEO relevance and authority. Well-written SEO-researched articles give your dispensary the opportunity to bring in organic traffic from search engines without running ads. Above all else, a dispensary blog can help educate and build trust among your potential customers. 

Don’t just take our word for it. According to Hubspot, “Small Businesses with blogs bring in 55% more traffic and qualified leads.” Blogging also gives you another piece of content to promote across your social channels. For example, you can repurpose a topic like “What to expect when visiting a dispensary for the first time?” into an Instagram post/infographic. visit our website to learn more about affordable dispensary blog services

4. Use Email Marketing & SMS Campaigns 

In an unlimited license state like California, competition among various dispensaries serving the same area is fierce. A 2019 study showed that for every $1 you spend on email marketing you get an estimated return of $42. There are various ways to build out a customer email list and once you do you can get started with your first campaign. 

The best dispensaries build customer loyalty, but a large subset of people are simply just looking for the best deal. Email marketing helps you maintain regular contact with these customers and keep them up to date on any sales or promotions. An email newsletter is also a great way to share content from other marketing channels like your dispensary blog. 

On the other hand, mobile marketing (SMS marketing) gives your dispensary an even more direct line of contact with potential customers. These SMS campaigns can also be tweaked based on what you’re trying to accomplish. Some people find SMS marketing a little bit too disruptive, but there’s a much better chance of it getting seen compared to an email.

5. Establish a Social Media Presence

social media cannabis

In 2021, some sort of social media presence is a must for dispensaries operating in competitive markets. Whether you use a social media agency or post in-house, you need to actively publish high-quality content. Ideally, this social content should give users a sense of your dispensary from their couch or add some sort of benefit to your social media followers’ experience. This could be in the form of education, aesthetically pleasing images, employee spotlights, and more. It’s a good idea to stay active on a variety of platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, etc.. 

When it comes to the best strategies for social media content, video is king. Short, engaging videos are by far the best type of content you can put out! Don’t stress over everything looking extremely professional at first. If you can’t afford to put out professional content, quality smartphone videos and photos can work just fine. If you’re not already invested in social media marketing, it’s time to start.

6. Purchase Ads on Digital Platforms & Billboards

billboard for cresco labs cannabis

Billboards for cannabis marketing are perhaps one of the most underestimated methods of advertising in 2021. This is especially true for local cannabis dispensaries.

Whether you want to let local residents know about the grand opening of your new dispensary or promote your e-commerce cannabis store in major cities across the nation, billboards are still a viable way of getting seen by large numbers of people.

Remember that some cities and billboard owners have particular policies about what they’ll advertise and what they won’t. Find a friendly billboard service that offers spots on high traffic routes in relevant areas like trendy neighborhoods or downtown.

Don’t forget digital advertising. While major search engines and social media platforms are still restricted from running cannabis ads, niche digital ad service providers like Mantis, RevOffer, and Traffic Roots have stepped in to fill the gap for emerging cannabis brands.

7. Consider Customer Referral and Rewards Programs

Customer loyalty and repeat sales are the keys the continued profitability as a dispensary. This is easier said than done as many customers shop around for the best deals rather than choose one dispensary and stick with it. Some of the best ways to foster customer loyalty are referral and rewards programs. With a referral program you offer customers store credit for referring their friends. On the other hand, with a rewards program, customers can build up to freebies and discounts by making repeat purchases. 

Work With a Dedicated Cannabis Marketing Professional 

Running a profitable dispensary is easier said than done. You need to stay on top of local laws, inventory tracking, customer support, deliveries, and more. Digital marketing should be the last thing on your mind. That’s where Stoned Root comes in. We offer cannabis dedicated marketing services including content marketing/blog management, social media, and SEO. Visit the Stoned Journal hub for more articles about all things cannabis business. 

Want More Organic Traffic?

Creating quality content is hard, but we can help. Reach out to us today for a free quote and consultation!