Even though it has taken great strides to enter the mainstream of the economy in recent years, the CBD industry remains in a unique regulatory and legal category. Some marketing methods that work well in other industries are less effective for CBD brands, and other approaches to marketing gain increased emphasis in the context of the hemp market. In this guide, familiarize yourself with the main approaches available to CBD marketers, and develop a marketing strategy that will make your brand stand out in an increasingly saturated industry.
Why is marketing different in the CBD industry?
The signing of the 2018 Farm Bill triggered an institutional change within the CBD industry. It is now fully legal to cultivate and process CBD-rich hemp in the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled that it intends to meaningfully regulate the CBD industry starting in 2021.
Even though CBD is more legal and publicly accepted than ever before, the CBD marketing environment has yet to enjoy a similar evolution. Popular pay-per-click (PPC) marketing platforms, such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram, are still leery of running CBD ads, barring one of the usual approaches that small and medium businesses (SMBs) take to marketing their brands.
As a result, the CBD marketing environment instead orbits largely around content, influencer marketing, and organic social media outreach. Email marketing is also useful and popular in the CBD industry, but this approach must rely on quality content to be successful.
In addition to being unable to access popular PPC marketing tools, CBD marketers must also be unusually cautious regarding direct or indirect medical claims. While the entire natural health and supplement industry is prevented from directly claiming that non-drug items can deliver desired medical results, the FDA has taken even more stringent measures to prevent claims within the CBD industry.
As an as-yet unregulated substance, the FDA prohibits CBD marketers from making even indirect claims regarding the efficacy of CBD for specific illnesses or diseases. For instance, terminology such as, “CBD may help with diabetes,” is just as prohibited as statements like, “CBD is a known cure for diabetes.” As a result, CBD marketers must become well-versed with FDA regulations and gain expertise in proper wording.
Prerequisites to effective CBD marketing
Before you start marketing your CBD products, there are a few assets you should have at your disposal:
Debates are ongoing regarding whether good products or good marketing are more important to a brand’s success. Whatever the case may be, having a good product will make marketing easier. High-quality products sell themselves via word-of-mouth, and no amount of marketing can make for a product’s inherent flaws. Consider relying on expert CBD white labeling services to produce optimal products.
Consumers will not relate to a brand they do not understand. Branding is simultaneously an art and a science, and while there are methods you can follow to establish effective branding, the path you take to craft a memorable brand is wholly unique.
It doesn’t matter if your marketing strategy works for the first time. What matters is having a fully developed strategy so you can look back later and determine what worked and what didn’t. From the beginning, have a clear idea of what you want your marketing efforts to achieve, and carefully plot the path you’ll use to get there.
Primary forms of CBD marketing
Let’s cover the four primary marketing techniques that CBD brands use:
1. Influencers and affiliates
Social media influencers with large follower networks can help you build brand awareness and direct their followers to your site. Affiliates, who get a chunk of your sales by directing their site visitors to your products, similarly leverage their network to net you sales. Neither approach is remarkably reliable, however, and affiliates and influencers are independent agents, not assets you control. Given that the CBD market is a highly competitive space, it is imperative that you take a unique message or content approach with your influencer marketing so that your products and ads stand out when compared to competitors.
2. Social media
While it takes a lot of work, building a robust social media presence bolsters your brand identity, puts a face to your name, and gradually converts customers while building word-of-mouth. To run an effective social media campaign, you’ll probably need a dedicated social media manager.
3. Pay-per-click advertising
While CBD brands are usually prohibited from taking advantage of PPC advertising, it’s not like this approach is unheard of. Lots of large brands have found workarounds for PPC embargoes on CBD advertising, but cracking this code will require significant investments of both time and capital.
Content may be king in other industries, but the content is the undisputed galactic monarch of the hemp market. As an asset that you own and can deploy in countless different ways, content builds SEO, educates site visitors, adds substance to your emails and social media posts, and most conveniently, converts customers. Content delivers both quantitative and qualitative ROI, and in an industry where marketers are commonly disincentivized from pursuing other marketing approaches, content is an invaluable lifeline for both beginner and established CBD brands.
Content marketing is the most useful and versatile tool for advertising your CBD brand
Let’s take a few moments to more closely examine the benefits that CBD brands can derive from high-quality content:
You own the asset
The content you buy or produce is yours to keep. It increases the domain authority and SEO of your website, it continually educates customers, it can be shared by consumers that find the content valuable or high quality, and it helps build your brand voice and brand identity.
You can distribute it in a variety of ways
You can send each new blog post you produce to your entire email list, and you can boost your blogs on social media to keep your followers engaged and drive clicks.
It offers compounding returns
Like a fine wine, content becomes more valuable as it ages. Google can take 90-120 days to crawl a blog page, but once it’s properly indexed, your content will continue to drive site clicks and conversions without any additional investment.
Final CBD marketing tips
You now have enough information to start the journey of marketing your CBD brand. Let’s finish things off with a few tips you should keep in mind as you enter the arena:
Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth
Good products market themselves! People who love your products will become ambassadors of your brand on social media and within their social circles. Encourage the spread of word-of-mouth by developing properly branded products that offer genuine value.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Marketing your CBD brand can be surprisingly difficult. The CBD industry has rules that don’t apply to other markets, and the hemp space becomes more crowded with every passing day. With these obstacles in mind, don’t hold back from asking for expert assistance. Established CBD white labelers, like GVB Biopharma, can produce your products using top-quality ingredients and provide you with industry insight and guidance for your brand.
Invest in your long-term success
CBD marketing rarely delivers instant results. It’s a slow process of building your brand, investing in high-quality content, and waiting for it to pay off.
Brands that take the right approach to market CBD early on, however, will enjoy the best returns in the long run. Establish a comprehensive CBD marketing strategy today, implement it, and learn valuable lessons as your products start to compete within the ever-expanding arena of aspiring CBD brands.