The 5 Steps Towards Creating A Solid Dispensary Marketing Plan

In a previous post, we took a look at the challenges cannabis dispensary owners face when trying to market their business in the USA. we continue to focus our attention on the topic of dispensary marketing, but this time we look at how to build a marijuana dispensary marketing plan.

A good marketing plan should aim to both attract and retain customers for your business. It’s an actual action plan which should highlight who you are, what it is you sell (your products and services), who you are looking to sell it you (your target clientele) and how you are going to get your message across to your clients. The end goal is to generate traffic and increase sales.

There is no set way to create a marketing plan for your dispensary. Many methods exist, and all have their pros and cons. Because we know that running a business is complicated and time consuming, we’ve tried to keep things to the point. Below you’ll find a simple 5-step process which should result in an actionable plan.

Step 1: Situation analysis

This section should summarize the following 3 aspects of your business:

  • who you are (brand, address, staff, awards, equipment, resources and capabilities…)
  • what you do (list of products and services, including pricing)
  • what your USPs (unique selling points) are. In other words, what makes you different to your competition and why people should visit you instead.

Your situation analysis acts as the foundation upon which the rest of your marketing plan is built. Therefore, it’s important to spend enough time on getting this section right.

A good situation analysis should contain a SWOT analysis, which is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This document will help you position yourself relatively to your market, by analysing your business from both an internal perspective (your strengths and weaknesses) and external perspective (opportunities and threats).

Once complete, the SWOT analysis should enable you to identify what business opportunities lie ahead (e.g. such as an expanding local market or increasing cannabis consumption) and which aspects of your current set will help you take advantage of said opportunities (e.g. great business location, wide selection of products).

It will also highlight the areas in which you are lacking (e.g. brand awareness or lack of staff), and which you will need to rectify in order to increase your odds of success. Finally, it will clearly outline some of the pitfalls which lie ahead (e.g. increasing competition) and should prompt you to prepare your business for these threats.

Step 2: Define your target clientele

A good target clientele is one which you can meet the expectations of without drastically changing too many aspects of your business. In other words, it’s a good fit for your company in light of your strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats. It should be able to sustain your business well into the future.

Clearly defining your target clientele is just as important as the situation analysis. Why? Because your clients are the lifeblood of your business. If you target the wrong customers, your business has no chance of surviving.

Additionally, once you’ve identified who your ideal customers are, you can then focus your efforts on targeting them effectively and efficiently with your subsequent marketing plans.

Clearly defining your target clientele will help you see your business through your customers’ eyes. It will make it easier for you to determine whether or not the products you are selling, the prices you are selling them at or the way in which you are advertising, are all in line with the expectations and habits of your target market. The ALL is important here. You don’t want one poor performance efforts in one area of your plan cast a shadow over all of the other things you are doing right.

For example, if your dispensary is in a working-class neighbourhood with limited disposable income, but you are only selling top shelf strains which represent poor value for money, the chances are that you won’t get much footfall. Or, if you’re placing adverts in the local newspaper but your target clientele is 25-year olds who consume digital media exclusively, it’s unlikely that they will ever get to see your ad.

Step 3: Set out your marketing goals

Your marketing goals should be directly linked to – and a reflection of – your overarching business goals.

For example, if one of your business goals for 2019 is to increase your turnover by 120,000 USD, you could achieve this by increasing footfall, increasing loyalty or increasing the average ticket – or a combination of all three. You can then try to work out how to reflect that into tangible marketing goals.

For example, you could aim to increase the number of new client visits to your dispensary by 10% a month, increase the average ticket value by 25% or increase customer loyalty from 1 to 2 visits per month. These are all examples pulled out of a hat of course. You will need to look at the specifics of your own business to determine which marketing goals will help you achieve your business goals.

Also, please remember that a good goal is a SMART goal. In other words, it must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Step 4: Chose the appropriate tactics

Once your goals are clear, you know where you are heading. Now you must map out how you are going to get there. This is where choosing the appropriate tactics comes into play.

By tactics we mean the actual specific actions and tools you are going to use to achieve your goals. This could be a combination of deals/promotions and how you get these promotional messages across to your target clientele.

To continue with our examples above, if you want to increase the number of new client visits to your dispensary by 10% a month, you could develop a special offer for first time customers (think 50% off first purchase or something along those lines). You could then broadcast the message over the local radio for example. This should bring in new faces to your dispensary.

To increase customer loyalty, you could introduce a loyalty card like the ones you get in cafes. This would incentivise your customers to return more frequently because they are rewarded for their custom. You could then instruct your staff to always follow this procedure when cashing out a customer. A) Ask the client if they already have a loyalty card and B) give a loyalty card to customers who don’t already have one.

Each and every marketing goal should have at least one tactic associated with it. Having multiple tactics associated with a single goal is also possible, however the contribution of each tactic towards achieving the overarching goal should be clearly specified.

Step 5: Draft a budget

Finally, once you’ve covered steps 1 to 4, it’s time to allocate the appropriate resources behind your plan. This is an iterative process which may result in you adding more tactics, amending some or removing others.

Indeed, once you’ve clearly outlined which tactics you want to implement, you can go about costing them. Each tactic will have an associated financial value, but will also require resources such as man power for example.

To continue with our previous examples, if you plan on introducing a loyalty card, you need to factor in the cost associated with designing the card and having it printed out. This may represent a dollar value of 500 USD for 5000 cards for example. In this particular case, if the design and printing is outsourced, there’s no real internal manpower involved.

Once you’ve calculated the cost associated with each one of your tactics you can then add all of the costs up. This will give you a total estimated budget required to implement your plan in its current form. You can then weigh this up against what you had initially planned to spend.

If you are coming in below budget, you might decide to put more weight behind a certain tactic or perhaps introduce another one. If on the other hand you are above budget, you might want to tone down or completely remove one or several other tactics.

You will then also be able to calculate your projected return on investment (ROI) by comparing the additional sales expected with the cost associated with your marketing plan.

There you have it, we hope that this short guide will prove to be of use to you when you’re preparing a marketing plan for your dispensary. Please remember that a plan needs to be regularly re-evaluated in light of its’ effectiveness, and adjusted accordingly!

For more useful tips about marketing your dispensary, please feel free to check out the blog over at DispensaryZen.

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