Top 5 cannabis business resolutions for 2021
We made it by 2020! Whether you own a cannabis license or run an additional cannabis business, January is the time to focus on improvements. After the year we’ve just gone through, business resolutions are a must for 2021 – especially branding and marketing resolutions.
Why? Because 2020 taught us a lot!
Compared to many other industries, cannabis companies performed well during a global pandemic and economic and political instability in 2020. According to Leafly, recreational and medical marijuana sales rose 67% in 2020, from $ 10.7 billion in 2019 to over 10% $ 17.9 billion in 2020.
In fact, average monthly consumer cannabis spending rose 25% to 40% in 2020, and nine states more than doubled cannabis sales in 2020 in 2019: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
With a New Year in mind, a possibly foreseeable end to the COVID-19 pandemic, and valuable insights from 2020, here are five of the top 2021 cannabis business resolutions that both licensees and ancillary companies should prioritize with their branding and marketing plans.
1. Make content your digital marketing priority
Content is the foundation of your brand’s online footprint and can make your business grow sustainably and organically over the long term – not just in terms of website traffic and leads, but also in terms of conversions and sales.
It has been proven time and again – companies that post useful, meaningful, and relevant content on their websites and share that content with the right audience through social media, email marketing, etc., not only get more organic search traffic, but also convert more website visitors buy customers (both online and offline).
The reason is simple: Publishing and sharing useful, non-promotional content builds brand trust. It’s a long-term strategy that should be the backbone of any cannabis company’s marketing investment in 2021.
2. Focus on knowledge translation for branding and industry normalization
Knowledge translation is a term introduced by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) in 2000. In its simplest sense, it is a process by which complex information gets into the hands of people through research, who use it in practical applications and make important decisions in everyday life. It goes beyond just educating people to make sure the information is actually usable, iterative, and impactful in the real world.
For the cannabis industry, knowledge translation is essential to ensure that medical patients and retail consumers understand what they are buying and what products they are using. However, it goes beyond the consumer transaction. Knowledge translation needs to occur across the supply chain – from seeds to sales – and between companies and from cannabis companies to federal, state and local regulators.
As the United States nears federal decriminalization of cannabis in 2021 and more states legalize adult cannabis, knowledge translation will be vital to the normalization of cannabis and its continued growth – especially responsible growth – the industry.
3. Crisis-proof online presence of your company
Regardless of whether your business is primarily online or in person, 2020 showed us that every business needs to prioritize building a powerful and flexible online presence. Never before have so many companies switched their business models from stationary to digital as was forced to do so when COVID-19 led to economic shutdowns across the country.
Virtual ordering, roadside collection, and more became the new norm in the coronavirus crisis. Even companies that were able to keep their doors open have had to downsize and / or switch to remote working. In short, no company has been immune to the effects of COVID-19, and the world is unlikely to return to what it was before the pandemic in the near future.
The lesson is simple. Your company needs to resilient its online presence just like its offline presence so that you can keep working regardless of the surprises in 2021 and beyond. Flexible companies that can spin quickly will win.
4. Get to know your customers better
How well do you know your customers? Have you documented buyer personalities created for each of your target audiences? Do you know what is important for each target group? Both business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies need to get to know their customers better in 2021.
Gone are the days of sending generic email messages or ads to thousands, tens of thousands, or more people. Bulky emails without targeting not only lead to miserable results, but also lead to email service providers associating your messages with spam. That means less (if any) of your messages get into people’s inboxes, wasting all of your efforts and investments.
Customer experience (CX) is a hot topic these days. Customers don’t just want you to send them relevant, personalized messages and ads. They expect it, and if you don’t live up to their expectations (i.e., you send them irrelevant content, messages, and ads) they will do business elsewhere.
In 2021, you will need to invest time and money getting to know your customers better. Leverage market research, customer feedback, and social listening, and create buyer personalities so you can communicate effectively with each of your target audiences.
5. Be a leader in business and accountability
Are you an industry leader or supporter? There is a significant opportunity for brands to hold important leadership positions in the cannabis industry, and one of those positions is to lead in terms of business purpose and accountability. These companies prioritize social, economic, environmental and business responsibility in everything they do – from their values to their actions.
In August 2020, the hemp CBD company Charlotte’s Web became a leader and area of responsibility in its niche when it received B Corporation certification. This is a term used for companies that use the power of their business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy while taking into account the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, including workers, customers, communities and environments.
The key to choosing to be a leader in business purposes and responsibilities in the cannabis industry, and using it as a powerful differentiator for brand positioning, is understanding that it is a commitment. You have to go the way, not just talk, when it comes to having that competitive advantage.
Are you ready to make your cannabis business decisions for 2021?
2020 is officially behind us, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the lessons the last 12 months have taught us. Make branding and marketing resolutions today that will focus on content marketing, knowledge translation, brand building, crisis protection, getting to know your customers, and leading business purposes and accountability throughout 2021. Your business should end the year in a much better place.