5 Revenue-Boosting Strategies to Implement in Your Dispensary

by Stu Waters,

Optimizing the dispensary sales process is more important than ever.

As of mid-May, many states are beginning to lift pandemic restrictions, while others are announcing near-term plans to relax existing ones. These actions are going to have a pronounced impact on the cannabis industry.

While cannabis dispensaries have largely been able to keep their doors open owing to their designation as “essential,” dispensary owners have still struggled to face the challenges of today’s public health environment.

Yet where some struggle, others thrive, and having the right strategy in place is often the most important factor in determining the overall success of any small business – cannabis dispensaries included. We’ve identified five of the most important revenue-boosting plans in place among today’s Coronavirus-impacted cannabis dispensaries and organized them into a simple list.

5 Things You Could Be Doing Right Now to Jumpstart Sales

 

Whether your particular territory is going to remain under lockdown for the time being or not, many of today’s broad customer behaviors are going to remain in place for some time. Abrupt changes like these have lasting cultural effects, and tomorrow’s most profitable cannabis dispensaries are going to be the ones who accommodate these changes today.

1. Get Your Dispensary on the Map

If your dispensary is not on Google Maps or Apple’s Maps app, you are losing sales. Google Maps is the biggest one by far, with 67% of the market cornered, but every pin counts. Adding a business listing to Google Maps is easy, and it pays off significantly in the cannabis industry. Many customers and patients value location above every other consideration when choosing a dispensary, so make sure they know where you are.

As an added bonus, your map listing will gradually become a testimonial gold mine as happy customers leave positive reviews. If you get negative reviews, you will know what you have to work on to improve sales in the future.

2. Implement a Loyalty Program

Patient and customer loyalty programs work. Happy customers have every reason to come back to the place that delighted them with high-quality cannabis products. Many dispensaries give up on loyalty programs before they have a chance to deliver, while many others cripple their attempts by making avoidable mistakes.

Make sure your loyalty program is easy to sign up to, easy to opt-out of, and simple enough to sum up in a single sentence. Giving your budtenders the right talking points can help drive loyalty plan adoption and increase return customers in ways no other single revenue-boosting strategy can.

3. Get Smart on Social Media

Social media remains one of the most powerful ways to connect with customers in any industry, and it is especially effective for driving sales in cannabis dispensaries. Knowing your customers is key to succeeding on social media – the better you can identify them, the more engaging and compelling your content can be.

Fortunately, there are many social media marketing tools and techniques at your disposal. Social media is more than a place to promote advertisements – in fact, directly promoting your business is one of the least effective strategies out there. Instead, use it to understand your customers and speak to the issues that they care about as well as including them in the process of developing content.

4. Invest in Email Marketing

Email marketing might sound like a relic of a bygone era, but it’s not. In fact, email marketing earns some of the highest returns of any single marketing channel available today. According to the latest data from Litmus, every $1 spent on an email marketing campaign averages a return of $42.

For cannabis dispensaries, email marketing sidesteps many of the restrictions on publicly displayed content. Since you are sending promotional messaging directly to your customers and patients, you avoid many compliance-related issues. California-based dispensaries will still have to comply with separate CCPA data privacy laws, however. 

5. Give Away Free (Unmedicated) Samples

Most states do not allow cannabis dispensaries to give away free samples of medical or recreational product. Many edible manufacturers have responded by making non-psychoactive versions of their flagship products, specifically as sample treats. Giving away a free, unmedicated chocolate bar is compliant in most states, as long as you still check IDs to avoid advertising cannabis products to minors.

Outside of consumables, you can also earn marketing points by finding other promotional products to give away. Apparel is a mainstay for many dispensaries and cannabis brands, especially those that pride themselves on being at the heart of local cannabis culture. When used in combination with social media and email marketing, this approach can lead to significant gains in sales, even during slow months.

 

Expect Cannabis Retail Changes to Last

The most recent major challenge for the cannabis industry was securing an “essential business” designation during the COVID-19 pandemic response. Having this groundbreaking move happen at such an early stage in the development of the national cannabis industry is likely to result in long-lasting effects down the line.

Customers and patients who have now experienced more convenient purchase options may not ever return to their pre-crisis shopping patterns. The push for curbside service and home delivery was already pronounced before the crisis, and it now shows every sign of picking up inertia as the situation unfolds.

Cannabis dispensary owners that pay attention to these trends and position themselves appropriately (digitizing the retail experience, enabling order-ahead service, and emphasizing convenience) are going to have the best results moving into a post-crisis world.