MJBizMag August 2020 - 48

How to Compete With the Illicit Market
Despite all the advertising restrictions
they face, legal cannabis businesses
are still far freer than illegal businesses
to advertise. While it's true some
illicit operators advertise on social
media, the dark web and elsewhere,
legal businesses still have many more
avenues through which to advertise
and get their message out to a far
broader audience.
" You have the advantage of being
able to be visible in a way that illicit
businesses cannot. You should use that
visibility to your advantage, " Pitts of
Ganja Goddess said. " We've been using
billboards for years, and now more MJ
businesses are catching on and using
billboards, too, which is something that
illicit companies can't do. "
He added: " Lean into your ability to
engage with customers in every way,
in every manner. Social media, email
marketing, texting. Events, when they
are allowed again. "
That advertising and outreach,
Pitts noted, should factor in the
demographics of new cannabis
consumers and the canna-curious.
" It's important to speak to them at
their level, " he said. " You're not going to
attract women with pictures of women
in bikinis. That was a very common type
of advertisement a decade ago. "
Another way to leverage the visibility
that legal businesses enjoy over their
illicit rivals is by being a positive force
in the local community. That means
building a reputation not just as a
marijuana store but as a neighborhood
pillar and booster.
Unlike illicit product manufacturers and dealers,
state-licensed companies can hold events and exhibit
products in markets with regulated cannabis.
Photo by Soliman Productions
" We are still doing community
work, advocating for political change,
supporting our community, supporting
medical marijuana patients, offering
ancillary services, " Debby Goldsberry of
Magnolia Wellness said. Dispensaries,
for example, could support local
nonprofit groups and make it possible
for their consumers to do so as well.
(See " Good Citizenship " in the July 2018
issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)
Additionally, when consumers buy
cannabis at a licensed dispensary, the
taxes from those purchases go to state
and local funds that are earmarked
for projects such as drug education,
homeless shelters and social equity
programs designed to promote minority
participation in the legal marijuana
industry.
" If I'm buying from a dispensary, I
know that my money is going into a
pool ... that's going to be used for good,
depending where you shop. This is why
we advise consumers to find locally
owned shops, shops owned by people
of color that are doing local good, "
Goldsberry said.
46 Marijuana Business Magazine | August 2020
ADVERTISING & OUTREACH

MJBizMag August 2020

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