Cannabis Marketing 101: What is Content Marketing?

How to build your cannabis brand online: To dominate in emerging markets, your website needs to be strategically engineered with search engines in mind.

a camera sitting on Ricardo Baca, CEO of the Grassland Agency's desk used to build your cannabis brand online

Editor’s note: Curious about Cannabis Marketing, Public Relations and Thought Leadership? We’re sharing intel about what works and what doesn’t in this special Grasslands video series. Get the inside story about the best ways to deliver messaging that resonates with B2B and B2C audiences, as well as getting the right media placements for your brand. 

John Svoboda:

Hello. Welcome to “Cannabis Marketing 101,” a show where we take your questions about cannabis marketing and marijuana PR and break them down with the experts. I’m John Svoboda of Grasslands. As always, feel free to send in any of your cannabis marketing or PR questions to me directly at john@mygrasslands.com. Of course, every day, I’m here with my friend and colleague Ricardo Baca, a.k.a. the founder of The Cannabist and CEO of Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency. Ricardo, what’s up?

Ricardo Baca:

Hey, man, another episode of “Cannabis Marketing 101.” Let’s do it.

John Svoboda:

I’m looking forward to it as always. We are gathering and answering questions from our friends and colleagues in the cannabis industry from across the nation. Let’s go ahead and jump right into today’s question. Today’s question comes from Scott of Massachusetts. He asks, “What is content marketing?” Pretty general question there, but pretty direct and to the point. What do you think, Ricardo?

Ricardo Baca:

I empathize with Scott for sure. What is content marketing? Certainly four years ago, when I was coming out of 20-plus years in journalism, I had no idea what content marketing is. Put simply, content marketing is obviously marketing via content, but it goes deeper. Here at Grasslands, we don’t do anything without strategy first. Let’s talk about strategic content marketing and how you can use content to really drive sales, to drive brand awareness, and ultimately, digital search, which is all important. We’ve all heard stories that we don’t understand about Google and its algorithms and how it chooses, how it is ultimately a kingmaker. How is this brand going to show up when I’m Googling? Massachusetts dispensary, Boston, Boston edibles. How do those brands show up when others do not?

That is what content marketing is, because when you go to that brand’s website, look at their content, their copy, their terminology, how they’re using. Chances are it’s strategically engineered with SEM and SEO. SEO, for those who don’t know, search engine optimization, you’re optimizing your words that you use, picking specific keywords and phrases to make sure that the homepage, the contact form, the “About us,” everything on your website is engineered to ultimately attract Google’s attention. Because when you have Google’s attention, you have your customer’s attention. That’s huge.

Taking it one step further: If you have a blog on your website, that is absolutely necessary. Because if you create the most beautiful website in the world and you never touch it again, it will die on a vine because you’re not feeding Google any new information to show them that you are this content generator that’s adding to the conversation, that’s adding valuable content to help people do what they do and get to know your brand, but also educate them. That’s the value of the blog. It really is the one place on your website that makes sense for constant updates. Whether that’s twice a week or once a month, you need to feed your website because without that food, it will die. That’s why an active blog, again, even once a month, is better than nothing, but that is valuable. And of course, you need to do that strategically and not just throw words on a page.

How to Build Your Cannabis Brand Online: Strategic Content Marketing

John Svoboda:

What sets one content creator apart from another? Why wouldn’t some business owner just hire their nephew as an intern for a few months to write some creative copy because they’re in college and they’re an English major. What’s the difference?

Ricardo Baca:

Yeah, we get that all the time. It’s like, “Yeah, my nephew has got this.” In many situations, their nephew does have this because their nephew has been trained in content marketing, in digital search, in SEO, and SEM. But if their nephew has not been trained, it’s like, “Oh, OK, we got the blog. I have my niece doing it. It’s all good.” If your niece hasn’t been trained, if she doesn’t know how to do this strategically, you are honestly throwing away your money. You’re completely wasting everybody’s time. Because if you’re throwing up a 200-word blog about your latest edible product, then that is never going to get seen by anybody who’s not there already because, for example, Google requires that you have at least 350 words for that page to be seen. And so, that is necessary. You can’t go without it.

That’s just one example of the strategy that goes into it, not to mention if you’re not using a series of keywords and phrases that will attract that digital search through SEO. Again, you’re optimizing your blog to make sure that you’re attracting the eyeballs that are most important because I’m over here googling Boston Edibles, and you want to make sure that you’re showing up. But if you’re not doing this strategically, you’re not showing up. That’s why many people work with an agency partner like Grasslands because we can come in, do the research, do the discovery, and of course create a long-term strategy because content marketing is not an instant play. You’re not going to see those instant results.

However, if you invest in a year-long strategy with a capable partner, whether that’s your trained nephew or an agency partner like Grasslands, you will, without a doubt, see the benefits of what that can be, and we know how important that is in cannabis. I mean, we still can’t advertise on Facebook or Google and many of the traditional mainstream advertising platforms. And so, now is the time to invest in your own media via strong strategic content. Whether you do it with us or somebody else, just do it right. Don’t throw away your time. It breaks my heart when I come upon somebody and they’re really proud of their blog and they have, sure enough, 150 entries, and half of them aren’t even long enough to register with Google in the first place.

John Svoboda:

That is heartbreaking. It is such a waste of time. That’s one thing, especially in this industry, everyone is short on, is time. And money is tight. If you’re going to spend time and money on anything, make sure that it’s done well and done right.

Ricardo Baca:

Absolutely.

John Svoboda:

Thank you so much, Ricardo. As always, you can learn more about this topic, as well as so many more at mygrasslands.com. Also follow us on LinkedIn at Grasslands Agency. I’m John Svoboda. Email all of your cannabis marketing and PR questions directly to me at john@mygrasslands.com. We will see you again tomorrow for yet another episode of “Cannabis Marketing 101.” Thanks again, Ricardo.

Ricardo Baca:

See you then.

John Svoboda:

Cheers.

Got a question of your own? We’d love to hear from you, and are happy to talk shop anytime about cannabis marketing, thought leadership and PR. Drop us a line: hello@mygrasslands.com

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