Need help generating sales for your CBD products?
You’ve launched your CBD business and have already attracted some customers who are enthusiastic about your products. They know they’re effective and they’re already seeing the benefits. But now you need more of them, that is, more delighted customers who will become repeat buyers and tell their friends about your wonderful brand. What tactics can you use to sell more CBD products? Consider these ideas:
You may not have the resources to use all 10 marketing tools, so start with just one or two that seem geared toward your target audience and then build on that base to reach critical mass — the point where your business success is sustainable.
Let’s take a look at the current state of the industry along with forecasts for the future and creative ideas for marketing your CBD products.
The CBD present in oils and other products is usually derived from fiber-type varieties of cannabis (hemp), because these are naturally higher in CBD content than drug-type varieties (marijuana).
Although cultivation of hemp is allowed in many countries around the world, it is usually governed by strict regulations.
After being banned for decades, hemp cultivation in the U.S. has only recently been reintroduced and is still in the early stages of industrial production.
The 2018 Farm Bill lifted longtime restrictions on hemp. That meant hemp, from which CBD is derived, could be cultivated by licensed farmers.
The Farm Bill was therefore seen as a green-light for selling CBD products. The result is that CBD is being touted as a potential fix for everything from anxiety to inflammation to depression and pain relief.
Currently, according to the FDA, marketing CBD as a dietary supplement or food additive is illegal. And it’s true that there may be some health risks associated with using CBD. But due to the overwhelming demand for CBD and state-level legalization of cannabis in general, sales have continued.
The FDA has not taken meaningful actions to stop the sale of CBD and serious incidents of direct harm have not been reported.
Clearly, CBD is where the big money is. And much of the growth is coming from retail giants like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Ulta Beauty, GNC, and Kroger.
Their recent entry into the market has greatly increased the availability of CBD to consumers, which previously was only sold at cannabis dispensaries.
It’s worth noting that most of these retailers are only selling topicals. They’re avoiding additives in food, beverages, and dietary supplements to steer clear of any pushback from the FDA.
1. Socially acceptable – Since CBD-based products contain no traces of, or minute amounts of, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that gets a user high, they attract consumers who might otherwise be opposed to products from the cannabis industry. They feel CBD is “more acceptable” and seemingly safer than other cannabis products.
2. Treats conditions – It offers an alternative treatment to people suffering from a wide range of conditions related to depression, anxiety and pain.
3. Potential to treat diseases – It holds potential for treating cognitive decline and brain-related conditions such as Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, PTSD, bipolar disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and more.
For businesses entering the industry, there’s still plenty of uncertainty. State laws and regulations are evolving.
Banks hesitate to do business with CBD and cannabis companies, fearing significant risk or burdensome oversight. And most major advertising platforms have set strict boundaries on what they’ll accept.
CBD can be incorporated into oils, capsules, pills, vapes, infused beverages, edibles, and pretty much any alternative form of consumption you can think of. Among the most common types of products available today:
The CBD market is exploding. It is on track to grow to $23.7 billion through 2023, according to a report in July 2019 by Brightfield Group, a market intelligence firm for the legal CBD and cannabis industries.
Growing CBD revenue from about $620 million in 2018 to $23.7 billion by 2023 works out to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of a whopping 107%!
Compare that to some of the growth estimates for cannabis, which call for a CAGR of around 25%, and you can understand why CBD is all the buzz (without creating an actual buzz).
The Farm Bill made selling CBD products legal, as already mentioned. However, another contributing factor is the low barrier to entry into the market. You don’t need a lot of money to start a CBD business, particularly if you plan to only sell online.
The capital required to start an online CBD store is only a fraction of the investment needed for a physical location, making the internet a natural distribution channel for many hemp growers and extractors looking to sell directly to consumers.
Additionally, many wholesale CBD manufacturers offer private label services; they’ll put your label on a quality product that they made. Some provide drop-shipping services, too, so you don’t have to invest in or store inventory.
It would be easy to come to that conclusion. However, the rapid growth of the CBD industry means not only plenty of new customers but also plenty of competition. You have only to look at the craft beer industry to see this type of situation plays out. Many of the local breweries that were hastily founded are now struggling.
Businesses that will survive – whether in craft beer, CBD or some other niche industry – are those that are selling quality products and marketing them effectively.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned companies selling CBD products they can’t claim their products are approved by the FDA for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment or cure of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes.
The FDA worries that “misleading and false claims associated with CBD products may lead consumers to put off getting important medical care,” the FDA wrote.
“Deceptive marketing of unproven treatments raises significant public health concerns, as it may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases,” reads an official statement from the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
Until the FDA has answers to questions like “What doses are safe?” and “What happens when people use it for long periods of time?” expect regulations to remain tight. The FDA hasn’t set a timeline to regulate CBD products. Its evaluation is likely to continue over the coming months.
Saying your product treats even relatively minor problems like headaches or insomnia is legal only for prescription drugs, which have been tested for their safety and efficacy. Making health claims that your CBD product can cure, mitigate, treat or prevent any disease is a definite no-no. Even sharing your customers’ miraculous testimonials is illegal.
So, many companies distinguish themselves by talking about the quality of their products and overall wellness. Rather than saying that CBD treats anxiety, they may use slogans about relaxation. Rather than claiming that CBD cures epilepsy, they’ll direct customers to third-party research on websites such as ProjectCBD.org — without mentioning epilepsy.
The CBD market is new and not well regulated. Therefore the labels vary greatly across states and brands. You should consult all federal, state and local regulations that pertain to your CBD product. Below are some general guidelines:
You may want to also include a warning that users could potentially fail a drug test if consuming hemp/CBD products.
Remember, you can’t legally make any disease references or health claims.
Products that are perceived to be effectively equal, such as sugar and oil, are commodities, and customers buy them primarily on price. But when your products have unique attributes or provide unique benefits, buyers will seek out your brand and are willing to pay more.
Figure out your USP, or Unique Selling Point. That can be tricky because cannabidiol, like any chemical compound, is a commodity.
In its purified form, crystalized CBD is identical across all suppliers. So the difference must come from how you present the products and develop your brand.
A professional copywriter may be able to assist you with creating your brand identity and fleshing out your key selling points.
Look for some unique attribute that customers cannot get from another source. Maybe your products are non-GMO, pesticide-free, grown in Kentucky or have a unique taste.
Identify who your target customers are – their age, their symptoms or conditions, their motivations. Perhaps they’re senior citizens or professional athletes or even people’s pets.
Next ask yourself what your products do better or differently than competing products for this target audience.
To be effective in selling your products, your USP must:
By focusing on your USP, you can differentiate your products from those being sold by other CBD companies.
CBD consumers are an average age of 40, have higher education, and are more likely than non-consumers to be employed full time, according to a study by cannabis researchers at BDS Analytics in 2019.
The study also noted that the CBD consumer profile is notably different from that of the cannabis consumer: CBD consumers have nearly a 1:1 gender radio, whereas only one-third of cannabis consumers are female. That translates into a significantly bigger target market for CBD sellers.
Currently, 14% of Americans say they use CBD products. Over 40% of users utilize CBD products for pain, 20% for anxiety and 11% for sleep, according to a 2019 Gallup poll.
With over 3,000 CBD businesses up and running, and more joining the market daily, companies must work toward increasing their brand awareness and cultivating a loyal following.
Focus on educating consumers. Build trust by providing useful information about the therapeutic benefits of CBD. Communicate what makes your brand special.
What makes good marketing copy?
Your copy should be customer-focused. The reader should immediately know how the product will help them, what problem it will solve. Any points that are too company- or product-focused should be rewritten in terms of things the customer wants. The end result should be text that speaks to the customer’s priorities, linking them clearly to the product.
To confirm that you’ve accomplished that goal, make sure the word “you” appears far more frequently than “we” or “us” in your copy. Marketing may be a one-way communication, but acknowledging the other person’s point of view is more likely to deliver positive results.
To create successful sales copy:
Use conversational English in your copy; nobody wants to read a term paper. Steer clear of any jargon the reader may not recognize. Lastly, be sure all claims you make are credible, substantiated and compliant with FDA regulations.
When the federal government changes its stance on marijuana, likely so too will the rules for CBD advertising. Until that time, if you have an online store, your best option for marketing your products and creating brand awareness is to post informative content on your site. Educational information will also position you as an authority in the industry.
Here’s where some of the major social networks stand on the issue of CBD advertising:
Facebook – You can’t advertise cannabis-derived CBD on Facebook. However in June 2019, Facebook announced it would be lifting its ban on CBD products, meaning that advertisers can run ads promoting topical hemp products. It still prohibits ads for ingestible CBD.
Google Ads (Adwords) – Google AdWords doesn’t allow ads promoting CBD products. It lists cannabidiol under its unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements for its ad platform, so CBD brands have to rely on search engine optimization to appear higher in search engine results.
There’s rumor of a trial run for CBD advertising in which Google asked select companies in the budding hemp sub-industry to purchase ads on its platform but confirmation of that trial and its results have not been made public yet.
Twitter – Twitter does not permit advertising for illicit substances, not to mention herbal drugs, thus eliminating CBD completely. However, you can still use the platform for non-paid promotion. Consider posting information about new products and linking back to your website.
You can also publish information relevant to the cannabis community as well build brand awareness through regular posting and engagement.
Remember not to make health or disease claims about CBD that could result in your account being shut down and possible enforcement actions by the FDA.
Instagram – Instagram’s policies are similar to Twitter. Your best bet is to use the platform to educate your audience by linking back to your blog or resharing content from other CBD-focused Instagram pages. You can also post images and videos that reflect your CBD brand. Avoid aggressive selling techniques that could get your account banned.
What is the future of CBD?
In the cannabis industry — and in the CBD industry especially— change is a constant. The information offered here is for guidance only.
Check the FDA’s current approach to CBD before marketing your products, and make sure to check your local regulations too.
A good place to start is with a CBD copywriter, someone who understands the market dynamics, the lingo and the products.
For website copy, be sure to work with a copywriter who understands SEO, which is critical to getting your site well-ranked on Google.
An experienced copywriter can help you create professional-caliber sales materials that get your products in front of your target audience, build your brand and persuade customers to make a purchase.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this report, please understand that change is occurring quickly throughout the cannabis/CBD industry and regulations differ from state to state. This material does not constitute legal, professional or financial advice. Consult with your own attorney or professional advisor on specific legal, professional or financial matters.
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