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5 Marketing Lessons from Medical Marijuana

March 17, 2014
Medical marijuana

Photo courtesy of Felix Tsao

I drove by a record store the other day and the sign on the outside said, “We Are Your Hookah Headquarters.” In the window, there was a poster advertising not music, but JOB rolling papers.

Everybody wants in on this marijuana thing.

Let’s take a look…

5 Marketing Lessons from Medical Marijuana

1. Start With Good Seed – Whether you’re growing marijuana or growing a business, you need to start with a good foundation. Without something to build upon, you won’t get very far.

How is your skill set? Can you speak well? Can you write well? Do you know how to sell things?

It doesn’t matter how good your idea is if you don’t have a basic foundation in place.

If you need better speaking skills, try Toastmasters.

Want to write better? I asked James Altucher how to do this and he told me, “Write two hours daily, read one hour daily.” Also worth looking at is Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers.

2. Play The Edges – There hasn’t yet been a consensus on medical marijuana. Is it “medicine” or is it a drug? And what exactly are the rules around it?

Because of this, big, established companies who would normally love to cash in on a hot business like this are afraid to touch it. And that’s been a big opportunity for the “cowboys” who don’t mind hanging out in the business equivalent of the Wild West.

Playing the edges is always an opportunity for the little guy. It’s the “back room” of the independent video store that rents the adult movies Netflix won’t touch. It’s the single poker table in a bar that pays for the entire establishment.

What’s the “grey area” in your business?

3. Fly The Flag – Let’s get real — the majority of people use marijuana because they want to get high and it has nothing to do with medical issues. And medical marijuana businesses know this, which is why they have names like “Dr. Buzz’s Medical Marijuana Dispensary” or “Kush Kitchen.”

But it’s a fine line… Even though it’s legal, the talk inside medical marijuana dispensaries is still similar to an old school head shop, where everything is sold with a wink and a nod… All the customers are “patients” and the product is “medicine.”

Fly the flag when you can, but if you can’t, don’t let that stop your business. Sometimes you have to do this…

Dildo ad

4. 80/20 Customers – Focus on the high-volume users with rewards and “membership” options to keep them coming back and spending their money with you. The more money a customer spends with you, the better he should be treated.

Does every customer you have deserve to be treated well? Of course. But a small-time, one-off customer should never command the same amount of energy or other resources as somebody who spends a lot of money with you and does business with you on a regular basis.

You should put something in motion today to start better taking care of your top customers. This can easily be done via bonus items with purchases or discount coupon codes.

5. Exclusivity (But Not Really) – How easy is it to get a medical marijuana card?

Like a plate from the Franklin Mint, an invitation to anything Google releases, or getting your hands on the new iPhone, exclusivity of medical marijuana doesn’t actually exist. But even perceived exclusivity goes a long way in marketing…

What are some hoops you can make people jump through in order to want your product more?


  • make people apply
  • charge more money
  • limit time to buy
  • pick-up only (no delivery)
  • limited formats (for example, a paperback book not available in digital)

One or more of these can affect your bottom line in a big way. Make people work for what you’ve got.

Final Thoughts

Chris Rock once said that drugs sell themselves. True. But drugs are also a commodity, with everybody who’s selling them having essentially the exact same thing to offer.

And because of this, you can learn a lot by watching people sell marijuana…

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.

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