The CBD Conundrum: How to Market Your Products Effectively

With the CBD industry rising in profits and concerns, it’s time to partner with a CBD marketing agency to enhance your brand and product positioning.

Whether you’re selling CBD products or you’re a CBD marketing agency, it’s a great time to be green.

U.S. farmers are switching — in large numbers — from pumpkins and squash to hemp. Sales of products containing CBD oil have exploded, as the extract is being used in everything from beverages to bath products.

For companies operating in this emerging market, such developments are thrilling. Yet there’s one thorny issue that remains to be resolved: CBD advertising regulations.

While the public is eager to hear more about CBD, the largest digital ad platforms are quieting that conversation. Because there is no legal uniformity concerning how cannabis-derived products are classified, some of the largest advertising networks have simply opted for a wholesale ad ban.

This has left CBD businesses scrambling to find alternative methods for marketing CBD products and reaching mainstream audiences. Here’s the good news: Those methods exist, and the right CBD marketing plan can help businesses reach their stated goals.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the challenges inherent to CBD marketing — and how smart companies can solve them.

What to know about marketing CBD products

Google and Facebook are the two titans of digital advertising. Unfortunately, both have policies restricting the marketing of CBD products. Google AdWords censors CBD ads by filtering forbidden keywords.

While it’s possible for companies to be oblique or vague enough in their wording to escape automated censoring, that’s not a truly sound strategy — oblique, vague ad copy is just going to confuse consumers even if it manages to escape filtering. 

Facebook and Instagram also do not allow CBD advertisements. When you consider that Facebook and Google (and their digital properties) own roughly 60% of the online ad market, that presents a significant challenge.

So how do you market effectively?

While it’s true that Google and Facebook have made it more difficult to market CBD products, a good CBD marketing agency can help overcome these limitations. There are several strategies that can be pursued to break through to consumers.

Those strategies include the following:

Partnering With Influencers

Influencer marketing has never been more popular. The right influencer with a large, engaged following can give a brand instant traction within its marketplace. More importantly, influencers can pitch CBD products in an organic fashion that doesn’t break the rules of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

One example: Beauty is one of the most popular influencer categories on Instagram, and also a profitable market for CBD oil. Many high-end cosmetics are incorporating CBD into their products to help provide users with a natural, healthy glow.

This lends itself perfectly to Instagram, the most visual of all social networks. By partnering with an influencer, CBD products appear organically within the audience’s feed, reaching the most highly engaged segment of consumers.

People also trust reviews and recommendations from influencers more than they trust conventional online advertising. According to Adweek, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from other people — even people they don’t know personally — more than conventional ads.

Another benefit: CBD brands can use influencer-generated content on company blogs, social media accounts, and websites. CBD brands can also drive more followers of influencer accounts to their networks through crossover marketing.

And, most importantly, all of this can be done while still staying on the right side of CBD advertising laws.

Industry Ad Networks

While Google AdWords may not be an option, other entities are more than willing to host CBD ads: Cannabis-specific ad networks. These networks serve digital ads on websites that take a pro-cannabis posture.

While this approach can reach the hardcore, highly motivated audience segment, it has quite limited utility in terms of connecting with the larger market of buyers. Most people simply don’t browse CBD or hemp-oriented websites, so acquiring customers within the mainstream will be challenging.

That said, these networks do provide a smart option for raising product awareness within industry-related publications.

Leveraging PR

While Google and Facebook keep CBD ads at arm’s length, the news media has been more than accommodating in terms of earned coverage. Organic media coverage in a high-authority publication is a dream outcome for many small to mid-sized businesses, and CBD is no exception. Getting that coverage, however, is often a steep challenge.

CBD companies do have one innate advantage in this regard, however: the CBD category is relatively new, fast-growing, and of considerable public interest. That means that it’s newsworthy — provided you can come up with a clever news hook and know how to pitch an editor.

That’s going to be a near impossible task for many business owners. However, the right CBD marketing agency can help businesses develop a hook, craft a pitch, and reel in the kind of earned media coverage that moves the needle.  

The takeaway

At BIGEYE, we’re more than up to the challenge of navigating the CBD marketing minefield. If you’d like to hear more about how we help CBD companies reach new audiences and grow by using our sophisticated CBD marketing tools, please visit our website today.

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Dog Treats, DVDs, and CBD: 2019’s Hottest Product Category

It’s time to navigate the tricky terrain of CBD digital marketing with a specialized CBD marketing agency by your side through it all.

The health and wellness industry has given us some powerful cultural trends recently: Quinoa, kale, gluten-free…the list goes on. Yet cannabidiol (CBD) has the potential to dwarf all of them. The CBD product category is exploding and brands are scrambling to take advantage – while simultaneously trying to gain more clarity into regulatory compliance issues and the tricky terrain of CBD digital marketing.

To help you stay up to speed, let’s take a closer look at some of the latest developments in the CBD space.

A DVD of “The Avengers,” a bucket of popcorn, and a side of CBD oil

The retail adoption of CBD products continues to surge. You may have heard about CBD products popping up at CVS and Walgreens – but did you know you can also buy CBD gummies, sprays, oils, and lip balms at your neighborhood video store?

Family Video, the largest movie rental chain in the United States, is rolling out CBD items in 250 stores nationwide. Thanks to streaming services and Redbox, the movie rental business isn’t quite what it used to be, and Family Video expects CBD sales to help drive in-store revenue.

So far, so good – at least according to media reports. The video chain claims it is moving CBD merchandise quickly and may extend its CBD offerings to all locations nationwide.

Staying ahead of the curve on compliance

The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill opened the CBD floodgates, as it pushed CBD out of its gray area legal status. Yet while CBD is now legal to manufacture and sell (at least federally), there is still significant uncertainty around regulatory standards. Right now, there is little guidance with concerning standards for CBD extraction or production.

That uncertainty also extends to CBD digital marketing. Right now, the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have offered little in the way of advertising and marketing guidelines, though they have sanctioned several companies for making false or misleading health claims.

Many CBD brands are choosing to prepare for compliance by following established industry practices within the food and health supplement categories. That means complying with the terms of the FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act as well as following industry standards and best practices for all growing, production, and manufacturing. 

A dog treat worth begging for

Pet owners spent $72 billion on their animals in 2018, a nearly 10% year-over-year increase. This reflects a trend that’s even more popular than CBD – spoiling our pets and treating them like proxy children.

Direct to consumer (DTC) brands are driving growth in this market. Today, you can have DTC brands ship curated boxes of food, treats and toys for your pets to your home on a weekly or monthly basis.

CBD, of course, is the next evolution. Pet owners have been treating canine anxiety and other issues with their own CBD stocks. Now, brands are jumping into the fray, offering their own spins on CBD pet products (Bacon Flavor CBD Dog Treats, anyone?).

While this might sound a bit whimsical, smart CBD brands understand that it’s big business. Pets are projected to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the CBD market over the next five years, reaching $125 million in sales annually at a yearly growth rate of 57%. 

The takeaway

At BIGEYE, we’re fascinated by the evolution of the CBD market – but we’re also deeply cognizant of the challenges that come with CBD digital marketing. Brands not only need a compelling campaign, but they also need to focus on compliance.

The challenge doesn’t end there. Because the world’s largest digital ad platforms remain closed to CBD products, brands can’t simply rely on Google and Facebook to find their audience.

Don’t be intimidated – we can help you navigate this terrain successfully. Contact us today to learn more about what the right CBD marketing agency can do for your brand.

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A Marketing Guide for Your CBD Product

Business in the CBD space is booming — and well-capitalized competitors are entering the field. Here’s why the right CBD marketing agency can help brands win today and tomorrow.

The cannabidiol (CBD) brand category is growing faster than a weed planted in Miracle Gro — and for good reason. Public demand for CBD products has been nearly insatiable, providing enormous opportunity for early moving brands within the space. Now, however, competition is becoming much tougher, as more established companies seek to carve off their own slice of the CBD market pie. In order to win, brands need the services of a top CBD marketing agency with true domain expertise.

Let’s take a closer look at growth in the CBD market and how today’s brands can strengthen their competitive position through smart CBD product marketing.

Why CBD products have captured the public’s imagination

Within the space of a few years, CBD products have gone from a niche concern to a mainstream phenomenon. This remarkable transformation is tied to two developments. First, the 2018 Farm Bill made the production and sale of CBD products legal in all federal jurisdictions. While this opened the floodgates from a legal and regulatory perspective, there was still another piece necessary to turn CBD into such a high-growth category: Extraordinary consumer demand. This demand has been stoked by a perfect storm of market conditions and public need. 

The global wellness industry has been booming in recent years, with consumers seeking to optimize how they eat, live and care for themselves. CBD products fit squarely within this category. They are non-intoxicating; they’ve been medically proven to help treat a variety of widespread health issues, and they are an all-natural alternative to pharmaceuticals or other interventions. Combine these qualities with easy accessibility, it’s no wonder that CBD is fast-approaching “gluten-free” as the next great, market-driving consumer health and wellness craze.

As the CBD space is maturing, however, competition is fast increasing. Large enterprises capable of leveraging massive economies of scale are entering the market. In order to remain as competitive as possible, it’s imperative for today’s brands to have access to high-quality CBD advertising and marketing.

A guide for effective CBD product marketing

Now is a critical time for CBD brands, as market share and customer loyalty are up for grabs in an industry that is both very young and rapidly evolving. Companies that can excel at audience acquisition and brand building during this phase will create sustainable long-term competitive advantages.

Put the right CBD advertising strategy in place today, and you’ll reap substantial benefits as the market matures.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few of the more important things to consider in the context of CBD oil marketing.

Brand story and positioning

The CBD market is growing crowded — and many of the brands in the category offer little in the way of smart differentiation. Some borrow the same tired and cliched “4/20”-style branding from the cannabis industry; others are choosing to brand their product squarely within a health and wellness context.

Your company’s brand story and positioning will play a critical role in helping you connect with the right audience. Done at a high level, your brand story tells consumers who you are. It communicates your company values. It creates an identity for consumers to connect with. Tell the right story, and consumers will want to purchase your products because your brand aligns with their own sense of self.

You can choose to create a refined brand that targets the upper end of the market. You can choose to create a trendy brand targeted at millennials and Gen Z.

Yet no matter the approach you choose, branding needs something else to be effective: A deep knowledge of your potential audience.

Audience segmentation and market research

Audience targeting is a virtual pre-requisite for success in any competitive brand category. Let’s take the example of CBD cosmetics. If you’ve created an expensive CBD oil-infused beauty treatment that’s designed to eliminate wrinkles, what does your consumer market look like?

With a few exceptions, it’s not men, so we can remove roughly 50% of consumers right away. Your product is pricey, so it probably won’t appeal to anyone earning under $40k annually, removing another sizable group of people. It’s an anti-aging product, so younger millennials and Gen Z won’t be too interested.

Suddenly your market looks much smaller — though it’s still easily large enough to target, assuming you have the right CBD advertising. The problem is this: Many advertising and marketing channels take a scattershot approach. Legacy TV ads, for example, have only the most general demographic data to guide them. 

In order to get your messages to the ideal audience with laser-like precision, you need two things: Audience segmentation and tailored ad and marketing distribution.

CBD brands can acquire the first through the creation of detailed brand personas and sophisticated market research. Brand personas are demographic profiles of idealized customers: Who they are, educational status, income, family situation, their likely behavior, preferences etc. Market data can be culled from a variety of sources: customer feedback, formal surveys, data gathered from devices etc.

These approaches can then be combined with programmatic advertising that allows CBD brands to tailor their ads to certain audiences. Today, programmatic ads have grown much more powerful and refined, incorporating behavioral data, location data and other factors. For example, a CBD brand could choose to serve a Google ad to someone on a mobile device who is within a one-mile radius of that brand’s brick-and-mortar store. Or, a CBD brand could serve ads to consumers based on recent search interest or other factors.

Focusing on the health and wellness market

CBD brands have an innate advantage over many other products within the health and wellness category: Their products are backed up by hard evidence that substantiates their efficacy. Numerous studies have shown that CBD can have a positive impact on anxiety, pain, insomnia, and other critical health issues.

Given that tens of millions of Americans suffer from these maladies, this is no small market. Yet along with highlighting the very real (and all natural) benefits offered by CBD products, taking this approach has another benefit: It helps erase the remaining stigma associated with the CBD market.

Though times are quickly changing, there is some residual negativity caused by CBD’s association with cannabis. Many people are still unaware that while both products are hemp derivatives, they are wildly different in how they manifest physically. CBD is non-intoxicating and leaves a very subtle impression — no different than taking most supplements.

CBD advertising and marketing should draw this distinction. While CBD products are exploding in popularity, the public remains spottily educated in terms of CBD’s legality and its non-intoxicating nature.

Brands that help educate the public through marketing will be in a strong position to sell more products and establish long-term consumer loyalty.

Navigating a tricky advertising and marketing environment

Any CBD marketing agency will tell you the truth: Advertising your product to consumers is not the same as advertising apple juice or a new and better way to buy a mattress. This is because CBD products, while federally legal, still exist within a somewhat murky regulatory environment. Local jurisdictions have varying rules and regulations governing CBD production and transactions.

This state of affairs has had ripple effects for CBD businesses. Just like cannabis brands, CBD brands cannot advertise their products on some of the largest digital ad platforms. Google and Facebook (and by extension Instagram) do not accept digital ads from CBD brands.

While it’s very possible that this may change in the future, as regulatory clarity grows and CBD products become even more mainstream, it’s something of a hindrance today. Google and Facebook are often referred to as the “digital ad duopoly” for a reason — they control the bulk of all online advertising.

This doesn’t mean that CBD brands are entirely locked out of the digital marketing sphere, however. CBD brands can choose to advertise within smaller, industry specific digital advertising networks. While they may not have the reach or effectiveness of Google or Facebook, they are also less expensive.

Additionally, Snapchat allows CBD ads. While it may not have quite the reach of its “digital ad duopoly” competitors, it’s still a major advertising platform that is particularly well-suited for targeting younger consumers.

The takeaway

The CBD industry has experienced extraordinary growth in recent years — and it appears that we’re still in the early stages of a major new market. As Fortune 500 firms and prominent retailers begin staking their positions within the CBD space, competition will only grow fiercer.

This means that it’s essential to capture market share today, and lock in lifetime customers who are just now beginning to learn about CBD products and their myriad benefits.

At BIGEYE, we’re CBD marketing experts. Why? Because we offer a few things that other CBD product marketing agencies can’t match. First, we’ve been working with brands in the CBD space for years, and we have deep domain knowledge. Second, we’re a tech-focused marketing agency with a full suite of services. We can help you build your brand, identify and target your audience, and then harness the latest technology to deliver world-class creative campaigns.

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