5 WAYS CANNABIS BRANDS CAN WIN WITH GIFT GUIDES
With all the holiday news and journalists’ vacation schedules, the end of the year can be a tough time for cannabis brands to earn media coverage. But there’s one way brands can cut through the noise to make sure they get in front of readers right when holiday shopping hits a fever pitch—cannabis gift guides.
Gift guides have become a huge resource for harried shoppers looking for everything from children’s toys to the latest tech upgrades. But they’re an especially good fit for cannabis brands for a number of reasons. Gift guides are an excellent way to get CBD or THC products into publications that don’t normally cover cannabis. For example, fashion and beauty magazines are increasingly likely to include a relaxing CBD bath bomb or infused lotion in their product roundups.
Another reason cannabis brands can benefit from gift guides is that the format is ideal for earning trust and educating consumers. Shoppers are especially receptive to well-written, well-curated picks from reporters and editors at publications they already trust for the latest news and trends. A cannabis gift guide in a well-loved magazine feels less like an advertisement and more like word-of-mouth reviews from a familiar friend.
That reduced barrier is particularly important for helping cannabis-curious shoppers see how a specific product might fit into their recipient’s lifestyle. Cannabis gift guides can be a great education tool for those who don’t yet know what their favorite strains are or who aren’t familiar with the latest trends and product innovations in the cannabis space. Best of all, that information can be tailored to a publication’s tried-and-true audience, helping you get in front of just the right segment of your target market.
CANNABIS GIFT GUIDES KEEP GIVING ALL YEAR LONG
Cannabis brands stand to win with gift guides not just during the winter holidays, but throughout the year. From New Year’s to 4/20, and Father’s Day to “birthday presents for her,” gift guides always provide a reliable hook for journalists. Whether you’re touting THC-infused chocolates for Valentine’s Day or the best vape pens for outdoor enthusiasts, gift guides solve a problem for shoppers throughout the year who need a little help making a purchase.
Crafting quality gift guide content, however, is easier said than done. Phone in your content with copy-and-pasted product descriptions and muddled goals and your pitch can easily end up in some editor’s slush pile. But if you want your products to make a splash, try these five tips for cannabis brands creating great gift guides.
FIVE CANNABIS GIFT GUIDE TIPS
- Dial in your demographics. Gift guides aren’t one-size fits all. Knowing exactly which audience you’re targeting will help journalists know where your product fits and how to tell your product’s story. Relate the recommended gift to the specific needs of your target customer and help explain how your product would fit in their lifestyle. From stocking stuffers for budget shoppers to luxe splurges for cannabis connoisseurs, your job is to show how your product solves the problem of picking the perfect gift.
- Capitalize on good copy. Putting extra effort into the writing quality on your gift guide will do more than impress journalists–it will help save them time and effort. Tailoring your product descriptions to the audience, theme and publication you’re pitching helps the journalist see where your brand fits into the larger narrative they’re crafting. For example, product descriptions for ebb’s THC-infused dissolvable powder typically mention how useful the brand’s mixes are for workout recovery. That’s a strong message any time of year, but going the extra mile to relate those benefits back to the wellness goals many adopt after the holidays makes it crystal clear why ebb is a better fit for a holiday gift guide than other products.
- Partner up, give back and go exclusive. Another way to add value for the customer and help publications tell compelling brand stories is to partner with businesses or organizations in other industries to offer smartly curated gift boxes, altruistic incentives or limited edition products. For example, Veritas Fine Cannabis partnered with Icelantic again this year on a select number of Nomad 105 skis featuring a design by Denver-based artist and performance painter Morgan Mandala—a collaboration that has as much appeal for outdoor journalists as for those on the cannabis beat, and which celebrates the wide-ranging interests of Veritas’ target market.
- Plan and pitch early. By the time you’re hearing holiday jingles on the radio, you’re already late to the gift guide game. Your pitches need to be planned well ahead of time to get traction. Print publications, particularly the big household names, plan their editorial calendars and holiday coverage months in advance—usually around the time you’re counting down to summer vacation. Gift guides should be part of your year-round PR and marketing efforts. That’s not only to make sure your holiday pitches are received when editors are planning their end-of-year campaigns, but also to stay ahead of all the other opportunities each quarter.
- Activate affiliate networks. Affiliate marketing is getting bigger and bigger, and understanding the role affiliate networks play in today’s digital publishing landscape is crucial to getting more mileage out of your gift guides. Some publications prioritize products available on just one or two affiliate platforms—Heavy.com, for example, covers cannabis products regularly, but rarely shares items that aren’t available on Amazon. Doing your due diligence can increase your chances of getting plum placements in product recommendation articles.
Having good relationships with journalists at your target publications also goes a long way towards ensuring your cannabis gift guide pitches get successfully placed. That's where agencies like Grasslands can help. We specialize in building strong media relationships that are crucial to securing coverage for clients. Want to learn how Grasslands can supercharge your earned media strategy? Let's talk!
Ricardo Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist, keynote speaker, TEDx veteran and thought leader in modern media and drug-policy circles. He served as The Denver Post’s first-ever marijuana editor and founded news vertical The Cannabist, where he extensively covered the advent of adult-use cannabis and related issues across the country and around the world, as seen in the feature documentary Rolling Papers (Netflix).
In 2016, Ricardo launched Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency to work directly with business leaders in highly regulated industries, including cannabis, energy and traditional healthcare. Named Marketer of the Year by AdCann in 2019, Ricardo has received numerous accolades for his trailblazing work covering drug policy, cannabis business and culture, and continues to columnize and host podcasts for a number of top publications.