Our previous episode talking about marijuana and the cannabis industry was really good, but we focused on “Why”, and wanted to talk about “How”. If you live in a state with legalized (in any form) of cannabis, you will know that the tech and small business growth around this newly legalized industry is booming. In California it is no joke, with not just dispensaries but apps, startups, and other ventures being formed and businesses started all around the cannabis industry. It is proving to be a very profitable and very good business to be in now, so people are taking notice and investing.
Most of businesses you will be selling your WordPress website consulting services to are dispensaries. Dispensaries are the legal in way in which cannabis is sold to the public, whether it be for recreational or medical use. Think of a dispensary like a pharmacy, but they only sell 1 kind of medication in several different forms that can help many ailments in several different ways.
Most of these dispensaries are just small businesses like any other. They are just starting, or maybe have been around a while, but really they are not big companies (yet). Some of them are private collectives, meaning they only take on so many applicants or patients, while others are more open to anyone walking into purchase cannabis legally. A lot of what ARC CTRL wrote about business myths can also be applied here, as many of these small business owners don’t know the power or the benefits of having a website.
For the most part, there isn’t anything different you need to know if you want to sell WordPress website consulting to dispensary. If you know how to set up a basic brochureware website for any other small business, then you can do it for a dispensary. Once they start asking for more in depth functionality, you should treat it like you would anything else. Figure out if you can install a plugin to meet business requirements, or develop a new plugin.
There are already some great plugins out there including Robert DeVore’s WP Dispensary which handles a lot of the menu functionality, and now includes a lot of add-ons for the dispensary to grow into.
Marketing to cannabis dispensaries can be the hardest part of the whole process. Even just marketing a simple dispensary landing page can be tricky as many marketing outlets aren’t allowing cannabis related websites yet. Also, it becomes an issue with taking payments. We mentioned a lot during the podcast about credit card processing, which most big names (PayPal) won’t allow you to accept if you are related in any way to the cannabis industry.
The best way to market is to get familiar with those who are in the industry around you. Go to a local dispensary and meet with the owner, offer some type of trade or see what they have going on with their web presence. Robert brought up a good option, which will take time and some money, but having . seminar or webinar related to web presence for dispensaries could be a good way to get in the door to meeting people. Let them know what a website can do for them and their dispensaries and once you are in the door, you can get referrals.
Luckily its still relatively new market, so SEO is going to be a big factor. Write as much as you can about it. If you don’t want to mix your current business with cannabis business, try using a new domain and a new branding so your existing clients won’t make the connection. As “shady” as this sounds, cannabis can still be divisive, and you don’t want to lose a good client because you are trying to break into a new industry.
Just like any other business, you should believe what they are doing is ethical before offering or starting to consult. Unless you can be completely unbiased (which is hard), cannabis isn’t for everyone and that is totally fine. However if you are a user, or you respect what it can do to help people than you may have an easier time connecting with and selling to dispensaries.