Thanks to a flurry of deregulation and a bevy of new research supporting its benefits, hemp is more prominent in our lives than ever. Just a few years ago, legalizing hemp seemed like a pipe dream, the type of cause that you would see advocated for in a poster at a head shop. Now, hemp has powerful advocates in Congress and is estimated to be one of the most lucrative agricultural commodities in the United States.

With a myriad of uses ranging from fiber to feedstock to biofuels to medical goods, hemp has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry. You may be a weaver of hemp fabrics, you may have a stake in next-gen fuels, or you may be a seller of cannabidiol (CBD) oil. If you’re planning on being part of this industry, what are the risks and rewards of marketing your hemp business online?

Risks

Hemp is currently a scheduled drug at the federal level, but all of that might change once the 2018 Farm Bill passes. The bill contains provisions to remove hemp from the list of scheduled crops, and re-classify CBD from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule V drug (Schedule I contains drugs like cocaine, Schedule V contains cough syrup). However, there will still be residual risks to owning a hemp business. If you sell any products that contain CBD, social networks like Facebook and Instagram have policies against running your ads.

Additionally, every state has additional laws pertaining to the manufacture and sale of hemp-derived products such as CBD and biofuels. Even California, which has gone so far as to legalize recreational cannabis, has strict laws against CBD as a food additive. This may seem confusing, but it has to do with the regulation of food. If you’re selling CBD in a foodstuff, the Food and Drug Administration requires that foodstuff to be tested to ensure it’s safe for consumers. If you’re selling to consumers who live in these states, your marketing may be unintentionally in violation of the law there, and you may be subject to fines. As anybody with experience in hemp industry could tell you, though, the best defense against tough laws is a good lawyer.

Rewards

Beefing up your hemp business’ online presence can be both rewarding and lucrative, but it has to be done right. The type of marketing you’re doing depends on the type of business you’re marketing to. If you are, for example, growing industrial hemp, then it probably helps to familiarize yourself with trade associations and business-to-business marketing avenues. A Colorado hemp farm is an example of how you might pursue a B2B route for a hemp business. Farms like that market not only strains, but services, which are a growing-but-overlooked sector of the hemp business. If you plan on marketing direct to consumers, the game is slightly different. You need to make your business discoverable to consumers, and you need them to fall in love with you brand.

There are several techniques and methods, such as “drip marketing,” that allow you to maximize your inbound marketing potential. Drip marketing engages customers with customized email marketing campaigns, then personalizes offers to them based off of their purchase history and behavioral analytics. This entire process is, to top it off, completely automated. This type of marketing tactic allows you to identify what, exactly, your potential customers may be interested in. In an industry with products as diversified as that of hemp, leaning in to your customer data can help you narrow down your focus.

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