Events and community involvement are key elements to any successful medical dispensary marketing plan. Though events are helpful for many cannabis businesses, they are especially important for medical dispensaries in emerging markets – where cannabis and community education is particularly needed.
You can attend events, speak at events or host your own to provide cannabis education and build brand awareness. This article will help you identify what events to attend, opportunities you will have at each type of event, and ideas for using your customer relationship management (CRM) software at events.
There are several types of events that medical dispensaries should look into attending. The goals of event attendance will vary depending upon the type of event, which can range from a local association meeting to a giant expo.
Looking for Events to Attend
The first step in event planning is to find an appropriate event that will help you achieve your goals and get in front of the right audience.
Your search will likely begin online. Some event types to start your search are local community and association meetings, conferences and expos, seminars or even casual networking events – each serves a unique purpose. If you're feeling stuck, try searching for "organizations" and "associations" versus "events." After all, most established organizations will host recurring events.
Some themes to include in your search are cannabis industry or medical marijuana, local and community, holistic health and health and wellness. You can also narrow your search to very specific components of these more generic searches. For example, this may be one particular ailment, such as chronic low back pain or PTSD.
Booths and Sponsorships
Booth space is often available for purchase at larger events like expos, conferences, fairs and trade shows. This can include medical marijuana expos or health fairs. Some ideas to get your search started are:
- Pain management
- Holistic health and wellness themes such as yoga or essential oils for pain management
- Specific ailments like “comprehensive rehabilitation management for low back pain or an integrative nursing pain management seminar
Don't forget that these events don’t have to be just for a patient audience, but other strategic partners to connect and network with. This may include practitioners or other medical cannabis advocates.
Landing a speaking opportunity should almost always be your goal. This gives you a chance to directly communicate and share your story with a larger audience than just the people walking by your booth. But speaking opportunities are not restricted to just large events. Also look for local community events or meetings that may be smaller, but perhaps more relevant to you.
The best speaking opportunity is one where you have personal experience. For example, if you have suffered from low back pain, then something dealing with chronic back pain is something you 1) know a lot about and 2) can share a personal experience that the audience will relate to.
Some potential speaking topics may include the health benefits of cannabis, the misconceptions of the plant, and how dispensaries impact communities (eg. local employment, the economy and real estate). If your audience is made up of practitioners or other medical-related employees, you'll want to focus on the health benefits of cannabis therapy, information about eligibility and how to become a registered practitioner in your state.
In addition to providing education, you can use events that you attend to network with strategic partners and collect information from attendees – who may become patients at your dispensary. This information will prove very valuable in the future! We suggest whether you have opened your doors, or are still preparing to open that you begin building your list and a potential patient base right away.
Take a Baker Checkin tablet to these events to collect information from the people that come by your booth or want to learn more. You can gather their telephone number to send SMS messages and/or get their email to add them to your newsletter. In addition to contact information, capture interests and information about these individuals. This will give you a good overall understanding of what people are interested in, and also help you provide a more personalized experience for individual patients. For example, you may want to know more about what brought them to that particular event, cannabis-related topics they may want to know more about (like THC vs CBD or how to become a qualified patient), or even who they are – a patient, caregiver, practitioner, supporter etc.
At any stage in the lifecycle of a medical dispensary, hosting events and seminars is key to connecting with your patients. Your goals should be to educate and provide resources, as well as show your appreciation for your patients.
Patient Education Days
Patient education days should be for both current and future patients. The attendance may be low at first, but having recurring events will help you pick up the pace. You can advertise these through social media, at community meetings, and through sending communications to your list (which you've started with your Baker Checkin tablet).
Some popular topics that your audience may be interested in learning about are:
1) Process of Qualifying
- Qualifying conditions in your state
- How to become a qualified patient
- How to find a registered practitioner
2) Process of purchasing cannabis from your store
- What can patients expect when they visit your dispensary?
- Keep in mind they have never done this before...so it might be obvious to you, but not to them.
- What patients need to bring to the dispensary
- Alternatives to the patient picking it up
- Is delivery available in your state?
- Forms of payment
3) Process of finding the right products for patients
- Dosing recommendations
- Potential side effects
- Difference between low-dose THC and medical marijuana
- Difference between THC and CBD and between indica and sativa?
- Different products available and the different methods of consuming them
- The latest research in cannabis
If possible, try to bring in a medical professional to help you cover these topics. This is also an excellent time to learn more about your patients. Use a Checkin tablet to find out what brought them to the event, what topics they are particularly interested in and if they want more information and resources.
Patient Appreciation Days
After you've been open for a period of time, especially as the medical market matures in your state, patient retention becomes extremely important. Customer appreciation days are a great way to help you achieve this – show your appreciation for you patients!
These shouldn't be as much education-focused, but rather fun and entertainment-focused. Host a patient appreciation BBQ or some other fun activity like a yoga or cooking class.
An alternative to hosting an event is to offer special discounts or deals to local businesses. Another way to ensure patient loyalty is through effective patient communication.
Some examples of these patient communications may include updates in medical cannabis in your state, restock notifications for their favorite products, or information about your dispensary – such as open date, hours of operation and resources.
If you're looking for other ways to reach and engage with patients, explore how Baker can help! Request a demo today.