Welcome to Episode Seven of the Cannabis Business Made Easy Podcast. I’m your host Brandie Bee Founder of The Elevated Advocate where cannabis advocates become entrepreneurs.
Those of you who have been following The Elevated Advocate for a while know that I am a self-taught designer, and I am forever tinkering with the overall flow of our website. It’s a little side passion of mine, so I was stoked to get a member submitted a question from Sativa Sarah who says:
“Hey Brandie, I’m a long-time admirer of your brand, and I’ve watched The Elevated Advocate evolve over the years on your website, as a Founding member of Elevated Advocacy, and on IG. I’m writing because I’ve always worked with 1:1 clients, but I’m officially starting a business as a women’s health coach next year, and I’m dreading the website thing. Until now, I’ve always gotten work by word of mouth and social media. I have a website, but I never send anyone there because it’s super boring, and I don’t feel like it’s going to catch many leads. I don’t even know where to start to fix it up. I know you do all of your own design, and I love your website, so I thought I would ask. What should I *ACTUALLY* be focusing on to build a low maintenance website that generates leads?”
First, Sativa Sarah CONGRATULATIONS on your business! It makes me so happy to see our Elevated Advocates get out there and start doing their thing.
This is a small side tangent here, but those of you who have been following us for a while know that Elevated Advocacy is our 25-credit cannabis science program. I poured a lot of love and hours into coordinating that and working with researchers, scientists, and our Ph.D. editing team to pull it all together.
But now that it’s fully actualized and my alumni are ready to build businesses of their own, I’m ready to start a new chapter of Sativa Science Club where my own personal passions and nerdiness can shine.
If you’ve been on our website recently, you may have seen that I’m launching a cannabis business coaching program that I’ve built AROUND Elevated Advocacy in 2020.
So not only will I teach you the science behind cannabis (Elevated Advocacy is actually included in the new coaching membership), but I’m going to show you, step-by-step, how to build and market a profitable business in the cannabis industry~ from the ground up.
And I have really good news for you, Sativa Sarah, because, as a Founding Elevated Advocacy Alumni, you’re already grandfathered into an annual membership for FREE! So I can’t wait to see what you create in 2020!
That’s just my way of showing my appreciation to our Founding Members, who have been with me through all of the growing pains and changes of an evolving start-up company.
In the meantime, I just want to set your mind at ease. The first piece of advice I can give you is to not be so hard on yourself. Your website will improve with time. Honestly, it’s like a living portfolio for your brand identity. It’s always going to be a work in progress that evolves with you and your company. Get creative with it! And play with things.
But there are a few un-do-without-able website strategies for anyone hoping to seal the deal with their online following. And I’ll tell you all about what those are in today’s episode.
Let’s talk about landing pages, lead funnels, and a few quick and easy website tweaks that can make or break your cannabis company.
Ok, so the number one thing is to have (and know) the purpose of your website in the first place. EVERYBODY NEEDS A WEBSITE. But it’s up to you how shmancy it is. So many people get preoccupied thinking that they MUST have a blog or a podcast to justify a website. While these things definitely help you with your reach (especially when it comes to trying to rank in google), they are not exactly necessary.
You can easily grow a sizable following on social media (especially if you focus all of your energy into one specific platform like Instagram or Linkedin ~Those are the two I suggest for the cannabis industry anyway) That’s one way to network and get your name out to people. But you are at least going to need a simple landing page website where you can collect their contact information.
And here’s why, while you CAN network and make connections exclusively on social media, you’re always going to be at the mercy of their algorithm when it comes to your reach. Even when you do get up there in numbers (Sativa Science Club has over 50K follower on Instagram and over 1M monthly viewers on Pinterest as of the time of this recording) trust me when I say that there are just bummer days where the stars don’t align and your post views really tank.
And sometimes this can happen for weeks! Even the top influencers out there are at the mercy of whatever algorithm, or regulation that platform feels like inforcing. Not only that, but cannabis accounts seem to get shut down daily. It’s like getting the rug pulled out from under you all a sudden. Even if they forgive, forget, and restore your access, that absence can have a huge effect on the engagement of your following.
And if you REALLY want to get paranoid, there is always the chance that the company could simply shut down one morning. Can you imagine all of those followers and connections you worked so hard to make gone in just a blink?
So that’s tip number one. Having your very own newsletter is like the golden key. Build those relationships over on social, and then have them sign up for a newsletter on your website. That way, you retain control of that communication line, and you are not at any algorithms mercy.
And this doesn’t have to be anything special. You can send a newsletter every day if your motivated, or just send some exclusive content once a month. As long as your consistent and what you have to share has meaning.
We will go into choosing your content niche and newsletter campaigns in next year’s coaching series, and in future episodes, I’m sure, I want to stay focused here. But the point I want to make is that having a website where you can collect email addresses (at the very least) is essential if you’re planning to build a brand in the cannabis industry.
So you don’t need a blog or a podcast to justify a website. But do take having a website seriously. Try to think of it this way; let your website be your bio. It can just be a single landing page that you use to tell the reader the mission, vision, and values of your personal brand or company. And then leverage social media to demonstrate that you truly live that story.
A compelling About Us/ home page with a newsletter box is a great place to get started. Even if it’s just that one page to begin with.
If you’re totally stumped on what to write on your home/ about us page, be sure to visit our show notes and download the Cannabis Advocacy Essentials Kit. In this freebie PDF, I walk you through writing a great biography and personal story with a step-by-step worksheet, so that’s sure to at least get your creative ideas flowing.
If you do decide to go all out and write a blog, make sure you have a solid strategy. I can’t even tell you how many websites I’ve visited either just write a bunch of random half-baked blogs just so they have some content, or they may have AMAZING content, but they really miss out on the opportunity to seal the deal for a future visit.
The blog itself may be great, and they have a newsletter box in the sidebar or maybe the footer and might have a pop-up to capture attention as visitors are about to leave.
But they don’t have a solid call to action that I find compelling. When a new reader is finished consuming your posts, she’s primed to learn more (more about the topic, more about your brand, and more about you). So give her the opportunity!
The number one way to do this is to niche down on your audience and know exactly what they need. Then create a logical chain of action with the material your creating.
For example, Your a cannabis health coach who works with women. Let’s say you’re trying to sell access to a self-care course or an E-book for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. So that’s the end game. From here, you need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs.
So you start on social media by sharing snippets and reflections about an amazing peer-reviewed article you read on the subject, and you encourage a dialog about women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and comorbidities.
From here, you invite them to pop over to your website to read a blog you wrote. Maybe it’s a complete review of the paper you mentioned on social and your thoughts on the findings. You already know they’re interested in this, so that conversion is easy. I even teach you exactly how to write a research blog inside of our Research Like A Boss training, which you should have in your member library.
Ok cool, now they are on your website. That’s progress already. From here, you need to ensure that they will commit to coming back. So you really want to get them on your newsletter.
Offer them something that a woman interested in this specific topic would find really useful. Perhaps a checklist of your go-to cannabis products for POS. She reads the blog, LOVES it because you are amazing, and decides to give you her email address in exchange for this checklist.
Now she’s entered what we call a lead funnel in online marketing. Your checklist was the lead magnet, the thing that attracted her to your newsletter. Now that you have that information, you can continue to write related blogs (once a month is totally ok), and send her a little email announcement to let her know when you’re posting next.
Once she’s all in on that relationship, you can pitch the program or E-book to her as a warm lead who already demonstrated that she loves what you’re doing.
So you don’t exactly need a blog, but they are a big help. At the very least, make sure you have a newsletter AND a compelling lead magnet that relates to or even links whatever you’re sharing on the front and back end.
Ok, now that you fully understand your sales funnel, let’s talk about your Call To Action. If you’ve really found your niche, you will have great content about one topic, you will write blogs ONLY about that topic, and you will have one lead magnet that you share at the end of every blog to draw your audience in.
Make sure it’s crystal clear what they are getting. Say something like, “Interested in learning more about cannabis therapy and polycystic ovarian syndrome? Sign up for our newsletter for a fresh blog each month. I’ll send you our top 10 list of the best cannabis products and remedies for women.”
It’s crystal clear, and they know exactly what they’re signing up for. And to make your life extra easy, you can use the exact same CTA and lead magnet on every page to keep it consistent.
Now see that doesn’t sound so daunting, right? All that takes is one webpage that describes your mission, vision, and values. One new blog post where you discuss a scientific article each month, and one very simple lead magnet. But it really adds value for our a reader who is interested in this specific thing.
Ok so the next thing is that, if you are writing a bunch of related content (and you really should be) Once you get them on your website you want to keep Them Reading With Related Links
This means regularly visiting old blog posts to link to newer content. To make this easy, consider making a big spreadsheet where I keep all of the URLs for your website and organized by category. This way, if you do create a blog series about POS symptoms and cannabis therapy, you can be linking them all together by dropping hints and adding backlinks to your other blogs in the post body. And your readers will thank you.
And don’t skimp on this one either because skipping this small maintenance task can actually cost you money. The longer you can get people to stay on your website and interact with your brand, the more likely they are to warm up to what you’re selling.
Not only is this strategy good for keeping visitors on your site, but posts that link to each other encourage search engine bots to crawl your site more thoroughly, which helps to boost the rankings of your most relevant content.
[And as a side note here: If this sounds too tedious, it’s a perfect job for your virtual assistant.]
The final tip I have for you today is to make the Best of Your Download Pages
So say you make that lead magnet and someone signs up to your mailing list. Many website builders like Squarespace, Wordpress, and Wix will allow you to send the subscriber to a download page where they can click a button to immediately download the content you promised.
This page is majorly underused! At this point, you have a smoking hot lead who just said “yes” to what you’re offering. They are far more likely to say “yes” again now than they will be next week. So provide a low-risk “what’s next” option.
For free download pages, a related, low-cost product is best. It gives readers the chance to learn more about you with a small investment. Going back to our POS example, let’s say that they sign up for your product checklist lead magnet, and then you pitch them a DIY series for $10.
This is just a collection of DIY recipes where you show them how to make the products you listed on your checklist if they are not in a position to run out and buy the products at a dispensary. Maybe you also include little recipe cards or a shopping list to make it extra easy.
Just add a little boost of value and show them that you understand what they need, and you want to help them with whatever comes next.
And, of course, for paid products, consider offering a complementary product instead. So say you make the pitch, and they take you up on joining your class. When they enroll, you can send them to a web page with a free gift (perhaps a bonus lecture, white paper, or a mega list of resources to click.) Alternatively, you can even offer that same item as an upsell package that they can add to their purchase.
And if you’re using a double-opt-in mailing list, make use of that confirmation page, too! That’s the perfect place for a quick upsell or an invitation to join you on social if they haven’t.
Ok, Sativa Sarah, this has been a long episode, so I’m going to wrap it all up by saying this: Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow on your website: Whenever a reader lands on a page, she should be offered the next logical step. When you write your blog posts or create your download pages, keep that in mind, and your lead funnel will practically fill itself.
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