As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses in this industry to prioritize positive community relations.
Building positive relationships with individuals and community organizations can have a significant impact on the success of your cannabis business, including generating good publicity, increasing customer loyalty, and creating a positive reputation.
Benefits of positive community relations for cannabis businesses
When you create a strategic plan to build positive community relations there is a range of benefits for your cannabis business, including:
Building trust and credibility
When a cannabis business is actively engaged in the community and supporting local initiatives, it can build your reputation as a trustworthy and credible member of the community. This can help create positive feelings toward the business, even from locals who may not favor legalized or recreational cannabis. Increasing trust and credibility also helps establish a loyal customer base.
Taking actions that build good will go a long way toward boosting brand recognition and word-of-mouth marketing.
Let the community know that you are committed to the well-being of all and that you’re willing and excited to do your part. As they get to know you and see you, your neighbors will grow to appreciate you and your business.
Generating good publicity and word-of-mouth marketing
Look for ways to generate positive publicity and word-of-mouth marketing. This can help increase brand awareness as well as produce new customers.
Encourage your current customers to tell others about their positive experiences with your business. Reward them for referring new customers. Because "social proof" is a recognized form of influence, getting lots of positive word-of-mouth marketing also builds trust and credibility.
Don’t be shy about reaching out to local journalists (they’re always looking for a good story!) to let them know that your business is eager to establish relationships with your neighbors. You could invite them to write an article in the newspaper that highlights your business’s involvement in community efforts. Or perhaps you can get a news segment on television that reports on your company’s charity work.
Attracting and retaining employees
The more your business is visible as a positive force in the community, the more people will want to work with you and for you. This gives you the option to hire only the best employees.
When you treat those employees well, it becomes easier to retain them.
So as part of your overall marketing strategy, focus on attracting and retaining great employees who love to give back and who enjoy cheerfully serving customers. This will also boost your business's reputation and standing in the community.
Strategies for building positive community relations
There are several strategies you can use to build positive community relations, including:
Volunteer and community service
Get involved in your community by volunteering your time and resources to local initiatives. This could include participating in community service events like an annual springfest, or partnering with organizations to support their missions, like a local art museum. Also, consider working with other organizations that grow and process plants.
Bring your team on a quarterly clean-up day at the local park or roadway. Donate office products to a charity and help with their events.
Organizations are always looking for volunteers. Get creative about where and how you and your employees can serve other members of the community.
Participate in local events and sponsorships
Participate in fundraising events like a walk-a-thon for cancer research or donate money to the community schools. Partner with a local food bank to collect donations of non-perishable food items. Sponsor a sports team, donate money to the high school band or play or to other non-profit organizations, and set up a booth at a community fair.
There are so many options for you and your team to get involved! The more visible you are, as active, contributing members of your community, the more positively your business will be received.
Engage with local government and community leaders
Learn about local issues and how you can help address them by attending local government meetings or participating in community forums. These are great ways to get your name out in the community and help people understand what you do.
Best Practices for Effective Community Relations
To build effective community relations, as a leader in the cannabis industry:
Understand the community's values and needs
The better you understand what's important to your community, the more you can connect authentically with people one-on-one.
For instance, some community members may have concerns about how legalization will affect them and their families. They also may want to know what role the cannabis industry will play in the community.
You can address these issues by engaging with people who represent a variety of experiences, backgrounds, and opinions.
Get to know what’s important in your community by gathering information on key topics of interest. If it’s not readily available through local news organizations, you can conduct surveys and focus groups with community members, and interview local leaders.
Create authentic connections and relationships
You can build authentic connections by holding community events to explain what your organization does and how you like to be involved. Use these opportunities to get to know your neighbors, listen to their stories, and share your own stories. Share your business’s values and mission. And consider creating opportunities for community members to get involved with your brand by hosting events or providing volunteer opportunities.
Actively participate in networking events in your community and with an industry group like Rolling Stone Culture Council.
Communicate Clearly and Transparently
Open and transparent communication is essential to building trust and credibility with the community. Cannabis businesses should communicate their efforts clearly and be transparent about their goals and impact.
Measure and Evaluate the Impact of Community Relations Efforts
To ensure your community-building efforts are effective, identify key metrics that let you measure and evaluate their impact. Adjust your strategies, as necessary.
Some challenges to cannabis community involvement
It’s no secret that even if you have lots of good intentions to make donations to local charities and organizations, there are some hurdles to jump over.
Some organizations are prohibited from accepting donations from cannabis businesses because of the gray area about the legalization of cannabis.
Other organizations are concerned about their own reputation if they accept donations from a cannabis business.
You and your employees can still donate your time. And you can even open your own non-profit organization to support passion projects.
So be willing to do what it takes to be part of the community that supports you, even if you have to get creative.
Positive community relations are essential for cannabis businesses seeking to build a trustworthy and credible reputation in their community.
By actively engaging in community initiatives, generating positive publicity, and attracting and retaining great employees, your business can benefit from increased customer loyalty, brand awareness, and a positive standing in the community. Don’t be discouraged by some of the hurdles you have to jump over in order to support the community that support your business.
Strategies for building positive community relations include volunteering and community service, participating in local events and sponsorships, and engaging with local government and community leaders. By understanding the community's values and needs, building authentic connections and relationships, communicating clearly and transparently, and measuring and evaluating the impact of community relations efforts, your cannabis business can thrive and grow in your community.
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