The Wild West: Marketing Restricted Products

restricted products (1)

It’s the wild west — a refrain we often hear from marketers of restricted products. Digital marketing and advertising channels available to non-restricted/taboo brands are off limits, and regulations frequently change. Some marketers, in love with the challenge, make the uncertainty their career. While others jump ship for calmer waters. No matter which category you find yourself in, you are likely reading this article because you need to get your product in front of people, so let’s get to it. Below, you’ll find 7 strategies to get eyes on your brand. 

TL;DR : Owned Marketing

What is a restricted product?

If you’re marketing a restricted product, you are well aware if it is or isn’t, but for the sake of good content (we’ll get to that later) we’re going to spell it out. 

The most common products restricted from digital (and often traditional) advertising on the largest platforms are:

Firearms

Alcohol

CBD

Cannabis

Hemp

Smoking

Sexual Wellness 

Each Ad Network/Social Platform has their own restrictions, which you can view below:

Microsoft/Bing

LinkedIn

Google/YouTube Ads

Facebook

Building an audience when you don’t have a microphone.

How do you build an audience when you can’t advertise? To be fair, it’s not that advertising is completely off limits, it’s that to get your ads approved you have to water down your messaging so much – you may fail to get your message across at the least or get your account banned at the most. It’s a tough pill to swallow for marketers who know they need to stand out.

Content and SEO

This applies to all brands, but it is massively important for those marketing restricted products. Content drives traffic, content mixed with SEO will get you on the first page of Google. You started your brand because you saw a need or an opportunity. Buyers are out there searching for what you have to offer. 

Instead of focusing on your product, focus on the problems your consumer has and the solution. Think of what they are truly searching for and the questions you can answer around that subject even if they haven’t thought to ask that question yet. If you want to grow an audience, you must educate and inform. Be a reliable source of good education. Specifically in the cannabis/CBD market there are a lot of curious newbies seeking information as laws relax. Be a beacon 

Example: 

MedMen Blog – EMBER, a Journal of Cannabis and Culture

Ember has categories covering news, wellness, food, culture, and style, allowing them to speak to a wide range of topics and questions. The Med Men blog is strong, but if you are only beginning, start with one topic and become an authority before adding more. 

Resource:

If you are new to writing content and SEO, Ahrefs should be your first stop. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, it will help you get the most out of your content. 

Influencers

Influencers can be an excellent source of website traffic, and it allows you to borrow the audiences of other people, as well as the trust the audience has in the influencer. Look for people that align with your brand and have a highly engaged following. Influencers can often skirt the rules and restrictions social platforms place on restricted product companies, making them tangibly important to marketing restricted products. 

Example:

This article on how female firearm influencers are vital for manufacturers building a brand online.

Resource:

This is tricky as many of the platforms used to find influencers are also off-limits to restricted brands. Look for people that are already using your product or people representing other products in your space. Tagger does allow you to connect with cannabis influencers.

Facebook and Reddit Groups:

Facebook advertising may be off limits, but Facebook groups are not. Facebook groups are used by 1.8 Billion people each month. Find your people by searching for groups using keywords that relate to your brand. Engage organically with the group, identify key group members you can partner with, and try to build relationships with the group moderators.

Example and Resource:

This podcast featuring Saadiq Daya, CEO of VanGo Vapes, on how he grew his brand with Facebook groups.

“We’re not allowed to do Facebook ads, we’re not allowed to do Google Ads. It’s very restrictive, so we really have to be out there and get people’s feedback.”

Saadiq Daya, CEO VanGo Vapes

Podcasts

There is a podcast for anything and everything. Podcasts are always in your pocket, can be stopped, started or paused at any time and usually have regular followings. It’s audio, and people are typically listening while doing mundane things that don’t distract them from listening, but would distract them from other forms of media. You can’t scroll social media while you’re doing the dishes. Find a podcast your ideal customer listens to and sponsor it. Most podcasts have avid listeners, so sponsoring for a season or longer significantly increases brand recognition and recall. Promo codes are a great way to track the return on podcast cast sponsorships.

Resource:

Use PodCorn to find podcasts to sponsor

Digital Media Buying

Just because Google and Facebook refuse to take your money doesn’t mean all digital advertising is off limits. There are many ad networks that allow, and even welcome, restricted product advertising. The key is to make sure your target market is well-defined, and your creative is on point. You can use programmatic advertising to assist in the buying process.

You got them to your website, now what?

Email Marketing

We’re big fans of owned marketing here at RAEK. But if you are trying to market a restricted product, it is essential. Getting customers to your website is tough when you can’t advertise. Once you get them there, it’s essential to collect their email address. Popups are great, but you can’t solely rely on them as most people quickly close them to get them out of the way. Test different timings on your pop-up, but also have an email collection form in your header and footer. And it goes without saying that you should use RAEK to capture the emails you’re missing.

“We’re very limited with what we can do marketing-wise, so email marketing is massive for us. As long as we’re emailing good quality consumers, we’re getting great response rates. Our email marketing is responsible for over 40 percent of our online sales in the last 90 days.”

Georgia Branch of Hemple

What do you send? You can use email for brand building and education, as well as sales. 

Example:

This email from Prima that educates and sells, making it valuable for different levels of your sales funnel. 

Restricted Product Email marketing Example

Resources:

Restricted brand friendly email marketing providers. Always make sure you are sending CAN-SPAM compliant emails.

Retargeting

Retargeting website visitors after they leave your site can increase the chance they will convert into a paying customer by 40-70%, depending on who you ask, but even on the low end that’s a great return. The problem — retargeting is traditionally done through paid advertising — which we all know is off limits to restricted products. That’s where RAEK comes in, allowing you to retarget your website visitors (both known and unknown) through email. Email converts. Retargeting converts. It’s a win-win. 

Example:

Visitor Vault of a low traffic, restricted product brand showing identified website visitors.

Resource: 

Sign up for free today. See what retargeting your website visitors can do for your sales. 

Marketing restricted products can definitely feel like the wild west, but at RAEK we like to say that restricted product marketers are the real deal. You’re the most creative marketers we’ve ever met — because you have to be. You’re getting your product in front of people without the easy button. Carry on cowboys. And if you have any other tricks to getting your product in front of your target market, contact us, we’d love to add it to this blog.

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The RAEK Team

RAEK was built by a group of digital marketers on a mission to help small businesses grow and easily utilize their first-party customer data.