Overcoming The Challenges Of Marketing And Selling CBD

Overcoming The Challenges Of Marketing And Selling CBD

Danny Star, CEO and Founder of Website Depot Digital Marketing Agency, has helped hundreds of small businesses grow and expand. 

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CBD products are everywhere. Folks buy them to ease their arthritis (or that of their old Basset Hound). The odds are good that either you or someone you know safely uses CBD products for any number of reasons. The problem is, it’s still considered a “high-risk” business. So, to be able to sell CBD online, a business faces onerous regulations, challenges and paperwork.

My team here at Website Depot has helped many CBD businesses to grow despite all that. 

CBD, Shopify, Google And More 

Shopify does allow you to sell CBD products. But it’s complicated. 

You’ll need to complete an “Attestation for the Sale of Hemp and Hemp-Derived Products” form and send it back to Shopify. In it, you’ll have to confirm that none of the hemp/hemp-derived products you’re selling have any therapeutic or medicinal benefits. You don’t have to do that if the FDA has approved those products. 

What you’ll also have to do: Disable SMS notifications on Shopify. As of this writing, CBD products and shop notifications can only be sent through email. Moreover, you can’t use “Shopify Payments” either. But Shopify partners with integrated third-party payment gateways. It’s not a long list, consisting of, right now, only Pinwheel and DigiPay. If you have a payment provider that’s okay with hemp/CBD (and isn’t Pinwheel or DigiPay), you can still use them on Shopify so long as they’re integrated with the platform. 

It’s important to note that none of this is in the slightest bit illegal or “going around the rules.” It’s all above board. With Shopify, we’ve had some cases that work and some that don’t, depending on the bank and merchants to process credit cards online. 

The above is what’s worked for us. 

The truth is that there are tons of CBD vitamins and pills legally sold and advertised. That said, bigger corporations such as Google and major banks are holding off on it since this is the “new thing” on the market.

What “High-Risk” Means In The Context of CBD 

Finding merchant services/accounts and other business fundamentals can be challenging because the CBD industry is considered “high-risk” by so many. To be clear, it’s “high-risk” because there’s so much that can go wrong outside of what you do with your business. For example, so many associate CBD with marijuana (even though many CBD products have no THC in them). Thus, it’s considered high-risk due to even the vaguest possible threat of legislation. 

Yes, medical marijuana and other products are more legal in more areas than ever. But there’s no guarantee that legislation will continue moving forward forever. A backlash is always possible. Vegetables will never be outlawed through legislation, nor will pillows, carpet cleaning services or the like. 

As so many associate CBD with marijuana, companies that sell CBD products (or are even associated with them) still face, even in late 2021, a risk to their reputation. That alone chases off many merchant accounts (and other potentially helpful vendors/partners).

Another overlooked factor that can make CBD high-risk: potential chargebacks. As of this writing, “the FDA has not approved any over-the-counter drugs containing CBD, and none of these products meet the requirements to be legally marketed without an approved new drug application.”

A merchant account, by taking on CBD companies, could put themselves at the risk of chargebacks. If CBD doesn’t do what the customer thinks it’s going to do, they very well could ask for a refund. 

Online CBD Marketing and Selling

I’ve used the phrase “as of this writing” many times. That’s because these laws and regulations change often. The FDA’s page on “FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)” shows enough movement and evolution that, someday, all of CBD may be federally legal. 

Until then, we recommend small-to-medium CBD businesses find a merchant account that doesn’t have monthly fees or fluctuating pricing, nor does it require you to have an offshore account. That’s why we recommend Square for now. Again, this changes often. 

In terms of marketing, today, you can’t make Google Ads for CBD products if the CBD oil is derived from cannabis. You can if it’s derived from hemp. Remember: You have to be very careful (to the point where it’s rarely worth it) to mention CBD’s health benefits. 

Speaking of onerous rules, as of 2021, you can advertise CBD products on Facebook and Instagram. The catch is, they can only be “hemp-based topical products.” So, that means oils, ointments, stuff that you can rub on your body. You’ll note that it doesn’t include ingestibles — anything that you consume. 

Now, for the most part, that means you can’t mention CBD on your landing page, ads, copywriting or even your e-commerce page and the like. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can build around that (i.e., having landing pages just for your CBD topical products, link your ads as well as the rest of your Facebook/Instagram campaign back to them exclusively and so forth).

Alternatively, you make everything about your brand. You don’t mention the CBD (even though that’s your business and what you sell). You show people having a good time, feeling good, enjoying life and so forth. This is one of those times when using social media to “provide value” and not “sell” is invaluable. Indeed, you have few other options. 

Doing the above incorrectly can get your advertising (or your business) kicked off of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the like. While it’s unlikely that the FDA itself will come after your company (indeed, they seem to only go after those who tend to vastly overpromise what CBD can do), those platforms only allow very restrictive CBD marketing (if any at all) at this time. 

As these rules keep changing, hopefully, it gets easier. With luck, someday soon, this article will be out of date. Today, however, these are some ways to grow and sustain your CBD business. 


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