Internet Marketing in Regulated Industries
Reaching audiences in a highly regulated industry can be a bit of a challenge.
Industries like healthcare, law, guns, alcohol, and marijuana, just to name a few, have a hard time marketing their products.
With the laws constantly changing, those regulated industries have a hard time keeping up, and it’s only going to get more challenging over time.
These regulated industries have been around for a long time, and you may be wondering how they stay in business with limited marketing. Read on below to find out!
How do I Market my Regulated Business?
In a regulated industry, it is important to know the legalities inside and out. Also, every state is different, so you need to be aware of your state’s specific marketing laws.
For instance, in Massachusetts, it is prohibited to put up a marketing geofence around healthcare facilities.
Another example is lawyers are not allowed to use remarketing, because it could reveal or imply someone’s legal history.
Look at big tobacco or even the marijuana industry – they all have different legal issues when it comes to marketing. The biggest challenge they both face is making sure children aren’t included in their marketing audience.
Again, it is important to know the ins and outs of your industry and what legal issues you may face with internet marketing.
A lot of regulated industries have been marketing their products for years despite these challenges.
However, the laws have changed, and it has become more complicated.
So maybe it’s time to re-brand. Explain why this would help – it’s too vague.
Here are some things to consider when branding or re-branding:
In order to reduce the number of children and adolescents who use tobacco and alcohol, to prevent health consequences related to tobacco and alcohol use, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and its implementing regulations restrict the way tobacco and alcohol product manufacturers, retailers, and distributors can advertise and promote tobacco products.
Website – Make sure your website is in compliance with what you’re selling. If you’re selling alcohol or tobacco products, you need to make sure there is an age requirement.
Social Media – Social media is a great tool and is an easy (and often free) way to show off your products. However, it is important to know social media laws.
Often, certain types of content are prohibited from being posted (unfortunately, Facebook has a restriction when posting about things like guns, marijuana, etc.).
Here’s a list of different types of prohibited content that is not allowed to be posted on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:
- Illegal Products or Services
- Tobacco Products
- Drugs & Drug-Related Products
- Weapons, Ammunition, or Explosives
Print – Using newspaper and magazine ads is a great way to show off your restricted Today, that’s one of the few ways restricted industries can market their products to avoid strict online policies regarding content.
Also, The Federal Alcohol Administration Act does not require alcohol beverage advertisements to be approved prior to appearing in a magazine or newspaper.
SEO – Local SEO could be a great way to market your regulated industry – especially for a product that is only legal in certain states, like gambling or marijuana.
With Local SEO, you’re able to target a more local audience, and your product has less chance of being seen by someone in a different state or city, meaning you don’t have to deal with legality concerns.
Even though your company has product restrictions when it comes to internet marketing, there are still ways to market your business and get it in front of the right people without breaking any laws.
Know your audience! While this is true for any industry or product, it is especially true if you’re selling a “restricted” product like tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana.
Businesses advertising to children under the age of 13, using different online channels, must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Not knowing your audience, and marketing to the wrong people could lead to large fines, or even result in your company being shut down.
For example, R.J. Reynolds, tobacco tycoon, was fined $20 million for marketing to children.
Below are a few guidelines for different regulated industries:
- Alcohol, tobacco, and now marijuana companies have strict regulations when it comes to marketing. Both Google and Microsoft have different policies restricting or outlawing the promotion of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana products on their advertising networks, as well as Facebook and Instagram.
- Healthcare, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies have to make sure their marketing follows the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). They also need to make sure it complies with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has a significant impact on the way healthcare and drugs can be packaged and sold in the US.
- Gambling and gaming laws are governed by three sets of gaming regulations, one each for local, state, and federal entities. There are some states with gaming regulations that go back more than two centuries, while other states have yet to address major aspects of the industry at all.
Industry regulated marketing doesn’t have to be hard.
Marketing your restricted product can be a bit challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Your goal as a marketer is to know your audience and deliver information to them. As a marketer, you can still be creative.
And as a matter of fact, when marketing a “regulated” industry product, you should strive to be even more creative than usual. Your product is different; remember that. Your marketing should be, too!