Tag Archive for: california
Meet Laura Wilkinson Sinton, Cannabis Dispensary Exert, and Consultant for legal dispensary applicants. Founder of Caligrown.
First, a little background about Laura Wilkinson Sinton:
I live in San Diego with 4 kids and 5 grandkids. My husband is a cancer survivor that honed my cannabis chops, and I am a master composter and sea swimmer.
When did you first start working in cannabis?
2015. I got involved in several dispensaries’ marketing operations, as my brother and I owned an alternative rock radio station in Bend, Oregon. Apparently, no one would sell radio advertising to cannabis businesses, and we thought hey, it’s a state-legal business, of course, we can (and we were right). So, that’s how I got started, learning their business model and helping them grow the customer base and promote 4/20 events.
Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?
Yes. I am active in the NCIA and serve on the MAC (Marketing and Advertising Committee) and on the NCIA Sustainability Committee. Both are really great groups of professionals, and serving the nascent industry in this capacity has been really rewarding and great networking.
I am also active in the ArcView Women’s Inclusion Network, which has incredible benefits (access to lawyers and accountants and really smart people with experience and business intelligence). The ArcView group is geared towards helping you become successful, which is why the WIN is such a great group full of women with generous spirits. Several small cannabis organizations have cropped up locally, but it’s pretty fragmented and their missions may differ from each other. I am a board member of the local South County Economic Development Council. They promote economic development, and cannabis businesses present that very economic opportunity. It has been very influential in informing elected officials in adopting and allowing commercial cannabis. In California, it’s the individual cities that determine whether or not to allow them. And that last mile” has been really hard to push through in California, as we know.
What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?
In radio, in information security, and in other start-ups I have done, it’s to roll with the punches, plan for the long game, and bring your best self every day. And there are a lot of punches. Anybody who thinks cannabis is a “get rich quick” scheme is [off] the mark.
Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?
Yes, a pending application for a micro-business in National City, CA (San Diego). Our location is actually ON a transit stop, 3 stops from the San Diego Convention Center (think Comic-Con!), has 65 parking spaces, and is actually on the Interstate 5 exit (with on AND off-ramps). San Diego area dispensaries have been relegated to industrial areas, car-dependent and tough parking because of overly restrictive land-use policy. You can’t suspend the rules of retail just for cannabis. It has to be accessible, and San Diego county is way behind the rest of California in permitting. There’s a dearth of dispensaries (50, where the economy can support over 570). So cross your fingers for us. We’ll be the first qualified social equity candidates 100% woman-owned entity (majority women of color) in San Diego.
What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis marketing?
That big social media will come around (Facebook, Instagram, Google). Go elsewhere and stop spinning your wheels and raging against the machine. Not gonna happen.
What were you doing prior to cannabis?
I’ve been an entrepreneur in many places – information security start-ups, precious metals recycling, owning and operating radio stations and media of several types. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and my husband is a cancer survivor; my mom died from Multiple Sclerosis. Cannabis has been a part of medicine in my family for a while.
In your view, what is the biggest digital marketing challenge facing cannabis companies today?
Misinformation, illicit marketers, breaking out.
What will get easier in cannabis marketing? What will get harder?
Easier? Public awareness of consumption methods. Harder? Nothing. It’s not an easy business now. Too many over-promised and disappointing results. It was oversold by public Canadian companies and private investors. Big plans, delayed delivery. Cannabis was to be legal nationwide by now in every prospectus I reviewed. Like a vacation- bring twice the money and half the clothes.
What can companies do to ease their marketing challenges?
Be patient. Results take time in marketing. Use a mix of media – digital alone will never get it done.
In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?
Creative. It matters more than anything to breakthrough. What do you have today that applies to your audience? Not relevant to YOU – relevant to your customer.
In your view, what is the most over-rated marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?
Digital reliance. It’s really fragmented at this point. And your share of voice matters.
What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?
Meditate daily and enjoy the impermanence in this life. Enjoy every day.
What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing?
Be flexible. Leave toxic bosses quickly. Embrace the women in this industry, and lift them up.
How can someone contact you, Laura?
Thanks for sharing your digital marketing insights with us today, Laura.
What Does PR Do?
There are more ways than ever for brands to communicate directly with prospective customers, investors, and stakeholders. Along with traditional marketing platforms like TV, radio, print, and billboard advertising, alternative methods such as social media and YouTube give companies even more ways to tell their story to their audience. Also, new data tools let you target that message with a level of precision that would have been unthinkable in the past.
And yet, there are still limits to what traditional advertising, and even social media can accomplish. Being so exposed to the constant deluge of marketing and advertising around them has made many consumers skeptical of most brands. One study from Ragan found that 86 percent of TV viewers skip or ignore ads, 44 percent of direct mail is never opened, and 91 percent of email users had unsubscribed from a company email list that they had initially opted into.
What’s more, consumers are becoming much more selective about which brands they support, and are increasingly shifting toward brands that are more involved in political or social causes. Unlike in the past, new research shows that consumers want brands to get involved in social issues. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 67 percent of employees expect their employers to take a stand on issues that employees care about.
Edelman also found that 71 percent of employees believe their CEO should respond to social and political challenges. This follows trends among the public, as 76 percent of everyone surveyed by Edelman said that CEOs should take a leading role in addressing society’s problems instead of waiting for governments to act.
However, while more people are expecting businesses to get involved in political causes, skepticism remains about many brands’ intentions. This is especially true when it comes to younger audiences, a core demographic for many brands. A 2018 report from the research agency MediaCom found that 37 percent of teens age 16-19 were skeptical of the claims brands made about the causes they support, and 69 percent of teens said they believe brands overstate their support for charitable or social causes.
How PR Can Help You Reach Even More People
How can brands counter this entrenched skepticism to persuade new and existing customers? One tool you may not have considered is public relations. With so many more ways for brands to spread their own message to consumers, many companies have neglected the value of PR. But if building trust authentically is what you’re after, then you can’t ignore what a well-crafted PR campaign offers.
If marketing and advertising are the tools brands use to tell their story, PR is the art of getting others to tell that story for you. While it may seem counterintuitive for brands to put their faith in having other people tell their story, there are benefits from good PR that can’t be matched by marketing and advertising.
First and foremost, we’ve already noted how consumers have become increasingly distrustful of the messages they get directly from brands. PR circumvents that issue by having a third party mediate your message. There’s an element of faith involved here, but consumers are more likely to trust your message if it comes from a brand they already trust.
How Can I Be Sure That PR Works?
There’s already plenty of data to back up these claims. The Content Marketing Institute found that 70 percent of consumers prefer to get information on a company from articles as opposed to ads. This is even more true among businesses; CMI also found that 80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to learn about a company from articles instead of ads. Lastly, HubSpot found that Millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs and social media than by traditional advertising.
Brands who take advantage of what PR can do have an advantage over those who ignore these potential benefits. Getting articles about your company into trustworthy publications will generate more engagement and goodwill than even the strongest, most effective ad campaign. For brands that are purpose-driven, this kind of PR is priceless.
Frankly, more brands should be promoting themselves as values-based and purpose-driven. It’s a good business strategy; the MediaCom report we mentioned above found that 54 percent of the teens surveyed said they had bought from or intentionally avoided specific brands because of their ethics and values. MediaCom also found that 63 percent of teens said they were more likely to buy from a brand that supported causes or charities that the teens cared about. But consumers hold brands to high standards, so it’s important that companies back up their words with concrete actions and policies.
This is another area where an experienced, innovative PR team can help in ways most marketing teams can’t. A PR campaign will help you shape the narrative around your company, its mission, and its goals. Furthermore, a PR firm can help your brand solidify its position and clear up any misconceptions by putting the right information where your audience will see it.
How Avaans PR Can Help
Avaans Media has a strong track record of helping brands tell their story in an interesting, creative way. Take our work for a hemp-based wellness brand. We had our work cut out for us with this campaign, as we had to establish the validity of hemp-based products in the consumer packaged-goods space despite skepticism from many prospective customers. But by harnessing our media contacts and crafting a campaign across a range of business, science, and lifestyle publications, we were able to place more than 200 stories about our client over a period of three years, averaging five stories every month.
Ready to find out what PR can do for you? Contact us here.
Public relations isn’t new, but cannabis PR hasn’t been around very long. You’ve probably heard that particularly because of limited advertising options, PR is an excellent investment in your company. But maybe you’re still wondering what you should expect from cannabis PR.
Here are 9 reasons why every cannabis company should be investing in cannabis PR.
- Great content inspires trust, creates credibility, and increases brand value.
There is no greater content than an unpaid third party. Cannabis consumers today are hip to the fact that influencers, affiliates, and advertising are all getting paid to say what you want them to say. But journalists remain independent and adhere to a code of ethics and that’s exactly what makes their content so trusted and valuable.
- Allows a company to own its own story.
Cannabis companies who fail to invest in cannabis PR are basically allowing everyone else, from media to competitors to customers, to create your brand story. Why not author your own brand’s story? That’s what PR allows you to do.
“PR is not something a CEO can do herself. PR is a highly specialized vertical with a distinctive set of talents, relationships and experience, plus, it takes an exceptional amount of time away from running the company. An agency allows CEOs to get back to their highest and best use of time. – Tara Coomans, CEO, Avaans Media
- Cannabis PR outlasts advertising and social media.
Unlike advertising which turns off the minute you finish paying, PR sticks around indefinitely. We’ve placed pieces which continued to drive traffic and conversation 3-4 years later. What advertising or social media has that kind of longevity?
- Amplify and maximize your cannabis message.
A strong PR program typically involves media relations. Media relations means your PR team is working with journalists who are interested in the verticals your brand best fits into. For example, if you’re a cannabis beauty brand, you’ll have stories you want to tell to each vertical.
- Building community capital.
As we’ve discussed previously, crisis and downturns happen. Having relationships in the media is particularly important when you need support. An ongoing media relations campaign provides trust both with journalists and the public which you can put in the bank and earn interest on for a rainy day.
“When we discuss the value of PR, we often forget about the sales, M&A and partnerships that come more easily because PR drives trust and shortens the sales cycle,” – Tara Coomans, President Primo PR
- Compliments sales efforts.
Ask any salesperson, distributor, or business development executive what happens when they can reference a piece in major industry or national publications. Suddenly, people start paying attention. Adding your coverage on your website, sales materials and other external communications amplify your cannabis PR.
- Creates an opportunity to consider your cannabis company’s impact.
Ongoing PR makes a company and it’s stakeholders consistently aware of its impact on people. This is important because it’s those same people who have perceptions that shape the company’s values and builds (or damages) its reputation.
- PR IS content. Content is a big buzzword today, but PR has always been about content, the only thing that’s changed is that there are more avenues to share content. That’s why so many cannabis PR firms also offer social media and/or event marketing services. PR’s perspective provides a well-rounded point of view that makes content more accessible, shareable, and timely.
- Enhances digital efforts like SEO.
Online earned media is usually chock full of relevant keywords and known publications have strong SEO signals. Consistent media placement helps with organic search results and the best part is, the efforts pay increasing dividends over time.If you’re ready to invest in PR to get all these benefits and more, why not find out more about whether you’re a good fit for Primo PR’s services?
Cannabis Branding Is About To Become Extremely Important To Cannabis CMOs and Founders
Adult-use marijuana is on the ballot and in the minds of thousands of people in the United States this fall. Adult-use, especially in California, because of its market size will change everything for cannabis companies. What should cannabis brands be thinking about in preparation for market expansion? As a cannabis entrepreneur, you might be so busy keeping up that you haven’t given much thought to branding.
Before we jump into our 3 tips for cannabis branding, let’s talk for a minute about what branding is (and isn’t) so we’re all on the same page.
Branding: the emotional response the consumer has to your company and products.
Branding: the humanity of your company.
Branding: the often difficult to define, but easy to spot feeling people get when they know whether they want to “hang around” your brand.
Maybe the most important question is why should you CARE? Strong brands develop customer loyalty and they sell products for premium prices. Interested?
I thought so.
You know what companies are branding masters? Alcohol and tobacco. Technology. Beverages like soda, water, and sports drinks.
Truly great brands incorporate values, voice, design, and especially the customer into their presence, whether it’s in-person, online, or in-store. Notice I did NOT say that branding is the packing and logo. Those two are important aspects of branding. Logos and packaging should not be the last thing you ever do with branding. Branding should be a cornerstone of culture, communication, and position that your customers continue to relate to.
Strong cannabis branding will be a steady platform from which you make decisions on everything from products to partnerships, hiring and marketing campaigns. Cannabis brands need to nurture and develop their brands to be ready for the expansion of adult use. This is particularly important in California where consumers expect sophisticated brands and branding.
So, regardless of where you are in your branding process, it’s never too late to consider these 3 tips for cannabis brands in the adult-use market:
BE REALLY CLEAR: WHO is your customer?
Many people hear this question and they immediately think of demographics. That’s fine, be clear on demographics, it will save you time and money. But dig deeper. Think about your customer’s lifestyle, their other passions, and what motivations you’ll be tapping into when they see your brand.
Are your customers proud proclaimed pot users or have they been an “in-the-closet” user for most of their adult lives? If they aren’t open cannabis users, why is that? Is it because of kids, jobs, cultural fear? The potential of adult-use is tapping into the existing cannabis user or the adult whose perception of cannabis is changing and they’re beginning to see marijuana like a craft beer. This is future of cannabis branding-it’s wide open. You can do some really powerful branding when you understand these deeper aspects of your customers. Do 2-3 customer profiles as you would if you were writing a bio on someone, this simple exercise can give you extraordinary clarity on your customer.
The potential of adult-use is tapping into the existing cannabis user who is in the closet or the adult whose perception of cannabis is changing even though they aren’t regular marijuana users. These new to marijuana customers will gravitate towards brands that are as well-rounded and credible as the other brands they’re used to buying. This is the future of cannabis branding-it’s wide open. You can do some really powerful branding when you understand these deeper aspects of your customers.
To prepare for these different customers, do 2-3 customer profiles as you would if you were writing a bio on someone, this simple exercise can give you extraordinary clarity on your customer.
ASK YOURSELF: Do I really SPEAK to my customer?
Now it’s time to look at the way you speak to your customer? Depending on how you view your brand, your voice might be “friendly-let’s-hang-out” or it might be “knowledgeable advisor” “edgy-hipster” or “couch-locked stoner”. There is room for each of these voices, but not within the same brand.
Whatever your voice is, be sure it’s one that your ideal potential customer can relate to. The cannabis market is expanding beyond the traditional young person’s product and while there’s still room for that branding, the market is expanding. Today’s marijuana user isn’t necessarily hiding from their parents, they might be hiding it from their kids. I hear a lot of cannabis entrepreneurs say that they absolutely understand their market because they are marketing to their friends. Well, that’s a great start, but the average person only has 338 Facebook friends – you’re going to need your business to be a lot bigger than that, so you may have to dig deep and really think about whether your brand is relatable to a larger audience.
REMEMBER: Be consistent!
Now that you’ve identified your customer and the voice, take a hard look around at the rest of your branding. Is your branding consistent from the four senses perspective – does it look, feel, smell, taste like your brand? Would your ideal target customer buy and more importantly recommend to their friends? Sophisticated branding will take all this into account. Commanding a higher price for your product requires that you consider these elements. Set some branding goals for your company and prioritize based on budgets. But do set them because as the market opens up, the strong brands who have developed loyalty will be the ones truly capitalizing on the future of cannabis branding.
The A-Team specializes in converging great brands with marvellous stories the media wants to write about.