Tag Archive for: cannabis industry experts

PR firms in major markets come with a premium investment. In today’s world, does working with a cannabis PR firm in a major metro market worth it? Yes, because major market PR firms tend to be in touch with media trends and have deeper personal relationships with journalists over the years. With more states coming online with legal cannabis, cannabis industry businesses are often expanding in multiple of states, and because the regulatory environment in cannabis prohibits cross-state commerce of cannabis, a cannabis brand might consider PR firms in several of states, which is expensive and impracticable. So why would a Los Angeles-based PR firm be an advantage at all?

 

  1. Do Media Markets Do Matter?

    In the early days of cannabis, having a presence in Denver was really important, as Colorado was the first state to legalize adult-use cannabis. As cannabis becomes increasingly normalized and cannabis brands look to mainstream consumer coverage, having a PR firm with LA and New York presence is vital. Los Angeles-based PR firms like Avaans Media have been active in cannabis marketing and PR since 2015. The media contacts in LA are often entertainment, trend, and lifestyle, so if you’re looking to appear in consumer media outlets within any of those broad categories, you’ll want a PR firm who knows what journalists and freelancers in those topics are interested in covering. LA PR agencies also have the advantage of being dialed into the San Francisco media market, which is technology, venture capital, and startup oriented.  New York-based journalists also have some lifestyle coverage, especially legacy lifestyle titles, along with financial business journalists. Media markets ESPECIALLY matter if you’re holding a product launch event with journalist invites.

  2. But What About Local Cannabis Coverage?

    Cannabis businesses in a multitude of markets should consider agencies with team members on the ground in multiple states. If you’re lobbying in local markets or you’re launching in a new market, a local presence may very well be relevant.

    But from a trend perspective, journalists tend to live in larger metro areas, meaning they’re on the cutting edge of what’s happening. You want a PR firm that is on the ground and in touch with the earliest trends, as well as those that are passe.  In the case of Avaans PR, our network of PR experts around the country, including important cannabis markets like Miami, Washington D.C., Massachusets, Chicago, and more, means we can ensure local coverage in those markets as well. A cannabis brand can always hire freelancers in every state and then manage them directly, but few cannabis brands can manage a disconnected, disjointed, and distributed team of freelancers. Working with a PR agency allows cannabis companies to expand their reach without adding layers of additional management hours.

  3. Is Cannabis Industry PR Experience Relevant?

    California leads the country in cannabis normalization. California’s medical marijuana Prop 215 passed in 1996, and in 2016 California became the largest legal cannabis market in the world. Los Angeles cannabis PR agencies like Avaans have deep experience in cannabis PR, and know the journalists who have been covering the cannabis industry for a long time. In cannabis, context is everything and knowing what journalists have covered helps cannabis brands stand out in their pitches and PR campaign.

  4. What About B2B Cannabis PR?

    While national B2B cannabis industry businesses may not have the same issue as consumer cannabis products, having a cannabis PR firm in a major market like LA is still important. That’s because B2B cannabis brands need a strategic, experienced approach to cannabis media, and experienced PR professionals with decades of experience crafting business stories and developing campaigns that stand out in the cannabis industry and business media outlets.

 

If you’re not sure what you need from a PR firm, look at the Avaans pricing approach and then get in touch with us. We’re candid and honest, and if we’re not a good fit, we can make recommendations for experienced cannabis PR agencies that would suit you better.

Meet Chris Shreeve, cannabis advertising expert for programmatic ad buys.

Based in Seattle, not only is Chris co-founder of PrograMetrix, a nationally recognized programmatic advertising agency for cannabis brands (not “just” CBD) he is also the co-owner of The Bakeree dispensary. 

 

First, a little background about you, Chris:

Digital advertising veteran, specifically in programmatic advertising technology and services. Started PrograMetrix in 2015. Co-owner of The Bakeree dispensaries in Seattle. That intersection between cannabis retail owner and agency co-founder is why our agency has seen success in the space.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

While PrograMetrix highlights our work in the cannabis space, we also have incredible mainstream clients that we support outside of the space. I have always been in advertising, technology and marketing but we found white space in the cannabis industry and wanted to bring our expertise to the space.

When did you first start working in cannabis?

My brother started selling medical cannabis in Seattle, WA 8-9 years ago before the state went recreational. I always knew that there would be a time when the cannabis space would need mainstream marketing solutions but it was years before there was enough tech and data to dive into the space.

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

I always recommend Cannabis Marketing Association to new cannabis marketers!

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

Solve a problem, don’t just sell a product/service. Everyone wants to create a cannabis or CBD product but many don’t have a unique selling proposition that resonates with a specific audience. Build a brand and product/service line to solve a need for a specific audience and be the best solution for your target market.

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis advertising?

That because Google and Facebook regulate cannabis and CBD brands on their platforms, you can’t advertise your product online. There are thousands of sites, apps, and platforms that allow cannabis advertising and that can be accessed through programmatic advertising. Retarget your current customers online, reach new consumers on channels like video, audio, or streaming tv services.

In your view, what is the biggest cannabis marketing & branding challenge facing cannabis companies today?

Many brands are looking for the silver bullet and believe that paid advertising is it. It’s not. It is one channel that can support a broader marketing initiative but it can’t be the only focus. You need to build a brand and that doesn’t always require an ROI for every dollar you spend on marketing.

What will get easier in cannabis marketing & branding? What will get harder?

We will gain more access to mainstream advertising channels. More sites, apps, and platforms are going to accept cannabis but it might be too late. Instead of waiting for Google or Facebook to change their ad guidelines, optimize your current marketing mix to the best of your ability. Go digital before your competitors and find new technologies and channels that differentiate your brand online.

What will get harder… competition. More mainstream brands are coming into the space and there will continue to be consolidation, making the larger brands even bigger and taking market share from the smaller companies. Don’t get left behind, build your brand NOW.

What can cannabis companies do to alleviate their cannabis PR and branding challenges?

It is incredibly important to hire an internal marketer to lead the communication of the business to the market. Many smaller brands still haven’t fully invested in a marketing professional and you can tell. Let that marketing professional figure out what can be accomplished internally, then fill the gaps with experienced agency professionals for the more complicated and time consumer channels.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the brand marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Website development.

Too many cannabis companies don’t invest enough in their website. Especially cannabis brands that don’t sell products directly from their site (DTC).

You might have one opportunity to catch the eye of a consumer online and if your website doesn’t tell the store of your brand in a compelling visual fashion, you might lose that customer forever.

In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the branding toolbox for cannabis companies?

SEO. Now this might get me in trouble… BUT… everyone is trying to rank for “cannabis dispensary near me” or some generic keywords on their website. Many don’t leverage blog content enough but those that focus solely on SEO will miss out on many other marketing opportunities that can help differentiate your marketing mix.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?

Set realistic expectations. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing?

Show that you have a vested interest in the industry and not just marketing/advertising expertise. This industry is unique. Its products and services are still evolving but having an interest in the plant or industry at larger is incredibly valuable.

How can someone contact you, Chris?

https://programetrix.com/
Twitter @PrograMetrix
LinkedIn @ChrisShreeve

Thanks for sharing your cannabis advertising and branding insights with us today, Chris, you rock!

Cannabis Industry Branding Expert Patrick Toste Urges Cannabis Brands to Cherish Your Customers and Rethink Instagram

In an ongoing series this year, we’d like you to get to know some of the fantastic companies and people we’ve had a chance to collaborate with over the years. Our first interview is with an incredibly talented branding expert, Patrick Toste, co-founder of Seattle-based cannabis branding agency, Highopes. 

 

First, a little background about you: 

I’m originally from Rhode Island and graduated from California State University Long Beach with a BFA in Graphic Design. I’ve been designing for over 10 years and have had the luxury of working with both large and small brands nationwide. I am the Creative Director and Co-Founder of HIGHOPES Design. We are a creative studio that focuses exclusively on helping cannabis businesses nationwide unlock their potential through branding, packaging, web design, and marketing services. Our client list consists of over 30 cannabis companies that include Have A Heart, VidaCann, and Nuvata.

 

When did you first start working in the cannabis industry?

Upon moving to Seattle and experiencing the recreational cannabis market for the first time, I recognized an opportunity, and established a passion for, helping cannabis businesses build successful brands. I captured a handful of freelance projects with cannabis clients in Washington and California that I completed some branding and packaging work for. From there, I decided it was best to brand myself as a more established business than just a freelancer to provide more growth opportunities for myself and my clients.

 

What were you doing prior to the cannabis industry? 

Before diving into the cannabis industry, I worked as a designer on the in-house branding team at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf which is a nationwide coffee chain based in Southern California. In this position, I gained experienced managing and expanding a large brand through packaging design, digital advertising, in-store marketing, and other similar avenues. 

After moving to Seattle from Southern California, I decided to explore the world of advertising by joining the team at Publicis Seattle as a designer. At Publicis, I was able to work with even larger brands like T-Mobile and assist in a variety of nationwide digital advertising projects. However, my true passion for branding was established there when I led the design team on the rebrand of the locally world-famous radio station, KEXP. 

 

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

I’d say the lesson I learned before I entered the cannabis space that has been most valuable to HIGHOPES and our clients is the importance of knowing and understanding your customers. This methodology was something I gained over the years of working with larger, nationwide brands like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, T-Mobile, and even Under Armour. I was able to realize how these companies were branded and marketing was significantly impacted by what their consumers think, want, need, and feel. 

Something I see all too often in the cannabis industry is a rush to bring a product to the market with the idea of targeting all consumers due to a scarcity mindset. Operationally I understand why these businesses feel this is the right approach, but in hindsight, they realize they do not know who their customer is and what delights them which results in an unfocused and unorganized brand direction. 

 

Is there a particular cannabis branding project you’d like to highlight? 

At HIGHOPES we are extremely proud of all the work we create for all of our clients, but I’d like to highlight the project we did for the California-based vaporizer brand, Nuvata. Nuvata approached our team with only a product and a vision so we assisted in establishing their positioning, messaging, branding, packaging, website, and marketing. Each branding and marketing effort we performed was put through the filter of the established strategy resulting in an immensely focused and concise brand for the market. With the Nuvata team’s help, we were able to identify and understand their target customer and then make every branding and marketing decision with the goal to bring them delight. The end result spoke for itself as within the first year they spread across the entire state of California and gained considerable brand awareness.  


What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about branding? 

I think the biggest misconception about branding in the cannabis industry is that your brand is simply your logo when this could not be farther from the truth. In essence, your brand is actually not controlled by you but rather your customers. A brand is the opinion and feeling a customer has about your company based on a combination of your logo, products, packaging, website, marketing, social media, customer service, and so on. For that reason, cannabis companies can only strive to manipulate the emotional response of their customers with the goal of creating a positively recognized brand. 

 

In your view, what is the biggest branding challenge facing cannabis companies today? 

I think the biggest challenge cannabis companies face today when building a brand is the lack of beneficial advertising and marketing opportunities. As mentioned in my previous response, if your brand is simply the feeling a customer has of your company then it becomes very difficult to establish a positive association with customers when you cannot take advantage of the many ways of influencing their point of view. Additionally, customers cannot begin to create that strong bond with your company when you do not have the ability to raise awareness of your brand through advertising and marketing channels. 

What will be the biggest branding challenge in 2020? 

I believe the biggest branding challenge in 2020 will be establishing and solidifying customer loyalty. Most cannabis markets, both medical and recreational, are seeing a surplus of emerging brands which provides customers with an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. Additionally, product innovation has not kept pace with the number of companies entering the market leaving customers with a plethora of brands essentially selling the same product. These two factors combined prove the importance of understanding your specific customer and catering everything about your brand to what brings them delight. When that emotional bond is created with a customer it creates a sense of loyalty and trust in your brand that becomes invaluable to your success. 

 

What can companies do to alleviate their branding challenges?

When it comes to navigating the regulations around advertising and marketing in the cannabis space companies can look to outside-the-industry partnerships to alleviate these challenges. When a business understands their brand outside the lens of cannabis it allows the possibility of partnering with non-cannabis companies that share the same mission, vision, and values. Through these types of situations, cannabis brands can advertise and market indirectly through their partner to an audience that is similar, if not exactly, their type of customer. For example, Plus Edibles recently partnered with Casper for their line of CBD gummies as both brands can benefit from each other’s audience.

For establishing customer loyalty, cannabis companies simply need to take the time to understand who their target customer base is and either build or shift their branding to align with that audience. The more focused the ideal customer then the easier and more efficiently a brand can market to their wants and needs. Every move a cannabis brand makes should be filtered through the lens of their consumer. 

 

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the cannabis branding toolbox for cannabis companies?

I believe the most under-rated tool in the branding toolbox for cannabis companies is their brand website. This goes for cultivators, manufacturers, dispensaries, delivery, and ancillary businesses. With all the regulations surrounding advertising and marketing, your website tends to be the only platform where you can comprehensively communicate to your customer all the details of your brand. Additionally, depending on your business type, it tends to be a major channel in driving sales. For these reasons, the proper investment should be made in creating a website that is aesthetically attractive, engaging with content, and functions as a conversion tool for your business. At the end of the day, no matter who your customer is, people tend to take brands seriously that look like they take themselves seriously and your website is the perfect platform to communicate that. 

 

In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the cannabis branding toolbox for cannabis companies?

Although still an important cog in a cannabis companies marketing plan, I believe the most over-rated tool in the branding toolbox for cannabis companies is their Instagram profile. Many of the cannabis brands we speak with feel that Instagram will drive a majority of their sales and the data just doesn’t support that theory. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very critical for cannabis brands to have a consistent Instagram presence to communicate credibility to customers but I don’t think it requires a premium-level investment. The customer journey from Instagram to purchase is long and complicated resulting in frequent drop-offs, especially for CPG brands. Additionally, with the algorithm changes in Instagram, it’s most likely that only a small fraction of a cannabis brand’s followers are even getting fed their posts. My recommendation to our cannabis clients is to invest in their Instagram as a way to raise brand awareness but don’t throw all their marketing dollars at it thinking it will drive sales.

 

What’s the BEST piece of cannabis branding expert advice you give everyone you work with?

Focus on a target audience. Your brand doesn’t need to alienate customers, but it needs to understand who is going to hear you the loudest.

Meet Melinda Adamec, SVP at Gabriel Marketing, an agency specializing in cannabis industry marketing strategy consulting, digital marketing and advertising, SEO, marketing automation, and content development.

First, a little background about Melinda Adamec:

 

Over 20 years of experience in advertising, marketing, and public relations. Recently joined the GMG team to lead GMG’s delivery of client services in marketing strategy. Prior to GMG, I lead OMI Industries’ cannabis market business including serving as brand manager for Cannabolish plant-based smoke odor removers. Before OMI Industries, I held various executive and leadership roles at PR/marketing firm GolinHarris and DBC PR + New Media. Some of my clients included Ace Hardware, AT&T, Blackboard, Hair Cuttery, IAC, Mars, McDonalds, Microsoft, Reuters, Rosetta Stone, U.S. Mint, and U.S. Postal Service. And I am a very proud member of the NCIA’s Marketing & Advertising Committee!

When did you first start working in cannabis?

5 years ago. My first event attended was the WomenGrow conference in Denver. I fell in love with the industry and the people and knew it was a very special opportunity to be part of this community.

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

NCIA Marketing Committee

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

Relationships are everything. Strong relationships (with co-workers, peers, and customers) can truly make your business. I have stayed connected with so many people I’ve worked for and with over the years, which has resulted in the learning of new opportunities, growing skillsets, support in new endeavors, and help in connecting with others in the industry. Cannabis just reinforced this by 100%.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

YES! The NCIA’s Best of 420 Awards, which was produced and launched during the middle of the pandemic. Not only I was so proud to be part of this team that put together a fantastic program within weeks – but so impressed with the brands that brought forth incredibly creative campaigns that highlighted their cannabis businesses using a variety of methods. And I could not be more thrilled to co-chair this subcommittee again this year. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting opportunity to shine a spotlight on some fantastic cannabis businesses!

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about marketing?

In my opinion – budget. You can do a lot with a small budget. It’s not how much you spend, but how you spend it. The first step is setting specific marketing goals that align with your business goals. Once you have those goals in place, with some creativity and using a customized approach you’d be amazed at the results that can be achieved. It’s not a one-size-fits all solution either. Understanding your market, customer, and how to drive real value takes a creative, omnichannel approach before you’ll see real results.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I was focused on increasing brand awareness and sales for a company that made all plant-based odor-removing solutions. 12 years ago natural products were viewed as “not as effective”, so it took a tremendous amount of work to educate consumers and B2B customers about the effectiveness of our products, the health risks of toxic products, and the lack of regulation around these. I like to say we were green before green was cool. So coming from that space into cannabis, educating and amplifying messages was the foundation for everything we did to grow the Cannabolish brand.

In your view, what is the biggest cannabis marketing challenge facing cannabis companies today?

One of the biggest challenges hands down is the restrictions on advertising and promotions. But even more importantly, the gray areas – in particular with consumer goods and social media. Until there are clear regulations and advertising guidelines in place it will continue to be a space that must be navigated carefully and with a team experienced in this space.

What will get easier in cannabis marketing? What will get harder?

In my opinion, once there are Federal regulations in place the marketing world of cannabis will become easier in terms of the navigation. However, more difficult for brands to compete – in particular smaller brands with smaller budgets. But I think that’s where you’ll see some incredibly creative teams rise to the occasion.

What can companies do to ease their digital marketing challenges?

You really need to find someone you trust to help guide you through the ins and outs of branding and marketing in cannabis. It’s not only about understanding the rules and regs, but also what is trusted and valued by consumers in this community. Authenticity and transparency is crucial to earning the trust of your customers.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Authentic content – social media content, blog content – it’s the best way to communicate with your customers, and share what makes your brand unique.

In your view, what is the most over-rated digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Big event sponsorships. You don’t need to spend a fortune to be seen and heard.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?Listen.

Listen to your customers – even when they are sharing information you may not want to hear. It’s the only way you learn and improve.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis digital marketing?

Connect with people who have experience in this space. It’s the quickest way to learn about the industry, get advice and understand the nuances. You can really avoid some big mistakes early on by hearing from people who have some level of expertise within the industry.

How can someone contact you, Melinda?

Gabriel Marketing

Thanks for sharing your marketing insights with us today, Melinda.

 

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?

Twitter @laurawilkinsonsinton

Instagram @laurawilkinsonsinton

Thanks for sharing your digital marketing insights with us today, Laura.

 

Meet Michele Ringelberg, CEO of ThrivePop, a digital marketing firm specializing in cannabis. Fast-growing and ambitious brands in cannabis industry work with Michelle and her team to create digital marketing strategies and digital marketing implementation.

First, a little background about Michele Ringelberg:


I have been in the marketing industry since 2000. I have seen a lot of changes in the digital marketing space and the evolution of cannabis marketing has been exciting to watch. Cannabis marketing is challenging and innovative. We have definitely made our mistakes, but have learned from them and are here to teach you what NOT to do! Let me just say, Facebook and Instagram can be unpredictable and difficult when marketing cannabis-related products.

Our team enjoys what we do and has been known to push our clients out of their comfort zone. When we are allowed to try new creative tactics, we can show our clients astounding results!

If your business is ready to grow fast and is seeking help implementing digital marketing strategies that will increase visibility, generate leads, and grow revenue, then we can help.

Let us teach you what we know and create something fabulous together!

 

When did you first start working in cannabis?

2017

 

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

NCIA Marketing Committee

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

Do what you love and what you are naturally good at and stop trying to please every client request. When I first started we were doing a lot of online applications systems and complex web development programs for companies. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I was trying to do something that I didn’t like and it stressed me out. I am not a developer and don’t pretend to be. I am creative and love marketing, not backend web development. I had a complex project that my developers could not produce, they continued to tell me that they were almost done, but as a non-developer I couldn’t look at the code and tell if they were actually telling me the truth. I had to go to the client and let them know we just don’t have the team to complete this project and I refunded them all of their money. I felt this huge weight lifted once I told the client they would need to find another web company to perform this project. It was very difficult to do and they were not happy, however; it was the right thing to do. It was then that I focused on what I love to do and that is marketing. We chose to not take on any more complex web projects and now we focus on marketing, since doing that our company is growing significantly and I do what I love, helping companies make more money and thrive.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

The majority of our clients are B2B. Fohse lighting is one of our clients that I would like to highlight. They came to us with unrealistic goals. They wanted to double their conversions and revenue in one year. I kind of laughed and said, ok, we need to set realistic goals. our contact said, no we are serious, these are realistic goals. They were ready and motivated to grow. They said, let’s do this! They listened to us and for every new opportunity or creative idea we had; they were up for it. We doubled their monthly leads and increased their revenue by 2,332% in two years! It makes a huge difference when you have a client that actually listens to your recommendations and is open to new marketing tactics, and the entire team is on board. They have an amazing sales team that actually uses the tools we have implemented and has done an excellent job converting the leads we have been providing them. Other people in the industry see Fohse marketing and they ask them who does it, and they very willingly tell them ThrivePOP, in fact, I just recently had a prospect call me and they told me that Fohse told them we kick ass! I said, ok, great that is awesome to hear. 

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about digital marketing?

That it is easy, or that it [includes only] being on social media. That is part of it, but not the whole picture.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

We fell into cannabis. I have been doing marketing since 2000, was a marketing director at a healthcare facility and they merged with another health organization and they eliminated my job. I worked at an IT managed service company, managing the web team and doing marketing for the IT company. I started ThrivePOP in 2017. One of our clients that also serves other industries said they wanted to push their product into the cannabis industry, so that is how we started. I sent one of my employees to MJBizCon to help them with their booth, and learn. Since then, we have just been growing like crazy.

In your view, what is the biggest digital marketing challenge facing cannabis companies today?

The biggest issue regarding marketing for cannabis is social media. You spend all this time growing social profiles and FB, Instagram, etc. can take down your profile with no notification and you can’t ever talk to someone at FB or Insta to see why or get it back. So many clients come to us trying to get their accounts back and it is very difficult.

What will get easier in cannabis digital marketing? What will get harder?

I have noticed more and more competition. Everyone thinks it is an easy thing, and it is not. Just because you are in the cannabis industry doesn’t mean you are stashing money in a safe. It is tough. In our town, there are so many dispensaries popping up and I think people don’t understand how difficult it is to run a company.

Trust me, running a company is HARD, especially in the cannabis industry.

What can companies do to ease their digital marketing challenges?

Be consistent and track your results. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, which most people don’t-outsource it to someone that knows what they are doing and are an expert.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Industry associations. I try to get my clients to join different cannabis associations and I don’t think they really value that. I have joined a few, and it has really set us apart.

In your view, what is the most over-rated digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

I don’t really think of anything that is over-rated.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?

Be consistent and listen to the data. Track your results and be open to changing your plan based on what the data is telling you. Data doesn’t lie, and you don’t want to waste your money on something that isn’t effective.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis digital marketing?

Join associations to learn about cannabis, join associations, follow people that are knowledgeable, and absorb as much knowledge as possible. Don’t just tell people you understand cannabis marketing if you don’t yet.

How can someone contact you, Michele?

www.thrivepop.com

Facebook/thrivepop

Instagram/thrivepop

 

Thanks for sharing your digital marketing insights with us today, Michele.