Meet Michael Rosenfeld VP of Business Development at Cannavu. Michael is a cannabis advertising expert with the marketing chops to back up all his advice. Michael’s passion for brand building has been a career-long journey that made him into the cannabis industry advertising expert he is today.
First, a little background about Michael:
Since my youth, I’ve always loved awesome branding.
I think it started in my skateboarding days when the coolest skaters had the most awesome board designs and shapes. That passion to create visceral experiences guided me to marketing, advertising, and media where over the next 20 years I worked with brands from Apple to SEGA, FOX Sports, MTV, Beats by Dre to the Viceroy Hotel Group, and a ton of action sports labels.
Today I take that passion and experience in integrated media and work with client companies to create smart campaigns that best position them to attract the right customers authentically.
And though I don’t skate anymore, I do love going into skate and surf shops just to see what ‘the cool kids’ are staring at.
What were you doing prior to cannabis?
I have been in advertising and media for 20 years, working as a lead strategist and head of sales for agencies serving brands in fashion, action sports, entertainment, hospitality, and consumer tech.
As an agency owner and consultant, I love working with brands (and the people that guide them) to improve their chances for success.
When did you first start working in cannabis?
Since going to college up in San Francisco in the early 90s you can say Ive worked on-and-off in cannabis. But I officially began in this new legal-cannabis generation in 2019 when I became the Head of Sales and Strategy for CannaVu, at the time, the largest digital ad platform serving cannabis and CBD marketers.
Do you sit on any marketing or cannabis industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?
Formerly Strategic Advisor to ALTRD.TV, and Industry Council member of WeedWeek.
What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?
Building a brand that people love takes time and effort. The authenticity of a ‘core’ brand can’t be bought, it must be lived, and earned.
With the meteoric rise and interest in the cannabis industry countless companies have entered the market, and too many of them rush to market without understanding how important building a brand really is, and how much work is really required.
Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?
I’m really excited about the new technology we’re bringing to the category that revolves around dispensary visitor data. Being able to identify traits of customers that visit one dispensary over another and how to market each type with accuracy.
These insights will enable us to build audience segments we can then market to with more intent and authenticity.
What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about branding, advertising, marketing, PR, and social media?
The biggest misconception, or rather, misstep, by many brands is thinking that if you build it (or grow it) they will come and that advertising/media is not important in building brand awareness.
Cannabis has evolved from a retail sales experience to an industry that requires a digital presence, so it is very important to have a strong digital experience and support it w a digital media strategy to help create awareness, and sales. As customers become more interested and research brands and dispensaries before they purchase, they are being hit with competing brands advertising. Make sure you’re playing at the same level to capture those hearts and minds as they surf the web looking for the new product.
In your view, what is the biggest branding/marketing/advertising challenge facing cannabis companies today?
One of the biggest challenges for brands in cannabis is the lack of ‘traditional’ methods to advertise and be discovered. We are unable to buy Facebook ads, or PPC/SEM, or run fun direct social media programs without the potential of being flagged and removed from the platform. So we are forced to put together campaigns that don’t have the level of targeting and scale non-regulated industries have the luxury to use.
This, coupled with state-by-state differences in compliance makes for confusion amongst brands and their advertising partners.
What will get easier in cannabis marketing/branding/pr, what will get harder?
Things become easier as brands mature, and marketers learn to navigate w the tools available, as advertising platforms merge to offer integrated solutions that capture customers at awareness and reconnect w them down the ‘funnel’ to purchase creating predictable ROAS.
However, compliance, competition, education, market maturity, or lack thereof will still mean that brands have headwinds to deal with when wanting to run effective campaigns to grow and scale.
What can companies do to alleviate their branding/marketing/PR/advertising challenges?
As the industry matures, working with experienced and knowledgeable branding, advertising, and PR partners will be key to success.
In your view, what is the most underrated tool in the branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?
The most underrated tool is Retargeting.
Companies spend a lot of money to drive customers to a site, social tactics, PR, dis[play advertising, email marketing, but very few are implementing a retargeting line to drive them back.
Lest then a 1% of customers buy in the first site visit. You need to re-message them to remind them you exist and come back to your site.
Another underrated tool is building your SEO. People naturally go to ‘search,’ yet not all companies are versed in best use-case seo tactics.
In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?
Social Media, namely Instagram.
Spending time creating content to get banned, or shadow banned.
Looking at vanity metrics to see engagement, but do these customers actually live in your area? Are they destined to buy? Social is so transient that very few brands are making money w social media posts.
What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?
Know your market, your competitors, your true customers, and then work with someone that truly knows how to build a plan to help you grow sales and awareness based on your stage and position in the market.
What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing/advertising/pr/branding?
Learn from people that have done this before so you know what you can do, and then do it better.