Tag Archive for: cannabis marketing

The unfair and highly politicized stigma that once surrounded the use of cannabis is quickly dissipating as more states embrace legalized cannabis and cannabis-related products. The earliest cannabis brands hired PR firms to reduce stigmatization. With a budding industry on the rise, more companies are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. While this hyper-growth is great for consumers, it has created competition in the cannabis marketplace. How can cannabis companies set themselves apart to capture a chunk of the profit? No doubt, hyper-growth cannabis companies absolutely have distinct PR needs.

To keep up with industry growth, the time may be right to consider hiring a cannabis PR agency. PR isn’t just for high-profile celebrities. Public relations firms can help you market yourself, your unique products, and let the public know how you stand out from the crowd. However, before you hire a PR firm to represent your business, consider how a cannabis PR firm may benefit your company and how to choose the right firm for your needs.

What is a PR Agency?

Public relations agencies are multifaceted firms that specialize in promoting and growing other businesses through editorial coverage. Editorial coverage is sometimes known as “earned” or free” media because it isn’t a paid placement in an outlet. A PR agency generally doesn’t buy or place ads on social media or through billboards or podcasts. A PR agency knows how to leverage the media for the benefit of a company. Media can include local news, national news, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

The ultimate goal of a PR agency is to promote the best interests of its client by generating favorable media coverage. When potential customers view this coverage, it builds brand recognition and trust in the company. The positive public opinion can then help translate into sales for the business.

What Does a Cannabis PR Firm Do?

A top cannabis PR firm specializes in drumming up positive media coverage for growing cannabis businesses. They generally will use their resources to pitch story ideas to various media outlets. They will then follow up with these media outlets to convince them that the story will interest their viewers or readers. In the end, the media outlet gets a piece that entices its audience. The cannabis company then gets recognition. A good agency understands how to take a company message or campaign and translate that into a positive media piece.

On the flip side, a cannabis PR agency can also help a business mitigate the fallout from a less than ideal or unfortunate situation. A good firm is always strategically thinking about how to protect a client from potentially hurtful coverage. An agency can also help formulate a response that is both appropriate and has the potential to turn a situation around.

Overall, you want a cannabis PR agency to be well-versed in the following:

  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Following up with appropriate media outlets after the release of a press statement
  • Crafting pitches
  • Product placement
  • Writing speeches
  • Crisis management
  • Copywriting
  • Blog writing
  • Market research
  • Event planning
  • Community engagement
  • Non-profit relationship management

Some of the most successful PR firms have former journalists and news people on their staff. These individuals generally have inside knowledge of the media industry and can leverage their former contacts and skills for the benefit of cannabis clients. These professionals know what stories media outlets generally select and can help convince them that coverage of your materials is beneficial to the outlets and the community.

Picking a Cannabis PR Firm

In many areas, cannabis is a relatively new business. When looking for a PR firm to manage the image and media coverage of a cannabis business, there is an important initial question. A company should ask if the agency has previous experience working with the cannabis industry. Why is this the most important question? There are limitations on the types of material and information that can be distributed about cannabis in some jurisdictions. A business will want to make sure that the PR firm they are working with understands the intricacies of working with the media and cannabis-related businesses. Knowledge of the industry helps ensure that your coverage is positive and accurate. It will also ensure that media outlets distribute coverage with the best chance of being picked up and not tossed in the press-release trash bin.

Beyond looking for an agency that understands the unique challenges of working with cannabis-related businesses, you will want to sit down and outline your marketing goals. What are you hoping to achieve? What is your budget? What are you expecting a firm to deliver? Establishing your objectives and goals early will help in selecting the best firm for your company. Once you determine these objectives, find a PR firm that aligns with your goals. Consider the following:

  • What is your budget?
  • Do they specialize in a specific industry?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What is their communication style?
  • How often will they be in contact?
  • Does their team have experience in PR and marketing?
  • How do they generate coverage?
  • Do they have experience handling crisis situations?

Hold meetings before you settle on a PR firm. In these meetings, you can ask plenty of predetermined questions pertaining to your concerns and goals. Consider these meetings an interview process. You want the best candidate for the job. Effective coverage doesn’t happen passively. It is a process that needs to be actively pursued and nurtured. The PR team you choose should be aggressive, responsive, and communicate with you throughout the PR process.

PR as an Investment

Making investments in your business is essential to growth. You know how to cultivate relationships with growers, suppliers, paraphernalia manufacturers, consumers, and sometimes even local artisans and craftsmen. Securing the help of a PR firm is another form of investment in your business. A solid relationship with a cannabis PR firm can help increase recognition, brand loyalty, and visibility in the community.

Eventually, these attributes can start translating into new customers, repeat business, and profit growth. The relationship between the cannabis industry and the media is always evolving. If you’re ready to experience growth and visibility for your business, hiring an experienced cannabis PR agency is the next step to developing your product’s brand.

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?

Not currently.
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.

 

Thanks, Michael, you really are a cannabis advertising expert.

How can people get in touch with you?

My personal site
My business site
My LinkedIn

Meet Jake Wall, his passion for innovation is apparent in his latest offering, Maison Bloom, a cannabis beverage brand. Jake’s innovations are fueled by his passion for human-centered design, which are apparent in his consulting firm, Playtpus and as Chief Innovation Officer at cannabis beverage brand Maison Bloom. Jake is well-known as a cannabis industry leader and his commitment to a “people-first” attitude is a white light of positivity for anyone who has the chance to work with him.

 

First, a little background about you:

I’m the Chief Innovation Officer and leading Design Thinker at MAISON BLOOM.
French Sensibilities. California Cool. We are cannabis with a twist.
We bottle the good life… and the good life is meant to be shared.

I also serve as the Chief Innovation Officer at PLATYPUS – an uncommon mix of different. PLATYPUS is a human-centered cooperative that takes the best practices of design thinking to unlock new marketplace opportunities. This unique and dynamic team of thought leaders steers their own destiny through designing, developing, and deploying products, services, and solutions. Taking my own 25+ years of expertise across multiple industries and combining that with my cohorts, we are driven by the simple premise that life cannot be lived to its fullest without vision, lifelong learning, and facing the challenges of our modern society head-on by endeavoring to serve others in new and innovative ways.

My unconventional exploits have been met with profiles in BizBash, Inc.com, San Francisco Chronicle, WWD, Marie Claire, and Huffington Post. Through my previous companies and roles, I have helmed award-winning innovation teams that have worked alongside Lincoln Motor Company to launch their Black Label special edition, famed Napa Valley vintner and entrepreneur Jean-Charles Boisset to bring Haute Couture French Bubbles to market, and collaborated with marquee philanthropic organizations like Walt Disney Family Museum and Human Rights Campaign for groundbreaking awareness and fundraising events and experiences.

Prior to Avec Bloom and PLATYPUS, I had the luxury of working with esteemed innovators like culinary leader Chef Michael Mina and social and content thought leaders, including Richard Rosenblatt and Orkut Buyukotten. My passion for design thinking and human-centered design has allowed me to work across technology, fashion, hospitality, consumer products, and services including the developed several startups including a market-leading luxury fashion design house and retailer which was featured on “Project Runway,”  and E! Entertainment’s “Fashion Police.” I volunteer with several local and national community and arts-focused opportunities, including the Human Rights Campaign and The Walt Disney Family Museum.

At MAISON BLOOM and PLATYPUS, we replace the ordinary with extraordinary alternatives that you never knew you always wanted.

 

When did you first start working in cannabis?

January 2020.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I was the Chief Marketing Officer for MINA Group and worked diligently to refresh celebrity Chef Michael Mina’s global empire for a greater audience, including Millennials and Xennials.

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

NCIA – Marketing and Advertising Committee 2020/2021 + 2021/2022; Trailblazers Presents DEI Advisory Board 2022

 

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

Of all the places and spaces I have operated in, one of the biggest lessons in life came from my experience on Project Runway and being in an environment and series of challenges where one cannot say no. One must just soldier on find inspiration, overcome the challenge of making, and execute… all under the watchful eye of rotating cameras and an attentive public eye in a tiny window for each challenge. This experience of “no” not being an option really galvanized my dedication that anything is possible if you simply put your mind to it and push forward.

 

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

The work on beverage formulation and creation innovation that we do at MAISON BLOOM always brings a smile to my face because we do it with consumers at the center of all that we do. Human-Centered Design has empowered leading companies like Apple and Dyson where the consumer is at the center and they built the products around their use cases. But in cannabis… HCD is a bit more of a foreign language. We tend to build products for our own personal tastes and use cases and then hope to find a market after that.

At (cannabis beverage) MAISON BLOOM, we have worked hard in partnership with key powerhouses like our partners at Vertosa and Sonoma Hills Farm to lift as we climb together and create cannabis’s first true offering that is strain-specific, single barrel, and whole plant allowing us to treat cannabis more like a chef treats spices and herbs to create layered flavors and functional experiences.

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis branding, advertising, marketing, PR, and social media?

The industry often likes to highlight that they don’t think brands matter.

But we fail to keep in mind that the legal cannabis industry is still young and we are moving into the space where brands are more relevant when true experiential brand offerings are created and deployed.

Not since “Field of Dreams” has there been a better example of “If you build it, they will come,” than this current shift in consumer mindset and opportunity for companies to give consumers what they never knew they always wanted.

 

In your view, what are the biggest cannabis PR, branding/marketing/advertising challenges facing cannabis companies today?

Truly placing end consumers at the center of product development, branding, and related touchpoints. To supercharge great direct to consumer offerings that work symbiotically with established retail sales to increase consumer loyalty and maximum repeat purchasing so that the entire cannabis ecosystem of business partners wins versus being in a more combative/competitive ecosystem.

What will get easier in cannabis PR marketing/branding what will get harder?

It will get easier to tell authentic stories and maximize social media and digital channels when more cannabis offerings are true brand experiences because there is more to “advertise” and “promote” than just the cannabis-based products which are currently problematic in these spaces.

It will get harder to exist as a brand without greater collaboration with partners. It is important to treat all players in your ecosystem with respect, as this is a difficult industry to operate within. To race forward without trusted partners and a tight circle of mutually beneficial “lifting as we climb” in collaboration across all levels of the supply chain will only handcuff growth. Companies need to build trusted pathways with trusted partners that ensure reliable growth and acceleration for all parties. Doing so will continue to be even harder, but the payout for short to long-term growth is going to be the proverbial silver bullet.

What can companies do to alleviate their branding/marketing/PR/advertising challenges?

Move away from trying to be everywhere and instead designate some core channels and offerings that are most authentic to their brand, their offering, and their abilities and focus there. Only once you deliver a solid funnel and can clearly show your own ROI and understanding of the channel/offering will you be able to make it so that you aren’t just spending money, but you are making money.

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

A clear consumer-focused direct-to-consumer fulfillment channel executed by the company, including full suite communication support (email, text) to consumers.

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

Billboards. They are for wayfinding and beyond that one is just throwing money away. Brands try and treat billboards like they can be used for anything and the truth is, you can put anything on them but that doesn’t mean they will resonate or be effective.

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

This is cannabis. We are writing new rules as to what is possible each and every day. Push yourself to do your best work. Push the industry forward by doing your best work. Because if better exists, we always want to go with better.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing/advertising/pr/branding?

As Dorothy might say… “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” This is a wacky and weird world that is often figuring itself out as it goes along. Rules and regulations can and do change just as you get used to them. Realize that in this world, you are going to need to embrace learning while doing and you will be constantly iterating towards greatness. In cannabis more than anywhere else, everything is a process and one that is evolving in real time.

 

Thank you for sharing these fantastic branding insights, innovation and leadership tips with us, Jake. How can others in the cannabis industry get in touch with you? 

Jake Wall Linkedin 

Jake Wall Instagram

Maison Bloom Instagram

Maison Bloom Website 

 

Meet Dan Serard, Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for Cannabis Creative Group, one of the most respected cannabis marketing agencies in the U.S., Dan has worked there since 2018 and has worked with an impressive 200 cannabis brands.

 

First, a little background about you:

I started working in the cannabis industry in 2018 and have worked with over 200 different brands! I live in Massachusetts and am originally from the Northeast. I spent some time traveling around the US and landed in Los Angeles for a little while, where I became ingrained in some of the legacy market up in Humboldt county.

When did you first start working in cannabis?

2018, when I started with Cannabis Creative Group.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I managed sales teams for health clubs and worked in enterprise sales for a genetic testing company.

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

I’m a member of Cannabis Marketing Association, Business Owners Hemp and Cannabis Association, and National Association of Cannabis Businesses. I’m also a committee member of the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing and Advertising Committee and Co-Chair of the Education and Content Committee and a member of the Rolling Stone Cultural Council.

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

Sales is all about listening to the prospect and learning what really matters to them and how to assist them.

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

There are many! We have an amazing portfolio [at Cannabis Creative Group].

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis branding, advertising, marketing, PR, social media?

Many people think that “if you build it, they will come”, especially dispensary owners.

 

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

Where and how to advertise!

What will get easier in cannabis PR/marketing/branding and what will get harder?

Easier – other media outlets opening up to cannabis. Television, radio, Google, social media channels, etc.

Harder- Competing on cannabis-specific platforms. If you’re a new business and competing against established businesses that spend much more money on apps like Weedmaps, your money is not spent appropriately.

 

What can companies do to ease their cannabis PR branding/marketing/advertising challenges?

 

Take the time, effort and energy to establish a TRUE brand foundation. Not just a logo, but think about your voice, position, messaging, etc. so you can scale that message across all platforms.

 

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

SEO!!!! The adult-use market is using search engines, just like any other industry, and if you can’t be found on Google, then you’re going to have a tough time!

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

Social media. It is very difficult to track direct ROI from social media. It is great to have but doesn’t correspond to many sales. Also, advertising on cannabis-specific platforms. It is tough to compete with many other cannabis businesses and many consumers in adult markets don’t even use these platforms compared to Google.

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

Start slow and grow! Find a niche market that really associates with your brand, grow within that market, then expand from there if needed.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing/advertising/pr/branding?

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!!! Get yourself out there to meet people, join groups, and walk a tradeshow. The industry is open to many people, and it’s important to make connections.

 

Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Dan. How can people get in touch with you?

 

www.cannabiscreativegroup.com

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 and cannabis advertising 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!

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.