Tag Archive for: cannabis

When Should Your Fast Growing Company Hire a PR Agency or a Marketing Firm?

With everything happening so fast in your hyper-growth company, when SHOULD you hire a PR agency? We speak to businesses all the time asking us if they’re ready for us and often, the answer is “no, not yet.” So, how do you know if you’re ready for an agency? We specialize in working with organizations with ambitious growth goals, so we’re in a good position to know what works and what doesn’t.

6 Signs Your Ready for a Public Relations or Marketing Agency

You Have A Proven Business Model/Product

It’s easy to think that if you had a PR agency or marketing company running things you’d have those customers you need to prove your product works. But if you haven’t been able to get a grass-roots movement on your product, the question is whether the product is viable and whether more exposure means more users/customers or not. There are simply times when throwing money at an exposure metric just isn’t the right thing at the right time.

Plus, it’s important for you, the founder, to get out there and get feedback on your product. You’ll learn things about your customers and your product that you really need to know. You should have a stable team and at least some certainty that the market wants your product. If you’re unsure, it’s too early for an agency.

It’s A Race To The Best Brand

There are some industries where the biggest distinguishing factor for your product is the brand, the emotional response customers have to your product and style. In these situations where you need scale and fast, having an agency is important because you’ll need consistent execution that also adheres to a strategy. Consistent press coverage is a defining factor for becoming the best-known brand.

You Have A Story To Tell

It’s heartbreakingly true: starting a company is not news. Globally, there are about 11,000 startups per hour every single day. You hear about 1/100,000,000 of them with any regular basis. The ONLY way to cut through the clutter is to have a real story. You something truly compelling, because journalists are soooo tired of hearing about “the <insert adjective> new CEO taking <insert startup community or vertical> by storm.

If you THINK you have a story, but need some help, call us. We offer a consulting strategy service that will help you flesh out your story and we can help you determine if there are any other gems.

You Have The Internal Resources and Assets

This is the moment when you’re probably considering hiring an internal team, but you realize hiring this group of people would require you to take your eye off your core mission.

Internally, you DO need someone who provides your marketing or PR agency with access. It’s this person’s job to interface with questions and changing directions. They need to be both in the C-level loop and empowered to give direction to the agency, which leads me to the next…

You Have A Budget Over And Above The Monthly Retainer

Whatever you’re spending on a Branding, PR or Marketing execution, plan on at least another 30%-40% for activation and assets. In the PR world, you’ll need assets (video, images, studies), events, and press services. In the marketing world, it’s one thing to create the content, it’s another thing to make sure it gets seen.

We provide an audit and a digital strategy program which allows brands to take the roadmap and either implement it for themselves or hire us (or another agency), this plan usually includes competitive analysis, campaign ideas, best practices for everything from content development to advertising.

You Have a Campaign or Project That Needs Person Power

The best time for a PR and Marketing Agency to come on board is when you need a variety of unique skill sets, and you need them fast. Sometimes, you have an idea or campaign that you need help to execute. Hiring an agency to identify opportunities, solutions (and potential pitfalls) is a good idea here because you’ll get that execution boost you need without having to recruit and hire a team. You need a team of specialists, amazing writers, creative graphic designers, analytics interpreters and you don’t need any of them full-time, nor do you have time to manage this in-house team of creatives, but you do need them.

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.

How much should you use for cannabis marketing budgets?

You can see the cannabis market changing daily and yet we haven’t even reached anywhere close to a zenith in cannabis purchases. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that a growing market allows you to limit your marketing budget. Unfortunately, no. Despite the growing businesses, success in the cannabis industry is no sure thing. So how can you take advantage of this growing market by really developing a foothold?

Establishing your brand and investing in marketing is going to be the difference between success and failure in the cannabis industry.

The cannabis industry is growing, but you need to establish your brand and foothold now to ensure you’re able to withstand the inevitable maturation and consolidation of the industry as regulations ease.

Fundamentally, the wine market is a great comparison to the cannabis industry because it’s an industry built around an agricultural product that’s highly regulated. There’s one glaring difference between the two: wine is a mature product, the market is educated about it and those who drink wine, know they like drinking wine. Drinking wine carries with it a certain lifestyle sophistication that some people aspire to, in other words, it’s a lifestyle product. Wine companies know investing in branding can make all the difference because the market is highly competitive and they generally budget 15%-20% of sales for marketing, this is a mature product with an established brands.  You’ll notice in the below infographic that recreational cannabis is larger than wine sales, but cannabis sales haven’t even remotely become mainstream or moved past the “stoner” lifestyle image. If you’re marketing to a “stoner” culture audience, then perhaps you can develop a budget that’s on the low side, but if you see only 10% sales growth, you’ll know what to expect.

But if you’re hoping to capture some of the market that lives beyond the “stoner” audience, then you’re going to need a bigger budget and you’ll need to think like a lifestyle marketer. You can bet that the cannabis industry is going to get incredibly competitive as time goes on. Establishing your brand and investing in marketing is going to be the difference between success and failure in the cannabis industry.

What should my cannabis marketing budget be?

Setting cannabis marketing budgets is no easier (in fact, it may be harder) than doing so for other industries and this is because of the multiple variables impacting this decision-making. We present these stats to you as a guideline to determining your marketing spend vs. sales growth.

Basically, ask yourself how much you want to grow and allocate an according percentage of your budget to the growth. You can’t expect sales to grow 100% with a 10% marketing budget. It may happen, but the more likely scenario is that by the time you realize it isn’t going to happen, you’ll be boxed into a budget that doesn’t support the other expenditures you made in anticipation of growth.

Your mileage may vary and we’re happy to talk to you about your specific niche in the industry to help you develop a plan if you don’t have one at all. Keep in mind if you’re in launch mode, your PR and marketing budgets should be on the higher side, which pretty much applies to almost every cannabis brand today.

Something else to consider are the advertising limitations facing the cannabis industry. Depending on your actual product, you may not be able to buy ads on Facebook and Google. Does that mean you shouldn’t have an advertising budget? No, it actually means you’ll need to reallocate what would be an ad budget to something else, perhaps social media marketing and community building or content marketing or public relations.

Understand this: if you don’t feel comfortable allocating this kind of percentage to marketing, it doesn’t mean you should pack up your bags and quit-it just means your progress will go slower and you should have realistic expectations.

How Long Will It Take for Marketing Efforts to Deliver Results?

There are numerous variables in the answer to this question. Including your customer, your product and your previous efforts. Let me assure you, with the right budget, all things are possible.

Marketing, PR and branding efforts all work together and they tend to compound, especially in the early days. The more marketing you do, the earlier the ball will start rolling.  You can do yourself some favors by tracking metrics along the way so you know you’re hitting the right mix of marketing and that your marketing dollars are being optimized. Consistency is key in marketing and PR, so plan for consistency with bursts of activity around your strategic sales times.

All that to say this, the bigger your budget as a percentage of sales, the faster you’ll see sales grow, so if you’re in a hurry, budget accordingly.

cannabis marketing budgets stats