Tag Archive for: marketing

There’s a secret hidden in ALL our brains that you can use for cannabis content marketing.

Did you know that we’re all ruled by a super powerful hormone? It’s true.
This hormone dominates decision-making, especially split-second choices like the ones digital users are making every day.
Decisions like “click,” “like,” “retweet,” and more importantly, “buy” and “subscribe” are all significantly impacted by this hormone.
Savvy marketing strategists have been triggering this hormone for years, some knowingly, some stumbling upon it.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of this hormone.
You’ve heard about in the context of drugs, sex and even food.
But what does this hormone do for cannabis marketers?
I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, a little more about this hormone: dopamine.
See? I told you you’ve heard of it.
Dopamine is best known as the “pleasure hormone.”
It’s the hormone that creates the surge of euphoria that we feel after a particularly satisfying (insert pleasure here).
But, the surge of satisfaction is not actually the most powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal.

The most powerful tool to the marketer is anticipation.

And it turns out that dopamine is actually more aptly described as the “wanting and seeking” hormone.
Ah. Now you get it right?
It turns out that the “wanting and seeking” trigger is MORE powerful than the “satisfaction.”
Which means, we’re hardwired to keep looking, keep seeking until we satisfy our wanting and seeking.
And then, we’re hardwired to do it all again.

Think for just a moment about the advantage to your content and overall cannabis marketing strategy if you can trigger this motivation.
Images can trigger our wanting and seeking. Ever seen a really great close-up shot of your favorite food and found yourself searching for how to have it delivered at lunch that.very.day?
Images of just about anything we want can trigger our “wanting and seeking” hormone.
This means you really need to think about the images you’re using in marketing and advertising, because images are incredibly key to the top of the funnel.
While we see food and sex all the time in marketing, it might be that those images aren’t appropriate for your brand.
Good news for you.
Because there’s more.

Guess what else fuels our anticipation?

Just guess.
This is super important because not all businesses and campaigns are suitable for triggering the food, sex and drug urges.
Curiosity.
The brain experiences dopamine rushes when we’re curious for more information.
Think about the last Google search you did. Ever been sucked down the rabbit hole of Google and found yourself coming out of the other side 45 minutes later?
That’s your insatiable, hormone-driven seeking and wanting trigger.
That’s your brain on the anticipation train.

Our quest for information is basically never-ending.
We’re hard-wired that way, and from an evolutionary perspective, this is a very, very good thing.
Now WHAT information triggers this is the key.
This is where we circle back around to audience identification and personalization.
We’re inundated with information, so we have to be very, very clear on our audience so we understand WHAT kind of information or curiosity triggers our target audience.
Motivational triggers work on all people, but what triggers the motivation is where your marketing research and strategy comes in.

Unexpected prompts, audio and visual also trigger our wanting and seeking hormone.
You know what does this exceptionally well?
Your phone. It beeps, or vibrates or a message pops up and you almost ALWAYS stop what you are doing to look at it don’t you?
If you don’t, it takes an active and conscious effort on your part.
This is why my most hated and dreaded marketing tactic, pop-up messaging is so powerful.
I personally drop right out of a page when I get a pop-up because I feel like it’s insensitive to the reader, but the truth is, it works on the vast majority of people because the surprise triggers the wanting and seeking.
Novelty and unpredictability also trigger our seeking behavior.
This is why “New and Improved” works.

The Counter-Intuitive Path

You’ve probably heard over and over again to simplify. The message is too long. The funnel is too long.
Overall, this is good advice.
HOWEVER, once you really understand the “seeking and wanting” hormone, your path can actually be quite long, so long as it keeps triggering curiosity and gives information in small bits and pieces if it gives anything until it offers the solution.

As cannabis education to a larger base becomes more important, you may find this technique particularly relevent in your cannabis marketing.

Have you ever found yourself reading a really ugly landing page with all text?
Really awesome copywriters understand how to use this tactic in writing to move you through the process.
Interestingly enough, the more time you spend on something, the more committed you are.
So long copy, long funnels, they have a purpose and in the right situation, the right circumstance, the right audience, they work.
You can use this strategy in your digital cannabis marketing to your benefit, particularly for product launches and in blogs.

In A Nutshell:

Here it is in a nutshell, for fast and motivational results: trigger the wanting and seeking hormone.
Make your audience curious.
Lead them down a path that satisfies in bits and pieces.
Experiment with what triggers curiosity in your audience, experiment with the strength of their curiosity with funnel length.
Triggering the “wanting and seeking” hormone is the very premise behind free information in content cannabis marketing and the internet in general.

This article has been slightly edited from the original version on poodlemafia.com

About the Captivation Motivations:

The Captivation Motivations are all built around what I call our “other 90%” of our brain. The part of our brain that is the oldest and most developed part of our brain.

I didn’t make up the Captivation Motivations, I’ve simply been studying them and their effects for the last four years. I’ve been testing them in my strategies and tactics, reading and writing about them.
Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  More and more is now understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

Is the press release dead?  For years now, that question has been hanging over the public relations/journalism world. And the question is a fair one – when millions of press releases are issued daily, often without consideration of the journalists receiving them, do press releases work anymore? And issuing a press release through a credible pr distribution wire service is an extra cost of about $3,000 or more depending on variables like length, number of images or videos, and frequency.

Given their expense, is a press release worth it?
What we’re talking about here is legitimate company news that is appropriate for a wire service, but isn’t securities and exchange or public shareholders requirement. So this legitimate news could be based on research, a new hire, a new product, it can even be a statement based on industry news, issued over a pr distribution wire service like PR Newswire, Business Wire, Globe Newswire or similar who distribute and publish an online press release.

A press release is but one tactic in the media relations tool kit. It’s extremely unusual that your news, even your most exciting news, (“We launched..! We bought…! We secured…!”), applies to every single media site, without customization about why it applies to the reader or journalist’s beat. There are plenty of occasions when direct outreach to the media contacts database will generate better quality and more tailored media coverage. Plus, journalists aren’t really all that jazzed to receive the same (untailored) information as hundreds of thousands of other journalists; at that point, they view it as a status update instead of news.  But then why do these services charge so much?

Well, most quality pr distribution wire services reach thousands of outlets at once and most will get reprints of your press release in at least a few national online media outlets.  But that press release syndication can come in handy on the web.

The press release isn’t dead, it’s just viewed differently by both journalists and public relations professionals today. So when SHOULD you go through the expense, sometimes over $1,000 per release, of using a wire service? Here are 5 times issuing a press release over a wire service can serve your strategic interests.

It’s Still Got Social Proof:

When you search on a business name and  the release appears under “news,” tell me that doesn’t impress you a little? Of course. That’s why earned media is so valuable. Vendors, customers, investors, they all like seeing that too. It shows you’re committed to your brand, your growth, and your reputation. If you’re positioning for acquisition, IPO, or investors, having a consistent history of press releases provides credibility and social proof.

Consistent (but not overwhelming) press releases are also a good way to stay in front of news outlets. When your brand is top of mind at the moment editors are assigning stories or looking for ideas, it allows your public relations budget to go even further. Press releases also offer background information for journalists writing today’s story; they serve as a good historical marker to your company’s achievements, which can get buried on a website.

You’ve Got Video on a Major News Item:

If you or your company has a unique point of view on a breaking news item, especially if it’s video,  TV stations are always looking for high-quality video for of-the-moment topics, that’s a great opportunity to send out a well-timed press release.  Make sure your video has a distinctive point of view and that it’s relevant to your key messaging. Make sure your video is high quality enough for TV and name your video using relevant and keyword researched words.

Help producers and journalists by using your press release to give context to your quote and be sure to show the speaker’s name clearly in the content.

You’re ABSOLUTELY Clear On Your Audience:

Most of the time your audience is the press, after all, those are the subscribers to wire services – to pretend there is any other primary audience is misleading. But given that most journalists aren’t responsive to press releases, there may be an opportunity to be a bit disruptive.  There may be an occasion in which your release speaks directly to the consumer as opposed to the journalist with a jazzier (note: not promotional) lingo, maybe direct to consumer quotes, and direct to consumer ideas or recommendations that could also interest slow-news-day fodder. Note: we’re not really dealing with many slow news days these days.

Sometimes those press release reprints can give you enough legs to support other content initiatives and social proof initiatives.

Let me be clear: do not treat a press release like a blog post, they are complementary, not interchangeable. But, addressing to the consumer’s issues within the context of a newsworthy release may be a useful, if non-traditional, tactic occasionally.

You’ve Done Keyword Research:
If your website is new, or if you’re trying to build traffic, these consistent high-value links can contribute nicely to your SEO. Let’s be clear sending out press releases alone isn’t enough to radically change your SEO, but it can be part of your off-page tool kit that supports your overall SEO strategy.

Keep in mind, a press release jacked up with keywords isn’t effective AT ALL. Google’s got your number and generally, a press release written only for search engines is ineffective; it’s also considered spammy by journalists, so used wrong, it can discredit your company in the eyes of the media outlets.

What you want to do is keyword research on ACTUAL news so you maximize the opportunity. Wire releases DO create high-value inbound links. Plus, wire service releases generally present well in search results, so it’s a double-win if you or your PR team have done their keyword research.

The Moment is Momentus

Using a press release to document a historic moment in your company’s history presents a timeline and momentum to your company and adds social proof. Also, going back to the keywords, press releases live in “news” for much, much longer than even an earned media story.

Press releases using this strategy also serve as a way to get press on track to watch for future announcements, clarify your business positioning, or get stakeholders on the same page.

Do we believe press releases are dead? No, we do not. We also don’t believe every announcement needs to come in the form of a press release. Use press releases strategically, and to compliment your media relations,  and they will serve you well.

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.

Ah, the early adopter. Their the people who grab on to things first, they start trends and they are influencers in their respective communities.

Whether you’re a startup, a movement or a personality, you need these early adopters. Marketing to early adopters can be slippery though, what they grab on to is almost entirely motivationally based. In other words, toss out your traditional “Three P’s” of marketing if you want to capture this crowd, you’re going to need to think through what makes them tick.

Whether you’re building a product or starting a movement, keep your early adopters in mind. Marketing to early adopters will be easier if you keep these strategies in mind.

Early Adopters Value Intellectual Stimulation

It doesn’t matter what your target market is, a certain segment of them are early adopters and early adopters like to be challenged and stimulated.  Puzzles and quizzes are intriguing to these people, but they get bored easily, so make sure the content matches the intelligence level.

Don’t mistake this to assume that every puzzle or quiz is intriguing to early adopters. They aren’t necessarily the “Buzzfeed” quiz takers. They like to learn and be challenged but they aren’t interested in dumbed down versions of anything. By the time something has caught mass adoption, early adopters have either “been there/done that” or are already deeply engaged in using the product.

Early Adopters Have High “FOMO.”

Because they value their role as early adopters, they never want to be “out of the loop” or miss something that’s particularly cool.

Tap into that “Fear of Missing Out” during the earliest stages. Give them ways to be cool to their community by letting them be the gateway to a broader audience and you’ll be tapping into their desires to be seen as an early adopter.

Google generally does this really well when it launches products. It does an initial invitation to known early adopters and gets everyone else clamoring to be part of it in the first phase and SEEN as an early adopter. Google definitely has marketing to early adopters down.

Early Adopters Are Attracted to Art, Emotion and Adventure

Perhaps more than any other target market, early adopters are pulled in by emotion, art and adventure.

This is one reason why Apple’s early emphasis on design caught on with early adopters, they loved the elegance of the product and interface, the art of the experience.

Remember, art, emotion and adventure can happen online and offline. This is a place where you can really get creative and have some fun. It’s also easy to identify these people based on where they go because events like TED and TEDX inherently draw early adopter personality types.

Because of this constant searching early adopters have, curiosity is a primary trigger for action. Tripping the curiosity trigger requires some thought because early adopters aren’t generally suckers for the usual mass-marketing techniques; they’re a little more sophisticated than that. You’re going to really have to think of something that genuinely makes them curious.

The “Why” Seriously Matters

Early adopters are very observant they generally see through tactics and need a reason to be inspired.  Your marketing message to early adopters needs to be centered around something inspiring.

Instead of focusing on product features, tap into the deep intellectual and emotional reservoir of early adopters and give some insight to them about why this product or movement matters. You’ll likely need to do some message testing here, but it will be worth it once you hit on the “why” that matters most.

Don’t Confuse Early Adopters for Extroverts

It’s easy to lump the two together, but research shows that messaging that targets extroverts actually repels early adopters. Early adopters like intrigue and creativity, they aren’t particularly attracted to social attention in a public way. This doesn’t mean they aren’t on social media, it just means that their triggers are different. They like to have their role as early adopters confirmed, but they also like to be the messenger of that delivery.

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