If you want the simple answer on marketing cannabis, then the answer is to create value using data. No, I’m not talking about creating a sales special, I mean actual value. Let’s dive into the concept of providing real value, and how it relates to cannabis. The first thing to throw out the window is the idea that “value” is only defined by price, the definition of value during this blog post is:
“The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something”
Alright, now we’ve gotten the first step out of the way so we can dive into the good stuff. The second step to marketing cannabis effectively is to recognize that your product isn’t special. Your product is limited to a few locations in terms of a global market, just like all the other cannabis products, and maybe you’re on the shelf in close to every shop in your state, just like every other cannabis company, but that’s small in the grand scheme of things. Now is the time to start thinking about a national industry.
What are you going to do when legalization happens nationwide, and you’re able to ship and market your cannabis product nationwide?
Is your facility able to replicate the product indefinitely with a ~.5% margin of error? If not, you need a new product that can do this and is easily repeatable. Humans are creatures of habits, patterns, and familiarity. If your product isn’t near 100% on consistency, then your brand is unpredictable, and difficult to relate with. Craft products and small batch products are a different audience than traditional shoppers. However, traditional shoppers make up a significant portion of customers, they are the ones you need in order to have a household name brand that is referred by friends often.
Is your cannabis product unique enough to hold a marketing worthy patent?
Prepare in advance for worldwide (or at minimum, regional) adoption. If you have a full system in place for creating a product and nobody else knows the recipe, patent it. You need to have an internal process if you manufacture the product. Your master grower likely wouldn’t have it any other way, the type of soil, the air system, the lights, the voltages, the water system, the amount of nutrients etc. Name it, package it, and patent it.
A Side Note On a Common Craft Cannabis Mistake
I’ve seen plenty of cannabis companies showing off their perfect grow, and then never have that product again. This model isn’t scalable, and is more prone to negative feedback. New seeds means new variables, which can be good or bad for your grow facility, brand, customers, and reputation. Growers know the plant genes they know, let them optimize the facility to grow those, and give them a room to experiment with new genetics.
Master Growers Can Create Huge Value By Sharing Data With The Cannabis Marketing Team
Master growers should always keep a detailed grow journal to share with the cannabis marketing team. It provides value because your facility will be able to replicate a process of any grow they do, track which strains sell the best and cost the least to grow, particular specialties, and especially if it’s a hit, how to market it.
Also, don’t buy seeds you can’t get more of easily, even for the craft brand. If it’s a hit, you need to keep it around. Perfect a method, and do that method. Craft growing is an artform, while growing weed for scale is a science. Brand craft cannabis to co-exist alongside your main line of products.
It’s ok to have a craft brand return with a product each grow season, in fact, it can build a yearly hype if done correctly. Just look at the Call of Duty release history if you need a good example of this.
Is your product so good that every single customer who has ever tried your product comes back and actually buys out the shelf?
Business is business, regardless if you’re marketing cannabis or cheese. Someone saying “This is the best weed product I’ve ever had, I can’t get enough of it!” Is a completely different thing from them actually not being able to get enough of it and buying out the shelf every time they see it. Besides, If you answered anything except “no” to this, move along and good luck.
What can dispensaries do for marketing cannabis?
There is no way around creating value. Without it, your company will be chewed up and spit out from the market when the floodgates of legalization open up shipping routes. Think about Amazon, Bezos started in a garage and made a website to sell books. The truth is, they were never a book company, that was just the product used to build the largest consumer profile company in the world.
The benefit is, they also let their customers shop on their platform so they don’t rely on third parties for data. Essentially, Amazon is a data company that also happens to provide products direct to consumer. That’s exactly what a dispensary is set up for, you have a “warehouse”, you have a storefront, and you have a ton of data collection capability at your fingertips. Instead of worldwide, it’s within your local region. Are you ready to scale that at a moments notice when national shipping starts up? If you do not use it, someone else will.
Marketing Cannabis is all About Providing Value
Value is what you need to understand to effectively market cannabis, the data is the key component. Every price, picture, and display of your products must be well received, clear, and delivered to the right audience. Every spokesperson, influencer comment and experience someone has with one of your products speaks to them, their friends, and possibly their following.
Learning which product speaks to which personality type can be achieved through data collection and aggregation. With this information your cannabis company can define, refine, and deploy exceptional value easily. You know exactly what they want, what they expect, and how to give it to them. You also know exactly what they want at the price they expect. Alongside passion and care, this is the core behind providing value.
When you know what someone wants or expects, you can exceed their expectations, give them above and beyond value, and in turn, they are very likely to recommend you to their friends and family. Do the same for their friends and family, and the growth process can grow exponentially. Kief Studio can aggregate and implement this data for your cannabis company.
What types of value can you provide to a cannabis customer?
Keep records of who bought what, and how often
Records of who bought what, and how often is built into 90% of seed to sale software. Also, it’s required by METRC. If you collect this information proactively and develop a strategy for newsletters, physical mail, and even events inspired by this data, you will get huge results. Events tend to cost a lot, so this should be limited, since it’s a niche focus within a niche, the cost can easily outweigh the benefit if you have a lot of competition in the area and a smaller community. Just use post-mail, and make sure your list is VERY specific.
Keep records of receipts to make sure if they have a problem you can fix it instantly
Building trust and letting your customers know they can rely on you is incredibly important as competition grows. Manufacturers sometimes have poor shipments, broken vape carts, fast expiration products, or just poor quality. It happens. We can get mad about it or we can be proactive knowing this happens.
Therefore, when a repeat customer for over 3 months buys a product and has a problem, you need to be the face of empathy on behalf of your partner manufacturing company and fix the problem immediately. How you handle these situations is extremely important. Always go above and beyond. As a result, the value extends to the customer on a personal level, which is critical for brand success.
Evaluate the situation realistically, how would you want the company to react if it were you? If the customer is a high ticket customer, it may be worthwhile to give them an apology gift, maybe a free lighter or shirt, or whichever item gives them the most value, and fixes the problem. Use the data to determine the right decision.
This can be used for giving a guarantee of good products and service. As a result, this is a huge relief to a customer, and a major source of value. Therefor, you should work an agreement out with the manufacturer before you sign a deal with them so they can easily right the situation on their end so you aren’t stuck with bad products, and you can provide this extended value to your customers.
I got a few fliers from companies in the region, they went straight in the trash.
They provided no actual value to me, my response was
“Yea, I’m aware you sell weed, I bought it there before, stop killing trees pointlessly to tell me you sell weed.”
Now, if they had included a small keychain, or a pin, or if there was a real connection to me in the message, I would have received value.
“Hey, we know you like (x) product, so we figured we would let you know we have new joints that are (y) price for the product launch, they will be at this price until (z).”
Now, they have provided value, let me know they actually took interest in ME as more than a shopper, they have connected with me as a person, and didn’t waste my time saying they had a bunch of products I’ll never buy.
They know I prefer joints or dry flower, so why send me a new rubber sleeve for a vape pen, or a list of products I’ll be very unlikely to buy? As a result, you should send value to the people who will actually gain value from it, you have the data already.
Think, how many shoppers like me are out there?
Reach out for feedback
This is the easy one. People like to give their opinion if they receive value for it. Just give them more value back than they would normally get for it. A shoutout on social media? A blog post with their review in it? Give them something that actually involves them in the development of the brand. Therefore, they will become naturally tied to it, since they are invested in it, even if it was just a simple “This product was cool, thanks!”
Don’t Hop on the Wrong Trends
Just because a trend is flying on social media does not mean it is relevant to your company or brand. Therefore, you should pick and choose the trends you run with on a brand to brand basis, or on a company wide basis if you truly believe it is part of the culture your company represents. Use your collected data to figure out who is appropriate for each mailing list, each newsletter, and each time of day on social media.
Someone who wakes up at 4:30am to run off to work at a construction site and gets home by 3pm to be with the family has a wildly different life than someone who works retail with a random schedule and has a huge social life focus. The images on social media I’ve seen are proof that not a lot of companies in the cannabis industry are using the data they have access to. Kief Studio bridges this gap for marketing cannabis.
Not everyone snaps pictures for Instagram all day throwing the peace sign while they are at a beach with 20 friends and a vape pen, it’s just not realistic, and it’s also against the TOS of nearly every social media platform. There’s a way to build a brand for it, sure, but it is a niche.
As a result, short term sales are not the goal from social media, brand awareness is. If and when the avenue to transform this marketing channel into something permitted for promoting short term sales, be ready and be proactive, but be patient.
Focused Data for Cannabis Marketing is Key
Focus on who your product is for and send the promo material right to them. You are able to filter your Seed to Sale software to list off everything you’ve actively collected on anyone walking through the dispensary, you have their address from their ID, you know what products they buy, and how often they buy them.
You know a customer that comes in every other Thursday at around 12pm to re-up for the week. You have a good report with them, they like the budtenders, and they like how quick it is to shop at your dispensary. You also know the customer likes to smoke Blue Dream in flower form, and when they buy it, they also get a re-up on papers, filters, and about once a year, a new grinder and rolling tray.
Therefore, you now know 100% that the customer rolls joints, likes to use a grinder, and prefers a filter.
So, maybe when you do specials on blue dream pre-rolls, you might be able to get them into the store even more often?
Alright cool, so what else do we know?
The customer likes Blue Dream, so that means they like:
It’s possible they:
- Have pain
They prefer weed that is a Blueberry strain lineage, and possibly the Haze family as well.
Have you asked them how you can better serve them?
Have you sent them personalized emails based on similar products from the data of the strains they buy?
Have you given them something in the mail?
Maybe the customer deserves a hat for a year of loyalty to your store, and they can head over to pick it up?
Would a combo deal help?
Guess what, the customer is within the 2 months that they generally buy the rolling tray and grinder.
“One week only, buy (a) amount of blue dream
(b) amount of (c) product
and get a grinder and rolling tray for (y).
Bring this flyer and QR code to your budtender!“
– YOUR AWESOME DISPENSARY
There’s the flyer you send to the customer, along with a couple of snap off edges on the post card. The thickness of the postcard is pretty close to a filter, but it’s not a filter, it’s a post card.
Do with that information what you will.
Data: Cost Analysis
Data is the key, along with relevant content, delivered on the right medium. It’s not a difficult concept really, but the implementation of this system is hard to build. It takes a ton of work, and it takes skill in hundreds of areas surrounding design, data aggregation, data analysis, content creation, video editing, audio editing, mathematics, consumer psychology, and coding knowledge.
Let’s break down the cost
- A Marketing Director is around $92K USD annually.
- A Social Media Manager is around $58K US per year
- A Graphic Designer is around $48K/yr
- A Copywriter is around $54K/yr
- An SEO Marketing Strategist is around $58K/yr
- A Video Producer is around $59K/yr
- A Music Producer is around $51K/yr
- A Web Developer that also can aggregate data into a CRM for the marketing department to use is around $120K US per year.
- Total cost of employees needed to build this system: around $540K/yr. This does not include licensing fees, insurance, or any other onboarding cost.
Marketing Cannabis: Cost Effectiveness
This $540K/yr employee cost does not include the computers, the design software, the CRM software, the ability to run ads, or the guarantee that focus won’t end up shifted as situations arise in the company, which, you know they will. You would be better off assigning this task to our Cannabis Master Certified Marketing Agency, Kief Studio, here’s why:
Furthermore, the $540K/yr cost is assuming you find qualified candidates that are willing to work for the average salary rates. Depending on your region, they may need more. It’s effective, but just like any system, if one of the gears stops turning, that’s a wrap, the system breaks. With a cannabis industry turnover rate of 44%, that’s a big risk for your company to take on. It’s likely you will lose one or more of those gears to your internal marketing system, and it’s really hard to find qualified people that can do it at the average rates.
We’re not going anywhere, Kief Studio might be relatively new, but we’ve been doing marketing, design, video, audio, writing, data, social media and solving problems since 2006. It’s what we do.
If you go the hiring route, make sure to hire people that you are certain are in it for the long haul, it might even be wise to encourage employees to put some of their check for equity in the company to increase retention and to be able to pay them better as your company grows.
How much does a data system for Marketing Cannabis like this cost?
If you want a system like this implemented for your cannabis company by industry experts, Kief Studio will take care of it for you. The average cost savings from a plan with us to run our system for your cannabis marketing is $420,000/yr, plus a marketing material and ad budget. Not kidding, the math came out to saving cannabis companies around $420,000/yr for marketing efforts. This frees up your advertising budget, extends the range of services, outreach, and scalability. Give this kind of relief for your investors, gain the flexibility to pay a smaller team a solid wage, we’ve got the marketing, design, video, and outreach covered.
Kief Studio Marketing Cannabis with Data was Meant to Be
It was meant to be, when we did the math to figure out what margins we could have and still remain profitable, drive an impact in the industry, and help really cool cannabis companies succeed with marketing, step one was to free up the clients budget so they can get it all rolling. So by complete random chance, we realized that number was over $420,000/yr. We knew we were in the right place, at the right time, for the right market.
When you’re ready to take the next steps
That’s what we’re here for. You know you need some help with marketing, and we know how to do it the right way. We know how to get all of the components necessary to operate a scalable marketing effort for your cannabis company. Marketing cannabis doesn’t have to be hard, when you have a team of experts working for you, expanding on your ideas, using data driven AI to define areas of opportunity, develop new products, and integrate a system for getting new and repeat customers through the door, you’ve struck gold.
We want to drive impact in the industry by marketing cannabis, and you need the cannabis marketing. It’s a true win win for both of us.
Let’s get started.