7 Tips for Making the Switch From Just Marketing to Cannabis Marketer
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The legal cannabis industry is worth billions, and your marketing skills are in demand -- even if you have little experience with the plant itself.
Top-shelf cannabis companies are seeking experienced, and most importantly, well-rounded marketers to handle their branding and business efforts. The following are some pro tips to help you build a foundation and compete in this new arena.
1. Join the conversation
You won’t always find the “next big thing” by perusing the mainstream cannabis news sites. Being a well-rounded marketer means getting your information directly from the source -- industry experts.
The cannabis industry offers plenty of ways to join the conversation from the comfort and convenience of your laptop or phone. You can easily find Facebook Groups dedicated to discussions of consumption trends, entrepreneurship or state and local policies. In addition, some great email newsletters, like WeedWeek, are delivered by experts weekly or even daily.
2. Brush up on policy.
Local, state and federal laws all have an impact on the cannabis industry. That means it’s time for marketers interested in this space to gain a deeper understanding of government and how it relates to each individual business.
Cannabis policies often include restrictions on advertising, packaging and labeling, all of which can directly impact your line of business. All the more reason to do the policy homework before you begin serving cannabis-related clients.
3. Keep an open mind.
When working to keep ahead of the curve in the fast-moving cannabis industry, it certainly doesn’t hurt to actually try the product. However, even if you abstain, your success depends on being receptive to and understanding of cannabis consumers, their experiences and their preferences.
Open your mind to new ideas about cannabis, and you’ll be sure to stay one step ahead of new product launches, delivery methods and other trends. This awareness will help to educate and guide your marketing tactics.
4. Network at events
Time to break out your classiest and most comfortable shoes and print new business cards. Networking at local cannabis groups, parties and immersive trade shows is practically a requirement to stay current on new developments in the space. Traveling for these shows and conferences will open you up to new cannabis markets, and each one has something different and interesting to offer.
The top business conferences of the year are put on either by Marijuana Business Daily or The National Cannabis Industry Association, a lobbying group with state-level affiliates. Consumer-facing shows like The Emerald Cup and High Times Cannabis Cups are more state-based. For local events, industry hopefuls can peruse listings on the EventHi online events marketplace.
5. Know your audience
Truly understanding the cannabis consumer and their needs is paramount to success as a marketer in this industry. The stereotypes are a thing of the past. While millennials make up a huge cross-section of the audience, dispensary customers are increasingly wealthy, educated and middle-aged.
To create effective campaigns, study statistics and be interested in discovering new archetypes. Cannabis consumer research is still growing and is conducted by business intelligence companies such as Headset, who regularly post blogs, reports and helpful infographics.
6. Learn to spot trends.
Over the course of your research into the people, products and policies that make up the cannabis universe, you are likely to pick up on some larger trends and issues. Currently, a few big ones are vape pens, infused beverages, hemp-based CBD products and more broadly, an uptick in cannabis consumption by senior citizens.
These trends emerge often unnoticed by the mainstream media - until they blow up. By learning to identify trends early, you will tell better and more relevant stories for your clients.
7. Be an advocate.
If you have already decided that you want to do marketing work in this industry, then you’ve likely come to terms with “coming out of the cannabis closet.” Being a personal advocate for the cannabis movement will naturally attract business, as many cannabis companies prefer to do business with people who truly understand and represent the cause.
Word of mouth, including social media, is still a major driver of new cannabis consumers. One of my favorite places to read and participate in conversations about the industry is the Women Entrepreneurs in Cannabis Facebook Group, which has more than 4,000 members.
Tap into the community, add value to the overall conversation and you are sure to succeed in marketing to them.