Two Brands Are Better Than One: How To Collaboratively Grow Your Cannabis Business In Just 7 Steps

Piggyback marketing is effective and low-cost, and here's how to do it with your cannabis company.
Two Brands Are Better Than One: How To Collaboratively Grow Your Cannabis Business In Just 7 Steps
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As an entrepreneur in the cannabis space, there are numerous approaches you can try to build awareness of your brand. However, few tactics make as big of a splash -- for as low of a cost -- as piggyback marketing.

Great! Now, what exactly is piggyback marketing? 

Piggyback marketing refers to when two or more brands collaborate on a project (e.g. a promotion, event, product, etc.) to leverage the combined power of each other’s audiences. This type of creative approach is a hallmark of the industry because traditional marketing avenues like digital advertising and print advertising in mainstream publications are often closed to cannabis brands.  

You might be thinking that piggyback marketing resembles influencer marketing. The truth is, it does! The major difference is that rather than paying someone with a large and psychographically appropriate platform to advocate for your brand, with piggyback marketing you instead rely on shared work and vision with a partner brand or organization. This commonality of audience and interest often leads to a more creative, authentic, and community-driven experience, all of which are critical to solidifying trust and growing your cannabis-related business.

RELATED: 10 Women Leaders of the Cannabis Industry Share Lessons on How to Succeed In the Industry

The 7 Step ‘Piggyback’ Plan

Designing your own piggyback marketing plan isn’t overly complex, but like any other aspect of your business, results often correlate to your level of thought and dedication. A diligent and intelligent application of this plan should place your business ahead of the game: 

Step #1: Devise An Idea

This is your bread and butter. You need to conceptualize an interesting idea, one where the finished product is likely to appeal to your own customers, as well as to those of at least one brand in a similar niche. The best way to ensure that your idea has legs is to place a heavy emphasis on value to the customer. Would they find this useful or cool? If your answer is yes, you’re off to a great start. A perfect example of an idea that’s both useful and cool comes from the collaboration between Bloom Farms CBD and Uncrate. The Bloom Farms x Uncrate Highlighter Plus afforded Bloom Farms access to a company that operates in the world of high end men’s gear. Their collaboration was a complete success.

Step #2: Ensure That Your Project Is Easy To Understand

When it comes to collaborative efforts, a complex project is not necessarily better than a simple project. In fact, since a collaboration is meant to expand your existing base of customers, a complicated project, or one that limits the number of people who understand your project, is an extremely bad idea. If customers cannot grasp the nature of your project, they won’t buy and they won’t evangelize. Keep it simple and reap the rewards. 

Step #3: Understand The Fundamentals Of A Good Partnership

Once you’ve developed an idea that is simple to understand and transmits value to your customers, then you’re ready to move onto the next phase of the process. The business with which you wish to partner should not directly compete with your products or services. You’ll also want to make sure that their customer demographics are compatible with those of your business. This is a critical point in the cannabis space since many brands lean only one demographic and that sometimes doesn’t translate to others. For example, a brand with a more edgy, youthful aesthetic might find a partner with a music event in a neighboring community, but would probably fall on deaf ears (no pun intended) if they partnered with a more clinical and ‘corporate’ event. Both communities would likely not identify with the correlation and could be turned off. A better approach would resemble that of Coalition Brewing, East Fork Cultivars and True Terpenes, who partnered on a CBD-infused IPA. The overlap between craft beer and craft cannabis consumers ensured a partnership that transmitted a valuable product to both communities.

Step #4: Consider Appropriate Businesses For Partnerships

Just because a business is in a complementary niche, doesn’t directly compete with your products, and draws from similar demographics, doesn’t mean success is assured. When choosing the right partnership for your business, you must be certain that your collaborator is as invested in the idea as you are. Another important factor to consider is whether you can compound each other’s strengths and minimize or eliminate any weaknesses. You’ll also want to ask yourself if your audience would view your potential partner’s products or services as a natural fit. Think about things that your audience would pair on their own. For example, if you are a hemp flower company, partnering with an extraction appliance or smoking accessory would be an excellent choice. 

Alternatively, instead of brainstorming an idea and finding the right partner to birth your vision, you may want to contribute your work to a wider publication. I’ve found this works incredibly well. Goldleaf acted as a consultant for Penguin Publishing on Lizzie Post’s Higher Etiquette book, fleshing out certain concepts, contributing infographics, and doing a joint giveaway. This led to us being able to reach a similar, yet very different audience and receive a large number of new email signups. A similar approach was taken by Stonedware, a company founded by Oregon-based artist Ariel Zimman. Stonedware contributed custom handmade ceramic pipes to Ladies of Paradise, a team of branding experts known for their celebrated photoshoots at Portland’s hottest cannabis events.

Once you have an idea of the type of partnership you want and a few complementary brands that you’re considering, then all that’s left to do is pitch. If your idea is sound, your business is respected, and your reputation is one forged on integrity, then there’s a good likelihood that you can have your pick of partners within the cannabis space.

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Step #5: Execute The Idea

No matter how the rest of the project shakes out, if the final deliverable isn’t dialed in, no one will be excited about it. This means that you and your partner need to put adequate time into the development and the polish of the project. Your photos and copy need to be on point and the organization of the process needs to flow seamlessly. No matter what happens, if you can be proud of the work, then it is sure to help out both brands in the long run -- even if the launch isn’t as huge as you may have hoped.

Step #6: Track Your Progress

Before launching your project, identify at least one metric to judge the effectiveness of some of your key objectives for your business. You may want more signups for your mailing list because of the opportunity to consistently market to people within your niche. Perhaps you’d like more followers on your social channels to demonstrate that your brand is respected in the marketplace. Maybe you’d like to receive media coverage to start a transition out of the grassroots and into the emerging cannabis establishment. And, of course, we all want more traffic and sales.

Step #7: Adjust If Necessary

Hopefully, your project will be widely acclaimed by thought leaders and customers alike, and help your business soar to new heights. If, however, results fail to meet expectations, analyze what may have gone wrong and tweak your approach the next time you partner with another business.

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Conclusion

When piggyback marketing is done right, not only can you have your brand in front of audiences who are already proven to be interested in your products or services, but partnering with a brand that your audience already respects will serve as a key marker of authenticity for your own business.

Best of all, piggyback marketing is an extremely cost-effective strategy. The shared content or products that you and your partner business create have a financial value in their own right, one that can be recouped rather efficiently in many circumstances.

Ready to improve your credibility with your existing audience and gain exposure to new audiences? Then put your own piggyback marketing plan in place.

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