Advice From Two Women Who Are Killing It in the CBD Industry Right Now
Lior Root and Sophia Trunzo offer guidance on how to niche your market and collaborate with competitors.
Paradigm Media is a digital marketing agency that uses a data-driven and ROI-focused approach to develop and execute business growth strategies for CBD companies. They work with over 30 different CBD brands. I spoke with Paradigm Media founders Lior Root and Sophia Trunzo about how they got started, and how they achieved their success working with such a wide range of brands.
What is the Paradigm Media origin story?
Paradigm Media: We both came from the digital marketing industry and started in the Health and Wellness space. Three years ago, we transitioned into CBD when we began working together with a local brand in San Diego running their paid media and affiliate program. We saw huge success with this. Many different CBD brands started reaching out to us personally asking how we could run not only compliant but successful ads on these traditional platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc. From there, we realized there is a massive need for experts like us in this niche, and that’s when Paradigm Media came to life.
Did your company flourish from the start?
Paradigm Media: Honestly, yes, and we've been very fortunate to see our business grow so rapidly. Of course, there have been countless hours of work, anxiety, and sleepless nights, but we channel that into our hustle and hunger to succeed. That might be the reason why we already had our two first clients before we even had our own website. Since onboarding our first clients in 2019, we’ve worked with brands on f their digital marketing needs, including Paid Media, Email Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, and Social Media Management so that we can really follow the customer's journey at every touchpoint.
What other types of challenges did you encounter?
If you’re not familiar, marketing CBD comes with massive challenges. It’s fairly new and extremely competitive. It’s not easy, but take pride in our ability to overcome these obstacles. One of the biggest challenges we experience as advertisers in the CBD industry is that most traditional platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and many more, are not allowing CBD advertisements yet. Policy can change daily, and we have to know how to navigate through that, making sure our clients are always positioned at the top as industry leaders. Another major challenge is consumer education. Part of our strategy is educating consumers, navigating their journey from their first engagement with the brand to the actual sale. For example, many wonder if CBD is legal, will it get them high, or the dosage they should be taking. Our experience, strategic partners, and ability to think out of the box allows us to overcome these major challenges.
What advice do you have for co-founders who are embarking on new territory together?
Identify your business differentiators - Make sure to set your business apart from your competition and offer something unique that your clients can’t get anywhere else. One that’s identified, take it to the moon.
Wear many hats - As founders, especially in startups, you are challenged every day with things that you didn’t see coming, and jumping into different roles in your business gives you a more personal perspective on how those different roles function. It’s necessary to identify the different hats you wear and decide which are more vital to the growth of your business.
Put the business first - Starting a business is a huge commitment and if you’re not fueled by passion at every step of the way, your job becomes that much harder. Entrepreneurs find themselves working at odd times of the day, most of the time more than 50 hours per week, so having the support and understanding of your family and friends that the business at times comes first is crucial.
How did you decide to stick to specifically CBD companies?
It started with us identifying a need in the CBD industry for experts like us. As entrepreneurs, we knew that for Paradigm Media to thrive, we needed to offer a solution to a major problem, and that is exactly what we’re doing. After the pandemic hit, many CBD brands that focused on retail switched to eCommerce. They were looking for experts in this space to help them develop a unique customer acquisition strategy tailored to their brand. As more CBD brands reached out to us, we knew we needed to capitalize on this. We’re determined now more than ever to dominate this industry as the CBD digital marketing agency.
What is it like marketing for multiple competing companies?
Sophia: We run into this question a lot when onboarding new clients. While many of our clients are offering similar products, they’re all very different brands with different KPIs and expectations for their business growth. We’re very selective with the brands we take on to ensure they don’t have the same targeted audience, product line, price point, and overall mission. For instance, one of the brands is millennials focussed, while another is targeting boomers. We have a brand whose mission is to alleviate daily anxieties within the LGBTQ community, while another is on a mission to eliminate the stigma surrounding women who use Cannabis. The CBD industry may seem saturated, but it’s honestly very intimate so we must diversify our clientele.
Do you develop different strategies for all the similar companies you work with?
Lior: Yes, Paradigm Media is very data-driven, so we develop a unique strategy for each client. Our innovative approach starts with a Discovery Phase, geared to find who is their ideal audience, ways to optimize the customer journey, which products to focus on, and most importantly, who is purchasing from which channel. From there, we analyze the data and customize a customer acquisition strategy for each brand. The idea behind our strategy is that it takes between 5 and 9 touchpoints to acquire a customer, so by combining paid media campaigns on social, search, native, and display, combined with email, content, affiliate marketing, and PR, we’re able to do just that.
Anything else you'd want entrepreneurs to know based on your experiences?
We'd say there are five principles we'd put in big lettering on our wall:
You don’t know everything, always be ready to learn.
Be willing to be uncomfortable. Every business goes through growing pains at each new stage, it doesn't mean you're failing, it means you're growing.
Be passionate about what you do and wake up every day ready to hustle, nothing will be given to you.
There will be highs and lows but stay focussed on the end goal and who you serve and WHY.
Lastly, just trust the process. It’s worth the ride.