As Cannabis keeps growing and expanding across the America’s it’s more than evident that this is the next major market… and possibly one of the last times we will see such a revolution take place. Many view the growth as necessary and also commonly refer back to the end of Prohibition in the 1930s. With such fast paced growth it’s not surprising that we are seeing some things fall through the cracks.
As a marketing and communications professional I am seeing three major mistakes that the majority of Cannabis businesses are committing.
THEY FORGOT THAT THE WHO > THE WHAT
Cannabis this, cannabis that, canna-(insert fun play of words here), hemp (insert fun play of words here). Business after business is building their organization based around “cannabis.” I understand the pull in doing this, in riding the wave of being the first players in the space, of defining who you are “clearly”, but in the long run this is not going to get you remembered. If your entire entity is based around cannabis inc. no one knows who you are and when the consumer doesn’t know who you are they can’t attach themselves in any emotional way to your brand. You become noise. Cannabis will ultimately be a much larger sector than just the flower, or just the medicinal. It will be a part of a vast variety of industries including, medical, recreational, wellness and consumer just to name a few. You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t just slap cannabis in your business name and assets and hope to build a relationship with a consumer. Build your assets as more than a marijuana leaf, be more thoughtful about the relationship you are hoping to build with the consumer in the marketplace. This will set you up for the long haul, allow you to scale fast (in my opinion) and build a more loyal consumer base. You’ve got to start showing The Who behind the product. This very much bleeds into my next point…
WHERE’S THE STORY?
The day and age of marketing and branding being solely owned by a company and their teams/ambassadors is long gone. I’ve heard the term marketing revolution over and over in the last year or so. Consumers are different now, we are engaged in a way like never before with each other – data shows we value what our counterparts say about a brand or an experience way over anything else. It’s word of mouth on steroids! We’re connected in ways like never before. We hear about a brand/product from our friends, family, other consumers online and even their employees. We’re armed more than ever with information. Loyalty is also viewed as something of the past. We as consumers aren’t as loyal as we once were and we are drastically shifting how we spend our money. Our attention to the people behind a brand is growing more than ever. More and more consumers are shifting to local markets, the artisan down the street and the story of that guy who left his corporate job to start a business and now makes soap. We want to buy his soap! Why? Not because it’s better, but because we bonded with the story of the guy who made it. The cannabis brands that are doing this (and there are very few of them) are the ones I see growing and building strong relationships with their consumers. They stand for something, they’ve let you in on their why and they want you to be a part of something. Defining who you are as a brand is no longer a luxury – it’s a must. Consumers want to know why you make the THC Oil you make, or what brought you into the ready to drink CBD market. Once you’ve built your brand outside of a leaf (please stop slapping the marijuana leaf on all the logos and assets!) telling your story is vital. Be authentic…and watch the magic happen. This may sound like a lot of work initially, but really it’s less work. Being authentic in your story and who you are requires less fluff and make believe – this allows you to easily execute on who you are… because you don’t have to overthink it. Simplicity still reigns in most scenarios.
HEY REMEMBER YOUR TEAM? EMPLOYER BRANDING NEEDED STAT!
Finally, one of my favorite things to talk about, employer branding! You have to start with the people on your team — it’s vital in order to scale any business and to compete in the marketplace. Attracting, growing and nurturing the people who make up your team should be front and center to a companies overall mission. Failing to take the time to do so is a HUGE mistake. It’s a huge mistake because it’s going to cost you dollars, among other costs. Building a culture and a team that is high performing requires being intentional. Intentional in how you recruit your team members, intentional in how their candidate experience is when they are engaged with your organization (whether they join or not) and intentional in how you develop them once they are a part of it. I am a firm believer that attributes are still the most vital and non-negotiable piece in building an exceptional team. You fail here and it ripples into every aspect of an organization. It may sound drastic but every goal, milestone and growth point is going to be diminished and harmed if you don’t have the right people in the building. The people are the foundation, the tools and the ones that will take you from where you are to where you want to be, failing to see that will hurt you.
Want to talk branding or creative in cannabis with us? Shoot us an email, We are always up for a good conversation or brainstorm!