• Lauren Mundell

5 Marketing Mistakes Cannabis Brands Are Making

The cannabis industry is so caught up in complaining that we can't play in the mainstream sandbox that we've failed to be innovative with our marketing.

I see cannabis companies doing tried and true marketing tactics (and spending big bucks), while completely missing out on building actual relationships with the consumer in ways that are available to marketers today that are being overlooked by the industry. Most importantly; customer results. It's a huge disconnect.

I find that most brands in the cannabis industry have a one-way relationship with their consumers and patients. This is old school/mainstream marketing and we can do better

It's time to do some innovative marketing. Here are some mistakes I see brands making some things I'd do instead.

1) Conferences: Conferences are fun, and if you make actual sales at a conference that outweigh the cost, it's valuable. However, spending $10K plus each and going to multiple conferences to talk to the same people about the same problems is not solving them. The customer or patient is not at the conference and no one is talking about her needs. We are all just talking about how to make more money.

What I'd Do Instead: Start a live show and invite the guests you'd like to meet at a conference.

Then take that live show and spend your money turning it into at least 3 blog posts, 5 YouTube videos, and 20 pieces of Instagram content per month. Tag your guests ahead of the show and in the post-show content and invite other people to participate in the topic.

2) Social Media Agencies: If you want to build a true community, you take your social media in-house and hire someone who is obsessed with the brand to run it. Social media is not a 9-5 job, it's always on. Your community starts with people who are dying to be a part of it who become your ambassadors or even evangelists (people who rep for you without you even asking them to.)

What I'd do Instead: Hire a content creator who is passionate about your brand and fits your target consumer's lifestyle.

I define a content creator as someone who puts themselves and/or their art out on social media. Content creators love making content and they love finding the newest trends and learning new tricks to help content connect with your customer.

Customers are not numbers and when brands don't engage with their consumers. but just push them phony text messages and DMs, customers get annoyed, unsubscribe and leave the brand. Your job as a marketer is to bring them into the brand, every day. Hiring a content creator to make your brand content more human and authentic will help you attract, and keep your community.

3) Talking with (not at) Customers: Why did you buy the last thing you bought that wasn't a necessity? Likely because someone you trust told you about it. That person could be someone close to you, or someone you have perceived trust with because you relate to them. So therefore, the best way to generate sales is through word of mouth. How do you generate word of mouth? By delighting your customers. You can't do that if you're not talking to them.

What I'd do Instead: Build community with multi-way conversations.

Invite, invite, invite. The biggest mistake I see brands making is following a "strategy" written by an agency that is solely focused on growing reach and awareness via marketing science without the art of relationship building.

  • Use your DMs as a place to engage with your customers

  • Invite them to an exclusive community where they can receive brand perks and get opportunities to be a part of the brand

  • Follow all of the people who tag you in their content and support their content and include them in yours.

  • Send your best social media posting customers random gifts in the mail -- they will always post about it and love you more!

4) Content Creation: Your company should be putting out about 50 pieces of content a day across 3-7 platforms including their own website and a customer-facing community page. I understand the frustration of creating content and no one seeing it. But, social media growth is a long game for businesses and you have to play it. So, set some annual goals and don't require that every action you take on social media has "proven" ROI. You have to play and be very nimble to find the messages and content that resonates with your customer.

What I'd do Instead: Get started!

  1. LinkedIn

  2. Instagram

  3. YouTube

  4. WeedTube

  5. Hi-Curious

  6. Tik Tok

  7. Twitter

5) Product vs Brand Marketing: I talked about this earlier in the month. Products are not brands. Brands stand for something and can stand the test of time. Products come and go. Recently, when I posted about this, a business owner came into the comments talking about how his company "builds brands." I went to his website. His company makes white label products. Until the life-blood of a brand is infused onto those labels, they are not brands. If you're in cannabis and your site is about living soil but your growers know that's a lie, you're not a brand. If you say you're all about mental health and you treat your employees like crap, you're not a brand.

What I'd do Instead: Walk the Talk

Brand-building is expensive, but a good brand is a promise kept. Think about that feeling when you put on that new pair of Nikes (or another brands you love), you feel like a part of something bigger. Nike infuses their brand values from the top down, and brands that don't get called out for their inauthenticity. If you stopped making your product tomorrow, no one would notice. But, if you had a brand, you could create hundreds of products to delight your community.

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