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Some Things I’ve Learned in Cannabis Marketing

With cannabis marketing, I like having a very clear goal. It’s challenging. I think your goal should have some time frame and it should be kind of scary, not impossible but realistically impossible. The unknown of life is the most interesting part, for me. If you’re doing things that are super known there’s not really that much growth that’s going to happen in it. That growth generally comes when you’re scared or you’re trying something new. When you determine your goal, you must be like kind of, “Okay, what is changing the dial in this industry,”.


I think people need to spend a little bit of time observing what’s working in this space and then figuring out that diagram for what they want to do, what the market wants and then find that happy medium in the middle.


Everyone wants more customers. I’ve never met any business who’s like, we can’t have more customers… so maybe make a list of the 10 people that you’d love to work within the next six months and then once a week, you spend 10 minutes just emailing them and trying to connect with them or setting up a phone call. By the end of the six months, I promise you, you would work with at least one of them and you’ll get some results out of that.


We created a short list at TCML of 10 brands that we might be interested in doing some sort of co-promotion with in the future. We gave that list to our social media coordinator and she started mentioning them in Tweets and distributing their content and kind of trying to make social media friends with them. It’s kind of like the Customer Journey for your business. You probably want to run ads to something of value before you ask someone to buy. I think these relationships work in a very similar way. A good way to start is email them once a week or Tweet their content. Make sure that they see you doing it. Try to play nice before you ask them to do something for you.


As Stephen Covey said, in one of my favorite books, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you’ve got to do urgent stuff but you’ve also got to think about the important not urgent stuff. That’s where you get a lot of big wins. Some of my biggest growth in business success, is because I spend a lot of time building relationships, setting up dinners, hosting events, etc.


What I’ve tried to do at a conceptually high level is called “Content Multiplication Framework,” basically it’s, instead of taking one thing and then having each channel, you must keep figuring out new things, different products have different marketing needs. With some clients, ads have worked well, content marketing has not worked well and vice versa to name a few. I think you must be aware of what channels are working for your medium and then go deep on that.


The second part of content multiplication is how can you not keep starting over? I made a cannabis marketing video and put it on YouTube and then I put it on Facebook ads, then I put it on my blog and then I put it on Quora and then I put it on LinkedIn and then I eventually, you’re like, “Okay, which channels are actually the most effective and how do I make that systematic each week?” Our team has a video guy and I said, “Hey, I wrote the original idea. Can you help me edit and multiply the ideas that I’m already creating,” instead of always trying to find new things. Take what’s already working and then spread that to a lot more places.


So how do you multiply what’s already working versus always trying to find the next new thing?

It’s so specific to each product and each avatar that you’re speaking to. People ask me questions like, “Does Instagram work for the cannabis industry,” or “Does Pinterest work,” and it’s like, “Of course it works but it depends on your business and your product,” right? It’s not, “Does this platform work?” It’s not a black or white answer. I think that you’ll find that the different distribution networks are going to depend on your market and who you’re speaking to, even if within the one industry.


I once did an “ask me anything” on Reddit about cannabis marketing.  It was fun and I actually got a ton of traffic. We have to give downwards as much as we want to take from upwards, is kind of the mentality that I look at. I want to meet people that are more successful and have done things that I aspire to but I also think to get there, you also have to make sure you’re giving back to people that want to get to where you are today.


It’s what old people say, “You know, in my day, let me tell you about the birds and the bees,” no so what happens though is that as you get more experience, you kind of just start saying, “Well, I did that before and it’ll never work again,” that’s not good. Just because one date didn’t work out, doesn’t mean that you’ll never date again. It’s just that date didn’t work out. I think, as a marketer, you have to stay naïve.


I hear people all the time say, “We tried video ads, they don’t work,” it could be something subtle that you did with that strategy or it could be the wrong timing, it could be anything.


I’ve been apologizing to my team because I tend to take a long time creating a story board for a video, even if it’s a short video or a long copy post or something like that. It’s interesting because it usually comes out and works really, well but I end up taking a long time, sometimes two to three days to write one post. But then, I look back a few months later and I was like, “Wow, that’s a post that I can run for like year straight,” and I was just listening to an amazing book, it’s called Pitch Anything, and it’s about framing and stuff and pitching to start ups and funding and stuff like that.


The point was, he was using the example of Jerry Seinfeld, how he spends about a month prepping for any good comedian for a three-minute segment and how the first three minutes is everything but even for his typical 20-minute segment, spends about two to three months prepping for that one 20-minute segment. We go and we look and we see these guys and we think that they are just so naturally funny, which they are typically, but nobody realizes the amount of prep that’s put into some very, very short pieces of content. It’s amazing. Sometimes that right there, what you just said, is game changing. That’s why sometimes I tell people, “It’s okay if you spend too much time thinking about what you want to say on a message because that’s what’s going to make the biggest impact.”

If you want to do something and make it good, sometimes that extra research that you put into it, it changes the game, it makes that video, post or Instagram that much better.


So, if you were starting from scratch and you wanted to generate new customers for your cannabis business and you wanted to create content to do so because you know that’s a good way to give value first, where would you start? All right well, check out this idea… it’s a stupid idea but those are my favorite 😉 I want you to create packing lists as if you are going to be traveling. Like hey, here’s a few of my preferences, here’s where I’m going, check the weather, figure it out and just tell me what to get and maybe I don’t have to follow it but at least make my life easier. There’s two separate things, which is number one, when you’re starting a business, you want people to have that, “Yes! That sounds great. Okay, here’s the money.” Most people have a business and it’s like oh yeah, that’s kind of cool. So, you’ve got to find things that people want. So, with content, my thought, as I was kind of saying earlier is that not every marketing strategy will work for every business.


If something doesn’t work, I say, “What’s my goal? What’s my time frame? What are my targets each month and then what are the marketing activities per month that I’m willing to test out and what is the expectation of I?” And then every month I review the performance of it and then I cut some and then I increase others.


So, I say, “All right well, content did well, let me do more of that. Ads didn’t do well, cut that. PR did well, partnerships did well, affiliate,” there’s pretty standard ones… I think that’s more important than me saying that content is the only way to grow a business.


For people that are saying, “Well, I have no, nothing. No, nothing. I think content’s it,” fine, sure. Most importantly is that you have to actually put great content that people want to read, which people know but they don’t put in the work for it. Let me make it very clear. If you’re creating content, do two things. You have to put in a minimum of 8 hours of writing it. If you do not put in a cumulative minimum of 8 hours of writing it, it’s not great. I’ve never seen a great article that lasts forever with an hour put into it. There’s a direct correlation of the articles that I’ve taken the longest to write and I’ve had editors and paid people to help me review them and how well they’ve done. It could still be short but I put a lot of hours into it. The second thing, if you’re starting out is that I would probably spend the majority of my time writing guest posts on other people’s platforms because they already have people. It’s kind of like throwing a party and you’re a DJ and you have great music but you’re home alone. You’re home alone, it’s kind of awkward, go DJ at someone else’s party.


You can learn a lot about marketing from rappers. One of my different strategies is that they all feature each other on their music. Why do they do that? One, it makes their music better and two, they each expand the pie for each other.


Drake got big because of Lil Wayne and he has good music but Lil Wayne, Birdman and Nicki Minaj and the thing about Justin Bieber, now he’s been with all these rappers so no one thinks he sucks anymore. 😉

Then they create this little tribes and they’re all cross promoting one another. They each help each other grow and it works out. Symbiotic.


Figure out the thing that you like doing that you’re good at. Blogging does not equal content marketing. Blogging is like one, one thousandth of content marketing. Find something you’re good at. I hear, I should be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing that. It’s like no, find the things that you’re great at. So, I’m great at starting. In terms of marketing, I’m great at finding new opportunities. So, go find your strength, whatever it is and don’t apologize for your weaknesses and focus on your strength and then find other people to compliment that.


I don’t go into medical school, I just go to a doctor. You don’t need to know everything.

I mean marketing is just the articulation of how your product takes someone from an undesirable before state to a desirable after state. Marketing is just the articulation of why your product is good.


I think one of the biggest mistakes that people that are running traffic are making right now is getting over analytical and trying to turn off everything that’s not a winner because yes, one might be a little bit lower performance wise or costing you a little bit more on a per click or maybe a per lead basis but that person might end up spending more money with you. Unless it’s way outside your range you have to understand that there’s so many different personality types and it’s okay.


Everyone gets excited about AB testing but most AB tests, even though it’s got 99% confidence, there’s still 1% confidence that’s not going to work and what happens though is that it’s not longitudinal enough meaning that when you’re testing things, like we’ve done this numerous times, so we tested our email templates and it was like a 20% increase or we changed some of our pricing and it was literally a 10% increase in revenue. Most of our tests are one month long, give or take and what happens though is that you don’t realize that there’s sentiment that’s poor or it’s a crappy customer experience and six months later things are down.


I think just being sensitive and aware that we have to not just jump to conclusions right away.

If people think about their marketing, treat people like you would in the real world. Like yeah, you might be able to be fake nice to somebody for 30 seconds to get them to give you their business card or get them to set an appointment with you. Yeah, you win in the beginning there but you don’t win in the end because he walks away with a crappy feeling. The same thing happens with your leads and your customers and that’s exactly to what you just said and so sometimes that’s hard to measure but if you really think about how can all of your marketing and messaging be making a positive impact on people, whether they take action or not, then you’re going to win in the end because they’re going to come into your funnel, into your world with open arms instead of closed arms and kind of skeptical.


Part of the problem is that when you get some level of success or notoriety or accomplishing of what you want, you kind of stop doing the things that got you there. Literally the number one marketing tactic and traffic tactic, like it’s literally 100% always works, all you have to do is once you’ve run your company for a year or five years, I’ve been running TCML for seven years, all you have to do is say, “All right, well what worked in the beginning,” and you’re like, “Oh, well we used to do this a lot,” and you don’t do it anymore and then you go do that and it works again and you’re like, “Why did I stop doing that?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had those conversations with people.


I think the bigger thing is that it’s boring and I think that’s the part that a lot of us have to overcome in marketing where if the boring stuff wins and if you can outlast your competition and if you can stick with something that’s working longer, you’ll generally win. We all want to kind of find the next new tactic that we can go try, when more than anything most people already have something working, what they don’t do is say, “How can I double what’s working today?”


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