“There's no secret sauce. I looked at the cannabis market, I saw the work ethic of the people involved… The hardest worker in every company is the person who owns the company. Once you get to a certain size, especially in the Oklahoma market, the ability to scale is really as fast and easy.” - Walter Boyd
Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Walter Boyd of RedBird Bioscience. He reminds us of the fundamentals of running a business built for success - understanding your market and staying consistent. He shares the cannabis landscape in Oklahoma and how the value of deeply understanding the customer can significantly shape your presence in the industry.
[00:01 – 05:19] The Value of Observing Surrounding Markets in the Industry
[05:20 – 14:22] Understanding the Customer Base in the Oklahoma Landscape
[14:23 – 26:52] Introducing Cannabis Professionally in the Saturated Market
[26:53 – 36:35] Understanding the Customer for Improved Marketing and Sales Strategies
[36:36 – 56:55] Marketing the Brand - Thinking of Cannabis as a Commodity
[56:56 – 58:55] Food for Thought: Do you think it's easier to establish a brand in a state that is more or less densely populated?
Walter Boyd is the Director of Sales at RedBird Bioscience and oversees sales and distribution, customer service, new product design, and raw material partnerships. Boyd helped launch and direct the development of RedBird’s vape and concentrate line, White Label, and the launch of RedBird’s partnership with Belushi’s Farm Blues Brother’s products. Additionally, Boyd directs RedBird’s sales team, where he built The RedBird Sales Process and the RedBird Standard Customer Service Program as his team expanded shelf presence in Oklahoma’s dispensaries with a growth rate of 312%.
Connect with Walter
Visit http://redbirdmmj.com/ and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @redbirdrise
Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi
“The thing about the Oklahoma market that people don't realize is you've got patients who are low income to no income to fixed income, that only have a certain amount of dollars that they're willing to spend… And so you've got to figure out how to price your product.” - Walter Boyd
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Walter Boyd 0:00
It's very competitive. And I think you know what I tell my team all the time. It's fundamentals. It's just like sports. It's comes down to ball security, blocking, tackling, and that's it. Well, in sales, it's the same thing. It's going and building relationships and knocking on doors and having conversations and learning about people's businesses. What you will find out is that there's there's about four different types of buyer personas in a market. You've got people who are in the metro, you got small Metro, big metro, you got people who are in the rural area, big, rural, small, rural, that's really it. And they all categorize in the same kind of thought process which is I need this price per pound I need you know, or price per gram, I need these products on a weekly basis. This is what my average ticket per customer is. This is how many times those customers come to my store per week.
You're listening to to be blunt, be podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi. Hello, and
Shayda Torabi 1:23
welcome back to a new episode of The Tubi Blum podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, Canvas business owner and brand marketer. So full transparency. I record these intros a few days prior to air and this past weekend, I will have been in New Mexico speaking at Lucky Leaf and getting a taste of the New Mexican market. So certainly more to come on what I learned and observed during my time there. But I just want to keep it real with you guys. I am currently going to be on a flight back to Texas. By the time this episode goes live. And as they say the show must go on. I'm certainly hitting the ground running especially as we get into March, which is tomorrow. And we'll be jumping straight into South by Southwest and a few weeks here in Austin. So if you'll be in town, let's please connect and I know there's going to be cannabis programming going on. So I look forward to seeing also what is in store for South by Southwest this year. Now today's guest and discussion takes us back to the wide open medical marijuana state that is Oklahoma. I've been having a lot of discussions with Oklahomans about their cannabis industry. I've had the chance to attend and even speak at some of their cannabis events last year. And I'm really just continuing to try to understand their market as much as possible since it directly borders Texas. Even if you live nowhere near Oklahoma, I still think there's a lot we can learn from the state and their approach to licensing, regulation and just plain opportunity. If you've been tuning into the podcast, then you know my perspective is shaped by learning from those around us. But if you're new here, well first thank you for being here. But I will also add to emphasize the purpose of this podcast is to help you navigate the professional side of the cannabis industry better. And we can do that by paying attention to what is going on in other markets. I think this market is so new and emerging just the cannabis industry in general. And as anyone who has worked in the industry in any capacity would agree it is ever changing, especially as we work towards federal legalization, which would open up interstate commerce. I believe it's really critical to understand what is happening not only in our direct back yard or community, but nationally and even internationally as it will shape the future of the cannabis industry. On the show. This week, I'm joined by Walter Boyd, the director of sales at Redbird bioscience where he oversees sales and distribution, customer service, new product design and raw material partnerships. Walter helped launch and directed the development of Redbirds vape and concentrate line called white label and yes, the brand itself is called white label and the launch of Redbirds partnership with the Baluchis farm Blues Brothers products. Additionally, Walter directs Redbirds sales team where he built the red bird sales process and the red bird standard customer service program as his team expanded shelf presence in Oklahoma's dispensaries with a growth rate of 312%. As you'll hear when we get into the discussion with Walter the Oklahoma market is unique due to the state's cultural history and population distribution. There are over 9000 licenses currently active in the state. So you can imagine lots of noise and choice when it comes down to customers, choosing your brand or product, not to mention establishing distribution and getting your products on dispensary shelves, building relationships with dispensaries and bud tenders and Walter shares his background of how he got started in the into history, how that influenced him to find the success that he's had helping build the Redbird bioscience brand and tactics he's employed to help him and his team get there that he's about to share with us on the episode today. So with that said, let's get straight to the episode. Please join me by lighting one up and let's welcome Walter to the show.
Unknown Speaker 5:20
I'm Walter Boyd. I'm the director of sales and distribution for red bear bioscience here in Oklahoma. We are a on the growth side on the plant side that 65,000 square foot facility indoor facility we have a 40,000 square foot greenhouse facility we have 15 acres of outdoor cultivation. We've got 6000 square foot of a series seven processing lab we can produce anything BHO ethanol products, distillate turf extraction, solventless rosin products, anything that you need process wise we can do that as well. And then we have two distribution warehouses one in Tulsa, one in Oklahoma City, approximately 20 Vans, 11 drivers, and we service about 900 stores out of the 2300 stores. Every month, my journey into the cannabis Oklahoma cannabis market. It's kind of a two prong bill, I've got my personal life that has led me to be one of the most legitimate sellers of legal products in the state. Nobody has outsold me. And it's been a very interesting journey to hear my family. On my dad's side, I have a bunch of people who have been incarcerated and serve time for the plant. And I was a dare kid I grew up right smack dab in the 90s where marijuana was, that's what they called it marijuana was a gateway drug to crack and I was like, I just know I don't want to smoke crack. So
Unknown Speaker 6:48
I better stay away from that. And so I grew up a relatively good kid. My mom was a very strict disciplinarian. My dad had been to prison six times for the planet and dealing in possession and all those types of things. And so I kind of steered away from it, I decided that I wanted to be on a different path and academics and you know, athletics and things like that. so fortunate to go play college football, got my school paid for it was a really great University, University of Tulsa private school, one of the smallest division one schools in the country, got my education paid for through the athletic ability. And then I leveraged that into going to work for my tribe as a marketing director for our casino. And then I did a rebrand there kind of made my name known as a young executive just going in, and I'm not sure if you live in Texas, but here in Oklahoma, there's tribal influence everywhere. And so dealing with tribes and being able to pitch tribes and get things done inside the tribe is truly an act of Congress, you've got to deal with a lot of elder personalities, you got to deal with a lot of tribal councils and committees and things like that. And so it was very unique that a young person could come in and change how we viewed our investments, what we did with our money, all of those things where I was able to impact and so at that point, I knew I had a certain set of skills, I guess, to be able to talk to people and sell things. And so I flipped and I went over into the sales side of it. Selling into tribal casinos. We I was the Sales Director for a company that specializes in a back in house data extraction. So you go in you play with the players card, all that data 100,000 people in some cases and casinos that data needs to be compiled in a very smarter way to be able to execute on and so we built a software that did that for the tribes. And then we were also ad agency we sold we built media packages and production, animation creation and digital assets. We did all of those things for tribal casinos. And then the pandemic hit and funny enough, march 13. I was supposed to be in Seattle making a West Coast trip with the tribes down from Seattle all the way to San Diego. And Rudy go there tested positive for COVID at the Oklahoma City Thunder game, they shut that down and the next thing you know the NBA shut down and then travel shut down. And so I found myself not being able to go and meet people and do what I do. And meanwhile I was talking to Red Bird, they kind of headhunted me they needed a name started growing their production, they were at about 250 pounds a month. And predominantly on the east side of Oklahoma. They needed an Oklahoma City territory salesperson, I didn't want to get into the cannabis game. And this is gonna sound really bad, but I didn't want to show anybody stuff out of their backyard. I wanted it to be legitimate. I wanted it to be well funded. I wanted it to be something that I could see how it could grow and the brand could grow. And once I got introduced to Red Bird, it was the old Tyson chicken plant that had a processing plant that had been turned into a grow 17 rooms 50 lights and room. That was something that when you walked up on it and you entered it, you knew that there was a tension and purpose behind it. And so they offered it to me they said we don't have any customers in Oklahoma City, and we plan to ramp up to 1000 On pounds a month, so there's a lot of opportunity. And so the infrastructure was there, the funding was there, I took the leap. I think the first day out on the road, I sold 26 pounds. And so I was like, Man, I could probably do this, you know, I was I was a patient already. So I'd already been going to the stores. And I was good at building rapport with like, you know, the b2b sale was very easy for me. So like, building rapport with a dispensary owner and talking to them about their business and learning about their business and asking questions about patients and products and things like that, like that was just the natural conversation I would have with anybody. And so I find myself talking to store managers and owners about how to, you know, increase their business. And so the moment I got in the business, it was I'd already built the network up, I built them visit all kinds of stores and talk to people. And so it made it very easy for me. And then once the production ramped up, we went from 400 pounds to 600 pounds, 750 pounds, 1000 pounds, and nobody knew that we could create it and then could we create quality product? That was the first thing could we grow it? Could we establish a market for it in this competitive market, and we tried out we did, we could, you know, Colin Thurman over there, our head grower, shout out to Colin, he is he's 26 years old, killing it throwing some fantastic products, you want me to better person, and he could he was growing the piss out of it. And so it made it easy for me to walk into stores and have a quality product that the stores can make money on. And we really changed my sales philosophy. Once I got put into leadership, my sales philosophy was around educating on price per gram. And then being able to sell into the stores at a rate in which we would never miss the customer. See, the the thing about the Oklahoma market that people don't realize is you've got patients who are low income to no income to fixed income, that only have a certain amount of dollars that they're willing to spin. And the only reason why I know that is because of my casino experiences. Because when you're talking about a vise, which cannabis is essentially gambling is liquor is you have a core base customer that's coming to your establishment no matter what it is with a finite amount of money. That's like, once that's gone, that's it, that's all they have. And so if you don't have that branding perspective and understanding of who your core customer is on an everyday basis, as an everyday customer, they're worth about 40 bucks. And so you've got to figure out how to price your product, whatever that is, that fits inside that basket, is it wise to make one product that fits that hole 40 bucks, or is it wise to make three products that fit inside $40 To make them fill your basket with that brand. And that's what that's what I got my company to do is every product that we came out our flower was priced at a point where anytime you went in, you could get an eighth of our flower for you know, under $40. And I saw it because we're great value shoppers, we you know, Walmart is where everybody bars and groceries like that's just kind of how we are. So we did that in the beginning. And then we grew it. And then the next thing you know, I was running five vans to Oklahoma City. And then you know, we had to buy tactical transportation to be able to holistically and full circle this this logistics chain because the plant isn't still well, which is three hours from Oklahoma City. So we were running a van every day, six hours from the plant to Oklahoma City to make deliveries and so we bought tactical in February 2020. And then it really opened this up, we were able to do next day deliveries in the state. But we kind of streamline our ordering channels and mechanisms so we could service the customers. I mean, we went from writing paper POS to having a digital website presence that we own that wasn't Leafly that wasn't Weedmaps it wasn't any of that it was ours, and we could place orders and things through that. So yeah, it's been a very unique and interesting ride. It's very complicated. One thing you gotta have is work ethic and perseverance. I mean, it's hard every day. And it's enjoyable, because you know, at the end of the day, the patients benefit the most when you think about them. But as far as the business of it, you know, you've got to be cut from a different cloth for sure. For sure,
Shayda Torabi 14:09
you have such a remarkable journey to how you got here. And I really appreciated you sharing that with us because one, I think it's important for my listeners to understand all the different paths that people take to getting in the cannabis industry. And to to obviously highlight a little bit of the unique challenges that everybody kind of faces depending on what geography they represent or what aspect of the business and and also wanted to highlight, you know, your background, especially with your father kind of going through the unfortunate, you know, duality of kind of cannabis being illegal and illegal and kind of trying to rectify kind of that whole situation as well as your background was sports. I think there's also that kind of you know, aspect of the conversation. We're seeing cannabis now obviously go more mainstream, but having more of that introduction into the professionality of how can be we know why is cannabis not okay for professional athletes? But why are opioids okay for professional athletes?
Unknown Speaker 15:06
Sure, sure. That's kind of I mean, you're exactly right. There's a bunch of different things when I, the day to day gets very difficult just from leading a company, but the purpose behind it, I mean, you're 100%, right, you know, my wife's an attorney from land passes Texas, not far from Austin. And so she's got a passion for what we do. And because of the nature of what's happened in my family, we have a nonprofit called hoax, Ben, that we take percentages from brands that I've got good relationships with, and we're going to fund expungement, they have a board and they'll interview with us, I'm on the board, you know, we got some banker, friends, some people who have, you know, I've helped D stigmatize this thing that want to be involved. And so I'm trying to use my leverage as best I can to impact that side. And then the athletic side may have you're right, I'm a patient, because my body hurts every day. You know, for 20 years I been I was in the trenches, I, you know, I lined up my head was in the dirt. And I had to literally run my face into somebody else, every play. And with that I was I, like I said, I was able to be a state champion in high school, which once in a lifetime experience, and then I was able to go and play college football, which not a lot of people and I was a champion at that level, too. So I don't regret it at all, but my bodies are rare. And so cannabis is my outlet that helps me curb my attitude. I mean, if you look back at it, and you think about the history of our country, and when the opioid pandemic happened, it was simply because people have pain, they go to work, they work in coal mines, or they work in the lumber yard, or they weren't, you know, these hard, hard jobs that are physically intense, or they play football or some sort of sport, and their body hurts, which does nothing for your attitude, especially if you got four kids and your two year old is jumping on the table and on the couch and throwing things at the TV, like you need to be in your best frame of mind, to be able to be the best person you can't be. And opioids, you know, I've never taken a pill, it's just not been my thing. But I love plants. And and I'm telling you, once you get your dose, right, and once you figure out how to use it properly, you can really set yourself up for an increased experience every day in your life. And it's simple, it's simple mindset change, you don't have those elements. And that's where I That's my lane that I stay in. So you're right, the incarceration aspect, and that piece of my story, and then the athletic piece, you know, I think there's and then the tribal,
Shayda Torabi 17:36
I was gonna mention that too. I think that's so integral to Oklahoma's market that I can't even imagine having that experience. Again, all these things kind of happening in your life to then bring you into this opportunity of like cannabis now being legal from a medical perspective, but it is such a broadly adopted program, it just, it makes sense how you've been able to find success through red bird and Red Bull has been able to find success through you to be able to bring your product to market and, and to kind of transition a little bit you were you kind of touched on it. And I wanted to, and you can bring in maybe the tribal aspect as well, because I'm sure it plays a role into it. But you were mentioning a little bit in your intro as well as prior to recording about just the competitive nature of the Oklahoma market, as well as highlighting who the customer is. I mean, you mentioned you know, the great value and kind of the traditional understanding of who that person is and what their budget or financial situation is. Where Redbird is headquartered in Stillwell. Oklahoma is very remote. I had to look up it on a map because I'm not super familiar with Oklahoma. It's like almost Arkansas. Yeah. So knowing that Oklahoma is a large state, but still very rural in most parts. And you mentioned the acquisition of tactical being able to have distribution points across the state. If you can just maybe paint a picture of kind of what it's been like for you guys to kind of take the challenge, which you found success and it will take the challenge of okay, this market is really saturated, really competitive. I mean, prior to recording you were giving me some stats at 400 Gross 1500 processors 2300 dispensaries.
Unknown Speaker 19:14
Yeah, no, it's very competitive. And I think what I tell my team all the time, it's fundamentals. It's just like sports. It's comes down to ball security, blocking, tackling, and that's it well, in sales, it's the same thing. It's going and building relationships and knocking on doors and having conversations and learning about people's businesses. What you'll find out is that there's about four different types of buyer personas in a market. You've got people who are in the metro, you got small Metro, big metro, you got people who are in the rural area, big, rural, small, rural, that's really it. And they all categorize in the same kind of thought process which is I need this price per pound. I need you know, or price per gram. I need these products on a weekly basis. This is what my average ticket per customer is. This is how many times those customers come to my store per week. And so when you think about it in terms of that, then we've got to go, Okay, I've got to go in Section off this territory. And there's 250 accounts in this territory. And I need to spend six weeks in this territory, to be able to identify all the winners and losers and who's doing good stuff and who's doing bad stuff. And it's really mapping it out on a grassroots kind of old school sales mentality that doesn't necessarily jive with everybody who's in the cannabis industry who's trying to work in the cannabis industry. So bringing the professionalism to it and bringing the aspect of accountability in your sales staff just going and knocking on the door and holding them accountable and talking about new accounts. And what's literally over the course of just two years, you know, you've talked to all the winners and losers in the state, right. And so now, it's really transitioned into having a bunch of key accounts. And then we continue to have a layer of salespeople who are handling those. And now I got people that are just handling the day to day, going out every day, talking to new stores trying to get certain dollar figure into the store. And that's where we're at. But there's no secret sauce, I looked at the cannabis market, I saw the work ethic of the people involved. And other companies, I saw the I mean, everybody, the hardest worker in every company is the person who owns the company, once you get to a certain size, especially in the Oklahoma market, the ability to scale is really as fast and easy. The barrier to scaling is not very hard here. Because you can create a brand, you can go out and talk to two or three stores. One store has got seven locations. Okay, let me take all your inventory. Now your super cash flow. And now you got a decision to make as a small company. Do I reinvest that into machines and equipment and this? Who do I go out and buy Tesla, right? That's the story that's happening in Oklahoma, I saw that I saw it very, very quick. And so we didn't have social media presence. We didn't have branding. We were grassroots in the streets every day, knocking on doors, building relationships with stores, and then you looked up and our brand was everywhere. We had to start branding, we had to start you know, we were sending shiny black bags with crooked stickers on them in the beginning. And then we went to a matte black printed Mylar bag to send our pals to and it was like, that's what people expected from us because we were so big and all those things. And so we had to kind of learn but like, I'm telling you, we didn't really I mean, there was no brand building, no Instagram. So I mean, none of that we literally grass, routed it, I knocked on all the doors, I was making nine to 12 stops a day, and have that many conversations. I was making six sales a day. And just I mean 1012 new accounts every week, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, you know, nobody was moving at that pace. Nobody and but it was because there was no regimen to it. And there was no discipline to it. A lot of the salespeople and the candidates and here's for anybody in Texas, when it goes legal in Texas is gonna kill it, your talent pool of people and people who want to get in, it's gonna be so great. Go and knock on the doors and be present with your relationships. That's it. It's not a secret sauce, it's going and talking to stores every day. I'm having conversations with the owners talking about their business of figuring out the hurts and the pains and the hangups that they have, that's where you find all the information about your competitors. That's where you find all the information about pricing. That's when you get feedback from the patients. You know, you throw a pop up there at a store on a Thursday at six o'clock, you see 40 patients and they tell you how much they love or hate your brand. I mean you got to go and do those things to be successful. And that's just what we did. And then we got to the point where you start expanding and growing and figuring other things out but that's that's really it man. It's not any secret sauce. It's a consistent, passionate effort every single day. If you can't do it, it's not for you. There's too much product moving around in this market. There's again there's at 400 grows interesting stat before the end of the year there's been a lapse of licenses so there's been a decrease right so people are getting out and the reason why people are getting out is because the pricing of flour, you were talking about $1,800 pounds now being $1,400 You're talking about the $1,400 pounds being $800 It's a significant change and if you didn't price your things right or you're too proud or that leads me to something else. That was a very significant thing that happened in the Oklahoma market and
Shayda Torabi 24:30
with that just being so saturated, like what is the fallout like?
Unknown Speaker 24:35
It was like a ticker on a Tuesday going across the screen. That's literally what it happened. I mean we were selling 16 $1,800 pounds all day every day. I mean 200 pounds, boom just got out the door. And then like this, it just happened it was like right as October September the end of September, and the price just fell out and it became $1,400 pounds and $1,000 pounds and because There was so many grows in between, you've got people who are trying to sell these super czars. And then you got these people who were selling green house green eaters, right. And like that spectrum in between used to be there, and when you when the market was stable, and then the market crashed, and then it became two categories, all the stuff that was 15 1618, all the stuff that was 3000 was now 14, all the stuff that was 15. And below was now 1000, and less. And so you had to figure out what you want to do. And then and then what I what happened to me was, a lot of those grows, started coming this way, because they couldn't get placements, because they didn't have salespeople who were going out in the stores, building relationships, they had, I mean, it just it all happened. And I'm sitting here and all this is coming at me. And it's just very, it's very interesting. But I mean, there's no secret sauce. And to be completely clear, it's hard. It's not easy, I'm not going to shy away from any of that, because I try to tell all my salespeople, you got to have a passion for this, you got to have a purpose for this, if it's just about the cash for you, you'll be 90 days now, quite honestly, and I've seen it over and over. And I've hired him, I've seen him I've had people come in and be like, Man, I'm really passionate about the plant, dude, man, it's just cannabis, you know. And then next thing, you know, they make they have a great month and might make $10,000 with me or something like that. And then the effort just dies because it's about the cash. And it's not about the patient. And what I've seen is, it's never been about the cash. For me, I've always known that the work is there. And if you if you put in the work, but money comes and so I just I do that. And it's been very beneficial for me. But that's the word to the wise, it's not easy. I tell people every day like you got to be committed to excellence here, you just have to be and if not, then it's just, it's not going to be any fun for you you'll job hop, you'll go to a bunch of different brands, you might see a bunch of things, but you just gotta be dedicated, you know,
Shayda Torabi 26:53
everything you're saying I'm completely one in agreeance with but to a little bit interesting to kind of highlight for the listeners, right, I think to frame it up, I am a marketer, obviously, right. And so for me, marketing is more on the branding side, not that grassroots isn't marketing, but every market is different. I think that's the takeaway that I want the listeners to really understand from what you're sharing and expressing it, you have this deep understanding of your market, who your customers are, through the dispensaries through the different touchpoints that your product has to go through, ultimately, to the hand of the patient. And so it was really cool to hear just the evolution of how you really leaned into, you know, like you said, it's gonna be messy, it's going to be dirty, it's going to be hard, you're gonna roll your sleeves up, you're gonna go talk to a bunch of people. But I think that's the beauty in the marketing side of things is realizing that when we're doing business, and yes, sales is obviously a component of business, you want positive sales, if you don't have sales coming in, then you aren't in business, but you want, but you have to have that balance. And so it's trying to figure out how do I understand this market? How do I leverage my skill set as a leader, my team's skill set, and then really understanding kind of go into the actual market to deliver product to the consumer. So there's obviously all these different touchpoints that need to kind of orchestrate themselves together. But so it was just cool to hear that you really leaned into going actually out into the field into the market shaking hands talking to consumers. And the brand was growing. And then you had the realization of like, oh shit, well, maybe we need to like improve our packaging, because people are assuming big brand problems.
Unknown Speaker 28:42
It was really cool. It was like a master class for me because I'd walked into the casino space and my casino had a brand, but it was easy to be like that brand is trash, like let's create a logo, let's get down and change the everywhere, all the way down to the carpet, the culture that people how we greeted people. I mean, all of that comes from rebranding. So I knew that. And so this was more like, the product is going to come it's ag so you know, we're growing crops. And so I just wanted to get out and get as many things out as much out as possible. And then it turned into a real business and went from like enterprise, like, like startup mode to Enterprise Mode really fast. And then I then that's when they, you know, brought me in as as leadership and it just I started seeing it on a totally different level. I mean, the CPG side of this, the consumer packaged goods side of cannabis is that's the future. That's where every brand has to live and have to understand what's happening in the CPG side of things. And if and if you don't, then I'm gonna break it down to you. The patient is coming in into the stores and their eyes are looking for things that are comfortable. Their eyes are looking for things that are safe, their eyes, are they looking for things that are legitimate. And so if you come in and you're branding In your packaging doesn't have intention and purpose to it, then you're gonna get left over, because people who understand packaging, they might have some absolute dogshit in their jar. But if their packaging is tight, they'll get one, try one. And what I tell people is, is if your packaging is tight, then you get your first month in sales, boom, if your product quality shit, then you don't, he'll plateau. And then you'll die. If your product quality is great, which we did the opposite our product quality was great. And then we branded and so elevated us, but most people create brands first. And so what I'm saying is create your brand, make sure that the customer experience of your product, when they go to buy it at the store is such a way that they feel a they feel something when they open it tell a story, when they open the lid of a box and the story of your company or your grow or your process is right there in front of them to let them know how that product was made and who made it all of those things. And details matter once it comes to being in a super competitive space. So again, the boxing of jars, the jars, you use the you're not even talking about the process of building the quality of the product, you're just simply talking about the decisions made and what it looks like and what the customer experiences when they open that package. That's it. That should be a significant piece of your planning and marketing and sales strategy. We didn't do it that way. And so it was kind of like we got in the back end and we had to catch up. I learned very fast I got all my vendors lined up I got all my designers lined up I got all those things happening. But I had to learn that very quick because we didn't have it before and once I moved up I saw it I'm like so wait a minute, you mean we're just ordering line boxes to send things to like we're missing an opportunity for our brand to be in a case especially when we started using raw material to make our process good. See that that was another thing like when you have your your scholey focused on flour in a deli style market like we were I mean they're literally taking bugs out of a jar putting them into a DRAM that's not branded has the storage brand on it. And you're just hoping the bud tenders saying this is red bar
Shayda Torabi 32:08
that's what I've heard is a big hurdle in Oklahoma is you can have a brand but because of the deli silo approach people's brand integrity is being lost because the discipline to get to the dispensary the dispensary is kind of taking over and as just yet putting it in their own branding and you lose
Unknown Speaker 32:23
Yeah, yeah, that's true. Like we'll have you know, let's say I have double deja vu which is number one, our number one strain Okay. Also though deja vu to store a store, we'll take it and then they'll buy some the next week because we have you know drops every we have two drops every week. So we'll have another room come down with it the next week, and they'll buy some more of it. And then they'll call it something else in their store and it'll be lined up, you know what I mean?
Shayda Torabi 32:49
Original product, but they're calling it something else different.
Unknown Speaker 32:52
Yeah, they're still selling through. So there's some of that but that's the flower side once we started producing enough raw material to be able to produce the BHO products, the co2 products, or pre rose vape pens, all of that stuff. That's where your branding really really lies. Like as I consult you know, for a couple of growers or something that just asked for help and I tell them, your branding of your five and Oklahoma's market, Missouri's market is different Missouri is all prepackaged and Missouri is you come into the store with pre packaged goods. So then it's about the quality going in and you got to do it here. It's deli style. So you got to if you want your brand to get out there if you if you're a grow, and you don't have good branding, you don't have good sell through it's a it's a struggle. Take your raw material, create your brand, let it be quality and then make sure the packaging is tight and then the automatically once you figure it out, okay, that's a double deja vu pre roll that's a double digit vape cart as a double day job, BHO sugar, diamonds, that's a double day job, we live rosin. Wait a minute, there's the flour with it as well. Now that whole journey, too is there for you. But I'm telling you, it's a big deal. CPG you look at like Kraft Foods, you look at Highland milk and dairy, you look at all of those companies. It's all CPG, even though it's all ads, it's all mixed together. So I think that's the future. I think anybody who figures out the CO packing, because it's not food. So sending your material to somewhere so they can pack it for you and ensuring the quality stays intact to get shipped back to you. That's hard. I know that that's going to be difficult. So trying to figure out and establish, you know, and have relationships with a bunch of different brands and then figure out how to have a co packing facility like those are things that are boys trying to think and figure out how to do because I see it and I know that that's going to happen. So it's going to be necessary, your packaging and what the customer sees when they come into the store is a that's your first shot, especially if you're a new brand. And again, it's got to be legitimate. It's got it's got to communicate legitimacy. It's got to be safe. You're talking about a first time users coming in first time patients they've never About anything package before they might have bought something on the black market from their plug, but they've never bought anything cannabis package before. You want them to trust. It's just like walking in and buying Apple headphones versus JBLs. I mean, there's a reason why you will spend $250 for some tiny, you know, I'm on my third set, I've lost three, three of them. But I continue to buy them because they're convenient and it feels nice. And so many of them I like in the in the experience is the brand journey is the same thing. And if you create it early, and you figure it out, you dive into the mind of the patient, you can stay winning, or the people who lose are the people who are simply after profit.
Shayda Torabi 35:47
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart CBD is a brand that I built with my sister. So we are family owned and women owned, we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi. But we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products, we really care about this plant, we really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart cbd.com and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. Yeah, I like to say evolve or die, right? You have to kind of be aware of the market and aware of these different points that make ultimately the brand and the business but you're speaking my language, my listeners know we talk about CPG all the time, because whether we like it or not cannabis is becoming a consumer packaged goods. And when you are looking at markets like California who have maybe, you know, have a lot of California listeners too, so no shade to them. But it's like they're almost the other end of that spectrum, right? They're so focused on the experience, the branding, the consumer packaged goods, that sometimes I feel like kind of what you were articulating, you can have really good packaging, but then what's in the product is actually really shitty. So it's trying to it's the middle ground as we focus our efforts towards obviously every state going legal in different ways like Oklahoma, Missouri is very different. And the way that they're selling things are looking towards federal legalization where I anticipate interstate commerce and you're gonna have different brands hitting shelves, and how do you stand out? And what does that look like? Right? So you're speaking, very good tips and insight into conversations that I've seeded with the podcast over the past couple of years of just trying to get people to think a little bit more from a brand marketers perspective as we enter the industry.
Unknown Speaker 37:57
That's right, it's so it's so important. I mean, brand marketing is the future, I mean, especially when then when it starts coming to like being able to advertise digitally to people, once that goes, you're gonna have to create that experience. Sales and marketing needs to have a streamlined communication with production. And if you here's a pro tip from a company who grew and scaled, and then production feels like they can make choices about what's happening and all that you need to have a great, great spirit of camaraderie between sales, marketing and production. Production in the cannabis industry is always for the most part is going to be people who love the plant, and think that there's a certain and I'm not saying there's no I'm not trying to I know where to go it I get it. Yeah, it's a commodity at the end of the day. Yes, it is. And you have to think about it like that. And what especially how big we are, we must think about it like that. If we don't think about it like that, then we're going to continue to run into situations where our production maybe puts us in a situation where you know, our sell through might not be as good or we're not really producing what the market wants. And that's where you kind of die on the vine, because production is tapped into the plant side of it. And we've got to be tapped into the new user side of it. Now, there's a group of people that are that are legacy cannabis users that are going to continue to buy the way they buy and smoke the way they smoke and administer the way they administer. But as we grow and evolve as an industry, there's going to be it's like the casino industry. The number one metric in the casino industry is new player acquisition. So if you're thinking about it in terms of like how you acquire patients and people to consume your product, you've got to think about it as a commodity. You can't think about it as your plant that you're growing in the back and that's what products auctioned does a lot of those people are getting they have a home, bro they have they're out there stuff at their booth, you know, and they're coming in and they're making decisions and you've got to have the SOPs lined out to make sure that it's done the right way. Because we've run into situations where a guy was like, you know, it comes from Colorado, there's plant counts in Colorado, we don't have any plant counts here. So you're in Colorado, you're trying to stretch and veg those plants as tall as they can get. So you can produce as many loves as you can within that plant. So you can get as many grams out of that plant as you can. Here in Oklahoma, you don't need to do that, because we can have as many plants in a room as we want. And so if you can, if you understand that single difference and methodologies, right, growing plants tall and very wild, versus growing a control plant, that's the foliated and lollipop to a certain spot, and now you're growing chunky nugs. And because you're trying to grow for production, and you want 10%, less A B nodes versus all the B nodes that come from a very tall veg plant, that's because production and sales aren't talking, when they have that connection, and you have that streamline communication, now you can really have productive, here's another piece of that it's a commodity, it takes 120 days to make a change on anything. And so now you've really got to be in tune with what's happening in your rooms as a sales leader. And as a marketing leader, you've got to be able to know what's happening and what the process is, and not let anybody in production change what's happening on the outside, because it could really derail your momentum, if you're three strings that come out. And every time a customer experiences that strain, they get a big, chunky nug. And it's frosty, and there's it's trimmed properly, and it looks just absolutely beautiful. The moment that they don't get that and it's different. Now you're losing momentum on that strain. And you might as well do something different and send it to processing and come out with a different brand. But I don't mean to get long winded in that, but that's a very big deal, especially when you scale and I know that in Texas, as well. I mean, there's jungle boys, they got their thing out in California, but in Texas, there's gonna be people growing a lot. And you're gonna have to be able to make sure that production and sales are in alignment. That's just it has to be that way.
Shayda Torabi 42:13
No, you are very in line with taking the time to articulate that I couldn't agree more just having, you know, running my own business in the industry and being on the more marketing business side myself and having my production team and even just as little of like, hey, we want to promo you know, this holidays coming up? What can we do from a packaging or price point or, you know, whatever. And then our production team is like, well, we need a heads up. And I'm like, I need the new products like yesterday, so I could put them in packaging like tomorrow. And you know, we're a small family brands. So we maybe for better or worse, you know, can move a little bit quicker than some other businesses, but it's something that we strive very much. So especially in the new year, obviously, we're just trying to set new goals and also just stay nimble as the industry has continued to evolve, both on a micro as well as macro scale. It's just good practice, like you said, to really get into alignment between sales, marketing and production to, you know, have the best output. And I think another thing that I will highlight, you know, too, is I think sometimes we don't think of cannabis and I love that you highlight it as a commodity, because I also say that a lot and some people are like it's not a commodity. I'm like, it is is it a baggie it is. But you know, being able to think through why do you shop with certain brands, what draws you to them, you're talking about, you know, the appeal when you're looking at a shelf? And what are your eyes gonna go to maybe you're the price conscious consumer, maybe you're someone who has a little bit more brand affinity, you know, what is going to lure that person in? And I don't mean in a negative way, but in a very realistic way. Why do we shop with the brands and the products that we choose, you know, and kind of taking that same mentality as a consumer of other industries and products as then a cannabis consumer. So thinking of, when I go to Colorado, when I go to California, when I go to Oklahoma, when I see brands and products, what what do I gravitate towards? Why am I picking that product? Is it because someone has told me something about it or because I've tried it before because the labeling or the packaging, or, you know, this, that and the other like I when I was in Oklahoma last I was observing I think, and I can't really say confidently how much other states other legal states are utilizing this, but I observed that Oklahoma is very keen on including terpene profiles on the actual packaging of the flower. And that was just something that again, I think from a hemp market perspective, we try to talk about terpenes and as a marketer, I'm trying to get away from indica sativa hybrid, but the consumer is more familiar with those terms. But so I just thought that was really interesting. I picked up a couple pre rolls and you're including, you know, the terpene profiles as well. And so it's just every market and how you package it is a little bit different but using it to your advantage and strength. So
Unknown Speaker 44:53
yeah, no, you're right. I mean, that's one I mean it all it all comes from how to sell into the stores and get your product placed. I'm going and talking to the stores and like, you know, I've got a customer, he's got 12 locations, because he had, he's got 60 bud tenders, and they get so much inventory. And every day, they need everything, barcode it not on the box, but on the actual tube, then that became a standard process that we did for everybody. Because again, it became about the logistics and the back end, that's not a, that's a packaging deal. But that's not really a consumer deal. But that's how you learn how to legitimize your packaging. Because it really, again, it's about first time use, and it's about people feeling comfortable. And I will say this on the on the packaging of this probably, you know, I know, you probably want to talk about something else. But you have to, if you have if you're big enough, and you have enough skews, it's very much in your benefit to package things for different demographics, meaning, you know, you should compartmentalize who you're going after, and your sales plan and then market towards those. So for instance, we've got two brands that we really use, we use white label, and that's our brand. It's not a service it's going to ask about that I
Shayda Torabi 46:05
notice is specifically called white label on purpose, though. Yeah, we
Unknown Speaker 46:09
did call it white label, because when we first came out with it, it was for the stuff that we didn't know what we really were producing. And I don't mean that like it was a science experiment. It was like we had co2, full spectrum vape carts, nobody had a co2 full spectrum led car, we had the money to buy the machine, we had the person to run the machine came from Arizona. And we were like, Okay, so let's make this a part. We didn't want anything that was straight disliked, we wanted to be more on the digital side. So that's where the full spectrum came in. And so that process produced the darker oil in plume as much smoke. So we had to like educate the everybody on that because everybody was used to ripping a vape that would produce a huge plume of smoke. And it was clear and it looked like honey or something like that. And mine was dark, but white label was more of a culture brand. It came in a coffin case with vertical lines, like horizontal diagonal lines on the side and a drip down on the front and back. White and Black was the color scheme so it was more about the culture. Then we had our Redbird vapes, which is Terp sauce distillate and Terp sauce mix, still full spectrum, just different process. And so but it looked cleaner to the consumer. So we put that one in our Redbird packaging, and had something for both, I mean, we sold 25,000 units, 30,000 units a month just doing it that way, having something for both people and it was the same essentially product just packaged differently for two different people walking into the store. So if I'm a red bar, if I'm a if I'm a clean Apple kind of Mac user, iPhone person, Redbirds where I go, it's a very clean package. It's very direct. And to the point I don't see a whole lot white label, on the other hand, a bunch of different graphics, it pulled your eyes that look tight when it was next to things in the show, and was priced accordingly. So yeah, it was just I mean, that's where you got to be if you got a bunch of different skews. Think about your soccer mom market. Think about that. And that's like that number one early adopter. I'm gonna try something different than having franzia in my Yeti, right?
Shayda Torabi 48:12
You know, those women I'm gonna do, they're great customers.
Unknown Speaker 48:18
Loyal. So, that's a market you have to look at seriously because that market alone is looking at how to deal with their situations at home or dealing with their lives or doing whatever that is in a way in which is not any any more counterproductive and getting blitzed on the soccer sideline. I can take a pill, two and a half milligram THC in them, like my wife takes a seat a three to one CBG THC gummy a pearl. She takes one every morning. All right, the CBG is more of us comes from the sativa plant. So it's a natural when you smoke it, it's a natural expectrum of the lungs. But it actually helps you focus and dive into what you do it where that's where the creativity comes from. And then the ratio with the THC allows for that process to last for I don't know, for her like six hours. So onsets in 45 minutes, she can bank on it lasting for that long throughout her day. And then when she takes it, she knows that she can dive in and focus and do what she needs to do. That's where we got to be and that market alone is I mean, I have some here I can show it to you. It's the packaging it's the it's how it's presented and that person is going to buy that and that's where you need to be. You have your people like me who I'm a concentrate guy so I like using my Puffco I'm a flower guy smokes the TVs in the morning because I believe in the medical benefit and sativa plant but I packaging it needs to be simple and clean and communicate what it is if it's funky and looks like you're trying to sell it to me I'm out. I'm not buying it and that's just the personal flavor. So I would say you just got to be able to market and know you've got urban market you've got culture market You've got genetics, Mom market, you've got hard work and dad market, you've got blue collar, white collar, I mean, you've got all these different people whose eyes attract to different things. And I think as you dive into it, you just got to be able to know, especially like on our side, you can produce a bunch of different things and packaging them and different things, and they can all sell. And there's something for everybody. And we just learned that recently. So that's a pro tip right there.
Shayda Torabi 50:26
Now, that was a great tip, I think to to kind of highlight, yes, you want to take advantage of if you have the capabilities of being all those different brands, and having the ability to package all those different ways. But I always like to remind people, you don't have to be everything to everybody. So doing the due diligence to really understand what your passion is, what your opportunity in the market is, and then ultimately who the consumer is that you want to sell to. And maybe it's the evolution of you start with maybe one or two types of packages, and then over time you increase to having all these different types of market opportunities, but it's not something that I really recommend people, hey, I want to start a canvas business. I'm going to make six different types of packaging and six different brands and you know, kind of go at it that way because I think you have to perfect something and get people's attention and then you can kind of learn and iterate from there at least that's you know, kind of what I observe. I agree
Unknown Speaker 51:21
with you I agree with you. I'm speaking specifically to as you scale Yes,
Shayda Torabi 51:26
yes no 100%
Unknown Speaker 51:28
As you scale you've got to take like because you can overdo it like we overproduced in live resin for sure before the market capability we should have taken we should have taken some of our units when the crash happened and cured resin was down at like 350 that's all stores wanted, they knew it was 350 I'm still at 12 bucks with my live resin going into the stores, we should have diversified our packaging along the way and then been able to sell it at different price points based on the packaging that we had. That would have made us a lot more competitive but because we were stuck in one silo of packaging, and one I mean we had this premium box and a premium display case and that's where all of our live resin was going we could not make the flip over to a different type of packaging that was more wholesale that we could sell for a couple dollars cheaper made us more competitive that's really that's it and you're right though if you're starting out and you're like jumping into this journey, find your niche and live there don't don't don't just do it she she's right. Don't do what I'm saying which is make a bunch of different things for different people that's only when you get into it and you start going past you know
Shayda Torabi 52:37
it's like how do you then grow How do you like you don't want to pour gasoline on like a camera
Unknown Speaker 52:42
already? That's right no I did I had a gummy brand very successful gummy brand came on strong they came into our distribution. And I remember I'm hitting stores it's like three months into the deal and I'm still hitting the store and I'm like man what is this brand going to come out with something different when it's like is there anything else from them? And I remember I said Look I've got 25,000 grams of oil let's come out with your brand vape pen and snatch a whole nother segment of the market for yourself you see what I mean? Like that's that's what I'm talking about is like you get to that point where your brand is big and your cat right you're like man how can we can't increase who can't even increase 5% This month like what are you guys doing and sales and me and sales I'm like I need different products to go into the store with it can have the same logo it just needs to be a gummy something you know and that's where you really gotta get and um once you cap you know you your monthly projections and things you know you're you're not growing any look at what your product offering is and see if there's any common man you maybe you have a backlog of inventory sitting there in your warehouse and you're in you can't sell more you overproduced repackage that inventory and there's something different and maybe you're it's time for you to scale. And that's where you're at. And that's just how you have to look at it in this industry. And I tell so many companies that I walk in and they need my help. I'm like, Man, I got all this BHO product. And I'm like how much product do you got? We got 30,000 units, you need to read, but you need to have a different package jar. Because if you walk into a store and you and you're overloaded with that inventory, and you're gonna get sales and production aren't talking because this is a common problem. So sales and production are talking and you walk into that store and you're trying to sell the same diamonds you saw.
Shayda Torabi 54:31
Yeah, what is that consumer? What does that bud tender? What does that buyer wanted to see?
Unknown Speaker 54:35
So, I tell companies all the time, like especially if you're nimble, and you're a small company, I would have I would have five different packaging brands. And every 90 days I would change my package. I would I would just change my packaging and in the store relationship doesn't change. But like if I'm sitting on inventory and I have a backlog or my god you know my BHO guys only in town for the next six weeks and I gotta get all this material ran will then have a packaging plan for it, because you're not going to be able to just dump that same logo. It's too competitive here.
Shayda Torabi 55:08
People get unless they want new, they want something fresh.
Unknown Speaker 55:11
That's right. That's right. So you just have a packaging change or something that's, that's in your queue. But again, it comes back to, you know, having something for everybody. That's my approach. Once you scale, I think of terms of taking people from one point to the next point. And if, if it's me, and I'm starting a processing company, and I think that I'm going to go in and build my brand out on that, don't be so attached to the brand that you lose sight of how to move in the market and be nimble, because I've seen it, I've seen people come in and dominate early and just have a bunch of units fly. And I'm like, man, who the heck is this brand, where they come from, who's a salesperson tell me I'm trying to hire. And the next thing I know, you know, that brand is nowhere to be seen, because, you know, it got older, the product was not good, or the you know, the packaging was terrible, or they didn't have another evolution, or they didn't come out with another SKU line, and it just dies on the vine. And you know, I've seen it. So I just think that you're right niching it out finding what you're doing. But you know, have that in the back of your brain, think about your packaging, and what you can diversify into and what you can test it a be tested, though something out there to see if it has a home with somebody that maybe not, but have a good enough relationship to say, Alright, look, I've got my same product, I'm going to send it to you in a packaging that I think there's going to be geared more towards this demographic. Let me know if we can get some sell through, I'll make 500 units special for you. And then we'll just put them in there and see how they go have that kind of relationship with your stores. And then you can really dial it in but thinking that you know what the market wants. And sticking to that brand I think is smart in the beginning, but it's not sustainable, long term.
Shayda Torabi 56:56
What continues to be reinforced throughout this discussion was the simple approach to boots on the ground, understanding your market, understanding the distribution channels, and simply showing up and being consistent. I know it's much easier said than done. So I don't want to paint the picture that it's easy to execute. It takes time. It takes capital and oftentimes a combination of both resources not to mention human resources. But in a big market like Oklahoma, it's proven steps that Walter and his team have taken under his leadership that has gotten their brand to the success that they've seen, and it shows what is possible. So do you think it's easier to establish a brand in a state that is more or less densely populated? For a fun fact, Oklahoma is the 35th most densely populated state in the country, and 20th. In terms of size, the total surface area is about 70,000 square miles. And for every square mile of Oklahoma Territory, there's an average of 55 people per square mile compared to California, which is the third largest state and its population density is 251 people per square mile. As always, thanks for keeping a blunt with me. I'll be back with another episode of The to be blunt podcast next Monday, and encourage you to keep championing cannabis in your community. Thanks so much for tuning in. I appreciate you guys so much. I'll see you next week. Have a good one. Bye y'all.
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