To Be Blunt

092 Authentically Crafting Your Cannabis Marketing Playbook with Lisa Buffo of Cannabis Marketing Association

March 21, 2022 Shayda Torabi Season 3 Episode 92
To Be Blunt
092 Authentically Crafting Your Cannabis Marketing Playbook with Lisa Buffo of Cannabis Marketing Association
Show Notes Transcript

“We've seen brands who, you know, maybe they have great products, but they have really inauthentic marketing, and that hurts them. And I think that authenticity, the understanding of your core values, your mission statement, your North Star, the why you do what you do, people want to support that.” - Lisa Buffo

In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Lisa Buffo of Cannabis Marketing Association. She discusses what it takes to determine the best practices industry marketers should implement. With the dizzying laws, policies, and loopholes determining the cannabis marketing playbook, it all boils down to identifying your niche and figuring out alternative marketing efforts.


[00:01 – 09:19] Shayda shares her South by Southwest Experience

[09:20– 18:48] Lisa Buffo on Diving in Headfirst into Marketing and Exploring Cannabis

[18:49 – 33:45] Best Practices for Industry Marketers by Understanding the Community

[33:46 – 57:45] The Playbook of Laws and Policies on Cannabis Marketing and Censorship

[57:46 – 01:14:13] Plausible Execution through Alternative Marketing Efforts

[01:14:14 – 1:15:26] Food for Thought: How do you figure out your niche? Who do you market to?


Lisa Buffo is a marketer and entrepreneur with a passion for launching companies with experience in both the cannabis and technology industries. Lisa is the Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association. CMA has hosted over 100+ educational events nationwide bringing together the cannabis marketing community. Lisa has been quoted in Forbes, The Guardian, VICE, Denver Business Journal, The Boulder Daily Camera, Marijuana News Network, Cannabis Culture Magazine, and other national, local, and trade publications.  Lisa helped launch 10 cannabis startups for CanopyBoulder. Lisa also launched the industry’s first online wholesale brokerage as their CMO, garnering national coverage in VICE and INC Magazine and becoming the first cannabis-related company to present at SXSW in Austin, TX. Lisa is the Founder & Co-Chair of the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing & Advertising Committee where she co-authored the Public Relations Crisis Manual and the Short Guide to Colorado’s Marketing & Advertising Regulations. Lisa is an active speaker and has spoken at WomenGrow, NCIA, and CMA events.

Connect with Lisa 

Visit and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @cannamarketing


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

Key Quote:

“We do need to be authentic, we do need to be inclusive…bringing that positive perception to the plant and, I say, authentic understanding of the consumer because there's no right or wrong way to be a cannabis consumer.” - Lisa Buffo

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Lisa Buffo  0:00  
And it's really more about finding your niche and where they are like the principles of inbound marketing are understanding who your target consumer is, and where and how they are consuming information. If you are targeting an older demographic, they might be more inclined to open your newsletter or even like something you physically send them in the mail, then being on Instagram so to speak, if you have maybe like a niche younger male audience, like maybe they are on Twitch, maybe they are on Reddit or some of these places where you can reach them. I really see advertising and marketing as like, What channels do you use? Or I should say advertising to me as more of what channels are you using? Marketing is ultimately what story are you telling? And if you have your story down and you know what your value prop is why you do what you do? Yes, your limit, you may have a smaller window as far as what channels are available to you. But the ones you have that are working double down on them tell that story better figure out how to optimize them get your higher ROI until these things open.

Announcer  1:15  
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.

Shayda Torabi  1:39  
Hello, and welcome back to a new episode of The to be blunt podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer. And I'm just gonna come out of the gate and say, Wow, holy shit to South by Southwest. If you cannot tell by my voice. I've been in the thick of it for the last week or so. I have been walking so much over like 10,000 steps a day. I clearly am losing my voice. It's been so chaotic. I have barely slept. But it's also been absolutely incredible. Getting to be back in action here in Austin. You see, this event has been so critical in my evolvement over the years as a creative as a brand marketer. And it's always been something that I look forward to exploring every year for the inspiration that happens in Austin during this magical time. Now, this year, there was a lot of conversation around NF T's and web three, which if I'm being honest, was a little bit over my head. But there was also a lot of cannabis talks networking and discussion. And it was really cool to see South by give so much emphasis towards the cannabis conversation. I was mainly focused on my panel with Weedmaps, which was featuring the CEO of Weedmaps Chris Beals, along with boardroom co founder rich climate who also happens to be Kevin Durant's manager. And of course, we had Austin favorite, former University of Texas running back and founder of Heisman Ricky Williams. And together we discussed rewriting cannabis drug testing policies. The panel was actually really informative. I loved learning from Ricky from his experience as a professional athlete that was being presented, quite frankly, any drug of choice when he was trying to recover, let's say from an injury during a game or just unwinding after an event. And yet, when he consumed cannabis, he got suspended, which ended up happening to him multiple times, to hearing rich clients perspective as someone who is helping advance these conversations through his platform with boardroom, through his athletes like Kevin Durant, who are really professional and really high profile athletes who are able to help drive the conversation. And I think that was another really key takeaway was athletes have more power than ever right now to be able to speak out about these things and to not be afraid. And then of course, Weedmaps who is not only just helping champion so many conversations from censorship to of course now, cannabis drug testing policies for athletes, but really putting the weight behind the importance of these conversations and they were actually a major sponsor of South by and were the sponsor for the cannabis track at South by I also think that I did a pretty good job of moderating. So I'm really proud of myself for showing up and being professional to get the job done and just extremely grateful for the opportunity. So again, thank you Weedmaps and team for doing everything to bring these conversations to the forefront and for inviting me to be a part of it. Aside from that, I sat in on panels from the future of cannabis consumption and hospitality to looking at cannabis as the next frontier in CPG. With featured executives who happen to be women, which I thought was awesome, from Trulieve and curaleaf, and green thumb industries. And it was moderated by CEO OSI of headcount, which is a huge cannabis data analytic company, which is phenomenal. I love using and referencing other data points. And these are all of course topics that we cover here on the podcast. So it was great to continue to inform myself make some connections and kind of hear what the most recent pulse is on these subjects. I also got to attend a few networking, happy hours and I got to go to one that was put on by grasslands who is founded by Ricardo Baca. He's been a guest on the podcast as well as I've been able to feature a lot of their clients like Elizabeth from Willie Nelson's brands. And then I went to an event by Philo, which is a cannabis compliance platform, they are doing a lot of work to help bring together obviously compliance in an industry that unfortunately lacks regulation sometimes. And then heads that did a happy hour, which was really cool just to get to network with both, you know, people who were here local to Texas who are navigating the cannabis industry, as well as these national players and behemoths of brands. And then last Lee, I got to attend an infused dinner with the People's ecosystem. And really just really, really freaking cool to see these types of events popping up in Austin. So all that to say South by Southwest has been incredible, phenomenal. And again, of course more to come. And if you have questions about South buyer, I need the things that I covered or saw if you're following along on my Instagram, feel free to reach out I love to answer those questions for you. Now, kind of transitioning into today's guests, I wanted to align my guests interview with a bit of a South by recap, because I actually got to hang out with Lisa out a couple of these cells by parties. And we even sat on an unofficial panel together that I was asked to organize for a wellness House event on the east side if you are in Austin, which allowed us to talk about the future of cannabis as a branded CPG. So all in all, it was a fun cannabis enter itself by for me and I am so happy now to introduce you to today's guests, Lisa bucho. I've honestly also been a fan of leases for a while. I mean cannabis and marketing are my favorite topics after all, and Lisa is a leading voice in our industry on the convergence of those subjects. She is the founder and CEO of the cannabis Marketing Association, a trade association focus on education and best practices for industry marketers with the vision of rebranding cannabis at the national level. It's truly an incredibly robust program that I've personally enjoyed since joining on as an official member last year, and I continually learn from the content Lisa, her team and her network contribute to sharing. In fact, CMA has hosted over 100 plus educational events nationwide, bringing together the cannabis marketing community to engage and collaborate with marketing peers to solve the cannabis industry's toughest marketing and public relations challenges. Also worth noting, Lisa helped launch 10 cannabis startups for Canopy Boulder, the industry's first business accelerator in 2015. Lisa also launched the industry's first online wholesale brokerage as their CMO, garnering national coverage advice and Ink Magazine and becoming the first cannabis related company to present at South by Southwest here in Austin. So Lisa obviously has a history here with Austin and South by Southwest and getting to connect with her in person over this year South by Southwest just made this episode topic and just the experience of South by that much more sweeter. And so before we get to the episode, I did want to share a technical side note, I was playing around with a new recording platform that completely failed. So if the audio adjusts, just know that it is me and not you. But again, I really appreciate the listenership as I continue to invite leaders from our industry to sit down and explore the many facets of the cannabis industry as it intersects with marketing and business. So now with that said, let's get to the episode. Please join me by lining one up and let's welcome Lisa to the show.

Unknown Speaker  9:20  
My name is Lisa Buffa. I am the founder and CEO of the cannabis Marketing Association. And I started my journey in the regulated cannabis space in 2014. So it's been my math is right, I think almost eight years now. And I have been a career marketer, sort of by accident, but I was in marketing before I started in cannabis and have kind of accidentally but always fallen into these these marketing roles. I actually started my career working with nonprofits. So I worked right out of college with a nonprofit organization in DC that worked with service dogs and veterans. And it was a new concept at the time, where veterans who had post traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, we taught them how to train service dogs as a therapeutic intervention for veterans who had mobility or physical impairments. And it played on the warrior ethos, which is about you know, doing something for your fellow soldier and your fellow brother. And it was based out of Walter Reed Hospital in DC. And so I got my start in these alternative therapies, if you will, at a startup nonprofit, right out of college. And I ended up and this was in 2012. So this was when social media, particularly Instagram was sort of just getting becoming more mainstream or getting started, if you will. And one of the ways in which we grew awareness about the cause and the nonprofit was through social media. And I was the youngest person on the team, you know, the most familiar with it. So I started taking videos and content of the dogs and putting it online. And this content went viral. So I would like dress up the dogs, we would do these cute little photo shoots and put them in camouflage and army puppy clothes, it was hilarious. And yeah, we did these photo shoots and put it on mine. And so this content went viral. And we ended up growing a pretty big following, we made a merch store. So we put out mugs of the dogs, calendars, mouse pads, all the things you can do online. And through that channel, I learned about how powerful marketing and social media could be, but particularly around causes and explaining something that is a bit more complex, that involves a therapeutic intervention, but also has that, you know, very emotional aspect that is tied to loved ones. And by the time 2012, we were seeing a lot of our peers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan after multiple tours, in their early 20s, late teens suffering greatly, both mentally and physically. And I did that for a while, and sort of cut my teeth on marketing. And in that space. And, and I didn't last too long, I sort of it wasn't the right environment for me necessarily as far as how that played out. But I did learn a lot about marketing and working at startups, if you will. And so then after that, I moved back to where I was from Cleveland, Ohio, and I worked at several different tech accelerators for early stage tech companies, both in hardware and software. And I consulted with them on social media marketing, kind of launch plans as a whole. And I helped get a lot of these companies, you know, ready to go to market or fundraise. I helped run a few Kickstarter campaigns. But I was able to do marketing and different sort of bootstrapped startup be ways for these early stage entrepreneurs and companies in the Midwest. And I was considering staying in Cleveland and starting my own business. I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, which is why I sort of took these roles in the first place. But I wanted to learn from folks before diving in headfirst. But at the time, that was around 2013 2014. What was happening in Colorado was all over the news, I had been a consumer of cannabis. recreationally, if you will, are in that adult use perspective for really since my teens, but very casual use, then more in high school. And then as I got a little bit older, more so. And this was in Ohio, so at the time wasn't regulated there. But I really wanted to see what that market was like. And I also had some family members, close friends and family who were struggling with various addiction issues. And I saw how access to cannabis, when they had it could sort of move the needle on that. So I took a trip to Colorado, early 2014. And within 24 hours of visiting a dispensary and having a conversation with a budtender I was like this is it. This is the future. Everybody needs access to legal regulated legal product, I should say are the ability to walk in have a conversation, not have the fear around the legality of it, understand product quality, and be able to have very specific nuanced, targeted conversations about their needs. So it really mixed together what I loved about alternative therapies and being able to help people and both that mental and physical way as I had seen with animals, and Colorado was just beautiful and amazing. So it and I visited in the summer so that had had me right away. So moved out there later. 2014 I actually my first job was trimming. I didn't know anybody. I didn't even have housing. I just kind of like drove and showed up in Colorado in hindsight it was really insane. But I got my badge I started trimming I learned a lot about how operations work in a grow like what it takes to be able to get plants to to market if you will, did that for a few months. And then I got a job working at one of the first business accelerators in cannabis. So I was doing what I had been doing in Cleveland up those tech accelerators, but for a cannabis accelerator, and again I was consulting in marketing and then I And these incubators, they're like 12 week programs. So they're they're not longer term situations. But I was helping a cohort of about 10 companies with various marketing and communications needs. And then I actually joined full time one of their companies as their CMO, once they raised their seed round of funding. And I was with that company for a while through their seed launch through their series A it really helped them launch and get a lot of market share in Colorado. And that's when I had Why was in cannabis marketing for sure. And so how I started CMA was actually in that role when, and this is around 2015 At the time, so I basically went to take my tech, social media marketing playbook, it applied in cannabis, and he was he I mean, it just didn't work. You can't, you can't do those things. And I learned the hard way, so to speak. We actually never had our Instagram account shut down or things but I was trying to run certain campaigns, I was just trying to do these things that to me, were very obvious and straightforward, but you can't do in cannabis, and certainly not in 2015. So I started CMA on the side. And I basically just started having meetings and I would say, Hey, Shayda, you're an expert. You're the director of marketing for such and such brand here in Colorado. You've been doing it for a while, how did you pull off this campaign, and it was very grassroots meetings after work in the office, they just invited my peers, colleagues and friends in the industry and was sharing information amongst community because that was, I mean, there was no playbook that was the only way I knew how it was to just ask others even like loose competitors at the time, but it's a small industry. And, you know, that's how you share information. And that's how CMA was born, it was very grassroots changed a lot since then, here we are six years later. But the Genesis in the basis of it was community education and best practices around cannabis marketers, but with the ultimate goal of empowering the marketing and communications workforce to be able to do their jobs as best as possible. So we can educate the public so we can change the stigma. So we can move the needle and communicate on some of these more complex, scientific, regulatory and legal issues that face everyone in cannabis. So we can open up access more to all which is something I just really want to see and has been naturally happening over time. But there's always work to be done. So long story short, that's my last eight years in cannabis. But that's how I got into marketing, how I got into the industry, and kind of you know why I started CMA.

Shayda Torabi  17:16  
No, that was so incredible to hear and to understand. And I really appreciate you taking the time to share so thoroughly, because I do think it is important, especially when you look at obviously, the topic of your business is the cannabis Marketing Association. My listeners know that I love to talk about marketing. And I think marketing is something that whether you're a marketer, or just any business owner, you need to have some sort of understanding of marketing. And then to kind of lay it over again, that timeline of social media really becoming a like true tool for businesses take advantage of. And certainly I think over the years, different platforms have become more popular, less popular, new introductions have been made. But it's always this understanding of okay, well, how am I going to use the tools that are available to me and make my business accessible, marketed, educated, connecting to consumers and being able to make the sale happen. And so I think that you have an experience that when I first came across the CMA, I was really excited, because I think you share, I think the sentiment that a lot of us in the industry feel have, we feel alone, we feel like there isn't support, we feel like there isn't someone even though it's a small industry, it still is like I'm in this by myself, and I don't know who to go to to have certain questions or thoughts or just like inspiration even happen from and so I think that's really, for me, what's been the most impressive just, but like watching the content that you create, and then like getting to connect with you, obviously, on a personal level. And so I hope that people can just continue to like, you know, obviously learn from this conversation and be a part of what's going on with CMA. Okay, so I would love to hear a little bit more from you about what is CMA? Like? I think when we talk about trade organizations or industry organizations, they really have a lot of varying degrees of operation. I mean, some you know, people I feel like you pay a membership, and there's maybe like a meeting once a month, but your organization just seems to be so dynamic. You're doing webinars, I know that you have different I don't know if they're like different meetups or different like chapters, perhaps it's probably a better term in different key cities that are maybe a little bit bigger for cannabis topics, cannabis businesses, and so what is the CMA? In your words and your perspective? What are some of the goals of the organization and what are like, I guess some of the different activities or actions that the organization gets to offer to the industry and now and ultimately to your members?

Unknown Speaker  19:36  
Yeah, so thank you for that question. So we are a membership based organization focused on education and best practices for industry marketers, but we're not an advocacy or trade group in the sense where, you know, we send people to the government to lobby for change. We really focus on the education of marketers, we do work with some of those orgs and want to help in that aspect is related to marketing but ours strengthen core competency is, you know, having these conversations within the community. So we operate a bit more like a media company in the sense that we're constantly producing content in different formats and covering different topics. So our members, marketers, whether they are experts in branding are experts in digital or they know SEO, we have content for them to help build out their knowledge and tools to connect with the community. So when you purchase a membership, you can purchase as an individual or a business. So like Lisa could become a member that's geared more towards, you know, maybe the freelancer or the solopreneur, or maybe an entry level marketer. And then we have a and that person gets access to our resources. And then we have a business membership, which is more for more established businesses or brands that actually allows up to seven folks interchangeable seats to be able to access our content. And so and what we do is, it's changed a bit since the pandemic, so kind of post pandemic, CMA is all of our content is produced online. So we do webinars, we're actually launching asked me anything this year, on our Slack channel, we have white papers, downloadables resources, and all of that is put online in our member portal. So our members can log in access that content kind of on their own time. But then when we produce things live, they can also join it live. So it's sort of like choose and engage with what you need, how you need. And we do, again, we do written content, we do video content, you know, we do we have a Slack channel for our members. So not everyone has the same amount of time. And also people learn in different ways. So that's why we we think, like a media company, which is like we have long form content, we have short form content, we have video with audio, so that people can engage with the content in a way that works best for them and on the topics that work for them. And we also try to create our content in a way I sort of call a two way conversation with our members. So I speak with our members all the time, we're hearing about what's happening in cannabis marketing, maybe there's been a regulation change, or Instagram still shutting things down. But as if that conversation has changed over the years, I wish it has, but it hasn't. So we sort of respond in real time to what marketers need, based on their needs, the problems that they're having, and then work with our community to create content that responds to them. And we really take the approach that we are more like the holding space for the community. So we don't necessarily say, Well, we know and, you know, we're telling you how to do things, we'll go to our membership and say, Okay, look we're having, we've seen a lot of requests about best practices, and SEO, and we'll go through our membership and say, who are the experts here, and who knows about that, and then reach out to those folks to create content with them. So it's really community led community driven, we just sort of facilitated produce with them. But because there is no playbook but you know, best practices are the folks who have been doing IT folks who are putting in the work on the ground. So we really want to elevate them and give them a voice and give our community a chance to connect with and ask questions of each other because that's how I got started. And that's what works for me. And there was, I mean, there's no other way, frankly, at this point. So we're writing that together. But ultimately, our why and our like, our most important reason for why we do this is our mission statement, which is to bring a positive perception to and authentic understanding of cannabis and its consumers around the world. So everyone talks about D stigmatizing. Totally agree we're on board. But to me, destigmatizing is just saying like, it's not bad. And we really want to say but it's positive. And there's all these other ways we can look at it. So let's take it further into the future and hold space for all the ways in which cannabis is honored and discuss about and we also talked about like, honoring cannabis history, past, present and future. So you know, we'll hear some folks talk about moving away from the stoner stereotype. And we actually embrace it and say that they're a part of this conversation and that that is fine. There isn't a right way or a wrong way to do it. But we do need to be authentic, we do need to be inclusive, we do need to be much more considerate of the history and the trauma and the weaponization of cannabis and how it's been discussed in the past. And take all of that into consideration around our efforts around D stigmatization, and again, bringing that positive perception to the plant, and I say authentic understanding of the consumer, because there's no right or wrong way to be a cannabis consumer. And we need to honor all the ways in what that looks like. So it's creating space for that. But we sort of take a very practical backseat approach where we're saying if we can help our industries, marketers, the ones who are tasked with following the regulations and making sure our brands are putting out compliant content that is excellent. That's how we're going to move the needle as an industry so we come in at support at that level.

Shayda Torabi  24:42  
Yeah, that's so important, obviously, for everything that you just shared. It's so fascinating even just like I mean, my listeners know and you know, I'm based in Texas and you know, I'll share with listeners too. You are spending some time in Texas you're actually in Austin, so we're recording this episode locally, but from two different parts of the city but Texas is the theory behind when it comes to cannabis. And so that's just one aspect I think that I have to kind of be confronted with as a business owner, like excluding the marketing aspect aside, it's just one of the regulations of how to do business in this state. And then you layer on top through, certainly all the things that I've learned from just all my guests on this podcast, and especially through all the content that exists out there, especially through CMA content, and you start to realize and piece together, there really isn't a playbook, like you're saying, and so it's well, how do I start to understand what is a possibility? What is success, what is something that I can actually take and have confidence with, like, I think sometimes people, especially from a marketing perspective, we want to have a guarantee, we want to know, like when I put this input, and I'm going to get this input out. And that's just not the reality of this industry. And so I think that's why it's even more important to have this community aspect and to really celebrate all voices in the cannabis conversation, because I don't think that we've really arrived there. I mean, when you're talking about honoring all the different, you know, past, present and future of what it is we're doing, I sometimes reflect and think like, wow, we're so advanced, you know, but at the same time, it's like, man, we're, we're not even like able to have parity to other industries, using social media as a key example. And so I think that's really where you just you have to be a sponge to these topics. There is never a point where I feel like I've arrived, I've mastered everything there is to master even though you know, we have backgrounds in marketing, it's like, yeah, what is the next platform? What is the next tool? And also, what is the next regulation, which I really wanted to emphasize? Because you mentioned it a lot compliance and regulation. I think when I started this podcast, I was like, I'm going to talk about marketing things. And then like, very quickly, it was a lot about compliance and regulation. And I was like, am I not honoring the topic of marketing. And then of course, I realized you have to understand compliance and regulation if you're going to market a business. And so I think it's just par for the course when you're operating in the cannabis industry. But I'm curious a little bit about the, I mean, I think your organization and your perspective, and your position in the industry gives you a really good breadth of so many things like I want to for sure, get into topics that I think you come across probably more frequently just like as a cannabis marketer, as a cannabis marketing leader, as a leader, a leader in the cannabis industry, but I want to understand you have all these different members, right. And they reflect so many different aspects. We talked about Texas being in a different, you know, regulation or legality compared to our neighbors in the north Oklahoma, where it seems to be a little bit more of a free for all. What do you feel like is the dynamic makeup of who your membership is? Do you find that there's more bulk in states like California and Colorado where the industry is a little bit more advanced? Or do you find that there are people in some of these emerging markets that are obviously hungry to get information and resources? Like I guess the underlying part of that question is like, what is the most engaged state for your membership? And is it maybe a non traditional cannabis state that people wouldn't think like, Michigan seems to be really involved in cannabis, but I don't know a ton about the Michigan cannabis market.

Unknown Speaker  28:06  
Yeah, so and I thank you for bringing that up. Because I should have mentioned this before. So pre pandemic, CMA, we did have, we said, we still do chapters, if you will, in nine different cities across the US, we were founded and started actually in Boulder, Colorado, quickly moved our meetings down to Denver, there's just more folks there, frankly. And then after that we launched in San Francisco, or the Bay Area in LA. So 2016 to 2019. Actually, we spent, we spent those years before we formally launched CMA and the membership we have today, just having meetings in those three cities, and learning from an understanding the market and the community. And it was based on those conversations that we actually built our member benefits. So we didn't really formally launch CMA, and the membership as we have a today until March of 2019. Because we needed the time to do that market research, you know, we haven't get a bank account and do all the things that just took a long time, and cannabis. So we initially started with a very heavy presence in the West, just based on that history. And then in 2019, we expanded to some cities in the East Coast, San Diego and Seattle as well. But we you know, we did that all in 2019. And then we, you know, what happens in March 2020. So, we have started to really get our firmly plant there, and then the pandemic happened, and obviously, we don't, we had to pivot online since and we've only done one or two in person events since then. And we're slowly getting back to them in person, we're going to host our summit in person this year. But right now, CMA is a bit of a hybrid model, which will probably be the future I think, for everyone in the events industry, frankly, where you've got that online presence and that in person presence, but we did sort of start and firmly plant our roots in the West, but at the time 2015 2016 2017 I mean, that's that that's what was available. So, but now we have a very dynamic membership base. You know, we've got members across the country and almost All the legal states and frankly states that aren't, don't have a regulatory framework yet as well. And I think the pandemic helped in the sense that you'll have brands in California hiring agencies in, you know, New York, and we know how to work remote now. So I think that has factored into it. And as we've seen legalization moves quickly. We've got folks across the country, but I will say, our membership base and who we see as our core customer, I mean, it is the cannabis marketer, and we really focus on the license holder because they have to follow the laws and the regs, I mean, that people don't realize it, but you can lose your license if you violate the marketing regulations. And they're strong, and they're strict. And that was all designed with the, you know, clear and well intention to make sure cannabis isn't getting marketed to children, all those things. So we want to make sure we're following the laws and regulations, we want to understand the history of them and why they are what they are. Some people think they're unnecessarily strict, and I don't necessarily disagree, but there's a reason behind that. And there is still a organized opposition to legalization in the first place. And so us talking about cannabis as marketing it us having these conversations, you know, not not everyone wants to see this happen, even though we're we're in our bubbles, and we're used to this, but we do have to recognize there is this aspect of a community that doesn't want to see legalization happen. And so the laws were designed in a certain way to protect obviously youth, of course, but also just with where we're at culturally, as far as cannabis moving things forward, you know, we're not fully out in there yet. So understanding the laws is core to staying in business and keeping your license. And the way that comes through us is often you know, that can be the director of marketing who's in house for a dispensary, or brand or the agencies and service providers who are separate entities, but they are servicing those clients. And maybe they cut their teeth in another industry, they might be CPG experts or come from food and Bev and now they need to understand cannabis because they're building out a line of business in that space. So ultimately, our core customer is the the license holder marketer, but that can look income through a bunch of different ways.

Shayda Torabi  32:09  
Yeah, no, that makes sense. I mean, especially with everything, I think trending towards digital, I mean, even I think before the pandemic happened probably Facebook or meta now their anticipation would have been to go more digital anyway. So it's kind of like, we maybe got a little bit of a head start, like, okay, everybody's got to be online, you know, be really comfortable with Zoom, make sure that you understand remote working, but it seems like that is something that is trending, not just our industry, certainly the world. But you know, you mentioned a little bit on some of these cannabis marketing regulations can't sell to children. What else are some and I know, our listeners know, too, that it varies sometimes state to state like, I forget who I was talking to, but I think there are certain laws in some states, like you can't billboard advertise, there certainly stuff about using cartoons or graphics that are going to be more marketed to children. But I'm curious kind of what are the maybe general things that people should just like no, you can't do with cannabis marketing. And then maybe if you have any more nuanced ones, like the billboard, I thought was really interesting, or like, I forget, again, where the state was, but the person was sharing, like, they own the building. And they aren't even allowed to put signage on their building that they own, which is like bullshit to me. It's like, that's a bad thing that I own and I am illegal business. I went and got a license in your state per your law. And that's part of the laws I can't have a signage so just seems you know, obviously so far removed, people think well, maybe I can't be on social media or maybe I can't, you know, use email marketing, but I can't have signage like that's just so radical to me that just only people really realize all the different degrees of crazy that as a marketer, you have to kind of be prepared to navigate as a cannabis marketer.

Unknown Speaker  33:47  
So the basis of the cannabis marketing regulations came from the alcohol industry, they're actually pulled directly from there. So they have a self regulating organization called the distilled spirits Council of the US that publishes an alcohol is actually a self regulating industry in terms of their marketing. There are some things the government cannot regulate in marketing because they are protected by free speech and the first amendment but there are other things that they can and where the line gets blurred a little bit is his for the alcohol industry effectively came to an agreement with the government when alcohol prohibition ended that said, we're gonna regulate self regulate these aspects within marketing within our industry. And, you know, this is how we're gonna play nice and move forward to keep it really simple. But that playbook and that those documents were the basis of the cannabis marketing regulations and it kind of intellectually makes sense as far as alcohol being, you know, comparable industry, but in some ways, yes. In other ways. No, because you know, like I always say there's, there's no medicinal use for alcohol. There's, there's no patient side of alcohol, industry or space. So those laws are written very much in that adult focused recreational adult use product sense. And so I think the government did sort of do their best when They said, Okay, this is how we're going to start with cannabis. And essentially we're figuring it out as we go. But that is the basis of our of our regulations and our laws. Again, that totally misses the medical aspect and that ability to communicate, because they're just cannabis isn't alcohol, they are different products. But those, that was sort of the genesis of it, and why we have some of the laws that we do, because it is also also a cultural thing, right? Not all states have the same level of tolerance for cannabis as they might for alcohol and its visibility, as far as the public and Colorado is one of those states where they didn't have billboards, and then they later changed it. California does. But there's certain laws around how close can they be to schools? How close can it be to the border or highways and things like that? What is the content on there? So the regs really like what I always say there's the general thing that is consistent across the board is do not market to children. And if you have a question of whether it is appealing to children just err on the side of No, it's like, if there's one universal thing that is it, for sure. But you've got to know the laws in your state and your local community, because they're going to be different in Boulder than they are in Denver, they're going to be different in Colorado than they are in California. So you have to know that if you're a license holder based on where you're operating and where you're marketing, and again, the common theme is the making sure it's marketed to the correct and right audience. And social media doesn't follow under the. So the issues we're seeing on social media, as far as censorship and Instagram is a little bit separate that's related to their terms of service, social media is a channel, there isn't necessarily like in the laws, this is what you can and can't do on Instagram. It's sort of what you can and can't say, in general. And then Instagram and Facebook have decided how they're going to interpret that and how they're going to, you know, monitor it, if you will, but the general basis of the law is based on alcohol. And that's where I think there is a lot of room for us to have more nuanced conversations about, okay, this is a great start. But we are not alcohol, how can we make this work in a way that is relevant for our industry, its unique needs, and the fact that there is this medical component to cannabis that, you know, alcohol just simply and other vice industries just do not have, which I think does change how we communicate about it. But I don't think there's any disagreement and that, you know, this industry is not trying to market to children, that that is not a goal we share. So there is truth and strength to that. But again, it's just a more nuanced conversation we need to have,

Shayda Torabi  37:26  
who is ultimately able to influence that change? Like does that happen? Yes, probably perhaps on a local level to some extent, like when it comes down to it, we're talking about billboards, that's not a blanket regulation, that is not even sometimes the state but to sometimes the, you know, geography for where, you know, the the municipality, a local city, that's, that's making those laws. But when it comes to obviously, federal legalization is is something that like, we need to influence the people who are the policymakers at the federal level? Um, is it something that happens through you know, CMA, is it something through like other organizations that maybe are more focused on the advocacy side, I know, you said that's not necessarily your main, you know, focus with your organization. But I know the off partnerships with like, national Cannabis Industry Association, which is a little bit more focused on advocacy work. And so it's just like, I think, to demystify a little bit and to kind of put myself sometimes back in the consumer shoes of like, Oh, of course, I want access to cannabis, of course, I want legalization. But when you actually start to pick apart what legalization looks like, legalization has many different levels and layers to it. And so I imagine, it's not just, Hey, we got to, you know, write the law to be in our favor. It's much bigger than that. So how do you view going about influencing change that can benefit marketing and advertising for cannabis brands and businesses?

Unknown Speaker  38:53  
So policy is definitely the core of it. The tricky thing about it is we're still so much of the policy conversation is focused on who gets the licenses, you know, what's that entry point there, you know, who gets access to real estate? How many licenses are there? Like, how are we implementing social equity that so much of policy is currently and rightfully placed on those discussions? That marketing is sort of like an afterthought? And I do think that once the laws change at that federal level, we will see the needle move on social media and those things can feel conflated, because it feels like oh, we have no access because things are happening on social and they're happening on that policy side that affect things like packaging, signage, and that's the other thing marketing is such a it's a broad topic, right involves design. What what do you put on involves packaging? What does your packaging look like? Where can your signage be? Do you have access to billboards? What are you saying on social media? Marketing involves multiple different channels that touch all different aspects of the supply chain process, if you will, as far as getting cannabis physically, you know, the product to market. I do think regardless of what happens at the federal level, they're still going to be this states and localities are going to be allowed to do what they want. So even if things change, and we do when we have federal legalization, I still think the states and localities will be able to say yes or no to certain aspects of it, we've seen it happen even from just the license holder perspective, you know, Colorado, California states, their locales can still opt out to say, we're not going to have retail stores here. So we can't even have the marketing conversation. If we're saying, Okay, this town in California doesn't even allow retail stores. So it does start at the basis at that policy level, as far as this conversation, but it is tied into that broader conversation around, what does licensure look like? And what are these license holders allowed to do within their communities. So again, the more we can be educated on it, the more we can speak up about it, the more we can understand the nuances within the marketing regulations and how they are tied to the bigger picture of supply chain and licensing. It is all related. But I do think rightfully so the organizations that are focused on advocacy are figuring out the licenses part, because that is the the core of it, and the marketing comes into, okay, well, once folks have licenses, then how do you, you know, grow and scale your business, and that's where marketing comes in. So educating yourself on all the aspects and having these two way conversations with your policymakers, starting at the state level, and the local level, your local, you know, city council, I have found a lot of these policymakers. I mean, they're learning to they don't, they don't necessarily know the best way to do this. They're learning from us, we're learning as well what they need. So it is having that two way conversation and saying, Hey, here's, here's how this does or doesn't work for us, and how can we together as a constituent of your community, you know, the folks who elected you understand how this environment can can work for us moving forward in the future. So I think it's being open to having those conversations, educating yourself on what policy looks like, and then partnering with those organizations. And yes, like you said, we are not our that is not our core competency. And we understand that we fit into the bigger picture as far as what I mean, what this whole thing looks like, from a policy perspective. So lots of different ways you can take it and look at it. But the more you can educate yourself on what legalization is looking like the conversations that are having, and why marketing laws are the way that they are is how you can understand how to fit in more. And particularly, I think, honestly, the best action happens at that local level. And then when you see a locale that can nail it and do it right, you can say, look, here's a model, let's take it to the state. Let's take it to the feds. Here's why it works. Here's why I did it. And let's address those concerns there. But you can test things on the local level, which we've seen and other policies as far as licensure and social equity. We're taking models that work in these cities and smaller cities, and saying let's let's scale this, let's make it work. And I think marketing is going to be no different.

Shayda Torabi  42:52  
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 and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I think that it is just an interesting observation where you, obviously again, want to see such change happen at such a federal level. Everybody just keeps talking about federal legalization. But I have as I've been more involved in the industry, I don't know what your take is on kind of federal legalization. But my take has shifted from Yes, I want legalization. But I have so many personal observations of gaps and questions that need to be addressed before some sort of federal policy gets issued out. And I think that's both exciting because we do have the opportunity to impact and also kind of bring to table best practices and also how certain locales have done it. Well. I think anytime I talked to the California cannabis business owner, they're always like, Yeah, our state hasn't quite done it right. But then you get to talk to some of these new states coming online. Like I hear a lot of really positive things about New York's cannabis market. And so, you know, they're learning from these legacy markets or these first movers, for better or worse to hopefully influence that end goal that endpoint but yeah, it's just to me it's like where do you start to pick apart like, what is what is the most important thing like you're saying, like, obviously there's so many aspects of importance in the industry licensing being Critical just because I mean, we talked about it a lot on the podcast, but Texas hasn't quite put themselves out there for medical marijuana. And then you know, the step after that would be adult use. And you'd look to some of our neighbors. And it's like, well, they're limited licensure over here. And they're free for all. So what does that even look like to have a seat at the table to then go create a business, which then needs to be marketed and all the, you know, factors that fall under that. But I want to turn the topic a little bit because I think that you will probably have a lot of good insight. And I'm just curious what you would think about it. We live in a day and age in Yes, I don't want to not talk about censorship in social media, because it's obviously like very important, I think, especially like the Superbowl just happening. We saw Weedmaps come out with this really intelligent advertisement that they were hoping to air at the NFL and they decided to turn them down stating federal reasons, you know, because it isn't federally legalized. So it's, it's we've heard that story before, we understand kind of like, why, but kudos to Weedmaps for pushing, you know, the boundary going up against the man so to speak. But on the flip side, I feel like there's so much duality to our industry, like there are certainly people who are getting their accounts, disabled accounts, shut down all this like crap that we have to deal with. And then there are people and I'm going to actually use a specific word of like celebrities, who I feel like there's almost like a double standard. And so I'm just curious kind of what your observation is, especially like using people like let's say Seth Rogen, who is like a huge cannabis advocate, he talks about cannabis a lot on his platforms, he obviously has a brand that he's marketing and selling, it feels like there's double standards for certain brands and businesses, when it comes to some of the challenges that it's almost like, it's not a guarantee that your account is gonna get shut down. But if you're a cannabis marketer, like you better be prepared, and then you just kind of have to wait. And it's like, maybe I get lucky. Maybe I don't. Or maybe I'm Seth Rogen. And I never have to deal with the reality the harsh truth that cannabis business owners have to face. So, again, the question kind of is like, what do you think of the disparity in cannabis social media censorship, especially as it relates to the celebrities who almost also they get to, you know, turn a blind eye to some of the hardships that business owners are dealing with?

Unknown Speaker  47:14  
I wish I had a good answer for that, I will echo that I have observed this double standard as well. And I don't know what the answer is. And I'm not going to pretend like I know what's happening and you know, Facebook and Instagram behind the scenes, but it is a conversation that needs to be had. And I think these platforms are avoiding the conversation because you know, cannabis is still a schedule one controlled substance. It has that classification. They're not incorrect in that sense. But they also do have the ability to do things like age gate. I mean, that's what good marketing is. Okay, I can set up a campaign and say, I want to target for my clothing store, folks who live within 25 miles of my, you know, address and location and who are interested in women's fashion, so to speak. So why should cannabis be any different, particularly when technology actually allows us the tools in the innovation to be specifically targeted? And to say, okay, yes, I'm looking for women over the age of 30, within 25 miles of this address. I mean, how is that not different to following the local regulations as far as adults in certain states in certain locales in cannabis? So I don't know the answer to that one. I do see it as an observation. I mean, I've seen accounts get shut. I mean, we're seeing nonprofit accounts get shut down that aren't selling cannabis at all. They're their advocacy groups in the space, advocating for equitable, you know, change and things happening that have nothing to do with the sale of the physical plant and product itself. And who don't don't know how much of a following it all in relation to somebody like a Seth Rogen, as far as scale and reach. So I don't know why there is going on. I don't know what's happening there. It does get messy, I think, because people confuse in the conversation feels like okay, well, we don't have access from both the legal and regulatory side. But also the platforms are kind of doing what they want, as far as social media and not communicating with us about it. And it seems to be if you have access to somebody there, you understand, you know, what's happening on the inside and can make some calls or go through that process. You know, you can't you can't average person can't just call Facebook and say, you know, what is why has this happened to my account. And the industry, I think, has gotten really creative with being able to, you know, like, reach out in mass to the platforms when they see accounts that are loved and cherished and don't, again, aren't violating their terms of service as they have laid out to get them restored. But it isn't equitable, it isn't clear. And it's not fair to those who are playing by the rules. And again, the rules can be very gray and loosely interpreted. So I think things will have to change as the conversation and the laws change at that federal level. I don't think they're changing nearly fast enough. And I don't think it's very clear what those rules are, as far as how can business owners authentically show up, put out content on their platform in a way that allows them to operate like any other business, which makes the whole marketing conversation a little harder, because they're saying, Okay, we have to deal with this on the, you know, regulatory, physical storefront brand packaging side of things, but also in the, you know, digital spaces online as well. So, I wish I had a better answer for you. But I will just echo and agree that I don't think it's very clear, I do see a blurring of what's allowed and what's not. And I do think folks are held to different standards, depending on you know, who they are, and their, their their stature.

Shayda Torabi  50:31  
Yeah, I knew that there wasn't going to be a clear cut answer. I'm just always curious, you know, to kind of poke the bear a little bit, so to speak, like, even with this Weedmaps thing, I think their account had been taken down. And then I just noticed kind of lately, especially in led to the Superbowl ad that their account is back up. So, you know, it's sometimes being patient, sometimes it's phoning in a friend at Facebook, or meta or whoever, you know, the social media platform is, but I think, you know, like the other tidbit, I'll share too, just for like food for thought, right. Part of the challenges with cannabis, broadly speaking, is because it's not federally legal from a marijuana perspective. And then the platforms are private platforms. So they are taking the ownership of will this our decision, it does, I don't care if this is legal or illegal, we've made this decision, I think, where it's really unfortunately murky, right, and it's no fault to anybody, because really, I think consumers can't even tell the difference, but like hemp versus marijuana, and so you have a lot of like CBD brands, ourselves included, who navigate and deal with this where it's, I'm, I'm not trying to sell you drugs, I'm selling you a federally legal product. And yet, I can't do basic. You know, Instagram keeps marketing and saying, Oh, don't you want to link your eCommerce store? And I'm like, Yes, I would love that. But you won't let me do that. But I sell a federally legal product. And that's where it gets even more, I think difficult for like, as a marketer, I'm kind of prepared for that. I'm like scrappy, and kind of know, okay, well, like let's just be creative use certain graphics or emojis to kind of like get around it. Obviously, that doesn't help if you're actually disabled. But it just is one of those things like you start to get creative to realize, hey, the playing field is not even and I'm getting attacked and targeted, even though I sell a federally illegal product. And so it is, it is unfortunately what it is. But I think that's a reality, we've let the cat out of the bag. And the government is now like, well, we didn't know we were not ready for you guys to do this. And so it's like a lot of catch up that I think we are all having to kind of be witness to and unfortunately be be a part of, but I'm curious to learn to from you, you know, of these platforms. What do you feel from your perspective to have just like, what platforms do you feel like are maybe more open and social media is so specific, I think sometimes we get so caught up between like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, that I think people don't really look beyond some of those platforms. So I'm curious kind of what what are platforms that you sometimes see being a little bit more safe or opportunistic for cannabis brands to use to get their message out or really just to connect with whether it's the business or other, you know, consumers that maybe people aren't as familiar or aware of like I think clubhouse was obviously a newer one that I don't know if it's like still going but I see people trying to make clubhouse a thing, but like clubhouse was like really big quote unquote, for cannabis for like the four months during the holidays when it was like really big for cannabis. But, you know, again, knowing that there's other platforms perhaps like clubhouse and and people just haven't looked into being a part of Yeah, so

Unknown Speaker  53:36  
I do want to echo your point about CBD and hemp getting kind of sucked into this. And I think what's tough about it is a lot of the language we use to communicate about cannabis, it's, you know, effects that you're expecting affect that this promise that we're making about what this product will do, it can get very, you know, the lines are blurred. And the language is very similar. And that's where, you know, from a tech perspective, when they're using AI and algorithms and certain hashtags is just like five, five flags. So yeah, that that part's locked in. That's real. And that is very much so the case, as far as social media and what platforms work. In this case, it is a little unfortunate how Google Facebook or sorry, Facebook, Instagram, or one company, and then Google and those two combined take up the lion's share of advertising dollars, period, you know, cannabis aside every other product industry, I mean, there's a reason they're having these, like antitrust conversations in the government because they are, they just take up so much of the advertising dollar and share if you will, but as far as platforms that are more friendly, you know, the first thing I always say is your own channels. You own your website, you own your newsletter you own when you own it, and that is your content in your space. There's much more control that you can have there as far as what you say and how you say it that aren't going to be subject to these terms of service. And there are other platforms Reddit discord, Twitch. Things that are again are more platforms if you will not To say Instagram and Facebook aren't that they are navigating these issues around censorship, what's allowed and what's not, that I think can be more cannabis friendly. But again, it's really more about finding your niche and where they are, like the principles of inbound marketing or understand who your target consumer is, and where and how they are consuming information. If you are targeting an older demographic, they might be more inclined to open your newsletter or even like something you physically send them in the mail than being on Instagram, so to speak. If you have maybe like a niche younger male audience, like maybe they are on Twitch, maybe they are on Reddit, or some of these places where you can reach them. I really see advertising and marketing as like, What channels do you use? Or I should say, advertising to me is more what channels are you using? Marketing is ultimately what story are you telling. And if you have your story down, and you know what your value prop is why you do what you do? Yes, your limit, you may have a smaller window as far as what channels are available to you. But the ones you have that are working, double down on them, tell that story better figure out how to optimize them, get your higher ROI. Until these things open it just as the reality that we can't do ads on Google Facebook, let alone organically communicate there. But if you have a channel that works, figure out how to do it better and reinvest in that. And you will actually learn more as an organization as far as how to continue to grow your audience, track your ROI, get that conversion, or, you know, whatever those metrics are, so that when these other platforms open, you're actually gonna have better institutional expertise, and be able to leverage them better. So and you can be more creative and test more things through your own channels. So, you know, try new things, try new messaging, try new creative, try new design, trying to you know, product launches, and communications through what you have and nail that. And if you can do that, as more channels open up, it's just going to be like the gravy on top and be better than getting caught up in what you can't do right now.

Shayda Torabi  57:02  
Yeah, no, I love that I come from platforms and technology and like website ownership. And so I've always been like tooting the horn of like you said, Don't get caught up in the what you can't do be in control of what you can do. And your website is like first and foremost, like real estate that you own. So I'm so glad that you said that. And you mentioned a little bit too, which I'm going to take a riff on like sending snail mail out, I'm curious kind of on the other side of that spectrum, right when it is coming about, you know, getting your marketing out your messaging out your story out to consumers, maybe there are some brands that come to mind, or some stories that come to mind from different businesses in the cannabis space that have maybe done like non traditional marketing, which is I think, where we really get a chance to be creative and where I really try to like resonate. And so I would love to learn from you to what maybe some of those stories are or what are some of these tricks or really like good executions that you've observed. And like what some of those stories have been for those brands that have found success doing these alternative marketing efforts.

Unknown Speaker  58:02  
I think the brands that really know their story and communicate it in an authentic way, even at a micro level, you know, I'll use you for an example I have I have your business card, because it says Austin's number one sister own brand. I'm like, I can't name a single sister own brand in any industry ever. That is awesome. That needs to be you know, and it's an amazing story. And I don't know if you've shared your I'm sure you've shared your story with your listeners, that's your style that you share. But when you shared it with me, I was like, Well, you know, that's it, like she gets it, she has a reason to get it. And she's put all of that energy and passion into her brand. So I'm gonna buy her products like easy, easy sell, right, there were similar age and demographic. So of course, I'm probably in your target. And that makes a lot of sense. But it's just to speak to the fact that you know, your story, you told it, you did so in a way that is very authentic and engaging and creative and your stories clean. And you know, your associates know what they're talking about that it's like that's exactly what any customer wants in that experience. So therefore, I like it and I'm gonna come back, but anyone who I think gets that, that there knows their story in their why at the basis of everything, and really cares that's going to show in every aspect of their communications, and that will resonate. I mean, we are emotional human beings. We make decisions based on emotions. You know, we've seen brands who you know, maybe they have great products but they have really inauthentic marketing and that hurts them. And I think that authenticity the understanding your your core values, your mission statement your Northstar the why you do what you do. People want to support that because cannabis isn't I mean, it's not boring. It's not like toilet paper or Kleenex it's not this like single use non emotional thing like they're using it for a desired effect. And even if it's whether it's medical wellness adult you just however you want to categorize it, but it's about having control over that experience. I'm coming in for this desired effect. Can I get that and if your products are there and are doing that your marketing is really just emphasizing that and driving that in And then communicating that message further and building that emotional tie. And brands who are legacy brands. And I mean this like in the literal definition of legacy, Apple, Coca Cola brands that have been around for generations and decades, they have built emotional ties with their customers. And that's why they come back and they trust the product, they know the product works. And they like it. They like what they stand for, and what they do. And they're, you know, they're engaged. And I think those principles of marketing and branding are going to be no different in cannabis. But the stakes are higher, because the product has, you know, people are coming to it for more, you know, serious reasons, for lack of a better word. And so they have higher expectations, and they are going to demand more. So you need to have better products and be way more intentional in your marketing and your messaging. And if you have a great story, like why not share it, and why not put it out there so that your customers can resonate with you. And if they like that, and enjoy that experience, they will be loyal. And we're actually I've looked at a few studies on brand loyalty and cannabis, the data reflects it, the brand loyalty and cannabis is actually really, really high, way higher than we see in other industries. And I can go into those numbers if you want, but like it is there, people are responding to it. And they are listening and paying attention. So like know, your mission and your why communicate that and just connect with your customers in the most authentic way, whether it's super local, or you know, whatever else is what's happening for you and your community. But don't be afraid to do so and make it a two way conversation just like we do at CMA. I'm like, I am not the business, CMA, it is what it is because of the members. And so we can't just tell them what we're going to do over the next five years. It's an iterative conversation. We're service based, but it is an iterative conversation, and they need to be at the forefront of that. And they will respond accordingly. And that's that I don't want to build a business any other way. And I think it shows

Shayda Torabi  1:01:53  
Well, I think that's what I really appreciate one, thank you for the acknowledgement of our brand. I think it's one of those things you you do you try to understand how do you tell your story get to the why it sounds and I reflected a lot on the podcast, it sounds like so rudimentary, so simple. Again, I think people tune in to I'm sure a lot of the CMA content, they tune into this podcast, and they like want that magical, like, what if I just do this one thing, and then my business is going to be successful? And it's like, that's not really it's to your point. It's this iterative. It's this like communicative like constant evolution of getting to that core, and then just like trying different things, to see ultimately, what's going to work. But you're talking about, you know, the evolution of I think some of these brands and trying to put themselves in that position. And so kind of like, a sub question to you is like, well, how does someone understand their story? Lisa, you know, like, what do you how do you begin with that, but that's, I think you mentioned it, right? It's, it's being a part of these conversations in an active role. And it's not that you're going to, you know, get the answer. Maybe by listening to this episode, my hope is that people literally listen to this episode, and then they want to go be curious, and they go check out the CMA. And then they get involved and just absorb all the content you have. Because there's so much dynamic conversation, as we've covered, so great in this podcast, it's like there isn't really just like one aspect to cannabis marketing. But you did mention data. And so I'm curious to kind of throw something on top of that. Are you noticing in these reports, are people loyal to the brands, regardless of the quality of their products, or obviously does the quality of the product build on top of that brand loyalty, because like, if someone is selling you pardon my French crap in a bag, but they've got a really good story. And they really make you believe that it's like the best bag of crap you need to buy. But at the end of the day, like, it's just really not that good, of a quality of a product that certainly in my opinion, probably plays into a factor. Like, the further explanation of this is, and I'm sorry, if this is you, listener, there's a lot of ideas. And I'm sorry, they're not all great ideas, and you can mark it and you can put lipstick on a pig, but that idea is not going to fly. And so I try to always be real with the podcasts too. Because I think people again, they look at cannabis as this money bag, they look at this as like the green rush. They're so excited. I'm not here to shoot your dreams down. But I'm here to make you really, really understand. You have to work. And you have to have a good idea. So does the data kind of support that? Did it get into any of that? Have? You know, yeah, there's brand loyalty, but you have to have a product that people actually want to consume it as quality and as effective. Yes. To build? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  1:04:26  
so three things I'll say to that starting a business is hard as shit. And the failure rate is astronomical, like 9090 something percent fail within the first like one to five years. And I would say it's even harder in cannabis there is there is no magic pill and marketing, just like there's no magic pill or channel. In any other aspect of building a business. You have to do the work. You have to know your story and your messaging and you have to continue to build it and evolve over time. And I'll answer the first thing you said about how to do that. One thing is find out your founder story and your origin story, but also All founders need to ask their employees, what they see the story of the brand is and ask their retail employees, I suppose in the front, I suppose at the, you know, the lowest level of the org chart, so to speak, because when you're building a brand and you have a team, once it is no longer just you, it becomes everybody's story. And they should be a part of that. And you should hear why they joined and incorporate them in your story. Because your story is going to evolve and change over the years, just like our SIDS do. They had a story of when we first started, we had a pre pandemic story, we have a post pandemic story, our story next year is going to look different, who knows what that's going to be, but it evolves and changes over time. So make sure you're including everybody. And that's also great for company culture, to your point about the brand and the data. So this is coming from a study conducted by the brightfield group, they're an organization out of Seattle. And this was led by Claire Kauffman, who is brilliant, and everybody should know about Claire and what she does, but they did a study, basically answering the question of do brands matter? They presented this information to CMA spring of 2021. And they surveyed 1000 consumers and Colorado and California to find out if brands matter. And we all know the marketing funnel, right, you've got you know, awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and then advocacy. And ideally, you're moving your leads and your customers down through the funnel, so that they know about you, they buy and then they go tell everybody and keep coming back. And they found that 75% of consumers surveyed, who knew about a brand at the consideration stage, that second stage went on to purchase. So they went from consideration to conversion. And then 85% of consumers went from conversion to loyalty. So 85%, who bought went to come and buy again. So seven out of 10, folks more than that are going from consideration to conversion. And then eight, almost nine out of 10 are going from conversion to loyalty. Those are huge numbers not heard of in any other space, really. But they to your point, they did ask like why? Why did you come back? What got you to buy this brand. And they surveyed specifically on specific brands. And they showed there was this great slide they showed that had a spectrum of the reasons why and a lot of the main reasons in the middle were things like ease of use, consistency, taste. And I attribute that to the stage of our industry. Right. So now we're early industry, a lot of startup entrepreneurs, a lot of brands and products, figuring it out where Yeah, I might in 2020, to be buying because your brand tastes better than the other. But in three, four or five years, those businesses aren't going to stick around, they're gonna have to figure out the full equation of ease of use tastes consistent experience. And then on the more loyal side, there was metrics like brand that I trust, like luxury product, or overall great experience. So the more emotional ties that they had, the more loyal they were likely to be to the brand as as I understood it, but that takes time. And that good product quality is at the core of it. So we're getting there. And again, I see a little bit of snapshot of just where we are as an industry as a whole. You know, we see brands that have a great run for a few years, and then they you know, they don't last, but it is a long game. So you have to have that product quality there, it's got to stay competitive, you're going to need to do so and then continue to build those emotional ties over time. Because if you have a good product, that's great, I'll come back. But the more again, you can communicate with me have those good marketing messages, if you will, the more that brand loyalty is going to be there. And that's how those legacy brands of the future are made. So again, yes, have to have that good. The loyalty is there consumers are showing it but you've got to have good product. Industry is got a little wiggle room now, but I don't think that when window is going to last for long. And it's something you know, folks need to be aware

Shayda Torabi  1:08:49  
of. That was really fascinating, because it is something that I think again, people just really don't fully understand the immature nature of what we're dealing with. And yeah, it's it's been a ride just personally, speaking of what we've gone through watching the market here in Texas, I can't imagine when we actually have true legalization in our state, let alone legalization at a federal level. I know there's a lot of Oklahomans who are like, I can't wait to like drive my products out on i 35. And I'm like, What does that even look like when we have those products in Texas? Like I don't know. But it's definitely interesting when you can understand the true data that's being presented to help make sense of Yeah, I mean, you mentioned CPG earlier and then we don't really need to go super deep into it. But just the idea of this is a becoming a mature market. This is becoming quality and caliber of consumer packaged goods that are supposed to be more more ethereal, more loyal more. I'm just like grabbing your attention telling you that story than just a transaction. And I think I just had Allison Disney on the podcast and she was talking about the core value of the brand needs to match the core value of the consumer and like yes, your point it can evolve and change. But it's, you know, how do you speak to what that is while understanding that, you know, there is so much dynamic nature happening around in the industry presently. But I wanted to ask you one final question, I know that you have an event called The Future of cannabis. We love talking about the future of cannabis. And so with that, I am very curious, what is the future of cannabis look like to you and the CMA?

Unknown Speaker  1:10:28  
So that's a great question. What I hope it is, is more equitable, more inclusive, and more sustainable. So I want to see more women and people of color, LGBTQ folks in positions of leadership and running businesses, not not just directors or VPS, CEOs and owners and license holders more sustainable, we definitely have a sustainability issue in this industry. You know, that's a complex conversation, because a lot of it has to do with the regulations and the nature of getting cannabis to market. But we have a lot of improvement we can do there. It is a very sustainable plant. And it's, you know, kind of in its natural state, but the way we cultivate it now, between our growing and packaging, there needs to be some changes there. So more equitable and inclusive, more sustainable, and more elevating the stories of those who came before us and those who are really here for reasons that they can personally speak to. So I like you, again, perfect example, those who I think were creating businesses based on their own felt experience and understanding of the plant. And the changes that it made for them are making better products that are speaking to the people and their needs and their own unique desires. And again, it's such a multi use thing, right? Like CPG, paper towels, like I see the commercial, okay, baumannii is more absorbent than the leading brand, I only use a paper towel to absorb water like that is in it is super straightforward and clear. Cannabis is far more complex than that there's so many different use cases, I use it for multiple use cases, it's not a one stop shop or one reason type of thing. So I want to be able to say, okay, you know, maybe maybe you used it for pain, and I want to buy this brand based on that it works for me for that. And I got another brand I like for my happy giggle times with my friends, when I'm like laughing at home for purely like enjoyment and amusement purposes. I think there's just such a breadth of opportunity and possibility. And I want to see more products led by more folks who can really speak to that felt experience, and communicate that to the public because it resonates in just such a different way. You know, maybe the way Steve Jobs did for Apple, he knew technology, he knew that like it's, it's no different here. But there is way more of that emotional, physical human component. And I just want to see those folks really come to the top and they elevate each other and hear those stories. And I think that is what's going to change the stigma and their perception. And that is what is going to push innovation in the market. And products that speak to more specific and nuanced use cases. And we're seeing it with athletes in the NFL. And you know, there's all these nuance specific use cases. And it is amazing the technology that's happening and what entrepreneurs are doing to make cannabis more accessible and make products easier to understand, literally easier to use. There's a fast acting, sleep gummy in Colorado that's like puts you to sleep in 10 to 15 minutes, and it works like was never the case eight plus years ago. And that's amazing. And that's another use case I can use and another awesome way I incorporate cannabis into my life now. So I just want to see that future be more reflective of I think where things are going culturally and societally as a whole. But that does involve creating better and smarter and more equitable policies that actually allow for that to happen. Will it happen? We will see I'm gonna do you know, my hardest as far as the sphere of influence, I have to make sure and continue to elevate the stories of folks who I think are doing really great work, but it is a collective effort. And you know, time will tell time will tell.

Shayda Torabi  1:14:14  
I'm always curious how many people have figured out their niche. And so do you feel like you're marketing to everyone? Or have you figured out who your target customer is? In addition to that, have you figured out what channels they're on, and how to communicate to them in a way that lands with how they want to be engaged with. Of course, I'm grateful for y'all tuning into this podcast, but if you're eager to connect with more cannabis marketers, you must check out the cannabis Marketing Association for education and community as we continue to navigate this conversation together. As always, thanks for keeping up with me. I will be back next week with another episode of The to be blood podcast every Monday and encourage you to keep championing cannabis in your community, by all

Announcer  1:14:59  
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