Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
My brother Tyler started growing under the MMAR back in 2007 and has a long time passion for the plant. I had spent most of my career working in management consulting and government relations while pitching in helping him on his projects as a trimmer or assistant. When legalization was nearing, Tyler approached me with the idea to start GOOD BUDS together.
With his background in growing and mine in business strategy, I knew our skills could really play off each other. It’s been a long road through licensing and setting up our facilities, but this year we proudly launched our first buds to market, and our solventless concentrates began rolling out across Canada this past summer.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
The biggest thing we’d like to see changed in the Canadian marketing restrictions is the packaging laws. We respect the need for safety warnings. But we’d like to get to a place where we can advance what cannabis packaging looks like in Canada – both visually and from a sustainability perspective.
”As an organic grower that’s built on the tenets of regenerative agriculture, it’s a shame that the sustainability of our packaging is limited by the regulations.
We’re currently using recyclable tin and glass jars for our concentrates and buds, but we’re still in the process of sourcing sustainable alternatives that meet Health Canada requirements for all of our products.
We’re also fortunate to be private at this time, so we can focus our budgets on engaging with budtenders, retailers and consumers, vs. communicating value to investors.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
As a family-run company, our marketing budgets are small. This can be both a challenge and a blessing because it helps us stay focused on why we’re growing and who we’re growing for. We really challenge ourselves to create campaigns and resources that are meaningful, authentic, and effective since we can’t waste those marketing dollars or having our campaigns taken down.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
With the strict regulations around cannabis marketing, it’s hard to find effective ways to connect with consumers. Our goal is to create assets and campaigns that will tell our unique story to differentiate ourselves from the competition. This includes details on how we grow and process our weed but also using messaging and visuals that authentically communicate our uniqueness as a private, family-run cultivator.
Social media, specifically Instagram, has also been an important channel for us. We’ve been able to speak directly to our audience of more than five thousand customers and retail partners. Whether through announcing new products or fielding feedback, having that direct line has been paramount to our growth.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Tim Blake – Tim has been a big influence and inspiration for how we strive to grow competition-grade outdoor weed. He is the creator of The Emerald Cup, the world’s largest outdoor cannabis competition, and he’s done a lot to support cannabis law reform in the United States. Also, one of our lead growers was Tim’s assistant Master Grower for years and has brought some incredible value to the quality of our outdoor crop based on his expertise.
The Province of Alberta & Alberta Retailers – It might sound funny to name a provincial agency as a trailblazer in the industry, but I really think the AGLC deserves credit for leading the way in Canada. Although we’re coming soon to Ontario, Alberta was the first province where we launched our products. We’ve found that Alberta wisely focused on expanding market demand through retail openings from the start. They’re also great about working with smaller LPs and have a very helpful team. From day one, we were able to build a solid foundation with the AGLC and over 400 of their retail partners. The overwhelming support from retailers both family-owned and corporate-run has been incredible. We’re also fortunate that our passion for the plant has opened the door for countless strong relationships with budtenders all over Alberta.
710 labs – This is a group of growers and extractors in California and Colorado who are delivering some top-shelf organic, small-batch weed and concentrates. Not only do they grow some unique genetics, but they’ve also mastered putting out products and campaigns that are truly for the cannabis connoisseur.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
While marketing can be about finding ways to stand out, it’s just as much about listening. Listening to your customers, budtenders, and retail partners. If you’re not listening and constantly adjusting your approach, then you risk delivering products or campaigns that no one wants.
A big thank you to Alex for participating as this week’s Trailblazer! Stay tuned for another interview with a cannabis marketing Trailblazer next Thursday in the ADCANN blog.
Interested in working with one of these talented cannabis marketers? Check out our Agency Directory for a list of all the agencies that specialize in working with cannabis companies.