This week’s Trailblazer is Aly K. Benson, a terpene nerd, cannabis industry strategist, educator, and advocate.

Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer

When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?

I began using cannabis recreationally in university and became more interested in educating myself about the plant as legalization rolled around. My roommate came home with this cannabis cream, they thought it would help with a shoulder injury. Within months I found myself healing, and leaning away from steroid injections, IMS & Prolotherapy treatments. Eventually, I began buying more books about cannabis and became more invested in figuring out why this plant worked so much better than anything else I tried in the past. Shortly after legalization, I got a job as a customer service agent on a cannabis accessories & hardware e-commerce site.

What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?

Social media. Seriously, what’s up with that? We can put anything we please with audio on all platforms, on Twitter practically anything passes, but the moment a photo or video is involved with a platform, it’s over for cannabis marketers. It’s a risk many of them are not trying to take or when they do, they end up losing a platform that might succeed on another platform. The globalization of cannabis is the only chance we have in breaking the social media policies that currently halt us from reaching the same marketing potential other industries have.

If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?

At least give us the same marketing rights as the alcohol industry. For paid advertisements, packaging, social media, education about the product, all of it. Regulations for recreational and medical are still biased & don’t treat cannabis for what it is, a plant.

In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?

Word of mouth. I know people will say that’s so broad & not a true marketing technique and they’re not totally wrong. However, if you’re building a well-rounded brand with true focus, traction will gain from consumer to consumer. When you have a solid message, visuals & presence in the community word of mouth is going to go a long way. It’s not just one thing that’s going to be a game-changer for your success. Your brand’s intention matters just as much as the product itself.

There’s a reason Redecan pre-rolls gained traction so quickly. They weren’t marketed to connoisseurs or industry workers. They were marketed to be straight to the point: it’s cheap, easy & recognizable. Even when we know, this isn’t what most well-versed cannabis consumers will choose, many consumers who are uneducated about quality still hype up Redecan’s every opportunity they get. On the opposite end, MTL Cannabis‘s Sage & Sour has been a recognizable product for a very long time. MTL went & hit as many markets as they could in recreational & medical & it paid off. Why? Because they proved a point right off the bat. It’s a high-quality product, at an affordable price backed by a solid branding approach.

As industry workers, we get swept up in the logistics, the costs of all of our marketing strategies & it doesn’t have to be that way. Not every consumer in your intended demographic uses google to search for the product they want or scrolls social media to connect with your brand. Do you know what every cannabis consumer will do? Talk. Regardless of cannabis knowledge, consumers chat about a good product or offer to share to prove why it’s a great product.

Building a brand with the approach it’s something people will do the work for you. They’ll post on social about how much they love it or recommend it to everyone they know who may enjoy it too.

Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?

Kim Waterhouse, the Co-Founder & CEO of Rilaxe. I’ve always been a supporter of her endeavors through the legacy & legal market. The creation of Rilaxe dried fruits was an extremely innovative process & I admire her attention to detail. I also deeply connect with the ethical stance Rilaxe takes in its cruelty-free, eco-friendly & locally sourced products.

Kim also does a fantastic job in making local relevant – she is a proud, local BC businesswoman who represents her home roots of Quebec with her head held high. I’m very excited to see what happens with her upcoming launch of the marketing platform Olav and Rilaxe’s new topicals line.

What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?

Finding a compliant way to have fun & make something cool. It sounds weird, but working with your QA can do a lot to push your creative thinking outside the box. Marketing challenges aren’t a bad thing. Why not take a chance to properly fact check, think differently & be innovative. Yes, regulations get in the way but they won’t stick around this harshly for long (hopefully).

So take it as it is. A challenge. You might end up creating something incredible to kill the time, at least until the industry gets a marketing makeover.

Cannabis Marketing Trailblazers

A big thank you to Aly 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.

Last Updated on March 24, 2022 by ADCANN



ADCANN is a digital publication and content creation team that showcases the most creative concepts in the cannabis space.