This week’s Trailblazer is Julie Domingo, CEO of CannaReps, an industry-leading cannabis training and certification program.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When I moved to Vancouver in 2015, I was blown away by the mere presence of cannabis dispensaries; and the ability to select from a menu of strains and innovative products like concentrates, salves, and edibles. I was looking for a change in career from my professional sales background, and instead of becoming a yoga teacher, I thought I would dip my toe into the industry. My experience at Apple retail, medical and technical sales was the perfect foundation for me to manage a dispensary. I planned to try it out for six months but ended up loving the experience.
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
During my three years running the dispensary, my team and I won three Lift Awards, three years in a row with Best Dispensary in Western Canada in 2019 and the first dispensary to obtain a Compassion Club business license in Canada (under the MMRU regulations). From there, I was seeking an industry standard for quality grading.
”From my research, I was not impressed by the educational courses available. There was a huge gap of knowledge in the industry so, I sought out experts in the field and partnered with Adolfo Gonzalez to build CannaReps.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
When marketing companies claim they know cannabis and understand the regulations. I have found that I always put in the time to train them and offer our educational courses for free, but they still fail to understand cannabis, its culture, and how to communicate to cannabis customers.
Another issue I often come across is how volatile the industry is. The employee turnover is high, and people move across organizations quickly. Nowadays companies are dissolving or being bought up by other companies. This makes it hard to market to other companies because the contacts I am working with often change over and I have to start the process over again.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
Allow for product use demonstrations and testimonials.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Providing educational experiences and forums for people to talk about specific cannabis products that people are tasting. Generalized content gets washed away.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Understand the regulations, get educated on the product, and have a genuine passion for it. Also, be prepared to experience volatility in the market, meaning that if you intend to be a long term player in the market, it’s best that you plan for one year’s worth of operational costs to carry you through tough times.
A big thank you to Julie 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.