This week’s Trailblazer is Oli Maughan, VP of Marketing & Retail at BZAM Ltd., a multi-licensed Canadian cannabis producer with a focus on branded consumer goods, innovation, quality, consistency, integrity, sustainability and transparency. The BZAM family includes core brands BZAM™, TGOD™, ness™, Highly Dutch Organic™, TABLE TOP™, and partner brands DUNN Cannabis, FRESH and Wyld.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
Cannabis has been a big part of my life for a long time, well before BZAM, and I’ve always been passionate about good branding and marketing. Earlier in my marketing career, I held various positions with several fast-growing start-ups and brands, but the prospect of applying my skills toward something else I’m passionate about was interesting to me. My first marketing job in the cannabis industry was at a well-known wholesale accessories distributor, then shortly after legalization, I joined the awesome folks at BZAM. We were just a small team with a handful of products at that time. It’s wild to look back on how far we’ve come as a company, especially with our recent merger with TGOD and going public. It’s been quite a ride, but I wouldn’t change a single thing.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
This playing field is still very young and we’re all learning and growing as we go. It’s been an incredible experience but also probably the biggest challenge of our professional lives as we push ourselves to think differently, try new things, fail and try again – all at a very fast pace. At BZAM we’re careful to play by the rules while at the same time pushing ourselves to do things no one else is doing. I think it makes us stronger and more creative as marketers, and it makes the wins even more sweet.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
The restrictions around advertising make it almost impossible to reach consumers. I’m happy to see changes happening and I hope the industry will continue to evolve and become easier to educate consumers and promote brands effectively.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Reddit is awesome. It’s got a very active and honest cannabis community. Email marketing has also been quite effective for us, especially with the unpredictability around social platforms. Events are another great place to make real and meaningful connections with the community. I’m also a huge fan of just popping into stores and talking to budtenders and customers. Nothing is ever going to replace word-of-mouth marketing and getting feedback right from the source.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
I’m inspired by all the women in cannabis who are blazing their own trails, rising up in the ranks and contributing to a stronger industry, like Abbi Roach of OCS (formerly of Hot Box café). Her store was my first retail cannabis experience (and the first time I saw Woody Harrelson in real life). I’ve seen a ton of attempts to replicate that atmosphere. There was such an incredible vibe in Kensington at the time and I think it started with that shop. I’m also a big fan of people who work for the little guys: Kieley Beaudry, Janeen Davis and Andrea Dobbs. At BZAM I’m lucky to work alongside so many incredibly talented and smart women including our in-house legal counsel Alex Ballantyne. Without her our team wouldn’t be able to make all the amazing things we’ve done happen.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Set yourself up to win (or at least compete) by learning everything about the plant, the regs and the buying processes in every province. Fully knowing the sandbox you’re playing in will help you move faster, hire better and spend efficiently in an industry that’s always changing. My personal motto is to not get too attached to ideas or work, and always look for ways to do the unexpected.
Last Updated on March 2, 2023 by ADCANN