Questions with a Cannabis Marketing Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
After working in tech for several years, I wanted to go into a new industry and learn everything about it! Cannabis was seen as the new upcoming industry to take over Canada. I wanted to be part of writing history. I landed a job at a cannabis agency for events & revenue operations then got a job offer from Superette that I couldn’t resist.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
As a brand, I would say the restrictions on social media platforms is challenging. Their regulations and policies should take into account how Canada has legalized cannabis. Posting a photo of cannabis in an age-gated environment should NOT be flagged. This is wishful thinking that these social media platforms can build content approval processes that take into account cannabis legalization.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
I would say the subsection 17(*) of the Canadian Cannabis Act.
I believe if the brand has done their due diligence and age-gated their platforms, the content they post can be reflective of a lifestyle and portray a feeling.
[Subsection 17(1)] by presenting it or any of its brand elements in a manner that associates it or the brand element with, or evokes a positive or negative emotion about or image of, a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
As an active volunteer at local hospitals, soup kitchens, and literacy programs, it’s no secret I love taking care of the community. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of every brand’s business plan! CSR initiatives humanize the connection between your brand and consumers. It’s important to demonstrate your values to your customers as it builds trust and confidence in the relationship.
Our location at 1306 Wellington St W in Ottawa did receive complaints from individuals that were concerned cannabis would bring negative attention to the neighbourhood in April 2019. Knowing this, we have put a lot of energy and care to ensure we are the best neighbour in Ottawa.
”In 2019, we started small by donating over 6,000 cans of food, volunteered for their seasonal farm harvest, and hosted two food drives inside the shop that totaled 187 pounds of non-perishables for the Ottawa Food Bank!
As we planned for 2020, we doubled our efforts as the business grew! Launching a recycling program that matches every unit of cannabis packaging returned to a non-perishable item for the Ottawa Food Bank with the goal of 60,000 and committed to 100 community service hours. We created a series of bowling tournaments (Bowl & Roll) that raised a total of $8,000 for the Ottawa Food Bank. On 4/20, we partnered with Another Room and Color Cannabis to give back to local diners in Ottawa and Toronto. You’ll have to stay tuned for what’s up my sleeve for Toronto!
I would highly encourage cannabis brands to always think of how they positively impact the community around them. Start small and scale it as your business does as well.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Alison Gordon. One of my favourite cannabis products is from 48NRTH, Granddaddy Purple Pre-Roll! I admire what she has built at 48NRTH and loved how they incorporated their brand’s personality into the most beautiful cannabis accessories (F8 Liv Grinder) and experimental activations. I’m secretly hoping one day I have the guts to ask her to mentor me!
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
I met Nick Pateras knowing very little about cannabis in 2018 and the advice he gave me was to understand the ecosystem as a whole and read the Canadian Cannabis Act. Knowledge is power and wanting to work within an industry that is regulated and new within Canada, it is best to educate yourself on what is happening in the entire ecosystem from licensed producer to customer.
A big thank you to Thaomy 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.