Cannabis Marketing 101: My Competitors’ Brands are Gaining Traction at Dispensaries. Why Aren’t My Products?

Dispensary decision-makers need to know you exist. Here’s some intel on how to get your product into cannabis dispensaries

A Grassland Agency party helping get clients product into cannabis dispensaries

Editor’s note: Curious about Cannabis Marketing, Public Relations and Thought Leadership? We’re sharing intel about what works and what doesn’t in this special Grasslands video series. Get the inside story about the best ways to deliver messaging that resonates with B2B and B2C audiences, as well as getting the right media placements for your brand. 

John Svoboda:

Hello, and welcome to “Cannabis Marketing 101,” a show where we take your questions about cannabis marketing and marijuana PR and break them down with the experts. I’m John Svoboda of Grasslands. As always feel free to send any and all cannabis marketing and PR questions directly to me at John@mygrasslands.com. And, of course, as we have been each day for the last few days, I’m here with my friend and colleague Ricardo Baca, a.k.a. AdCann’s Marketer of the Year, as well as the CEO of Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency. Ricardo, how are you?

Ricardo Baca:

Hey, it’s great to be here again with you, John. Thanks for having me on.

John Svoboda:

Thank you once again for lending your insights. We have been gathering questions from our friends and colleagues in the cannabis industry from across the country. Let’s go ahead and jump into today’s question. All right. Today’s question comes from Charles in Colorado, and this pertains to a lot of organizations out there: My competitors brands are gaining traction at the dispensaries. How can we see the same or better results? How does PR help in that, Ricardo?

How to Get Your Product Into Cannabis Dispensaries

Ricardo Baca:

Wow. You know, PR and marketing could play a huge role in this, of course. I mean, marketing oftentimes works in tandem. It works best when it’s working in tandem with sales. Sales, massively important, more your world than mine, John, so let’s talk about the marketing aspects and how somebody like Grasslands can help your brand really shine with these decision makers at dispensaries because one idea of marketing could be: Has your brand thrown a small tastemaker event, sampling your product, treating these prospects, these dispensary buyers, decisionmakers, C suites, just treating them for a night? Showing them your brand, your aesthetics, which is to say that either you’re throwing a bomb party or you’re working with an agency that’s producing a really elevated event for them, and it doesn’t have to be big. Of course, we’re in COVID times in Colorado, right here.

We’re not supposed to be gathering more than 10 people in a room at the same time, but one thing we are actively working on is creating a series where we can bring journalists together in a private space that’s consumption friendly. Oh, and hey, we happen to have a bunch of client product here. Please enjoy it. Please take some home. So are you doing that? Because if you’re not, that’s a very simple, straightforward thing to do — a little bit more complex if you want to do it really well strategically and have the right people in the room. So that is just one idea.

On the PR side, you think about how important it is for any brand to be mentioned in trade publications. Whether we’re talking about Cannabis Business Times, MJBizDaily, Green Entrepreneur, these are in many ways the lifeblood of the cannabis industry. This young and nascent industry still very much relies on these media outlets.

Of course, we have a unique understanding of that being a journalism-minded agency, and so it’s just necessary because when you’re interviewed in MJBizDaily, when you are featured in Cannabis Business Times and your peers across the market are seeing that — including, of course, dispensary decision makers — that is meaningful. It gets them scratching their heads. It’s like, wait a minute, it seems like this brand is doing good work. Maybe I should touch base with them again. So, earned media positioning can really elevate your brand, and, of course, PR, when done strategically, is always taking into consideration your target audience. Who is your target audience? And if you’re looking to get in front of these dispensaries, then your target audience is B2B trade media, which is putting you in front of these audiences of dispensary decisionmakers, not to mention your competition, who are going to see you stepping up your game and ultimately the rising tide, right?

So, it’s like, this can be a really compelling part of your strategy to get into more dispensaries. Whether we’re talking about the more traditional events, experiential marketing activation, which we do very well at Grasslands, and some of the viewers might know that if you’ve been to the Grasslands party at MJ Biz in Vegas or MJ Biz and New Orleans, or NCIA in Boston or New West in Oakland or wherever it might’ve been, South by Southwest, or the PR side, which is where you are securing these earned media placements for your brands that are really compelling and really important for brands development.

John Svoboda:

Having personally lived and now worked in the cannabis industry in Colorado, Oregon and California, and having worked very closely with many retail decision makers myself in previous lives, I can tell you relationship building is of the utmost importance. Their purchasing managers, a lot of it depends on the relationship that they have with that specific brand. What they’ve been hearing about them, what the consumer goodwill that they get back from their stores is. That leans on a lot of that, and I think the PR aspects can really help build those relationships out so that it makes it much easier, as far as it lessens the barrier of entry for you to get your brand on the shelves in more dispensaries.

Ricardo Baca:

You’re exactly right, and I understand the challenge because what we’re talking about is a multichannel strategy, and so many operators are just out there — especially right now during COVID, they’re just trying to get by. They’re living week by week, and you might not have the time or the bandwidth or the budget, but if you do have the budget, even if you don’t have the time or the bandwidth, bring on an agency partner like Grasslands because we will make your life infinitely easier. What end results, what outcome do you want? And so if you are that brand looking to get into dispensaries, like this question, we will position you via events, marketing, experiential marketing, and PR to be in front of these people so that you will see a marked difference in the near term.

John Svoboda:

That’s fantastic, and thank you so much again for your insights, Ricardo. As always, you can learn more about this topic, as well as so much more, at our website, mygrasslands.com. Please follow us on LinkedIn at Grasslands Agency, and, as always, send all of your cannabis PR and marketing questions to me. I’m John Svoboda. You can reach me directly at john@mygrasslands.com. Again, we’ll see you again tomorrow with another episode. Thank you so much, Ricardo, as always. It’s been a pleasure.

Ricardo Baca:

Super fun, John. Thank you, man.

John Svoboda:

Bye.

Got a question of your own? We’d love to hear from you, and are happy to talk shop anytime about cannabis marketing, thought leadership and PR. Drop us a line: hello@mygrasslands.com

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