Often times cannabis marketing budgets are spent on getting the attention/approval of the investor rather than providing value to the customer. The brands that have pumped money into creating a culture and community are the ones who show promise in this green space race. Brands like Stiiizy have delegated a giant portion of their marketing budget to social media marketing leaving their Instagram presence undeniable. Our office laugh track sounds off throughout the week as we hear companies flex how much they spent on something, then in the same conversation tell us they only have a few hundred dollars a month for social media marketing, yet they want to be as big as Stiiizy.
420 INFLUENCER PARTNERSHIPS - $540,000K PER YEAR
-5 MACRO INFLUENCERS - $60k Per Year - $300K
-20 MICRO INFLUENCERS - $12k Per Year x 25 - $240K
Regardless of what you think or believe, influencer marketing has ruled the world the last few years. You don’t have to understand it, but you do have to accept it. Articles float around about 1 million follower models not being able to sell 36 units. This doesn’t reflect influencer marketing, it exposes a weak or potential fake following.
Without the ability to advertise like so many industries we are forced to use other tactics. Influencer marketing builds your community like nothing else in the cannabis industry. 100% of the people following these influencers are passionate about cannabis, the brands and the people involved. A trust no B list celeb or athlete can bring to the table.
Creating exclusive contracts with specific niche personalities in the cannabis space will bring fluency and familiarity to your product. It will also take your competitors products out of the hands of the individuals with the most eyes on them. Dominating that market presence is a huge win in an industry with limited advertising platforms.
Micro influencers are an underrated asset in social media marketing. They could be up and coming models, photographers, budtenders, brand ambassadors or content creators. These are young hungry cannabis enthusiasts who are up to date with the community and its trends. This is the future of the industry, the ones who will combine their passion and skill to lead us in times to come. Investing in and nurturing micro influencers will not only get you more posts using your product, it will pay dividends having that relationship as this industry continues to explode.
While Macro cannabis influencers may only post your product as many times as in their contract, they are showcasing your product to consumers, industry employees, bud-tenders, media outlets, fellow influencers and brand owners. A demographic that is much undervalued and currently is one of the most powerful demos in cannabis. When selecting the correct partnership, long term campaigns can make your money back 3 to 5x.
EVENT PRESENCE - $120K PER YEAR ($10K PER MONTH)
In a world where we meet so many people virtually, it’s important have the opportunity to connect in real time. Host events where your community can meet in person and develop relationships with unlimited potential. You have the ability to create what Tony Hsish, the owner of Zappos, calls “collisions”. If you have guaranteed attendance charge other brands to pop up and share their product with your community. Curate the events to reflect what your brand stands for, make it an experience. Bring interactive activations that will encourage your guests to post and tag your social accounts. Be resourceful, here is your chance to use that friend that wants more DJ experience or that friend that has the on the go wood fire pizza start up. Give them an opportunity, save money and together you will grow.
Help sponsor other events to show support, build brand relationships and hold a physical presence. This is opportunity to meet your customer in person and hear what they think about your product. The number of guests isn’t always the most important, WHO is in attendance is also a factor to take into consideration. You never know who you will connect together or with.
CONTENT MARKETING - $60,000 PER YEAR ($5K PER MONTH)
This cannot be overstated. CONTENT IS KING. We are lucky to live in a time where you can create with relatively no budget. Not too long ago a company would spend tens of thousands producing one commercial. In fact, brands are using this same model today, and it is one of the quickest ways to torch your budget. Although content is king, with todays technology there is no reason to spend hundreds of thousands on media assets. On the contrary, don’t expect $500 a month to move the needle. Hire a cannabis agency or a group of creators to produce in volume high quality content that represents your brands identity. Maximize the content, do not post it on IG and forget about it. Redistribute to via email blast, web, print, trade show banners and share files with your accounts and authorized dealers to share on their platforms. You can have a successful marketing campaign driving traffic to your page, but if your content is dog shit, people will be reluctant to follow. In 2020 your IG account is the face of your brand, it is the heartbeat of the community you build. If you skimp on your menu photos people aren’t going to want to eat your food.
PORN-HUB // PAID MEDIA SITES - $60,000 PER YEAR
There are a few websites that feature cannabis exclusively, it is smart to utilize such cannabis sites as Leafly, Weedmaps and High Rise *bang our line* to get your product in front of a large cannabis audience. It is also worth checking out more untapped sites with high consumer traffic like Pornhub or Thrasher. Spread your banners and product placement across as many platforms as possbile.
As a self funded start up, we pride ourselves in turning $1,700 saved from working at the skatepark into what The High Rise is today. Not having the capital to buy anything we want seems to be a problem early on, but finding ways to accomplish goals with less money will prove to be an advantage the more seasoned you and your company becomes. Without experience, 1 million dollars will burn a hole in your pocket. We’ve seen it happen over and over again and we will continue to see this trend as the industry proceeds to grow. Budget balance is key and the revolving door of brands will come and go. All we can do is sit back and observe the ones who fail and succeed and learn from them. One thing is for certain, the money doesn’t guarantee a successful brand, the way you use it will.
EXPERIANTIAL - $24K PER YEAR (2K PER MONTH)
Spend time and money testing. Test something, adjust it and test it again, reconfigure, then test it again. If it doesn’t work you know you put real effort into it. Test using different 420 influencers, test different cannabis agencies, styles of hats, themes of content, etc. Expect to take a small loss trying to find a big win. This budget should be reasonable, too many companies will spend five figures on projects only to abandon them.
GUERILLA MARKETING - $24K PER YEAR (2K PER MONTH)
The most organic way to get your logos out there. This cost effective technique has proven effective for decades. It may not create waves alone but combined with other tactics this will only create more fluency of your brand. Traditional guerrilla marketing includes sticker bombing strategic areas, stencil and wheat paste artwork, murals and even billboards. Random easter eggs will leave your followers feeling like they are a part of something secretive. Working with specific artists will create a buzz in the artist community, a sister to the cannabis community. Get creative, a great example being the artist Jesus Hands, well known for modifying the Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed" the first day of recreational cannabis in California. We enjoy using our 6 foot weed leaf mascot Mr. Weedy at festivals and trade-shows, The reaction turns into something similar to Drake walking in the building.
EMAIL MARKETING - 12K PER YEAR
Email capture and email blasts are an effective and relatively inexpensive tool to build and nurture a list of your dedicated followers, fans, vendors, and customers. Providing weekly content and value into your blasts will generate a healthy open rate. Think of this as a direct line where you can GIVE to your customer. Give them something to learn from or laugh at, something to relate to. Break down and segment your list, go straight to your targeted inbox rather thanhoping your audience drives by your billboard. An email list is an indefinite asset for you to use and grow over the course of your lifetime.
SOCIAL GIVEAWAYS - $12K PER YEAR
Come up with engaging ways to capture market data and research all while growing your following. USE THIS BUDGET TO GIVE TO YOU CONSUMER. Give them a reason to come to your website and enter their info into the email capture you set up. Get creative with what you giveaway, everyone gives away phones, AirPods and gift cards. Really engage your costumer using your creativity by giving away a unique product or experience. Here is where you can really show your audience you are willing to give to receive their attention.
CUSTOM MERCHANDISE- 20K PER YEAR
Make promo merch to hook up friends, fans and peers. This is a great way to create brand awareness, whether it be a walking billboard or user generated social media content. When it comes to marketing, content is the name of the game. While your marketing team is tied up working on in-house projects, your friends and fans will be at home or in the streets taking photos/videos wearing your gear. By sharing and reposting this content you are building a community that features the real people who support the brand not just models.
Use your merch budget on items that are worn daily: T-shirts are one of the most common promo item. However, between the cost of screens and size runs it can be an expensive item to simply give away. Headwear like beanies and dad caps, which are unisex and one size fits all are our go to’s. Most people own a closet full of shirts which get worn once and tossed into a hamper, while many of us only own a hand full of hats and beanies that can be worn multiple days a week. If you are going to do a run of shirts, avoid wasting your budget on multi-color prints. When done correctly promo merch can change the future of a company i.e. Thrasher Magazine and Supreme.