The green rush is here. With CBD and Hemp being federally legalized, and Marijuana legalization happening in more and more states, it seems the opportunity and timing to get into Cannabis is happening right before our eyes. With that said, there are hundreds of competing brands, layer that with limiting go to market opportunities, legal hurdles, and the murky gray waters of the cannabis space in general makes for navigating this space a delicate endeavor.
A quick way to stay ahead of the curve is to do your homework. Brands who want to get into this space and launch should consider a few things before jumping in.
The first would be to educate yourself. Depending on what state you live in could add extra layers to your strategy. Some states have specific laws around what types of products are sold, limiting you right off the bat. For example, in Texas we’re seeing a potential threat to smokable Hemp flowers being pulled off retail shelves. If that’s a product you want to incorporate into your business, you should check with your state laws to ensure what you’re doing where your business resides is following the law.
An extension of that is to keep up to date with the federal law, using hemp flowers as an example. It’s federally legal, and right now they only count delta 9 THC to fall below the < .3% limitation, but as laws adjust and settle there is talk of counting the total THC % which could turn some products being grown and sold and distributed presently into hot products resulting in those products being terminated.
The next thing I would consider when marketing a brand is how you want to get your products to consumers. Are you a grower who is trying to market your farm, you’re more B2B than direct to consumer, so that go to market strategy is going to be different than someone who is operating an eCommerce business. Online has more hurdles to overcome than B2B, but some quick suggestions that can benefit anyone with a brand would be to get connected to your local cannabis non profits, groups, meetups, and events. No matter what part of the industry you’re looking to get involved in, networking is a great tool in this industry whether you are going to consumer facing events in similar but different industries, ie if you’re a CBD topical brand, you might look into wellness or fitness events that you can participate in. But if you want to get involved with the industry as a whole, larger CBD/Hemp conventions are good opportunities to network within your industry and market your brand to potential distributors, wholesalers, and even consumers.
It’s important when thinking of your brand to assess what makes you different. If you’re a baker and you want to incorporate CBD into food products, I would start to think how your product can be set apart. What will your name be, what does your packaging look like, how are you going to get your product(s) to consumers, what ingredients will you use, because ultimately you’re trying to create a differentiated brand. These days everyone seems to be doing gummies, but maybe if you make a special type of candy, or drink that no one else is doing, there may be more of a marketing opportunity to tell your story more uniquely.
When you have a good understanding of the legal landscape and you have a good idea of what type of product you want to bring to market, you will have to get creative with marketing. There are certain platforms that explicitly do not support cannabis marketing or advertising, right now some of those big name players are Instagram and Facebook. I’ve even heard newer platforms like TikTok are anti cannabis at the moment, so being able to take advantage of these basic social media platforms is a murky road ahead for CBD brands trying to put themselves out there.
While that landscape is changing, unless you have a lot of money to invest or time to spend, you could be met with your ads being pulled down quicker than it took you to get them up. So instead I always like to suggest alternative marketing tactics. If you’re a physical brand with a retail location, taking advantage of local events that fall within your brands sub industry might make sense for you to attend or vend at, ie if you’re a food product perhaps attending conferences like local and national food expos will get your product in front of consumers or other businesses who could carry your product. Or for example if you sell a sports CBD drink, doing partnerships with local fitness studios or influencers can get your product in front of consumers without the roadblock that traditional advertising seems to prove for this industry at this time.
Another solution to look into are publications, while the internet seems to be closed off for cannabis marketing. Magazines, newspapers, and chronicles are opening their gates for advertisement and even have digital outlets that they’re letting CBD brands take advantage of.
The moral of the story is, there are a lot of things that are still causing tension for brands in this space. And until we get clearer federal regulation I envision we’ll still be playing in this unknown space. But the good news is for every closed door there is an open door, so get creative and see how you can think outside of the box to get your brand, product, or service in front of the right eyes.
About the Author
Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She’s currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, an education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Additionally, she runs an Austin based travel and lifestyle blog called @withshayda, which has afforded her opportunities to work with brands ranging from Texas Monthly and SoulCycle to The Westin. When she’s not busy looking for the best vegan ice cream on the road, you can find her in her hometown of Austin, Texas pursuing her passion for fitness, wellness, and self care.