The path from your kitchen to a retail store’s shelf is long and complexes. It involves commitment, time, money and most importantly a quality product. Carla Boyd launched Hemp Way Foods six years ago, before there was a mainstream awareness and demand for the nutrition and flavors of hemp based foods. For Carla it wasn’t a gamble, it was her passion.
Starting a Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce or being involved in way with the emerging cannabis industry had never entered my mind. It was a beautiful spring morning in Evergreen. I was meeting with another member of the Evergreen Chamber’s Ambassador Committee. I owned a social media marketing company and morning coffee meetings were common.
He leaned in and whispered softly, “I have this friend and he needs someone to do marketing stuff”. In my mind I had already begun to speculate and react. His behavior was overly secretive, “oh, my God, he’s into porn and I’m going to freak out in the local coffee house.”
“Ah, he’s opening a medical marijuana dispensary and ah would you meet with him?”
In my mind my response was “Oh, f#*k No!”
I’m old enough to be able look back at all the crossroads in my life and how my choices played out. Intuitively I recognized this as a crossroads. I excused myself and went to the rest room.
In 2011 getting into a cannabis related business or being an activist for medical marijuana and legal reforms did not capture my interest.
At 61 I had settled into a comfortable lifestyle in the foothills outside of Denver. Up until the early 90’s my relationship with marijuana (no one called it cannabis) had been more than just smoking. People I knew were going to prison. We couldn’t visit or write them because it would put us under scrutiny. They became ghosts, their absence from my life haunted me. Living with the daily fear of going to prison and losing my business and home was not worth it.
I had followed the progress of medical marijuana since the passage of Amendment 20 in 2000. I watched the news stories about the first dispensary, Colorado Compassion Club, opening in 2004. And, the news stories about it being raided that same year.
There were sensationalized stories about the 2007 murder of Ken Gorman, a Colorado marijuana activist, and founder of the 420Rally. I was certain the medical marijuana movement had no future.
My knowledge of marijuana as a medicine was nonexistent. I needed to do some research. I refilled my coffee, went home and began researching medical marijuana. I was literally shocked by the research especially Dr. Grinspoon’s. He began studying marijuana in 1967, with the intention of defining scientifically the nature and degree of the dangers of marijuana use. As Dr. Grinspoon reviewed the existing research and literature he concluded that the general public had been misinformed and misled.
I poured over medical journals and obscured research papers some dating back centuries. Why didn’t I know about the healing qualities of cannabis? I had always been into herbs and natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals. So, this was what the “patients” protesting for access to medical marijuana knew. This was the education that Colorado Consumption Club was providing. My ignorance was overwhelming.
To further my research into what was emerging as the business of cannabis, I created a facebook profile as MySweet Jane. I immediately received friend requests – all from men. Where were the women?
The way cannabis businesses and consumers were using social media to connect and market was brilliant. I had been conducting social media workshops for small businesses and was frustrated that few of those in attendance comprehended the power of social media marketing. The cannabis industry and consumer was changing how marketing was done.
It was sunrise and I had been researching all night. It was too late and too much coffee to go to bed. I needed more information. I drove down the mountain to the nearest dispensary. I had a list of questions, including “are there a lot of women working in medical marijuana dispensaries?”
I rang the bell. The darkened window behind the bars opened. A young woman asked if she could help me. I awkwardly tried to explain why I was there.
Two days later I was the first person in line at the Cannabis Cup.
Cannabis Brand is your product recognition and image. It should send a clear message about your product or service.
Recently I was vending at a popup sesh in Sacramento. One of the things I love about doing these is checking out the other vendors and all the innovative cannabis products coming out. During the evening someone gave me a bottle of something – a tincture or syrup. It sounded great while the guy told me about it, but by the next day I’d pretty much forgotten what he said.
Cannabis Brand that doesn’t work.
So I pulled out the bottle. It was colorful and attractive, and on the back it told me how many calories, fat and grams of sugar were in it — but the rest of the writing was faded and in such a strange font it was hard to read. I finally figured out it was called Purple Panther Elixir. On the front, there was also some obscure print that said “Mike B” and “The Grim Reaper,” neither of which seemed to be relevant to the product. Nowhere on the bottle could I find out what was in it or how much to take. It found a home on my kitchen shelf, and there it still sits.
One of the most common things I see among new businesses is confusion about their focus and cannabis brand. Many entrepreneurs put a great deal of time into designing beautiful, bright labels, but neglect the lettering or else name it something so obscure that only a select niche of people will get the reference.
Now that cannabis is becoming mainstream, more and more people are curious about the benefits of this plant, but unlike the people who work in the industry, many are novices. Some things need to be spelled out:
- What is it?
- What is it for?
- How much should I take?
Beautiful labels are nice, but your product isn’t a work of art that someone needs to ponder like a metaphor. Consumers want to know what they are getting and they want to know it pretty quickly.
Many brands are taking a more modern, streamlined approach to their packaging with a simple design and easily recognizable logo. It might be worthwhile to hire a graphic designer for this part. Sometimes we’re so close to our product that it’s hard to conceptualize a visual symbol, whereas an outsider can sometimes see more clearly what’s needed.
However you decide to approach your packaging, the number one rule should be pretty standard: it needs to be clear and concise so your customers know what they’re getting — and it needs to be compelling enough that they want it. Take some time to truly define your brand: identify your ideal customer, and don’t try to do too much. Keeping things simple is often the most effective way.
Marijuana Marketing for Businesses is limited to four entrepreneurs. It is an intense one day workshop that provides you with a personalized marketing plan and strategy, the tools to initiate and maintain it, and marketing resources. The workshop is a cost-effective solution to launching a successful marketing campaign. Marijuana Marketing for Businesses is an investment in the success and growth of your company.
For more information visit The Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce
As the marijuana market continues to grow, earning an estimated $3.4 billion in 2015 alone, women aren’t taking a backseat to the action. Leaving financially-secure corporate careers to become pioneers of the cannabis industry might seem reckless to some. However, with a rise in opportunities for new businesses, women are hitting the ground running and staking their claim on a piece of the already male-dominate, multi-billion dollar medical and recreational cannabis market.
Marijuana restrictions and regulations can be tricky to understand, making the market even harder to break into. With the help of some innovative organizations, women are being given the tools to help take control of the fastest growing stream of revenue in states with legalization laws. Beyond opening dispensaries and cultivation facilities, women are empowering other women in the ways of marijuana trade by ensuring a working knowledge of the rules, helping to create a female-dominate cannabis market. Herb, Formerly The Stoner’s Cookbook