Lisa Buffo, Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, sat down with Chris Day, VP of External Relations at Marijuana Business Daily, to discuss the world of public relations and external relations in the cannabis industry. For more information, visit us at TheCannabisMarketingAssociation.com.
Find us in your favorite podcast app:
Lisa Buffo, Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, sat down with Phil Parrish, Co-Founder & Managing Director at PrograMetrix to discuss all things programmatic advertising in the cannabis industry. For more information go to: https://thecannabismarketingassociati…
PrograMetrix is a data-driven digital advertising agency that helps brand marketers to improve programmatic strategy and execution through advanced technology and unrivaled service to increase digital advertising ROI.
Read the Transcript
Lisa Buffo: Hi, everyone. Welcome to today’s episode of Party Like A Marketer, the podcast where we breakdown cannabis and CBD marketing. On today’s episode, we have Chris Day, the Vice President of External Relations for Marijuana Business Daily. Chris Day is a 25-year marketing and communications Executive Vice President of External Relations for MJ Biz Con, and an entrepreneur who founded project evolve a Markham think-tank for emerging markets and businesses in the cannabis industry. Chris also serves on a number of philanthropic boards, where he helps drive initiatives making positive global societal impacts both culturally and environmentally.
All right. Well welcome, everybody, to today’s podcast. Today, we have Chris Day, the vice president of external relations for marijuana business daily on today. Chris, thank you for joining us.
Chris Day: Of course, my pleasure now that we’ve all survived. The decade of March. Welcome to April.
Lisa Buffo: We have, it is April 1st, which means it is the month of four 20, which was, it’s still to be a really exciting month for this industry. Although it’s going to look a lot different than I think many of us initially thought, but we’re here.
Chris Day: We made it. That’s right. One day at a time right now, one day at a time.
Lisa Buffo: Yes. And Chris is calling from Denver right now. So, so MJ business based in Denver, you live in Denver and I’ve met you about three years ago in Denver. Now at a CMA event.
Chris Day: Yeah, that’s right. I, I actually spent a lot of time early in my career in the Denver area, went to Colorado state and moved away for a decade and a half.
And while that happened, the cannabis industry was born. So it was a nice, it was a nice opportunity to come back three years ago and, resettled back in Colorado.
Yeah. So tell us a little bit about that. our, our viewers are mostly marketers in the cannabis industry and communications professionals, and I know you have an extensive career, across all different types of verticals within marketing.
So tell us a little bit about how you started your career and what kind of brought you to this point before the cannabis industry.
Yeah, well, without, without revealing, just how old I actually am. I spent, almost 25 years, in advertising and PR agencies. So started out working for a boutique PR firm in Denver, which was really focused on providing, market intelligence.
around the media to other PR firms. So it was a lot of sort of information research, back before you could just type in somebody’s name and Google them and check their LinkedIn profile. We were providing all that kind of data to PR firms, so they would know how to pitch, journalists and then did the more traditional advertising agency route after that.
worked with agencies in Chicago and New York and Texas. I actually was based out of South central, Texas in San Antonio. For most of the time I wasn’t in Colorado working sort of on strategic direction and, flowing strategy into tactical planning across just about every vertical you can think of, but spent a lot of time and energy.
You spend a lot of time in finance, hospitality. And eventually wanted something where, it wasn’t all quote unquote figured out yet. And cannabis certainly provided that opportunity.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah. And you worked with, the American marketing association for a little bit right down in San Antonio.
Chris Day: Yeah, I did.
I, I was on the leadership team for the AMA San Antonio chapter. I served as president down there. We had the opportunity to work with, the head office out of Chicago at one point and start up one of the first international chapters in Mexico city. So we created some sister city relationships there.
it was, it was a lot of fun and, it was nice to do some volunteer work in a space that I actually know something about. So
Lisa Buffo: yes. Nice. And when you were with those agencies prior to cannabis, was there any vertical that you specialized in or ended up spending the majority of your time in?
Chris Day: well, like I said, I spent a lot of time in finance and energy, but I, I really, my specialty was brand architecture and marketing strategy.
And so it wasn’t so much about the vertical as it was about how do you apply strategic thinking to an industry and adapt that strategy into tactics that hit people in ways that will resonate and drive them to action. So I like to talk to folks about. How you apply those things to all industries, as opposed to saying, Hey, I’m really deep in one, because that gets for me anyway, that gets really boring.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah. And were you helping companies create their brand architecture or were they, did they come to you with it already established and you help put them into place?
Chris Day: it, it really depended. I, I worked with everybody from like small startups in the tech space to, really large, financial institutions.
I mean, I think one of the most prominent two of the most prominent clients I worked with were the us army and, USA bank. both of those folks of course already had pretty robust brands. In place, but they were going through changes. and you know, USAA, as an example, had a very close network. when the team I worked with started it on, they had no television presence whatsoever.
And, we went through an entire exercise with them where we opened, up their services to a exponentially larger group. And launched their first television campaign in history. I actually got to help shoot that very first commercial they ever did. So, a lot of fun for USA. Yeah. Yeah.
Lisa Buffo: That’s interesting.
Cause I see them on TV feels like all the time now.
Chris Day: All the time now. Yeah. But they haven’t been there all that long for a company that is as old as it is. they’ve been, they’ve been on television for less than a decade.
Lisa Buffo: Huh? Well, that’s interesting. So, so tell us a little bit about your transition to cannabis and what brought you, you know, I know you moved back to Denver, but what also, what brought you into this industry and what that entry point looked like?
I know a lot of people are looking for how they can get involved in this industry and specifically cannabis marketing. And I talk with so many marketers who have, you know, their own story of how they got involved.
Chris Day: Yeah, I think for me, and in general, when I talk to people who are interested in getting into the cannabis space as marketers, I talked to them about find complimentary skillsets, right?
It’s our skills are transferable across industries. Cannabis has all kinds of unique stuff for sure. rules, regulations that other industries may not. Have, directly, but other highly regulated industries, if you’ve spent time there, it’s probably going to be useful to have that experience and come in.
for me, I think I found a home with MJ biz daily, primarily because I did have that ability to think about how do you position a fast growing and evolving brand. amongst a group of constituents who are very diverse. So if you look at the various personas and customer archetypes that exist across the MJ biz daily universe, they are very broad.
and I’m pretty good at figuring out how to segment, audiences and deliver messages against them. And, you know, our growth rates during my tenure. at the head of the marketing department, I think sort of play that out.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah, I remember so, so tell everybody a little bit about what MJ biz daily does.
but MJ biz daily, they put on conferences in addition to the many other verticals that you do. But I remember the first woman I went to, it was in 2015 and there was 5,000 people at the conference. And last year in 2019, there was 40,000.
Chris Day: Nope. Not quite we were, yeah. I, I believe in truth in numbers. so definitely exponential growth, but we came in right around 34,000.
yeah, so just under, you know, that 35,000 number we, we came in and we were very pleased with that. the funny thing is about MJ biz con is that. The real growth rates are already astounding because the industry really works together to make it that way. but the, reported growth rates at times, not by us are mythical.
Like, you know, you, I had one person tell me we had 60,000 people last year. I’m like, no, but. Aspirational. And we very much plan on getting there soon, even with all of the crazy that exists right now with coronavirus and everything else. I think, you know, part of the challenge is how do you navigate through difficult scenarios?
And, I’m quite confident that we will continue to see high growth in the cannabis space. Long-term you ask about sort of, what do we do in total with MJ biz daily? And, one of the key differentiators for us, is that we are at our core a news organization. we are the only, cannabis centric news organization.
That’s a member of the associated press. We’re very proud of that. We keep the integrity of our news product, pure at all times. And, that is what ends up driving a lot of the content. the MJ biz con family of events, which is for event producers, sometimes something that it takes a bit to get used to because a lot of folks, or do pay to play to get onstage, or figure out creative ways to take in revenue that influences your programming.
And, we don’t, and I think it, it shows. over the long haul, why we can continue to sustain the growth and continue to get the respect of the audience, because we don’t sell out. And it’s part of what’s at the core of what we do.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah. I think I’ve been subscribed to your daily newsletter for almost four years now.
And when I first entered cannabis and wanted to know. You know, what are the numbers? How are things changing? Who’s who MJ biz was the first place that I went and where everybody else pointed me to. And it has continued to be an amazing source of credible information on what’s happening in this space and all over the world, too, not just here in the United States.
Chris Day: No, that’s right. We launched, MJ biz daily international as its own standalone brand about, two, two and a half years ago. we launched international symposiums, which are much smaller footprint shows, but, still opportunities for us to do educational outreach to international markets. and then a large part of my job now is to work on our global partnership network.
Okay. So finding those events and entities that, we feel aligned with sort of our, same level of quality in terms of content and, service to the industry. And we built out now a network that reaches every inhabited continent on the planet, which I love. Cause it helps drive the Vegas show as well, which is truly become the international hub of cannabis, for that week, week and a half of activity in Las Vegas each year.
Lisa Buffo: So no partners in Antarctica yet,
Chris Day: Not yet, but when it gets legal down there we’ll work on it.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah, you’ll read next. so tell, so tell everybody a little bit about those events. So you have the news side, which is a website, it’s also a magazine. it’s also a series of newsletters. There’s many different ways to engage with MJ, J daily, the news online, but then you have these cornerstone major trade shows in the U S and the symposiums.
Can you talk a little bit about where they are and sort of the focus of these shows?
Chris Day: Sure. Each one has its own identity. And, we’re going to have this discussion. As if Corona virus wasn’t currently ravaging the global events industry, right. Because some of them, the dates have shifted and we’re still working through some of the logistics on that and that kind of thing.
but in the United States, we have two primary shows. One is MJ, biz con next, and that is co located with the hemp industry daily conference. We launched hemp industry daily about a year and a half ago. along with its own conference and content and programming. the next HIVC combo event, which is held, in new Orleans currently is really meant to focus on.
What’s next in cannabis, sort of looking longterm, which in this industry is 18 to 36 months out. and really saying, okay, what are the trends? What are the technologies, the topics that are driving, sort of that next iteration of our industry. and so it’s a much smaller show than Vegas. You know, it, it draws.
Somewhere between 3,540 500 people, we do very in depth, pre-conference programs. We, have established a partnership, frankly, with your group Canada’s marketing association, right. To go deep into, into the marketing space. We have a program with inc DBA international Canada’s bar association to give that depth on the legal side.
And we also do VIP extraction and cultivation sessions there. So we really use that as bringing the top tier of the cannabis industry together to go deep into content. so if MJ biz con next is the. You know, a mile deep and a half mile wide MJ biz con in Las Vegas is a hundred miles wide. And, you know, it still goes deep, but not as deep because when you’re running literally hundreds of sessions, you’re, you’re touching on a variety of topics there and we co-anchor our awards program and our science symposium with that show as well.
And it truly is global in nature. So I think last year we had over 80 countries present, all talking about how the cannabis market is evolving around the world. Now, as a, as a feeder program to that, we have our symposiums, and we have the European cannabis symposium in Copenhagen and we have the Latin-American symposium in Bogota, Colombia.
at the moment, those are the only two independent symposiums that we produce, but those are content heavy. We don’t do, trade show floors there. We do have some limited tabletop exhibits from sponsors in shot touch, but, we aren’t. We aren’t trying to drive, because of the state that those markets are in right now, we aren’t trying to drive the big expo hall.
We’re trying to drive the aggressive conversations that are going to move the business forward in those markets. So that those are sort of what we’re trying to achieve with each of those shows.
Lisa Buffo: Thank you. That that’s a great explanation. So I want to get into the marketing side of things a little bit and, and tell viewers about your growth and how you’ve really done this because many companies can often grow too quickly and sort of lose sight of what grounds them and who they are.
And MJ biz has not done that. They have definitely from my perspective, and I think many of us in the industry have stayed very grounded and very. Solid and their mission, but have still grown quickly, and have expanded in terms of who’s coming to these shows. So can you tell a little bit about how you have maintained that balance and also some of the marketing tactics and strategies you’ve used to grow and grow so quickly?
Chris Day: Yeah. first, before I dive straight into the marketing pieces, I think it’s important for every body to remember that who you are as a company is almost always a result of who is leading the company. And, in, in this case, Cassandra Farrington, Was the co-founder of marijuana business daily. And she has been at the head of that organization, throughout its history until very recently where the founding editor, transitioned into that role.
So Cassandra could, it could be more of a board level, but, Cassandra is grounded and Cassandra is focused and she has been, sort of the lifeblood of keeping the company, humble and directed. and, and I think because of that, the, the core product has, has stayed true to it, to its original intent and, you know, shifting that into a marketing lesson.
There is always a true North direction that a company should have, and that’s a singular focus direction that you want to pursue. And if you can do that effectively, it’s a lot easier to stay focused. even when your growth rates might be spectacularly fast, right? The beginning of my career was, The late nineties, and with the.com boom.
And there, you know, it was much the same thing. not entirely, but in many ways, it’s, it’s the same thing that we’re facing now in cannabis, where you had this hyper-growth rate and you had a lot of people out there telling everybody how great they were and how important they are. and it was all about them.
While their companies had no financial grounding, the core customers weren’t clearly defined and the core mission of the company wasn’t there. and of course those go by the wayside very quickly. When you run into an economic crisis, we’ve been somewhat protected in cannabis, not entirely, but somewhat because of the state by state rollout.
So, you know, that creates these, micro ecosystems that. That behave individually. And some of the later States I think have learned from some of the earlier States, how not to screw it up. So it’s always, it’s always helpful. I think we still have a lot of lessons to learn in cannabis, but, we have always kept this notion that we are here to provide information news and connectivity resources.
For the cannabis industry, both in the United States and around the world. And as long as we stay true to that core and don’t go too wildly off base our news products, our events, everything ties that mission.
Lisa Buffo: So the information is, and connectivity. That would be how you would define MJ. Biz is the true North.
Chris Day: I, yeah. And that’s what I’ve held to since, since I started, when I started, in the marketing department, it was me and one other, individual there and we had no CRM backbone, really. we had no data analytics beyond what we were pulling in from our email open rates. and it was really important to launch all of that very, very quickly and I’ve felt ever since I started there that we’re always behind because there’s always more stuff that we should be doing, but I’m pretty proud of the fact that we pulled together an amazing team.
you know, we, it’s an award winning team and everything from traditional advertising to digital now. And, that’s given us the tactical. Backbone to deliver against a strategy that people have, clearly seen as relevant to them.
Lisa Buffo: Well, I would say the sentiment of always feeling behind is very common in this space, in this industry.
And I think we all have this inside joke. That one year in cannabis is like dog years where it’s seven years in any other industry, but the learning curve is so fast and are so steep, I should say. And things are moving so quickly that, there’s always more to be done. So I think, that’s, I, I shared that sentiment here at CMA as well.
Chris Day: Yeah. It’s, it’s never any, but I think for some of us, right, there are strategists. There are tacticians, there are people that are innovators, there’s people that, like to be in the sustain mode. I think cannabis is a pretty fun and interesting place for those who are into innovation and development.
Lisa Buffo: Definitely. So let’s talk about that a little bit, the innovation and the growth. So once you started there and you had, you know, you had to implement the CRM, you had to implement these systems, build out the buyer personas. What were some of the next steps you made, that led to this growth and that really allowed you to build out that marketing infrastructure and
Chris Day: scale?
Yeah, I, Everybody that is on staff in the marketing department, has at one time or another gotten at least pieces of my brand architecture class. so anytime I start drawing funnels or pyramids on the whiteboard, they all sort of roll their eyes. But, it’s at the heart of, of everything that I’ve done my entire career.
Right. I, I don’t care what industry it is. I don’t care. what vertical, how unique the personas are, at, at its heart, even in B2B communications, which, you know, as what we do the end user is still a person. And so if you understand the way in which people communicate, think behave, react, you can, you can use all of this data.
To then apply an understanding of the human condition and figure out how to relate to various audiences. So, we definitely needed more data and more information on purchase behavior of our clients on readership behavior, what articles were resonating because that drives content and programming. we needed to understand, you know, what the buy cycle was within cannabis and.
The different verticals within cannabis, how we schedule our events based on the growth cycles of the cultivators. I mean, all of these kinds of things had to go into, the, when, where, and how we deliver news information and virtual as well as on the ground kind of activity. Once we started to get that data, we could apply it to, the brand architecture model.
And, marketing funnels and plugging those two things together, to give, you know, the various tactics, and then align them, us against the buyer lens is the consumer behavior data that we had. Those were how we did it first build the data platform as much as you can while doing that, make sure you’ve got a clean, concise and coherent brand.
So everybody that you’ve talked to knows exactly what you’re giving them. And then the marketing funnel, of course, which is what is that process for communicating out what the products are and what people can buy? it, I was about to say it sounds simple. It really doesn’t sound all that simple and it’s not easy to execute.
I think it’s why we all get to have jobs. For our lives in this space, because if it was easy, everybody would be able to do it. But, I love it. I love being able to build this and, conquering new challenges and new markets and in cannabis, since we do have the global platform beyond just States, as they roll on, I get to adapt all of this to countries as well, which I find immensely intriguing.
Lisa Buffo: That is, that is, and I do want to get to that in a second, but I’d like to take a step back and talk a little bit about, you know, the base of everything you’ve just said is that data platform. And I think, you know, something we found with our organization it’s really important to have clean data in.
Because then you have clean data in, then you can get clean data out and those insights can actually turn into action for your business. So can you talk a little bit about how you built that and what, what is important particularly for early stage companies that are trying to figure that out? I know that you guys put out a lot of good surveys.
I get them in my inbox. and I like taking them and seeing, you know, what are they asking and how are they asking this? What are they trying to find out? So can you give us some insight into that, that dangle layer?
Chris Day: Yeah, sure. I think you mentioned the surveys and we do deploy surveys on a fairly regular basis.
A lot of them, and, providing intelligence for our fact book, which, you know, is something that many, many people use as sort of a industry trend indicator
Lisa Buffo: You know, they have that for Denver Public Library.
Chris Day: I know there, it’s also, I’m in the Morgan library up at Colorado state university, which, makes me very proud as a CSU.
But so you, you have the survey data, but then you also have to remember that survey data is only as good as the answers people give you. Right. And frequently what people believe they are doing does not actually reflect their purchase behavior. So you have to take the survey data and overlay that on top of actual behavior, what do and not, it’s not a one-to-one thing. It’s a trend thing. And I should point out in this discussion data privacy. Has always been important. It’s even more important now. And we take that really, really seriously. and so anytime I’m talking about this, I think it’s a part important to note that we’re looking at aggregate data, not individual people, that’s all in a customer database and it’s very well protected.
So, Marketing tip, right. Don’t screw with people’s data privacy. but we do take the, we do take the aggregates on the, on the behavior layer and look at that. And that’s when you see our early bird deadlines, for example, we can tell you this year is probably going to be wonky because of everything going on with live events, but traditionally, we’ve been able to tell you.
Within two or 3%, how many people are going to register at each one of those deadlines? and if we’ve we’ve even been able to, because we now have over, seven years of data on behavior with the events, we also can tell you. what that prospective growth rate is going to be, depending on what markets have opened up and that kind of thing.
We’ve got some really talented data analysts on our team, and it’s, it’s fun to, to see that it’s also nerve wracking as hell because, that last deadline cannabis buyers as is the case with most events. But the cannabis industry. Oh my gosh. We’re procrastinators and stuff that lasts three weeks ramp up can either make or break your entire, statistical model.
Right? So last year we saw an interesting, dip. In some of our projections because California was handling was and continues to have, a fair number of struggles. And so a decent percentage of our last week, registrant’s for MJ biz con right come out of California. And so there was a little dip in the California numbers, last year, which threw off our overall projections a little bit, but learn a lot from that.
You have to use data to both learn. about your successes as well as opportunities for improvement.
Lisa Buffo: So you were saying that you can predict within two to 3% of the early bird deadline, do you mean you can predict the final numbers based on the early bird members within two to 3%?
Chris Day: if most of your variables are consistent, yes.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah. Right.
Chris Day: Which is why I say this year, all bets are off the table until we see, you know, when the economy starts to wake back up again. but the generally speaking, if the vast majority of your other, variables are consistent, then yes, you can predict pretty well. what it is, and if your variables are inconsistent, if you’ve done a good job, historically, you can frequently adjust your statistics to be able to still have a pretty decent, model for predictive analytics.
Lisa Buffo: That makes sense. And has every, generally speaking, those variables have been consistent over the years.
Chris Day: For the most part, I mean, new States come on, new countries, come on. That kind of thing. But that new addition to the market has been consistent. Right. So, we aren’t losing States. we are, finding huge crack downs, across entire nations and that kind of thing.
So the, Well, the variables are changing. They are changing predictably.
Lisa Buffo: That’s true. That’s a good way to put it. So then, I want to talk a little bit more about how you grow within the United States. And then I do want to touch on the international side of things. So you’ve got, you’ve got data models, you’ve got your, your funnel and brand architecture plugged in and as a part of this.
So what are some of those others? Jeez that you use and factor in to help you kind of get to those end numbers.
Is it heavily digital?
Chris Day: I don’t want to, I don’t want to talk about it at the tactical level because I think that’s, that’s probably an incorrect way to approach it because then everybody thinks that, well, an email is the silver bullet.
It’s not no individual communications channel is the silver bullet. It’s important to understand the communication preferences of your audiences and then deliver the messages to them via those channels. But I think more important to how we’ve structured our growth is looking at, those. Topical trends that are resonating across the country.
and then making sure that sure that our news and content serves those trends, right? Because that’s what drives the interest. We’re not, the market is so vast and each individual state is, Got its own nuances. So we work at sort of the national level, not the state level most of the time. so for us, we started covering for example, marketing as a topic a lot more heavily over the last six months because most of the markets, have matured to the point where brand and marketing has become of interest.
Previously, it was just, how do I get a product on a shelf somewhere, right. And that’s a production and distribution channel Inge. now that we have infrastructure that has products on shelves in multiple States, now it’s a discussion of how do I differentiate my product, which is on those shelves from everything else within the confines that have been constructed for me today.
And so marketing becomes really, really interesting. And, how you do product differentiation has become really, really interesting. Is it sold on sizzle? Is it sold on benefits? It’s some combination of that. you know, what, what if you go to Las Vegas and you look at all of the wraps on the calves, right?
10 years ago, it was all strip clubs. Now it’s all dispensary’s. Right. So they’re using that out of home, like that isn’t legal in a ton of States. And so how do you differentiate, differentiate that? So we’re talking about the topics of relevance to people, which is what then drives them. You could say yes, we’re using SEO optimization tactics to make sure those words pop up at the right time.
Yes. We’re using emails, delivered to CEOs and marketing people within all of these different companies to make sure they know we’re doing it. those types of channels we’re using, but understanding the topical trends is probably the single most important thing to success.
Lisa Buffo: That makes sense. Okay. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about that on the international side.
So we know there’s all these nuances, you know, within the States here. so what, how do you approach when you go to these new countries and set up these events, how do you approach. The replicating the model there. Do you factor in those cultural differences? And I know you have to consider the industry and where it stands there and their laws as well or are they really kind of looking to the U S as a guide and how we’ve set up things here?
Chris Day: Yeah, I think there’s a huge risk, for us arrogance, right? Always this is not just in cannabis. This is, This is in every industry I’ve ever worked in, right? If it is a global industry, because the United States is such a big country.
And so we don’t get out much as a lot of other, folks do there is this notion that it must be done the way we do it everywhere else. That is a complete fallacy. Right. So, understanding, the cultural nuance and what information we have that is relevant to them and what information we have that is not relative relevant to them is really important.
but there are some consistent truths that exist across all markets, right. The topics again, the topical trends are consistent. How people react to them in different markets is different. So if you’re Europe is cultivation important, of course, cultivation is important. Is the legal framework important?
Yes. Understanding the fact that req. Consumption is not a topic at all is also really important. It’s all about medicinal cannabis and even understanding the difference between when you can refer to cannabis when you should refer to hemp. And when you can refer to it as marijuana, across the board is critical.
I would. Tell people, the instinct, you leave the U S borders. You should just put the word marijuana out of your head entirely. And just go with cannabis. We have, of course seen that, really happened throughout the industry as it is even in the United States, but, critically important to communications in places like Europe and South America.
Looking at the maturity of the markets and what’s important to them is critical in Colombia. this is a country and a region that is very agrarian already. So agriculture, is a lot of what drives their economy. They have great soil, they have great climates. so those types of topics are going to resonate a lot more strongly, in that market than, than.
Hmm, some others. So that’s how we adapt. of course linguistics is important. Understanding when you can use the English language when you need to provide translations, when you just can’t. South America, anywhere really throughout Latin America, you’ve got to go with a Spanish first, approach. And, in Europe and Denmark, we actually do go with a programming approach that is almost entirely in English because Europe.
Well, the various languages throughout the region are important. The operational language of business is frequently English. and so we’re able to do that there and not appear to be tone deaf. If you go into South America and you don’t adjust and you just think everybody’s going to work with you in the English language, you definitely will get a reputation you don’t want quickly.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah. That’s important. And just to clarify for the difference between the word cannabis and marijuana cannabis is and why this is important culturally, cannabis is the Latin word for the plant that has been historically used for hundreds of years, but marijuana was the manufactured word by the United States and other governments.
So rebranded and reposition it as a drug and specifically with, communities of color back in the 1920s and 1930s. So we, yeah, cannabis has the, as the proper word, as it is. And there isn’t that racial connotation behind it, that it, that was manufactured.
Chris Day: No, that’s absolutely true. And being a student of history is, really, I think a huge part of being a good marketer in, in the cannabis industry.
You know, when, when I was in Midean, Columbia last year, I was at an agricultural conference and I was talking to folks down there about the emergence of the cannabis industry in Columbia, and there was both. I won’t call, I won’t call it fear. That’s not right. They’re not fearful of the conversation.
It was more, just a little bit of an angst, because if you look at the history of cannabis in Columbia, many, many, many times, if a tourist from the U S gets in a car and is asking about things to do, they want to go see Pablo Escobar’s house. Think about the insensitivity of that to the culture. This is a drug cartel that drove thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths.
It has nothing to do with the plant itself, except that that was the product and much of the consumerism of it came from the United States. Right. So that’s what drove a lot of the consumption and understanding that dynamic. When you go into Columbia and want to talk to them about the emergence of the cannabis industry, in a legal framework, is really, really important because there’s a whole sensitivity issue there that if you miss it, it’s going to be hard to get past that for, for many people that are trying to make a difference in South America.
Lisa Buffo: I’m really glad you brought that up. That’s a good point. And I think a lot of us in the US are, are it’s changing, but for a while have been heads down here and there’s even a gap in education regarding the US drug war that we’re still, many in this industry are still learning and catching up to. And so to even start thinking about it from that much broader global perspective is, is important because, it’s, it’s deep and entrenched.
Chris Day: Yep. Yeah, that’s right. We do have our own propaganda war that we’re trying to overcome here, but every different market, around the world has their own version of it. And, I mean, much of it is rooted in US behavior from the past. And so we need to be conscious of that.
Lisa Buffo: Yeah, I agree. Okay. Well, before we wrap up, I, I’m curious about what is your favorite part about working in this industry?
Chris Day: I will be a little cliche and just say the people, from, from a personal perspective, I love working with innovators and people who are creative and look at challenges and say, okay, yes, that is indeed a difficult challenge for com, but instead of saying, okay, And because of that, I’m going to do something else say, and because of that, I’m going to take the Hill.
I love that. So I really genuinely love that about the industry, from a pure sort of marketing geek perspective. I love the idea that, every day. In its own way is unpredictable. And so we’re able to take this toolbox that we have, with, with the marketing discipline and look at different ways to combine those tools to effectively not only change product consumption, behavior and understanding but also the entire brand of cannabis within our country and around the world, and really reposition it into a way that that drives rational conversations instead of fear.
Lisa Buffo: Thank you for listening. Like this episode below and subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple. To learn more about CMA, go to thecannabismarketingassociation.com and don’t forget to join us at the first ever virtual Cannabis Marketing on June 1st through 4th this year
Meet Your Host
LISA BUFFO, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association
Lisa Buffo is an award-winning entrepreneur and marketer with a passion for launching companies with experience in both the cannabis and technology industries. Lisa is the Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, a membership based organization focused on education and best practices for industry marketers with the vision of rebranding cannabis at the national level. She was named one of 2019's 40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Cannabis by Marijuana Venture Magazine in 2019 and named “The Marketing Guru” by Women & Weed magazine and is a featured speaker and media source in publications like Forbes, The Guardian, and VICE. You can find her on Instagram @libuff and Twitter @libuff21