Lisa Buffo, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association, sat down with Marcus Naramore, Director Of Marketing And Business Development at Edgemont Group (Leafwerx & Full Spec) to discuss the benefits of using creativity in cannabis marketing.
For more information, visit https://thecannabismarketingassociation.com/
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Lisa Buffo, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association, sat down with Marcus Naramore, Director Of Marketing And Business Development at Edgemont Group (Leafwerx & Full Spec) to discuss the benefits of using creativity in cannabis marketing.
For more information, visit https://thecannabismarketingassociation.com/
Read the Transcript
Lisa Buffo 00:11
Hi everyone, welcome to party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. I’m your host Lisa Buffo, founder and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association. And you can connect with me on Instagram at @libuff and Twitter at @libuff. Today’s conversation features Marcus Naramore, the director of business development and Marketing and Edgemont group Edgemont group delivers a suite of cannabis oils and vapor offerings through the Leafwerx full spec thrills and cookies brands through a single source production methodology. Within Edgemont group, Marcus has built a sales team and sales process established strong brand positioning driven product development and navigated a uniquely competitive marketplace in a highly regulated environment. Prior to his work at Edgemont group, Marcus has worked as a business development executive for Infosys and as an educator within the Teach For America program. Marcus holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science from John Brown University. Marcus has been an avid cannabis believer throughout his adult life. He enjoys how the plant enables new perspectives, lifts mindsets and invigorates creativity as an avid DJ in his spare time, Marcus particularly enjoys this sublime intersection of music and cannabis. He has also seen repeating instances of cannabis providing relief to many people. Okay, welcome everybody to today’s episode of Party like a marketer. I’m your host Lisa Boffo, the founder and CEO of the cannabis Marketing Association. In today’s guest, we have Marcus Nevermore, the Director of Business Development and Marketing for the Edgemont group. Marcus, welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today.
Marcus Naramore 01:58
Hey, thanks for having me on. And absolutely incredible podcasting, by the way.
Lisa Buffo 02:02
Thank you. Thank you. It was a joke from our launch party that just kind of stuck. So that now it now it’s our podcast. So um, yeah. Could you tell the audience a little bit about who you are, what you do and Edgemont group?
Marcus Naramore 02:17
Sure thing. So I work for Edgemont group, we are a producer processor in Washington State. And I manage kind of business development and marketing, basically everything customer facing and sales oriented. So we have four cannabis brands under Edgemont group, and one e commerce brands. So those are all available in retail stores in Washington State. And then our that’s includes leafworks full spec, thrills, and then we also are contracted producer for cookies concentrates. And then we also have mood supplies, which is our kind of like cannabis, adjacent ecommerce platform as well.
Lisa Buffo 02:55
Awesome. And how long has Edgemont group been around?
Marcus Naramore 02:58
We started our build in 2015 and went to market in 2016. So over five years,
Lisa Buffo 03:05
and are you adult use medical both?
Marcus Naramore 03:08
Yeah, so in Washington state, it’s all lumped into one. So it’s all recreational. So yeah, adult use recreational type qualified.
Lisa Buffo 03:16
Cool. Awesome. And you had mentioned that you’re all vertically integrated, and that you are single source Sungrown flower? Can you talk about what that means?
Marcus Naramore 03:27
Yeah, so you know, a lot of customers when they buy a product off the shelf, I know, I’m this way, I assume everything is grown by that company and everything. That company does everything. But there’s a lot of kind of Chutes and Ladders behind the scenes of products. So what we do differently is we do keep everything in house with production, we produce everything, cultivate everything in house, we extract it all we formulate it all and we bring it to retail partners. And that kind of gives us a consistent product and clean products that really like price approachable product as well. And that’s in difference. You know, there’s a lot of wholesaling and sourcing going on behind the scenes for a lot of other brands. And that’s kind of one of the differentiators and key DNA is of our company.
Lisa Buffo 04:12
And tell me a little bit about Sungrown I mean, I’m from Colorado and I know there’s only so many Sungrown brands right because but conditions vary depending on where you are so you’ve got good Sungrown in Seattle.
Marcus Naramore 04:23
Yeah, you know we’re in the Wenatchee Valley and if you’ve ever had an apple and you look at the sticker on it, it’s probably gonna say shul in Wenatchee or slander when Wenatchee that’s where all the apples are produced in the country, most of them and so it’s yeah, it’s an incredible bed for like produce great sun and great water and really dry kind of climate where produce and cannabis and grapes can all thrive. So it’s a really great environment. You know, Sungrown has its DNA mostly kind of in NorCal. And we we swear by Sungrown, right? It’s kind of like a garden dapple versus like a hothouse. Apple or tomato, it’s got like a different taste got different crunch to it, right, the sun’s the most powerful light to grow something. So we kind of stand by it in terms of, it’s really good for making oil as well, because it’s really terpene rich, and really just robust flavor. And that’s kind of what we love about it. It’s also a little bit more eco friendly than indoor and we love indoor as well. But like we love just the attitude of like creating cannabis as naturally as possible.
Lisa Buffo 05:27
That makes sense. Well, it sounds like I gotta make a trip. It sounds beautiful it there?
Marcus Naramore 05:32
Absolutely, it is really stunning. I always enjoy Joy going over there and looking at the looking at the cultivation facility.
Lisa Buffo 05:38
And its sun grown an aspect of your marketing how, like, how do you communicate that in that value prop to your customers? How do you how do you talk about it?
Marcus Naramore 05:48
That’s a really good question. It’s something we’ve wrestled with for a long time. Because as I’m sure you’re aware, like indoor is kind of the creme de la creme from a customer’s perspective. And in terms of high fidelity cannabis in terms of like, how robust the colors are, and how big the terpene production or trichome production is, indoor is hard to be right. But Sungrown has kind of been looked down upon at times in this market. So I think a lot of things that resonate with customers are the effects of Sungrown. Right, like, it’s the terpene production, it’s the eco friendly effects of like producing it. That’s kind of what resonates with customers, I think we’re in a stage where we are ready to really push the idea of Sungrown. And, you know, make people understand that this is this is definitely a value add rather than a value to tractor.
Lisa Buffo 06:36
Yeah, I agree. Well, that’s really excited. Yeah. So tell us a little bit. So this podcast be like, we’re obviously talking about cannabis marketing and communications. So I want to hear a little bit about more, a little more about your career in cannabis, and what you know about marketing. And we also take the philosophy that cannabis marketing best practices are being developed by those who are doing the work in the field, right? It’s a new field, it’s a new industry, we can take best practices from other spaces and other industries. But the way it’s applied in cannabis, in some ways, has its own unique lens. And a lot of it is trial by fire that I am a former CMO. That’s actually why I founded CMA is because I was like this is this is really hard to do. And we need a community for it. So you know, I’m curious to hear from you. What are some lessons that you’ve learned in the cannabis marketing space? And if you have any stories to share as far as getting in your job and getting your hands dirty with it?
Marcus Naramore 07:34
Yeah, 100%. You know, I have always, like many people my age, I really latched on to marketing, probably with Nike ads, you know, growing up, and I think you are. So I’m 36 about 36. Exactly. So I was in that heyday of the Michael Jordan ads, and Kevin Garnett, and all that. And I think that really stuck out to me because they’re painting a culture, right? Like, they’re obviously cool ads, and they’re fun. And they’re made you laugh, but like, there is something bigger that they’re communicating a bigger community that was there that when I you know, was buying Nike clothes or pestering my mom to get Nike clothes, like I thought I was joining that bigger community. So that’s kind of what stuck out with me about it. You know, growing up, I became I started my own t shirt brand in high school, doing pressing shirts and selling them for 10 to 20 bucks for my friends. And then you know, I had a, I was in a band and I was a DJ as well. So I kind of learned like marketing from like a promoter from street level and those atmospheres as well. I then came to Edgemont group and I was in charge of sales first and then marketing kind of folded right into that. Man, you’re right on the money with like doing the doing the work is the biggest lessons because as much as I could learn as many books as I could read, as soon as I got out there and started figuring out how to differentiate our product in this marketplace that’s brand new and complex. I really didn’t know as much as I thought I did. Yeah. Um, I think one or two lessons that I have kind of stuck with me in this experience. The first one is like, don’t get so caught up in the technical aspect of how a product is made. You know, there’s a lot of aficionados in the cannabis industry who are obsessed with production methodologies, cultivation methodologies, they’ll get you in the weed with solvents, they’ll get you in the weed with post processing, right? It’s easy to get wrapped up and think that’s the identity of your product. A lot of customers eyes glaze over when you get into that. So I think like getting into the effects of the product, what is that technical aspect bring to the product? That’s been the most powerful aspect, transformation of our brands as well.
Lisa Buffo 09:43
That yeah, that’s a good point. And there is a huge education gap between the industry and consumers and I, I still think some of us in this space, myself included, can often take that for granted and think oh, that’s common knowledge or Oh, like that’ll be an appealing value prop because we have these conversations amongst ourselves, but for the consumer, it’s, it’s, it’s too much. I mean, we’re still educating them on terpenes and strain names and indica, sativa and effect. So, yeah, that’s a really good point about that.
Marcus Naramore 10:13
Yeah, like resin versus rosin, right like that. It took me like a couple years to nail that, like, your customers to understand the difference. Those are wildly different products. Right. And it’s just it. There’s a lot of minutiae that you got to avoid there.
Lisa Buffo 10:27
Yeah, that’s a good, that’s a really good point, especially when it sounds the same. Yeah, exactly. And what are some advice you would share with young cannabis marketers who are looking to develop their personal and professional brand in the space,
Marcus Naramore 10:41
you know, this is this goes back to just doing it. But like, if you have an idea rattling around in your brain, right now, you’re probably sitting there wondering if it’s a good idea or a dumb idea. I know, I’ve been there a bunch of time, I imagine you’ve been there a few times. And that is just get it out there. whatever idea you have, just get it out there. And it might feel awkward, it might feel novice, but you know, like, every great brand, we look at now had those initial steps where it was that ideal rattling around in the brain. So just get it out there. And like, a couple, like points from my experience with that is like, we started off with Mylar bags with stickers on them. And we literally dropped off samples and paper bags, like that was not where we wanted to be from a marketing perspective. But we had to start there in order to get where we are now. Right? And then like, we try to newsletter a year ago, and we did like two or three issues, and no one read it. And it was a big failure. Right. But like, we came back to the table, and we relaunched a newsletter that’s like a lot more engaging, a lot more interesting, a lot more consistent. You know, like, I even think to like cookies a lot. Because like, I imagined there was a time cookies is a giant, right? It’s the best brand in cannabis, in my opinion. I imagine there’s a time where a burner was sitting there and thinking about the name cookies and wondering if it was like a good name, right? Like, yeah, is that good name is a foolish name. But he took this step. And like he and everything he built around that brand, it made cookies, just this powerhouse. By the way cookies is a great name, in my opinion. But the point is, is like, just get that idea out there that you have rattling around your brain, even if it’s bad, you can put it to the side and get a good one. Or if it’s good, you’ll start building it. Yeah, reminds
Lisa Buffo 12:19
me of one of my favorite books is The Lean Startup for entrepreneurs. And the author says if you if you’re embarrassed of your product, if you’re not embarrassed of your product, you’ve launched too late. Like you want to get out the earliest version and get feedback because you could build this whole thing and spend all this time building something and developing a brand developing a strategy, and then realize that no one’s interested. So the earlier you can get feedback and sort of like collaboratively iterate, the more you can grow with your audience and get input that you might have a blind sight on. And I think that applies in cannabis too.
Marcus Naramore 12:52
That’s a perfect point for this, right? Like, there’s only so much you can do like sitting around a room with your like Team figuring out if it’s gonna work or not, like at some point, you have to get out there, and you have to let it get chopped up by the public and get the actual responses because that’ll help you evolve. I love that quote. That’s wonderful.
Lisa Buffo 13:09
Yeah, it’s great. Yeah, and, and it’s tough to do that, but to get it out in the public and let it get chopped up. But it is ultimately, if you can surround yourself with people who give you honest feedback, will soften the blow for later and can give you some really solid to grow with. So I’m glad to share that. And I know with everyone in cannabis, we all have our own stories. But particularly, there’s a lot of adversity getting into the space as a young marketer. And so many of our brands are startups, right? Like we’re small teams, or small, you know, companies compared to other industries in the rest of the world. So a lot of us are working with limited resources, limited budgets, limited teams, any stories you want to share as far as challenges you overcome, that can kind of lend to that lesson of learning as you go and cannabis marketing.
Marcus Naramore 14:00
Man, that is such a good question. And I and you could probably go on all day with an answer. And I could invite everybody you talk to it because there’s the the flip side of this fast moving industry that’s so exciting is adversity is around every corner, and you have to just be fast and ready for it. To ones that stick out, especially from a marketing perspective, in 2019 vape gate emerged, which I’m sure you remember, but everybody started worrying about what was inside their vapor cartridges, right? Like, and there’s some nasty stuff. There’s like, Eagle 20, perhaps there is Vitamin E acetate, right? And then like Not to mention, there’s those botanical terpenes, which are great. There’s nothing wrong with those but like, it maybe wasn’t as cannabis authentic as customers were thinking. So, you know, that was like a crisis moment for us because a few months earlier, we had pivoted to all vape. So we had like, shut our flower line down and we said, hey, our vape is our strongest category. We’re going to invest in that. And all of a sudden everybody’s questioning vaping and sales kind of started plummeting across the board. You know, one thing we do is we make cards with only cannabis in them. And all that, like, I tried to tell that to people all the time explained botanical terpenes, cannabis terpenes additives and people’s eyes glaze over, but that adversity actually put us in a really good position to differentiate ourselves and add value. So I think the lesson with that was like stay true to our DNA. Like, there’s been many times we thought about launching a distillate cart with like botanical Turks, it’s the prevailing prevalent model in Washington. But vape KaiKai was a reminder stay true to what we care about and how we want to make products and that will resonate in the long run.
Lisa Buffo 15:40
That’s a great point. And even when folks eyes glaze go glaze over when you’re talking about these things. It is often the first step to them better understanding and getting an awareness of here’s what I don’t know. And so maybe I should find out more to become an educated shopper and consumer. So next time they go into the dispensary, they’re going to ask perhaps a more informed question or seek out information that would actually allow them to make a more informed purchase, and therefore maybe be a better customer to you in the future.
Marcus Naramore 16:08
And that’s so true, right? And like customers are gonna have different preferences like the distillate botanical Terps. That’s a great product. I have no qualms with that as well. But customers need to understand the need to self select right? There’s going to be customers who are all cannabis, there’s going to be customers who want distillate and Terps, self selecting that constant education aspect to your product.
Lisa Buffo 16:28
And are you still vape focused only or is the flower we were talking about? Like a separate line,
Marcus Naramore 16:35
you know, all of our flour gets extracted right now. So we we have huge harvest, and we extract it all and we do vapes. But we also have a pretty significant concentrate line, live resin. And we’ll bring solver lists online as well. But 100% of our flour at this moment gets extracted.
Lisa Buffo 16:52
Cool, awesome. Thank you for clarifying that.
Marcus Naramore 16:55
Yeah, of course.
Lisa Buffo 16:57
And if so, to that point, is there anything you wish you knew at the beginning of your cannabis marketing career? That is a lesson you’ve learned since then, and say, like, if you were speaking to someone who is newer in this space, and had the advantage of your experience, what’s something you wish you knew earlier on?
Marcus Naramore 17:16
I think, you know, the rules are still waiting to be written. Um, when I joined this industry, I probably acted a little bit more tentatively than I wanted to. In retrospect, it was just because I was trying to learn everything. And I thought, you know, I didn’t want to break rules. I my previous job before this, by the way, I was selling enterprise technology to a pretty big retailer. So in that industry, there are significant rules, and you have to kind of be by the book, right? So cannabis, that the rules are already be written, and you can just get out there and do what you want. So like, I wish I was a little bit more bold. And I wish I was a little bit more experimental from day one. I think I think we’re there now. But that’s kind of what I would tell myself and in the past,
Lisa Buffo 17:57
and how many years have you been with Edgemont? Group?
Marcus Naramore 18:01
For five years?
Lisa Buffo 18:02
So So what year is it now? 2022? So the beginning?
Marcus Naramore 18:07
Yeah, exactly. You know, we had grown everything. And then I came on board when it was time to sell it.
Lisa Buffo 18:14
That makes sense. Yeah. Okay. And what is what are you most hopeful for in regards to the future of cannabis? Where do you see things going? And I’ll ask this kind of two prong, both sort of that high level industry perspective. And so that however you want, but also marketing, like, where do you see this direction of marketing going? And where should marketers in this space, kind of keep there? What should they keep their eyes open to?
Marcus Naramore 18:41
Yeah, that’s a great question. Listen, like, honestly, like, I don’t get to talk about this aspect of it that often, because you’re supposed to shy away from it when you’re marketing, but like, I’m really hopeful about the benefits, the health benefits that may emerge from cannabis. You know, like, Parkinson’s has affected my family and people in our teams family. Cancer has as well. You know, COVID is obviously affecting everybody. There’s a recent Bloomberg article that does study that cannabis might affect it, right. And like, none of this is entirely like foolproof yet, there needs to be a lot more studying done. But man, it’s like, optimistic and it’s really exciting. Like this plant has been with us for 1000s of years. And there’s plenty of other plants that have benefits. What happens when we really, really start studying these benefits, not to mention mental ailments, you know, like anxiety, depression, add I, that’s the most thing. I’m hopeful about this. It’s the plan at the end of the day, you know?
Lisa Buffo 19:37
Yeah, and it’s funny we so we actually have an event coming up next week. That’s Ted style talks. And one of our speakers is talking about functional effects based marketing and he refers to a survey and it says 100% of cannabis consumers surveyed are looking for a desired effect. So like when we say as marketers like we shy away from the health benefits which is understandable You know, it happens because we almost have to because of the regulations, but in terms of what people are coming to the store for, and what they’re interested in, everybody wants an effect, whether it’s helping them sleep, reducing anxiety and depression, um, you know, sort of these more clinical, so to speak diagnoses like cancer or Parkinson’s, right there. Yeah, we’re all looking to improve our health or improve these, you know, wellness metrics in some way. Everybody is no, no one’s like going to the dispensary saying, you know, I don’t want to have an effect for this. Yeah, it’s almost funny. Dundrum we’re in?
Marcus Naramore 20:36
Yeah, I think that’s really well said. And that’s really exciting. You know, and like, I guess drilling down to the marketing perspective. I really hopeful for like this next level of culture, right, like cannabis and culture are so intertwined. It’s goes back decades, centuries, right? I think like I mentioned, Burner cookies. And they’re kind of like the biggest case study for how to actually create a culture around a brand. Where like, I think there’s going to be more more examples of that maybe in different areas. I think someone’s gonna have to figure out how to transcend the traditional cannabis event culture as well. I think you guys are doing a great job of that. In order to put out like, but I’m thinking like world class Music and Arts Festival, like I would love to see that centered around cannabis. I think like more fashion and lifestyle brands will emerge, right, like, cookies is out there. But like, is there like, irreverence? Street conscious brands, like the hundreds? Is there like going to be an eco friendly like quality brand, like Patagonia isn’t going to be a forward thinking tech brand like Tesla and apple? Like, that’s all a blank slate in the cannabis world right now. To me, I think people are making good moves. But that’s exciting to think about for five years ago.
Lisa Buffo 21:40
Yeah. And there was actually another speaker I was listening to who said that the like, the Google of cannabis hasn’t been invented yet. Or they’re empty of cannabis. Like we were so nascent, relatively speaking that that giant, maybe it’s cookies, maybe it’s somebody in that direction, but maybe they’ve got it hasn’t it’s not even here yet. So the opportunity, I think, for the future, and like you mentioned, the intersection between cannabis and culture is huge, because it does have such an overlap with music arts, you know, Colorado, we’re mountain snowboarding lifestyle people. It’s like, all so many of these perfect marriages. That just speaks, I think, to the broader trend in direction.
Marcus Naramore 22:23
It’s not one size fits all right, like Yeah, Miss appeals to so many different subsets. And all those different people can kind of build their tribes or cultural brands around their specific lane.
Lisa Buffo 22:34
Yeah, well, 100%. So we will see. So I’m curious too, about what your favorite part of the cannabis industry is. I love to ask that question, because everyone has such different answers to it. But what’s your favorite part about working in this space?
Marcus Naramore 22:50
I love a lot about it. Okay, I’ll just preface it with that. I love the product. I love the plant. I love the way it smells or the way makes me feel. I love how fast paced it is how innovative it moves in dog years, right? But like the simple answer for me is the people like the people I work with both inside our group and the retail partners that created it is so fascinating where these people’s stories, like their creative outlets they do outside the industry, their personalities, right? They might be like really quiet artists, they might be like ravers with huge crystal necklaces, professional kayakers, you know, some past Oh, geez, some really like buttoned up printing houses. It’s just really fun to like, work with that cross section of really interesting people. And it really inspires me like every day.
Lisa Buffo 23:37
And I So to that point, I did want to ask you what, so what brought you from enterprise tech to this? What brought you to cannabis, the industry? Anything you want to share about your story?
Marcus Naramore 23:50
You know, I? That’s a great question. I think like enterprise Tech was not my fit. You know, like, I think I went to grad school. And I think it’s like it was like a professional job. And I told myself like, Hey, this is the next step. You got to get into this specifically, but like I said, like I’ve been in a metal band. I’ve been a DJ before I’ve traveled all over the place. Is that what the guitars are? Yeah, exactly. Hey, those are super dusty though. Now I can barely play anymore. That’s just between you know, I’m just kidding. So I’ve never really been fit for that corporate life. And I’ve always loved cannabis. And there’s an opportunity. You know, a friend of a friend showed me his grow and it was this beautiful vista and Wenatchee Valley and I was like, give me up there and talk to them just to see what they’re doing. And so I took that leap and a couple minutes. A couple of weeks later, I decided to move up to Washington with my now wife and my little Pomeranian and we just started from scratch up here and I haven’t looked back. It’s been the best career move of my life by far.
Lisa Buffo 24:51
Where were you before?
Marcus Naramore 24:53
I was in Minneapolis for several years of that tech job. Yeah.
Lisa Buffo 24:57
And what if you don’t mind me asking what was what did you go to For what were you studying,
Marcus Naramore 25:01
I got my MBA. So just kind of a cross section. You know, before that I’ve always mentioned marketing and business. I was actually a high school teacher through a program called Teach for America in Denver. So I was kind of looking for an avenue to get back into the business world, get back into entrepreneurialism. So that’s kind of why I wouldn’t get my MBA. And that kind of came full circle to my position. Oh,
Lisa Buffo 25:23
nice. That’s a great story. Well, thanks.
Marcus Naramore 25:27
It’s, it’s all over the map, you know, both literally and figuratively. But I feel like now in my role, it’s like, it all makes sense. Looking back at the last 15 years of my life, like, this is why all those steps happen is because of what I’m doing now.
Lisa Buffo 25:40
I don’t know anyone in this industry whose story isn’t all over the map. The only way to get here
Marcus Naramore 25:46
Yeah, you’re right. That’s it. That’s maybe that’s the answer your question, right. Like, that’s, that’s amazing.
Lisa Buffo 25:51
Wow. Yeah, lots of lots of twists and turns. And so to get back to marketing a little bit, what are some effective strategies you’ve seen in cannabis marketing, and I can keep that broad anything you’ve either seen at Edgemont group or lessons you’ve learned, but what are some effective cannabis marketing strategies?
Marcus Naramore 26:12
To me, like, these are the two Northstars, I’m trying to push all of our work to, right now, the first one’s personality. I think like in the first stages of cannabis, everybody was striving to be very professional. And they were like, very clean, like Apple looking products everywhere. And they, they look like they’re designed by like a high level marketing firm, and they looked like they’re ready for like, your everyday customer, right. But like, personality, maybe was lacking a little bit. And a lot of those initial products, I think, cookies, I’ve mentioned them, what is my fourth time, but they that personality aspects. Brilliant, right? It’s just their strain logo on the bag in the strain. And they don’t talk about the genetics, they don’t talk about the effects or anything. It’s just, that’s the personality when I buy a bag of pancakes, it’s that pancakes and syrup. And that gives me that feeling. 17 Labs also does a really good job of this in a very, very different way. They are always connecting with their fans on social media, and they’re putting out like neon lights for their fans to purchase. Right. And they’re like, showing, showcasing partners that their personality is very evident. In addition to having an outstanding product. That’s where that’s like the North Star from his personality and and your presentation. mjbizcon touched on that as well, right? Like, it’s going to be about the effects and the personality more so than the product attributes. So I think that’s the first thing for me. The second thing for me it goes right with that is simplicity. In the past, I’ve been guilty of putting way too much information on our packaging. Way too many strains, it’s hard to keep up with. So a couple brands that crushed Simplicio I know are Luna, California, they have like several AIP strains. And it’s only five strains. If you like that strain, you buy it over and over and over again. It’s your favorite, right. And then shred is a company cannabis. I don’t know if you’ve looked at them, but they’re kind of the same model. They have their own, they have their own strains, but they also pre shred their flour. So it’s like ready for you to open up and make a joint and it’s not shake. It’s like a different, different product type. But that really exhibits simplicity that makes it easy for a customer to latch on to a brand.
Lisa Buffo 28:18
That’s interesting. And that is their whole brand. Yeah, exactly. I had to check them out. I have not heard of them. Yeah, yeah. And I think to your point, personality, I think part of what I touched on, or at least what I talked about, and what we preach at CMA is authenticity. Because personality can’t be it’s sort of hard to manufacture. Something you have and you are and if you think about personality in the human sense, it’s like, Oh, I love this person for their quirks. And this is how they talk and communicate or this is, you know, how they laugh or these things that they say and they’re it’s like their characters, right? It’s so hard to put in a box. But the way in which you can do that for a brand does connect and I think resonate more emotionally with the customer. And they have something they can latch on to because they see that they resonate with that and they can understand it. And that’s what you communicate in your marketing
Marcus Naramore 29:13
100% I think you hit the nail on the head that personality is just innate. Right. We’ve been working with Jared Mirsky up here in Washington and I don’t know if you know Jerry, but he’s just a really fascinating marketing mind in the cannabis space. He put it really, really well to us. It echoes what you’re saying the brand, the product is a person, right? It’s like a naked person and the packaging and the marketing. Everything you do is kind of like how you call it right. But that’s going to vary very much depend on who the person is without any clothing on so to speak. So you got to dial that in who is the brand the product without any coding on before you put the clothing on. That make sense?
Lisa Buffo 29:49
Yeah, no, it does. And there’s actually on Oh, to make sure I get this right. But there’s research out of Stanford. I think the woman’s name is Jennifer Akers, but it’s about the five and this isn’t Cannabis was brand personality in the, like us the rest of the world. But he has a model of like five different main types of brand personalities that can all in some way fit under these models. So they’ve actually done research around this. So it might be a little old at this point, I’d have to double check it. But that was my starting point into brand personality and looking into it. So if you’re listening, maybe something worth looking up. But the other thing I was you, you mentioned that I didn’t even occur to me or gave me a good perspective, which is why I love this podcast and having these conversations. I do think the industry probably did overcompensate a little bit with the professionalism in the early days because we were trying so hard to get away from the stone, right? That it was almost too polished and buttoned. In some aspects. Not totally, but in some aspects. That it was like, here’s how we’re going to talk about this and communicate and connect with customers. But it almost lost that like emotional connection because it was very sticky. I don’t know, streamline standardize. I don’t know what the word is but dry. Maybe
Marcus Naramore 31:09
Yeah. 100%. Right. Right. And like, obviously marketing with pot leaves and like Bob Marley, you know, I love Bob Marley, but you know, those traditional like cannabis, that’s probably not the way to go to bring in new people. But like, cookies doesn’t do that. Like right shred doesn’t do that. It’s it’s just, they’re really great brands, whether they sell cannabis or motorcycles or anything, right? Like that’s just as that’s that personality of that brand.
Lisa Buffo 31:36
Yeah, yeah, I did appeals, it’s going to appeal to a wider a much wider audience than we currently have. And it’s about bringing those those new folks into. So yeah, I love that. Those are good, good recommendations, personality.
Marcus Naramore 31:51
Same all you have to send me that research article as well as well.
Lisa Buffo 31:54
I will, it’s good. I think it I think you’ll get a lot from it. And so Okay, so last few questions. Before we go. What are some of the ways that you think marketing will continue to grow the cannabis industry in the future? And I kind of want to look at possibly both sides of this coin, you can answer this however you want, but ways in which marketing is promoting the growth of this industry? And even the ways in which maybe we’re not doing ourselves a favor? Like what ways? Are we slowing things down? Where could we improve? Or what could we do better? Where do you see that going?
Marcus Naramore 32:26
That’s a great question. The first, like, what marketing could do better? And listen, like, I don’t have the answer to this, I just, it’s just observation. There’s not a lot of customer connection, right? Like, brands are not getting directly cut connected to customers as much as we want them to. And the case stays where it is happening. Those brands are skyrocketing. I think the average cannabis customer is intimidated when they go into a store or when they open up their iOS app, like I have friends text me with their E screenshots, like, hey, what do I buy? Right? Like, I have to run down it’s like that is there’s a missed opportunity of brands not connecting with customers and helping customers have confidence that this is this is my thing. This is my favorite, right, like. So that’s kind of like the first one that I’m really interested, how are people going to solve that problem of connecting to customers? It’s cash focused, right? And a lot of states, so that data, that wealth of data that might be there for like, when you shop at Target, or sharpen Amazon that might be missing for a little bit. So we’re gonna have to be more creative, right? Like, how do we build campaigns that are direct with customers? How do we build street teams? You know, like, that’s kind of like from my days of DJing. And being in a band, how do we apply those on the ground methods, but customer connection is really, really a thing I have observed is not there yet.
Lisa Buffo 33:41
That’s a good point. That’s a good point. Yeah. And that is interesting, I think something that technology and social media has an opportunity to change. But we are limited in that in some sense, because we don’t have full finishers not have full access to social media, and it’s still kind of a scary terrain to plan because you never know if you’ll have your account tomorrow. So I think when that starts to change, too, we’ll have more opportunity for sort of open, honest, transparent conversations and communications that isn’t like, am I gonna get flagged or shut down if I hashtag you know, the wrong cannabis, word or whatever. So, but we’ll see if we’re not there yet.
Marcus Naramore 34:23
I would also listen, that’s a great point. This is kind of a divergent, but anybody who’s a young marketer, like one thing I wish I knew immediately don’t build your don’t build your brand on social media and cannabis like it can be a tool, but you got to have a central digital platform that you own right like websites are an obvious one but you got to have something you own and you can control and then use that social media to amplify it but that’s another thing I wish I knew
Lisa Buffo 34:47
when I started it 100% And your your CRM your email list because those can’t be taken away by social can and good luck getting a pack. Yeah, and but it’s not it’s not the it is very risky. Hey, I’m glad. I’m glad you brought that up.
Marcus Naramore 35:03
What do you I mean, I would I would love to ask all these questions for you this one specifically because you have such a good eye on it. Like, how Where do you think marketing is falling short in this industry? And where do you think it has an opportunity for that other industries? Don’t I agree
Lisa Buffo 35:17
with you on the customer communication aspect, I think that’s a really good point. And I’ve sort of seen it or talked about it from a few different lenses. And I think one we mentioned over and over again, is education, where it’s almost like we’re going like this, sometimes we’re either talking under our customers or over them, or we’re like, oh, this will help you feel good or simplifying it. And there’s nothing wrong with being simple. But there isn’t a kind of an art or I would say a delicacy to it. And talking over them, as far as you know, what you had mentioned the going too deep into the science or the strain names or the processing technique without taking these steps to connect. And I also think we could have better two way conversations. Okay. We were almost like, in some way, I think project like, this is what people need, and this is what consumers want. But I’m like, have we talked to them fully? Have we had a full conversation around the why? And, um, I also think we need to do a better job of understanding, like we say stigma so easily. It’s like, there’s the stigma and we have it, but like, what does that mean? Where does that come from? And stigma is going to be very different depending on your racial group, your socioeconomic class, your religion, even your gender, how you were raised all of these things can the message around cannabis when cannabis was bad was delivered and very different and often traumatic ways to people? Yeah, we need to unpack that a little bit more so that our marketing messages can meet people where they’re at and understand what the effects of 80 years of prohibition and propaganda did. Because the the barrier is not just I don’t understand the effect cannabis is going to have on my body that is one. But it is not the only one. The other one is what are the socio cultural and economic effects that this had on my community? And my person? And how do we start to talk about that and engage it and those are hard conversations. But I do think it is a it is a barrier. And one example I have is you know, my mom, I’m a millennial like you she’s a baby boomer, and I get text from her friends who don’t want to walk into a dispatch, same same thing. They don’t want to walk into a dispensary. So this is what they want to purchase, but they’re afraid to and it but why? And these are conversations we need to have. So I think we can improve on that two way conversation, I think we can improve and having some of the harder conversations around the stigma and that emotional connection of where folks are saying I’m interested in I want to try but I’m hesitant to put my foot in the door, but I’m googling and I’m texting and I’m researching. But I think the flip side of that is that it leaves us with a tremendous opportunity to start to open those doors to have hard conversations to improve our marketing and communications and to just meet people where they’re at and not generalize the cannabis. Like the future cannabis consumer so much because there are like, I would even like to say millions of different sub consumer groups, like there’s an amount it’s not just how do you market to women, it’s like there’s one term, but women are not one category. There’s so many different subsets within that and we just started to scratch that surface. So I just think there’s so much more room for nuance, and deeper understanding and communication that can be really beautiful and beneficial if we’re willing to do it.
Marcus Naramore 38:52
Man that is well said I think the listening aspect is so on the nose right? Like I crave that information that feedback and it’s hard to get but like that stigma points interesting too. Because like, I guess people like you and I and like the rest of the industry. We’ve probably already made peace with cannabis and been like cannabis is good. Cannabis has been official. Cannabis is socially acceptable, right. And I’m pushing the limit in my social circles with that. But like customers, definitely not there on some ARB and some are and that’s so glossed over because everybody in the industry is already bought into it. So man listening to the customer and learning about those. That’s that’s a great answer.
Lisa Buffo 39:29
Yeah, yeah, I’ve got some more information. I’ll send you on that. But um, yeah, I think I think we have an opportunity. I think it’s a good one.
Marcus Naramore 39:37
I like it. Every problem is an opportunity. And like the thing I was thinking about too, with the limitations with social media marketing, like the thing about cannabis industry is problems have always been there. Obstacles have always been there, right. So people are creative problem solvers in this industry, more so than maybe a lot of other industries just because of the historical nature of making and distributing and everything that has gone on with this clip so,
Lisa Buffo 40:01
yeah, yeah. And I think the creative aspect that cannabis evokes, like part of why I love cannabis marketing is I think I’m like the more people that consume and involve involve themselves with the plant, the more they’re going to open their mind to new ideas, ways to solve problems, their own emotional states, different ways. You indicate, and it brings out an authenticity and different sides of yourself that maybe you hadn’t explored yet. And that lends itself to problem solving in a new way. I know as a founder, entrepreneur, myself, my cannabis consumption allows me to look at my nine to five business problems way differently than maybe I was years ago. And that’s cool. That’s awesome.
Marcus Naramore 40:44
I agree. Like I, I’ll get in my own head, especially the creative projects, like, I’m one way during the day, but then at night, like all, I’ll get like, little stoned, and I’ll be able to crush the creative problem way, way differently, right. And it just flows so easily. So that’s interesting. If all the customers and all the industries start to have that same mentality, it is going to be like that flywheel like where it just gets faster and faster and faster and more ideas, more great ideas emerge. And people have more fulfilled,
Lisa Buffo 41:12
we could change. I mean, it’s like so high, but high level, but like we could change the world like that. Yeah, everyone can take that and apply that in their communities and their lives. I mean, it really has a big butterfly effect. I think so.
Marcus Naramore 41:24
I don’t think you’re overplaying it right. Cannabis has been around for 1000s of years. It’s been it’s been a marker in every culture around the world. And it’s been part rituals. It’s been part of musics been part of communities. So it is, I think, a life changing, you know, substance like plant so I’m with you. I don’t think you’re overstating that at all.
Lisa Buffo 41:42
Nice. Well, I I’m so I’ve got one last question. And then we’ll wrap up. Sorry, where do you see the industry industry going as a whole and the next year or five years? What do you see as the future of of our space?
Marcus Naramore 41:56
Well, I think there’s the big elephant in the room, right? Like and that’s legalization. So, if federal legalization happens, I think there’s a reality that everybody is needs to like buy into, it’s probably gonna bring 123 mass market brands. And they’re gonna be powerhouses that are national corporation brands. And like the powerhouses we think of now, like the multi state operators, they’re probably going to be relegated to a more backburner status. So that’s the one thing right, like mass market brands are going to be prevalent, but I still think there’s a space for luxury status brands and for like, really like brands that connect to people’s tribal image. So I guess that’s my second thing is like, more fragmentation is probably necessary, right? You touched on that just don’t market to women. Like there’s a million subsets in that in that, right. So like height, this Hypebeast by the same things at soccer moms by cultivation concerts, by the same things like punked, by that professionals by all those people I’ve seen in cannabis stores. So like, how are we going to build specific brands to resonate with those people, that is how we are going to continue to exist when these big players come in, and there’s Budweiser of cannabis that’s dominating every other shelf.
Lisa Buffo 43:09
And I agree, and so bring it back to your point, when we are niched, out like that, and fully connecting with our customers in our community, that will keep that customer loyalty there and, and, frankly, keep you in the game. And I think a lot of folks in the industry are afraid of that, that we’re going to go out of business, or we’re going to get bought or just knocked off, because we’re not going to be able to compete when that happens. But if you have that connection with your customers, and they’re loyal, and they show up for you and your community, like we do with our, you know, hairdressers and our like our other local businesses that that will keep you going.
Marcus Naramore 43:43
What do you what do you what do you think is gonna happen? I mean, legalization is a big question, but like, how do you view the next five years, the next year?
Lisa Buffo 43:52
I would agree with you were that that’s the big elephant in the room. And we have yet to see how that will play out as far as how the regulations will be written. And what’s the difference between what the Feds determine and what the states determine and then how that impacts business. I think the other thing that’s a big one to that will come with legalization is interstate commerce that we have yet to see play out right, like Will Will everyone just want NorCal cannabis? Or is there going to be that kind of craft brewery demand, which I think there will be for kind of local local brands and locally, you know, kind of grown and owned and operated. I think interstate commerce is going to be a big game changer. I don’t know, you know how that’s gonna play out or what it’s going to mean. But I agree with you that when folks, bigger mainstream companies who are able to come in with unlimited funds it it is going to change everything. Because our view of that with the MSOs of today and the small businesses of today is still so small compared to what they don’t have access to without access to banking and without you know any of these major publicly, like major traded companies in the space, so, yeah, it’ll, it’ll see. But I think in a way, I almost feel like for us small business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s our, like, time to keep running and you know, doing our thing while we have this window and to just be really focused, focused about it and build what we have build upon what we have now and set a tone so that when things do change, and we have an influx of new, like fresh blood in the space, for lack of a better word that we have set some standards, some goals, some principles and say, you know, this is the industry we want to build. And this is how we play with each other and, you know, have sort of like an ethos at the core of it is something I would really like to see, but I think we’re still, you know, working out.
Marcus Naramore 45:52
I agree. And I think you know, it’s interesting if you look to the north like in Canada, it’s almost like a case study that pulling out because the giant producers up there are losing market share, and there’s upstarts that are taking their market share and they’re built more on what everything you just mentioned, like having a specific connection how you specific lane and ethos and they are taking market share of the giants, the giants are still the Giants, right, but like that is something substantive. I think it’s a proof of concept for what we’re talking about and hopefully like when US goes federally legal it’ll follow that same pathway.
Lisa Buffo 46:26
Yeah, I agree. I agree. So lots of opportunity and very exciting. But is there anything else markers you want to share or mention that you haven’t had a chance to say?
Marcus Naramore 46:39
I don’t think so. I think I just want to see more people join the industry you know, I It’s a big tent here we talked about all these different groups and I’m I want to see more I went I’m stoked to see more women led business I’m stoked see more people of color LED business. Cannabis has always had that fabric wound into it. And there’s too many people that are you know, like, look look like me in the industry and I’m just excited for that tend to grow bigger and bigger because I certainly enjoy like working with a cross section of people. It’s really inspiring and engaging, and less salesy and boring. So whatever we can do on a micro level and a macro level to expand that tent and to bring more people into the industry that’s that’s what I’m aiming for.
Lisa Buffo 47:22
Awesome. And is there any contact information you want to share website social handle? Like how can folks connect with you and add to my group if you want to share that publicly?
Marcus Naramore 47:34
Yeah, hard to say we have our websites leafworks.com is kind of our home base, full spec seven ten.com is our live resin. And those are both available on social as well. You can reach me on LinkedIn, Marcus Nevermore. You can also reach me by email just firstname.lastname@example.org. So I would love to hear from anybody any of your listeners and build build this big town just talking
Lisa Buffo 47:57
about and spell leafworks for us. Yeah,
Marcus Naramore 48:00
sure. It’s leaf Lea F, but then it’s W E. R x. So leaf, w e r x.
Lisa Buffo 48:10
And And lastly, where can we find your products? What retailers in Washington?
Marcus Naramore 48:14
oh, we’re in 200 stores in Washington our you know where an uncle likes where Main Street marijuana where it have a heart and we’re in. On in Spokane. We’re in some great groups. We’re in like Treehouse clubs, sativa sisters, anywhere where they sell great products we try to be in. So yeah, we have all that on our website as well if you’re in a specific area,Washington.
Lisa Buffo 48:36
Well, sounds like I’m gonna make a visit soon.
Marcus Naramore 48:38
Yeah, please do. I’d love to show you the facility. It’s it’s really fun for a lot of people who are used to seeing like indoor grows. It’s a whole different ballgame. I’ll send you some drone pics. Cool
Lisa Buffo 48:48
Cool. Thank you, Marcus. I really appreciate you taking the time and joining us today.
Marcus Naramore 48:53
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for your time. Lisa. I’m really excited about what you’re doing in this industry and let us know how we can help.
Lisa Buffo 49:00
Thank you so much. All right. Have a good one. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Party like a marketer. Check us out on Instagram at party like a marketer and on our website, the cannabis marketing association.com Don’t forget to engage with us. We’d love to hear from you. And be sure to join us in person in June 2020 June 8 through 10th for the annual cannabis marketing summit happening in Denver, Colorado. Check out our website for more details and membership information. We’ll see you next time.
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