Party Like a Marketer Podcast

Episode 28: In-Person Events Changing the Dynamic of the Cannabis Industry

Episode Description

Lisa Buffo, Founder, and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Rebecca Maestas Sincere, Executive Director of Marketing at Clear Cannabis Inc, to discuss In-Person Events Changing the Dynamic of the Cannabis Industry.

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Lisa Buffo  00:12

Today’s conversation features Rebecca Maestas Sincere the executive director of marketing for clear cannabis Inc. Rebecca is an industry veteran and a proven leader with 13 plus years of industry experience and a true passion for the cannabis industry. Her expertise is building strong retail and wholesale brands through market research, smart product development, creative marketing and specific market positioning to penetrate the target niche, currently leading a team at Clear cannabis Inc, established in 2012 by a team of scientists who brought molecular distillation to the legal cannabis market, and in the process reinvented the cannabis vape category. Rebecca owns and oversees the evolution of all brands under their portfolio, including the clear T wax and no end dope while developing new product categories. She has translated her desire to combine cannabis and music together by cultivating alliances between the industry and musicians who have an affinity for the plant, working with leafs by Snoop, Cypress Hill, red man and Method Man and Kimani Marley to name a few. Rebecca created the first celebrity endorsed edible was sublime with Rome, orange dynamite, a milk chocolate and orange bar flavor profile that was crowd sourced by the Secret Society of bud tenders and launched in Colorado in 2016. Hi, everybody, welcome to today’s episode of Party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. Today’s guest is Rebecca Maestas Sincere the executive director of marketing for clear cannabis Inc, representing the brands in Portfolio underneath the clear brand. Rebecca, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  02:01

Hi, Lisa. It’s great to see you. Thanks so much for having me.

Lisa Buffo  02:04

Of course. So as you know, our podcast is all about cannabis marketing, and you are an industry veteran, you’ve been working in this space for a while, and you know it really well. So can you tell our audience a little bit about who you are, who the clear is, what you do and your history in the cannabis industry and marketing?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  02:23

Yeah, sure. Not a problem. So I am a Colorado native. So I’ve been here for pretty much the majority of my life went to school back east for a few years. But Colorado always seems to call me back. It’s truly my home. And I’ve been in the legal marketing space for the last 13 years approximately So started out as one of the very first infused product manufacturers here in the state of Colorado. That was really before the regulatory framework was built out. So in about 2008, we saw a bunch of dispensaries come online and went out and started asking dispensary operators what patients were looking for. And at the time, they said nobody was making a decent tincture. So I had a group of friends who learned how to cultivate and grow starting in high school, went to Cherry Creek High School, and in 2000 when the law officially changed here, under caregiver ship, they opened up a warehouse grow. So it was a large setting for them to be able to cultivate really that’s how the black market was really fueled for for a while. But nobody was truly doing any sort of extractions. So when they would harvest their plants they would take all the trim and it would just be thrown into the to the dumpster which is considered trash. So I went to them and I said hey, next time you pull down a harvest, could I come get your trash? And they said Sure, no problem. So I went and I picked up two huge garbage bags full of trim and stems and went into my kitchen and a townhome that I had at the time and we started formulating so we were making glycerin based tinctures just using the the biomass that we were getting from our friends and created a line of tinctures called canamex. So we had a whole multitude of different flavors that we offered, went out into the market and started sampling them at first I just went to vitamin cottage and bought just the amber glass dropper bottles, anything that I could find on the shelf, went home home printed the labels slapped it on there started sampling people really liked it. So from there we were able to scale up you know started buying the bottles by the case scaled up but you know the glycerin by the five gallon buckets then so it was truly taking somebody else’s trash and turning it into what I consider a treasure for not only the patients but but for ourselves as we continued to build that small business. So as the regulations continued to change. It got a little bit more complicated as far as how you could produce products where you could produce them what the licensing requirements were. So there was a period of time where we could share commissary kitchens here in the Denver area. with producers who were not producing THC infused products that didn’t last for a very long time, so then a group of us kind of banded together and we’re using sort of this one facility. And then the regulations changed again, we’re only one license could be associated with one facility. So you know, it just continued to to change and evolve. And it got really difficult. So about that time I went into partnership with caregivers for life. So as part owner in that, which was a medical shop at the time, located in turn Creek north, we had five different licenses, some cultivation license on that license, and then the retail license or the dispensary license, I helped build out the facility that was it within that building, because I had had the the operational experience already from doing that, you know, trying to keep my business afloat. That business actually went south as far as the relationship. And so I actually left the industry for about a year went out. And I was managing salespeople on the floor at the airport for JPMorgan Chase. So we were selling credit cards for United and southwest. So it was actually a really fun job, just a lot of interaction with people on the floor. It was really high, paid high and fast paced, it was a lot of fun. But the contract ended. And so I found myself, you know, trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. And I had already cultivated some relationships within the industry from being in before and starting that business. So I reached out to one of my friends who at the time was working at Dixie. And she had posted something on Facebook, I think that was you know, said they were looking for particular, fulfill a particular position. So I reached out to her personally and said, Hey, do you think they might be interested in me? She said, absolutely. I went in and interviewed for the position and landed the job. So at first when I joined Dixie Brands, I was tasked with helping them build a product and brand called Dixie botanicals. So it was the first hemp derived line of products to be offered to all 48 states here in the US it was traded on the Pink Sheets under MJ and a medical marijuana Incorporated. It was a joint venture with a partner out in San Diego. So I, Myself I worked on the retail side of things. And I had one counterpart who worked on the wholesale side, I was really responsible for a lot of the inbound enquiries. So emails, phone calls, things like that people really looking for alternative solutions for themselves and or they were an advocate for a patient and might have been, you know, an infant or somebody who was elderly or somebody who was at the end of life and just needed something to kind of get them through and or it could have been their pet. So I was able to amass a massive database of anecdotal data just speaking with people and really started to understand the nuances and the differences between the way pharmaceutical medicines work and cannabinoids and within the endocannabinoid system. So that was really interesting. They ended up severing that relationship after a year. So we built that from zero to $6 million in the first year. And then they sold their portion back to the other partner in San Diego. So I went out there, trained everybody and then jumped back to the THC side with Dixie Brands and help them I was there for seven years. So I was doing the marketing for them. And at one point was the acting VP of both marketing and sales for Dixie Brands as they marched towards their IPO in 2018. So was afforded a lot of really great opportunities and experiences. They’re created. The first sub celebrity endorse edible in the cannabis space was sublime with Rome called Orange dynamite. also work with the leafs by Snoop crew. And all of that that was originally a contract that was taken on by law might help. But they quickly realized that they couldn’t keep up with the demand as far as the production on the manufacturing edible side. So Dixie ended up taking over that portion of the contract. So I was able to work on that side, too. So that was all really fun and exciting. In 2018. They ended up going public. And then the next year in 2019, I made the transition from Dixie over to live well, my Intel, and I helped them with brand development. So I built out 10 brands for live well, I while I was there, so I was hoping, helping with the wholesale side of things as they continue to expand their footprint here in Colorado and then becoming an MSO up in Michigan. So at first the idea was for them to open up some retail sites in Michigan, but with COVID and some other challenges we ended up having to pivot and so we’re mainly focused on wholesale at first, so wholesaling the flour at versus that was being harvested, and then quickly moving into extraction, so building out a hashtag hash and magnitude those brands for them up there as well. So that was also a great experience. I was there for two years and then made the transition over from Lovewell to clear cannabis in November of last year. So started the week of Thanksgiving so I Been there just a little over what maybe five months now four months. So it’s, it’s already been a great ride with them. I love the crew over at the clear. So I’m really enjoying everything that we’re doing right now. And also, this company has intentions to go public at some point this year as well.

Lisa Buffo  10:21

And tell us a little bit about the clear and their brands and their footprint in Colorado.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  10:27

Sure. So the clear is mainly known for their vape products that they sell, that’s really their flagship, they do cartridges, both in half grams, and one grams, as well as all in one units are disposables, and 350 milligrams, they come in a multitude of different flavors, that’s what the clear is really known for is all the different flavors that they provide. Also really known well known for consistency. So in 2012, there was a group of scientists that came together and created this process called molecular distillation, which is what we now know across the industry as when you talk about a product that has distillate in it. So they really created the first line in California at the time, and then their products hit the shelves in early 2013. So been around for better part of a decade now. And really were based around consistency. That’s really what the clear tries to deliver. So it doesn’t matter what market that you’re purchasing their products. And you can always rely on the product being consistent, not only in the quality, but also the flavor.

Lisa Buffo  11:33

Awesome. And are they in where are they located? It’s not just Colorado, right?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  11:37

Yeah, that’s correct. So here in Colorado, we have our flagship products that I just talked about, we recently launched another brand called duacs, which is an infused pre-roll product. So we have that now in 1.25 single units as well as minis, which are sort of little dog walkers, those we just launched. And those have distillate infused into them, as well as just a hint of flavor. So those really pack a punch as far as being extremely potent. And then we just also launched another product called Endo, which is a new one for us here in Colorado. And that one is more market specific. So it’s, it’s a live resin formulation. So we’re taking fresh harvested flour, and pulling off not only the terpenes, but the resin off of it, and then formulating it with a little bit of discipline. So it’s a really interesting product. So we currently our footprint is California, Colorado, Nevada, Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts and Oklahoma. So we’re in seven states currently, with the goal to be in another seven by the end of this year.

Lisa Buffo  12:43

Oh, wow. That’s, that’s a lot in a year that’s Exciting.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  12:47

That is yeah, a lot of work.

Lisa Buffo  12:49

Awesome. Okay, so so. So I want to talk a little bit about effective marketing strategies for you, you know, you’ve seen marketing and cannabis from the beginning for small businesses, that local footprint to, you know, big state players to now working with multiple MSOs. So what are some effective marketing strategies that you see brands utilizing in the space? And if you want to touch specifically on anything that would be specific to either bait products, or, you know, kind of what you focus on? I’d love to hear more about that.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  13:22

Sure, sure, So I think it’s really evolved over time. You know, I’ve always been pretty scrappy, I think and savvy when it comes to marketing, especially in this space. You know, I don’t think that a lot of traditional marketing strategies really translate over into this space. And I’ve seen that time and time again, where executives from other CPG categories, try to come into the space and take what they’ve learned from there and, and make it translate here, it’s just not quite the same, you know, first of all, the regulatory framework that we have to work within makes it really challenging. And it really reduces the amount of opportunities that we have. One thing that I did when I was at Dixie is I created the first kind of Bud Tender network, it was called The Secret Society of bud tenders. And the idea was really to endear them to the brand, right? So make our brand really stand out and be at their the forefront of their minds when they’re selling products at the point of sale. In my opinion, bud tenders are some of the most influential people in the industry, because they truly do call the shots at the point of sale. So they can make or break a brand or a product just on their opinion alone. So I did have some success with that. And more recently, with the clear I’ve created a new budtender network called the Clear Connect. So it’s the same kind of concept where we are trying to band together a lot of bud tenders from different retailers from all across the states and bring them together in social gathering. So we’re really trying to transcend that virtual relationship that we’ve had to cultivate now over the last couple years with COVID and transcend that into more of a physical gathering. So actually, tomorrow is going to be our first gathering that we’re hosting, it’s going to be at the miris, a gallery in art bar. And that’s conjunct in conjunction with kickoff to April, which is the award ceremony for the THC classic. And that’s the largest cannabis competition here in the state. So we’re really excited to do that. So one thing that we’re going to do, for instance, for this particular gathering and group is we are inviting 300 VIP industry members into our space, we’re going to be giving out Limited Edition swag bags, I’ve created some merchandise that’s very exclusive and limited to people who are only within the network. Um, so it’s all about creating really kind of that. And in my opinion, is more about that kind of underground field staying really true to the culture and that core audience, which is our bud tenders, you know, and bringing people together in a community in a way where they can network together and spread more knowledge. And it’s a great way for us to really learn more from experts in the industry, who are those bud tenders. So, you know, we can gather a lot of great Intel. So that’s definitely one strategy that I think is very important. And I will continue to expand that program into other markets, you know, I consider Colorado really are the mothership for the clear. So we like to test things in this market. And if things are successful, then we’ll expand it into other markets. So that’s definitely something that, you know, is is different that a lot of other brands aren’t doing. But like I said, I’ve, I’ve seen some real success out of it.

Lisa Buffo  16:32

And with so I want to talk a little bit more about that blood tender relationship, and particularly how things have changed over the last two years with COVID. Are you seeing, um, you know, either at your work at the clear, or in general with the industry, as, as, you know, we’re going back to in person events, more of a shift to that. And when that happens, are you seeing folks continue to do what they did the last two years as far as digital building those relationships online and keeping that presence? Or is it kind of going fully back online? Or in person? Basically, what I’m trying to say is, is is there a let’s focus now on the in-person connection, these events, bringing people out getting them together in sort of dropping off any digital efforts? Or is it about kind of ramping them both up together?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  17:20

Yeah, I think it’s really a hybrid or two-prong approach. At this point, I don’t think everybody is 100% comfortable, and going back to, to in person events. And you know, you have to be respectful of people and how they feel about this new world that we live in. So I think it’s important to maintain both a presence, both physically as well as virtually I also think that people are really excited about being able to get out and go to in person events, and experience these things that they were able to, but haven’t been able to in the last couple of years. So I do feel as though, you know, there’s sort of that angst people want to get out and, and talk to people and see new things and experience things, not just behind the computer screen or or a phone. So. So I think that digital campaigning is also extremely important. You know, there are a lot of digital marketing opportunities that can really move the needle. And the great thing about those efforts is they’re measurable with metrics that can be monitored easily. And, you know, utilizing digital programmatic campaigns, you know, we there are some existing platforms such as I heart, Jane that I leverage, even today, that they have some great programs in there. There’s also just traditional digital programmatic advertising, you know, where you’re serving up ads on a cell phone and kind of tracking the consumer as they go through the journey. The nice thing about that is as far as granular data, you can get down to seeing the person that you actually served the first ad to all the way through them visiting a dispensary. So for example, I had some great luck with that up in the Michigan market when we had launched hashtag hash while I was at Lovewell. We were able to create a campaign driving consumers specifically to retailers to purchase that product. And the metrics that I was seeing at the time was around 75 cents cost per visit. That is almost unheard of you know that that that’s so inexpensive to drive one consumer into a dispensary. With that the challenge is you can’t really track all the way through the POS system to be able to see what they actually purchase. The only way you can do that is if you partner with a POS partner such as I heart Jane or duchy or one of those other partners where they’re in real-time they’re actually able to feed in that data that’s coming from the POS system, but even being able to track and see a consumer walking into a dispensary is really effective. Because you know, I would say probably what 95% of the time maybe higher if a consumer walks To dispensary, they’re going to purchase something, you know, they’re not just window shopping. It’s not that kind of experience. So. So I do think that those tools that can measure very specific outcomes and help distill that, that data in a digestible format, to be able to present to, you know, an executive committee or other team members to really show them how that revenue is really ramping up, not only to help the brand side of things, which is what I do, but also, you know, our, our partners at the manufacturing level in other states, and then also our retail partners.

Lisa Buffo  20:36

That makes sense. And you had mentioned that you use Colorado as a test market, and then you, you know, adjust as you launch into new markets, I’m guessing that you meant that from sort of that product level perspective. But is there any way that that also translates to marketing where maybe you take a certain marketing approach in Colorado, but then when you launch, you know, say, in Michigan or another state, for example, it would pivot or change based on either any feedback you’ve gotten or just adapting to the local culture there?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  21:07

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s beyond just the local culture, I think it’s also just the tools that operators have an affinity for, I think, across markets just varies. So for instance, you know, leaf Link has a really high penetration here in Colorado, Michigan is a really great example, where leaf Link has amazing success. But if you go to another market, such as California, for instance, they don’t use leaf link for the majority of retailers out there. So it’s not the same. You know, it’s not consistent across all markets. So that’s what also can be challenging is if you have seven markets to manage, then you have to really find the the the tools and the outlets that are going to be most effective and most successful, and each one of those markets. So here in Colorado, you know, for the bud tender network, for instance, that’s something that we will definitely test in this market, see how successful it is, and then kind of adapt and adjust as we continue to move into other markets. Another great market for us with that particular program will probably be Michigan just because our partner out there has a consumption event space that we can also utilize. So that just helps, you know, bring the whole activation and the that program together.

Lisa Buffo  22:23

That makes sense. Okay, um, how about what are some advice you would share with young cannabis marketers who are looking to develop a personal and professional brand?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  22:34

Yeah, I think it’s important to be creative while still playing within the sandbox, you know, being genuine and sincere as you possibly can, when marketing yourself, but also the brands that you’re developing, I think I believe it’s important to stay as close to the truth when building products and crafting messaging, you know, consumers are really smart, and they can tell when a brand is being genuine or not. So I really feel it’s important, you know, sometimes people want to sort of stretch the truth, or maybe kind of tweak it a little bit as far as messaging or communicating the consumers what’s maybe in the formula, or the effect that that might have, you know, and it is a challenge, because we have to be so careful about what we say as far as function and what products can and can’t do, you know, we can’t talk about how it can address, you know, certain ailments. So that that can be difficult. But I think it’s, it’s still important to try and stay just as close to the truth as possible. Education is highly important at the industry facing level. And in for consumers, I think being able to, you know, predict the effect of a particular product. And what that’s going to create for a consumer was going to continue to set brands apart, you know, consumers, especially those new to the cannabis market, you know, they want predictability and consistency. So that’s why I’ve seen some MSOs have a difficult time really expanding their footprint across different markets, is because sometimes their formulations won’t be legal in certain markets. So I guess a good example of that would be when I was at Dixie, we had created these mints and they were effect based we had a relaxing mint and we had an awakening meant but the effect wasn’t coming from the THC because really THC is THC, if it’s the first pass is happening in the liver, the liver can’t really tell the difference between an indica or sativa. So the way at the time they were creating the effect was based on other herbs and supplements that were in the formulation that sort of enhance that effect. Well, when we started to move into the California marketplace, those were not allowed. So we basically had to go back to the drawing board and strip a lot of those ingredients out of the formula in order for it to make makes sense and legal in California, but also as we expanded the footprint across other markets for it to be really consistent, so that those are, you know, just some of the challenges. So, you know, the other issue is, you know, strains are going to vary from state to state and the way that the metric system is set up, you there’s no legal way to bring a new strain into the marketplace at this point, unless you were a seed bank, or had a separate facility that was licensed that’s actually doing that scientific work, and able to bring a new strain in that that’s really the only way. So it’s interesting for me to watch a lot of these retailers continue to kind of expand their offerings from a strain perspective, because it’s not, that’s not really how, how the system is set up. But yeah, so I think in the end, it’s just my best advice would be, you know, if you’re, if you’re, if you have the opportunity to sit at a table with executives, you know, just, you know, lean into those conversations, don’t be afraid to share your experiences, you know, speak, be resilient, I think, many times it just takes a different perspective for others to understand, you know, how to overcome challenges. You know, if you’re an entrepreneur, you want to be confident in your ideas, and clearly share your mission, your vision, your plans for your startup, you know, ask your peers to provide feedback. And ultimately, you want to be able to overcome any objection that’s thrown at you. But I think that that that’s a good way and probably good advice for you know, anybody in the industry, whether you’re male or female is, you know, just every I think everybody has something to contribute and to share, and everybody has great ideas. It’s not those who are just an executive level. So you know, sometimes that those best ideas are coming from people who you never even know that, that they had that skill set, just because they’re a bud tender, or tremor, or whatever, you know, just don’t discount those people who are in the industry, because they’re all we’re all very valuable members.

Lisa Buffo  27:04

Definitely. And I want to ask a little bit more about what you mentioned about that the mint scenario. So what happened? Did you have to you had to change the formula, I’m guessing to launch Fornia? Did you end up rebranding it and it becoming a different product or almost finding something else that would have the same effect, but a different, you know, a compliant way to launch there? A common problem.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  27:29

Sure. So in Colorado, there is a workaround. So there’s a way that you can add those types of ingredients to your formula, you just there’s just a process that you have to go through in order for it to be approved. But I think the mindset at the time was because we were expanding our footprint across other markets, we figured it would probably an issue be an issue that we’d have to face, again, some sometime in the near future. So we ended up reformulating that product, not necessarily rebranding it, but you know, was just sort of that messaging around it being just, you know, a new formula, at least for here in Colorado, that wasn’t necessarily true for California, because they never had that product on the shelf. So there was really no need to really change that messaging. But yeah, it’s a common, it’s a common issue for sure. And you know, at the end of the day, I think most of these MSOs are, they want to be sort of the next McDonald’s right of cannabis. So how do we get to the point where, again, we can create really consistent products across all of our markets so that a consumer no matter if they walk into a dispensary bless you, or in California, or Colorado or Massachusetts, you know, they can rest assured that it’s going to be the same product and the same experience every time.

Lisa Buffo  28:42

Yeah, that makes sense. And how do you approach education, you’d mentioned that as important. We talked about it on this podcast, a lot, that education about what products do and communicating that accurately and fairly to consumers is everything in this space. But again, the public has differing levels as far as what they know about cannabis, the effects it has. And obviously, the industry is limited as far as what we can say. So how are some ways in which you approach it and developing your messaging? Like how do you approach that process? And just any tips you have about about that level of honesty and transparency?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  29:22

Sure. You know, I think it starts at the bud tender level once again. So platforms such as learn brands have been really great. You know, back in the day, we have to do all of our education face to face. The challenge with that is that bud tenders, there’s a pretty high turnover with them. So you could walk into a dispensary today and educate 30 bud tenders and then go back in a month from now and maybe a third of them have already been replaced with new faces. So in order to overcome that, some platforms have been built such as learn brands. The clear also has clear cannabis University, which is our own internal platform that we used to educate bud tenders as well. The benefits about learn brands is that you can also sample products to them. So not only do they get an opportunity to learn about the product, but they also get an opportunity to actually try them for themselves. And then can provide feedback. And that feedback is really valuable to brands so that we can really understand, you know, those core consumers and what they truly think about the product and kind of monitoring those responses that come in, can start to you can start to glean new information, and maybe there’s a new product that can spawn out of out of the the comments. So I think it’s important digitally, we still do traditional education of the clear. So we still walk in with something we call a field guide, which has a lot of great information, not only on the products but also the clear brand itself, what kind of sets us apart from our manufacturing process, you know, how we scrutinize our hardware, our quality of oil, the quality of terpenes, that we’re using, you know, all those different things that go into a final product. So I think that it’s sort of it’s a multi-pronged approach, again, when it comes to bud tenders, right, just trying to hit them as often as you can, as many different ways as you can, from a consumer perspective, a lot of them are going to go to a manufacturers website, a brand’s website to find out more information about the products, some of them are also going to go on to third party directories such as Weedmaps Leafly. I heard Jane, you know, there’s a multitude of them. And it’s interesting to see, you know, the adoption rates from market to market, which market has a stronger opinion about about which directory so that that’s another opportunity for us to serve up additional information. For instance, on our packaging we have, because we are so flavor-forward, we put a scratch and sniff sticker on it. So the scratch and sniff sticker is identical, has the identical terpene P terpenes. that we use in our products, and the consumer can actually scratch it and smell it before they purchase it. So it gives them a really, really cool, yeah, it’s a great way for them to kind of test or try the product before they buy it right. And then the great thing about it is we created them and these piggyback stickers, so they’re kind of they’re appealing place sticker. So you can peel the little scratch and sniff sticker off of the package and place it onto your cartridge or your battery. So you always know what, what flavor you have, or what formula you have, you know that that was always a challenge for me when I would buy I don’t know five different cartridges, let’s say I had laying around and ones maybe as TiVo ones an indica when the hybrid, I don’t know what’s what I go to hit one oops, that wasn’t the effect that I was looking for. So it really takes the guesswork out of, you know, especially when you’re, you’re trying to get a specific effect. The other way that we continue to educate our consumers. And this also goes back into some other effective marketing strategies is through blogs. So, you know, staying on top of the most recent SEO trends and creating content that’s relevant and indexed properly, is really important for brands. And a great way to do it is by utilizing blog posts with valuable in-depth content. And that also helps establish brands, as you know, being a trusted authority on a specific subject. It’s also a great opportunity to create backlinks. So if there’s another, you know, if you want to reference something else, or you’re referencing a product and your blog, and you want to drive consumers back to that product landing page, it’s another great way to do that, you know, long content pieces of over 2000 words have been shown to really rank better when it comes to SEO. So I think it’s still really important for for brands to use that in their overall strategy to get more people to visit their site. And then once people are on the site, you know, creating a really great consumer journey for them to be able to find the information that they need, and distill it down. That’s going to be most relevant to them. So you know, it’s another great opportunity for education.

Lisa Buffo  34:08

Yeah, that’s great. And I’m really glad you mentioned SEO, because one of the things, you know, we talk in the cannabis marketing community a lot about what we can do. For certain channels that are close to us, like you had mentioned as far as CPG marketing, but your website, your newsletter, your database, those are all owned channels that you have control over that information, those those can’t be shut down, so to speak. So your ability to put out good authoritative content and continue to build your rank is just a really sort of easy no brainer strategy to keep doing. And yeah, like you were saying it builds trust with your consumers and you know, really whomever those stakeholders are, whether it’s anyone hitting your site, bud tenders, you know, the end consumer, but having good information on your blog helps your ranking on Google and it also helps that trust with whoever is coming in there that they can search it and find what it is that they need.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  35:00

Absolutely, yeah. And I know, you know, those SEO trends are important to stay on top of so we have a marketing content specialist, who really you know, that that’s mainly one of her core job functions is to really stay on top of those trends, make sure that we’re creating content that is, is going to rank appropriately. And, and, you know, it is something, I don’t know that everybody pays as much attention to it as they should. But it’s definitely important. And then also, you know, looking at the data that’s coming out of that on a monthly basis to see, you know, how we’re doing, whether we need to adjust certain messaging content, whatever it is just to, to remain relevant, you know, in this industry, if you don’t remain relevant, you’re here today and gone tomorrow, for sure.

Lisa Buffo  35:50

Yes, very much the case. And particularly as time goes on, and things just seem to be moving faster, and more more folks get in. That’s definitely one to consider. So, alright, so before we wrap up just a few last questions, where do you see the industry going within the next year or five years? Like how do you and open that however, you see the future of cannabis.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  36:14

You know, I’m most hopeful for continued expansion of legalization, you know, across all states, or hopefully at the federal level. And I’ll, if and when we’ll get there. You know, I firmly believe cannabis is a movement that nobody should be up at the top of mountain sort of waving their hands, saying, Look at me, and what I’ve done, you know, declaring what they’ve done for the industry. And we’re all in this together. And we’re a stronger cannabis community with all members kind of pulling on the same rope in the same direction. So that’s, that’s kind of the way I’ve always felt about cannabis. You know, it’s truly about community and, and the legalization of it, it really is a movement. One important thing, I think, right now for operators is safe banking, you know, it’s a prime example of how the industry needs to continue to pull together to ensure we’re creating a viable way for cannabis businesses, in legal states to access banking services products, you know, currently, cannabis businesses that are operating within legal states, you know, we have to conform to rigorous safety and compliance. But we’re still operating with honestly really dangerous amounts of cash. You know, back in the day, I remember when the drivers that Dixie would go around and do runs and drop off product. You know, they’re all they’re doing is taking in, you know, 1000s of dollars of cash, it could be at every single location that they visit. And so they had a security detail that would follow them to make sure that they weren’t endangered in any way, you know. And then regulations came where they had to put safes actually inside the vehicles to house all of the cash. I have heard of people having to take that cash. And instead of being able to walk into a bank with it, because let’s face it, this money smelled like weed. I knew people who were taking the cash home and literally laundering it, putting it into their washer and dryer, so it wouldn’t smell like marijuana when they walked in. Yes, a washer and dryer to literally clean the money so that it didn’t smell like cannabis. So I’ve also heard of people taking large amounts of cash and putting it into an ATM. So they had didn’t have to deal with doing an in person transaction with a teller in a bank. But the challenge with that is that the ATM only accept so much cash. So once you load it up with too much, it just stops. So you know, you’re limited to how much you can do in a day, let’s say. So those types of things, you know, have continued to constrain legal operators from the ability to access, like I said, banking services, things like business loans, lines of credit, credit card processing, and honestly, it’s unconscionable, you know, for the for the federal government to allow this industry, you know, almost 10 years later now, with adult use medical has been around for more than a decade to continue to operate with these constraints. So, you know, I think without safe banking, the industry really lacks the transparency needed to ensure full compliance. And it just needlessly endangers industry workers, consumers. You know, we hear about robberies happening. And it also constrains companies such as the clear from accessing investment capital required to provide new products and services consumers want. So, you know, I’m very hopeful that some of that will change in the near future.

Lisa Buffo  39:46

Yeah, I agree. That’s, I mean, it always comes back to banking, you can’t run a business without you know, bank accounts capital. That’s the the core of it. So the ability to do that is is definitely a much needed step.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  39:58

Yeah. Beyond that, you know, To add he is just really has a chokehold on the industry as well. You know, I think most people have the misconception that people in the industry, cannabis industry are making money hand over fist. And that’s just not the case. A typical cannabis company is lucky if they met maybe three to 5%. At the end of the day, I don’t know that there’s another industry out there maybe grocery stores that have that kind of a return. So you know, I think the mysticism and the misconception of of the cannabis industry just that those stigmas need to be broken. Because it’s that that’s not the reality, you know, the amount of money that we have to continue to invest back into our companies to keep them alive, whether that be capital for raw materials, hardware, packaging, testing, compliance, licensing, you know, it the list goes on it.

Lisa Buffo  40:55

Yeah, no, it really does. And the business owners, particularly small business owners have to work so much harder to make sure that the whole systems are maintaining and, and working. Because there’s that extra risk working in cannabis when you’re looking for service providers. Yeah, I’m like you said what to add, and specifically how it relates to marketing. I mean, you can’t really deduct your marketing and advertising expenses. And people don’t understand how much that changes your tax bill at the end of the year, and what that means as far as investing in your own growth. So we’ll see. But hopefully it changes I share that that wish with all of us.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  41:34


Lisa Buffo  41:35

And do you have any contact information you want to share a website, LinkedIn, maybe the clear social media, anything at all?

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  41:43

Yeah, we have a multitude of social media accounts. But our main account on Instagram is going to be the clear concentrates. And then our website is the clear concentrate with one That’s our main website. We also have a corporate website for clear cannabis Incorporated. So that’s going to be clear cannabis If you’re looking to find out more information from an investor standpoint, and then we also have different Instagram accounts set up for each one of our states. And the most recent one that we just launched for our new budtender network is going to be the clear underscore connect. So all you industry members can go there to find out more information and news about our upcoming events.

Lisa Buffo  42:27

Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today and share your insight with the audience.

Rebecca Maestas Sincere  42:34

Thank you, Lisa. I really appreciate you having me on today and look forward to another opportunity.

Lisa Buffo  42:41

Definitely. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Party like a marketer. Follow us on Instagram at party like a marketer and on our website, the cannabis marketing And be sure to join us in person this June 7 through ninth 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.

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