Lisa Buffo, Founder, and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Edward Montanus, Team Director, Media Solutions at Equativ & Senior Advisor, at The MediaJel Foundation, to discuss Identifying Best Advertising Practices for Cannabis Brands.
For more information, visit https://thecannabismarketingassociation.com/
Additionally, here is the info for the 40Tons Careerfair in Trenton, New Jersey on August 13th, visit https://cannabishiringfairs.com/
Find us on your favorite podcast app:
Lisa Buffo, Founder, and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Edward Montanus, Team Director, Media Solutions at Equativ & Senior Advisor, at The MediaJel Foundation, to discuss Identifying Best Advertising Practices for Cannabis Brands.
For more information, visit https://thecannabismarketingassociation.com/
Additionally, here is the info for the 40Tons Careerfair in Trenton, New Jersey on August 13th, visit https://cannabishiringfairs.com/
Read the Transcript
Lisa Buffo 00:12
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. You can connect with me on Instagram at Lee buff and on Twitter at Lee buff 21. Send me a message I’d love to hear from you. Today’s conversation features Edward Montanus, the senior advisor of the media shell foundation. Having spent his entire career in the advertising world. Ted has experience working in all areas of media, including TV, digital publishing, and data. He has spent the last eight years working in ad tech providing marketing expertise to some of the world’s largest brands. At equative. He oversees new business development for a range of regulated industries with the focus on cannabis. His work to provide the cannabis industry with access to mainstream digital media has resulted in equative global SSP being the largest source of digital supply for cannabis brands and retailers. Ted also serves as the Senior Advisor on the MJ Foundation Board, which awards marketing grants to social impact cannabis companies. Okay, welcome, everybody to today’s episode of Party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, authentic storytelling and public relations. Today’s guest is Ted Montanus, the team director for business development and regulated industries at equative. Ted, thank you so much for joining us today.
Edward Montanus 01:40
Thank you, Lisa. Yeah, it’s great to see you again.
Lisa Buffo 01:42
Of course, I’m really excited to talk with you on the podcast. I know we’ve had. I’ve known you for a few years now. But we’ve had a lot of conversations about cannabis marketing, it’s been really interesting and fun to see you grow in your role and just the different challenges you’ve tackled in in this space. So could you first start by letting our audience know a little bit about Ted, who you are, where you’re located, your history and just kind of, you know, Tee us up to how you got into cannabis marketing in your background?
Edward Montanus 02:15
Yeah, so I’ve always worked in advertising. You know, I grew up around the business, you know, did internships in college, I always wanted to be in advertising and, you know, television. And so, I started my career, on the television side, actually working at a dish network in Denver, you know, where I went to school, you know, so that was like, my first intro to just like the cannabis culture to being in Colorado. While that was, you know, just kind of starting out, you know, that movement. And then, from there, I moved back to New York City, which is where you go to school in Denver. I went to Regis University. So, you know, one of the only ones right there actually in downtown Denver, right off i 70. Crossing that kind of sketchy looking amusement park that everybody passes on their way to the mountains. Yeah. And then from there, I moved home and took a job actually, at DirecTV, you know, kind of doing the same thing. I started off on long form television. And New York City. Yeah, yeah. So I grew up around the New York area, about 4550 minutes outside of Manhattan. And so it was nice to be home. And I really think what I moved home, that’s like when it turned from, you know, shaking off College, and it being a job to a career. Because, you know, maybe it’s part of being in New York and the hustle of it. But, you know, I spent a good amount of time at Direct TV, and then went more on the digital side. So I started working at a digital publisher, which was, you know, crave, online, you know, kind of a millennial male site, we had a counterpart and totally her and she knows, and a lot of websites, people, you know, probably heard of, you know, spent some time there, you know, really learning all the digital and programmatic was kind of somewhat new at that time. So, I went into mobile advertising and really my first you know, Ad Tech experience!
Lisa Buffo 04:26
What year is this? Like, just so we have a basis?
Edward Montanus 04:31
Around 2012, 2011? Yeah. And then I was fascinated by the use of data. So I started working for a data company. And then after that, I found myself here at equative formally smart, which is a global ad tech company based in Paris, and I’m in their New York City office when I joined I was the first person on the demand side of the business. Send like an orange when we say demand, you know, it’s really represented representative of like advertisers and brands, and the agencies, and the partners less of like, you know, the supply, which is content, you know, our, our supply in this industry is anything from, you know, websites to television shows. So representing them selling to brands and advertisers, agencies. So I’ve always spent my, my time and my career on that side of the business. And I’ve now been here for five years.
Lisa Buffo 05:38
Okay, so can you explain what you mean a little bit by representing the demand side? Like, how exactly does that work? Are you in touch with these brands who are seeking, you know, seeking ads and seeking supply and helping coordinate them with, like, just tell me a little bit more about exactly, I mean, for those who don’t know.
Edward Montanus 05:59
Yeah, so, you know, whether it be television, digital publishing data, you know, and, and, you know, equative is, you know, encompassing of all of those things, you know, it’s a large platform, and it operates like an exchange. And so, you know, what I represent is the publisher side, so let’s say, if it’s digital, you log on a website, and, you know, the ads populate, you know, what dictates which ads populate? You know, it’s very complicated. But, you know, it, if we think about it just on like, the contextual side of representing the supply, it’s, you know, I have, you know, this website that speaks to this audience, and so, you know, you should buy ad placement on it, because this is where your consumer is, you know, being around relevant content, it’s the same with, you know, TV to you by certain shows, and you measure the success on it based on, you know, the scale of the exposure, and how many people saw it, and ended up going and buying a product. So, I guess, in the simplest terms is, you know, I have, I have the eyeballs, and you need them. And so, you know, buying it here, but it’s making sure that you buy the right ones. So working across so many different content, verticals, from sports, and news and lifestyle and entertainment. Get to work with so many different brands, you know, I’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the world across all different verticals, you know, each one of them is so different, and who their audience is, and sometimes their audience isn’t what you think. And sometimes you try to tell them that their audience isn’t what they think. But within that, you know, some of them have been very, you know, interesting and unique things that we’ve been able to do. And over my tenure in this industry, of overall advertising, you know, it’s changed quite a bit. And there’s a lot of different types of consumers to reach. And there’s a lot of different avenues to reach, then, you know, your phone, your desktop, but also the types of content that they’re reading, you know, we used to have back in like, the madmen days, it was like one show, there was only a couple networks, you know, before cable came out, you know, they were selling, you know, the idea of this one show, it’s like a Western or it’s something and then you know, who’d want to buy it, but now entertainment as a vertical, so it’s not, you know, you could have, you know, teen type shows or celebrity gossip, or you could have, you know, more of your comic books and stuff. And those are all very distinct consumers.
Lisa Buffo 08:36
Could you name some of the brands you worked with, just so we have some context of the sort of the difference?
Edward Montanus 08:42
Yeah, so I’ve worked with everywhere from, you know, Disney to Exxon Mobil to Johnson and Johnson Procter Gamble. I’ve worked with, you know, alcohol brands and Diageo. You know, all the way to like, you know, UPS versus like, Purdue chicken or, you know, Home Depot was always pretty large client and really, across, you know, a ton. I mean, I could probably sit here all day and list of them and each and have like a story about each one of them, you know, what the difference between, like a Procter Gamble Home Depot, a Progressive Insurance and a Purdue chicken, like, you get to work on such like creative things, to help them try to find the right audience. And, like, one of the examples I have is with Exxon, you know, their, I guess, marketing, what they who they were trying to reach was college students, or seniors in high school, and their whole campaign was, you know, being an engineer, you know, so we targeted different colleges and all sorts of stuff, you know, not getting into the weeds, but that was our audience for that. You know, they sell oil and lubricants and like, you know, that product like wow, They want to go after those because, you know, that was more of a branding thing. So each one of these has been, you know, somewhat unique. And I’ve worked on some of them for like a monda Lee’s like stride gum, where it was encompassing of like digital media, streaming TV. But we also had in person activations too, we actually rent it out for them, the USS Midway, and the San Diego Harbor during Comic Con, and had a concert and party on there. And the way I look at it was like a spreadsheet of line items and prices and stuff. But to them, it was this large activation, but they were able to optimize on it with marrying that and their digital side and the content that was being produced about it. It was all, you know, different avenues, but all one singular message.
Lisa Buffo 10:49
So it sounds like you’ve worked with a lot of larger CPG brands. So obviously, there’s a tie to cannabis here. So how, tell me a little bit about how you got into cannabis, how the company did? And kind of maybe some similarities or differences and working with? Obviously a lot of our podcast listeners are young entrepreneurs, cannabis entrepreneurs, like what? How it first first is, how did you get into cannabis from working with these big brands? And then could you talk about some of the similarities and differences you see and how you approach targeting?
Edward Montanus 11:24
Yeah. I mean, I definitely got into it, you know, being a college student in Colorado. Now, whether it was the illicit market or the legalized market. But then from there, it was more on like the medical side, you know, I’d seen the benefits of it. And just, it was always something that was interesting to me. But never really as like an advertising vertical hadn’t really thought about it as much and you know, focus on other things in my career. And I guess how I got into it, it was it started on a boat. And can I know that that’s like, ridiculous, but there’s a huge advertising, award show and conference there. It just took place. The Internet did not like it. But, you know, somebody that is in the industry met somebody from our company and asked if they would accept cannabis. And, you know, when everybody came back out, it was actually Jake Leakey. CEO media, Joe came into our office and asked if we would, you know, accept cannabis advertisers? And we’re sure, yeah, we didn’t really know that, you know, it was such a big thing. And that What year was this? This had to have been about almost four years ago, three and a half years ago. Okay. Yeah. So yeah, so that’s about how long I’ve been, you know, more in the cannabis space was from that. And it kind of opened up, it was exciting, because it opened up a whole new set of challenges, you know, myself kind of being passionate and understanding the product, and I guess progressive is, you know, then having to learn why nobody had accepted it in the past. From the advertising side, yeah, yeah. And the content side, you know, and it ended up taking me about a year to get that approval and acceptance to get enough content scale for these advertisers. You know, it was having one on one conversations with publishers, you know, would they accept it? And to what degree and then you add in the challenges of each state has different regulations? And how do we ensure that it’s, you know, the right audience by age. So, you know, that was definitely, you know, humbling. And it was a long, long process. And now we service the entire industry to get to that point. And that was really when I kind of, like dove headfirst into that this could be something and started reading more about it, you know, not just like the lifestyle side of it. But what I uncovered was that cannabis spans so many different verticals, and can be disruptive in so many different areas. You know, it’s not just the recreational side of the product, it’s medical, it’s, you know, do it yourself. I mean, you have, like, hempcrete, and then you have sustainable it, like it goes across, but it’s all hamstrung by the same things. So I looked at it as almost revolutionary. And that’s kind of like what’s been exciting. I think, my only frustrations have just been with like, you know, wanting it to keep moving forward and, you know, in seeing the acceptance of it, and, you know, consumer adoption, but, you know, it’s just it’s constantly changing. So coming from like, we’ll call it general market or more mainstream advertising with, you know, more widely known international brands. And then taking that and and coming into the cannabis space, raised a whole different set of learnings and challenges and things to overcome and just where the industry was at so you know, as kind of an outsider coming into it, but being passionate about, like the actual product itself? I think more so I’ve become more passionate, or even, you know, doubling down just by on the people that I’ve met in the industry.
Lisa Buffo 15:13
Yeah, that’s a common answer we get a lot. And both on the podcast and just you know, out and about is that the people are really strong, common denominator for what is exciting in this industry, what gets people excited about it and taking these next steps, because so many entrepreneurs, and these brands have great personal stories, and that’s why they started their companies. But speaking to your point about the learning curve, and working in this industry, I mean, when you work for an are representing a bigger CPG brand, where they have sort of one unique selling point, like oil and gas, or, you know, toilet paper, like it’s got one use, it’s got a very clear message. But cannabis is not that way. There’s so many different ways you can pitch it many different ways people use it. And you know, that’s just not to make different form factors. And that’s not even considering the layer of stigma and misinformation that you have to kind of get through first, before those messages can resonate. So, you know, outside of just the issues with supply and demand from the publishing side. There’s also what is the message underneath that? And how are you continuing to reach consumers, meet them where they are, and sort of sell and market these different products given, given the different regulations, given the different that not just the regulations around marketing and advertising. But different states also allow different form factors. I mean, some states don’t have flour, some, you know, everyone has things a little bit differently. So there really is a lot when it comes to putting together the the marketing plan, so to speak for these brands, who are small and who are growing compared to, you know, a multinational corporation. So yeah, I just want to validate you on that. But also, I think a year is kind of fast given given that you did it for such a big multinational company. That sounds about right about the time it would take to get it through, you know, then three and a half, four years ago, because things have changed so quickly that even the landscape then is I mean, completely different from how it is today. And how it is today is going to be completely different from how it is a year from now. And we it’s that that’s the fun part and the exciting part.
Edward Montanus 17:25
Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s not just bringing in that perspective of what the bigger guys are doing. And then adopting that or educating the cannabis industry, I actually see the cannabis industry, doing something that they didn’t do, and having personal experience and seeing what some of these brands didn’t do. So, you know, working with, let’s call it a, you know, a national chain of convenience stores help stores if you’re thinking like a Walgreens type CVS. You know, cannabis started based out in necessity, doing something that everybody else has been trying to do, and fighting for and figuring out and it’s created all these different, you know, markets and businesses within it, you know, out of opportunity, you know, it’s not that, oh, as an industry, we’re going to adopt this and what I mean is attribution, and knowing your customer. And so, you know, one example of that is, you know, with this large, convenient store type brand was that all of their consumer data, you know, the most, you know, I break up consumers into three categories, which you have your, you know, loyalty shoppers, your dual shoppers, and your competitive shoppers, competitive shoppers. So dual shoppers are people that basically shop kind of out of convenience. And that and like this one example, it’s based on location, like if you live in New York City, you move apartments, you went to CVS at your old apartment, but then you go to Walgreens at the other one, just because it’s close, you know, you’re not going to drive 25 miles to go to Lowe’s, when there’s a Home Depot three miles away, like the consumer just goes to what’s close. So they’ll shop at what’s you know, kind of convenient. And then if it’s retail, you know, like, they might buy Banana Republic, but they might like a shirt at J Crew too. So they, you know, they’re not exclusive to you. But then you have some customers that like are very exclusive to that one brand. And those are loyalty guys and your dual shoppers. You know, like if this is a Venn diagram, they do Eclipse each other, because the competitive ones or maybe they had a bad experience is where that little eclipse happens. And so, but understanding that, you know, you need that data and you need to know your customer, and you need to learn third, competitive shoppers. Okay, competitive. Gotcha. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, you need to understand your current basic customers, because that’s where you’re going to, you know, potentially drive the most, you know, revenue of keeping people loyal. That’s why we see so many loyalty programs and things and so Understanding that, you know, your current consumers, then how to get new consumers. So like this one brand, in this case, when they signed people up, you had that little barcode that you would, that would get all like peeled and gross, because it was in your pocket on your keychain, and, you know, be on the bar floor sometimes or you left, it’s like, just, you know, we all had those, like your gym one. But when you got those, and you scanned it for you the loyalty points, or you’re checking in, like, the people that were signing you up for those were doing the bare minimum, they were just putting it in an email address, or a phone number, you know, people weren’t being as truthful about it. And so they had all this data that was, you know, for 20 something years, it was just unusable. And so how do they understand our consumer, you know, they had a relaunch that and you know, CRM data is very important to dictate what your future marketing will be. And keeping those customers loyal, but also receiving feedback from them is very important. And, and I see, you know, because that all falls under an attribution window to me. And these other these advertisers, attribution is tough, because CPG is very tough, because you could have a Walgreens or CVS with different SKU codes, but you have to work with each one to get back what products you sold, like Colgate Palmolive, or Procter Gamble, doesn’t know, you know, how many packs of gum or toothpaste was actually sold that, you know, here, and now they look at like units. And so, you know, cannabis, though, out of necessity, with attribution, I think has really set them up well, as an industry for the future, as a consumer, you know, good and product, because, you know.
Lisa Buffo 21:50
And can I just clarify, when you’re saying attribution, you mean? At the brand level, cannabis companies are like taking the time to say, this ad, drove this purchase?
Edward Montanus 22:03
Yeah, or this marketing, drove this drove this amount of sales. And a lot of that has to do the necessity part of it is because of federal taxation, where you can’t, you know, marketing expenses, you know, it’s tough to, you know, the other guys can write this stuff off and do different things where cannabis can’t. So if you they invest 5, $1,000 a month in digital or social or something, that they have to return that amount back in sales, or it’s a loss, you know, so they’re not looking at, you know, branding, where you have like, you can have different streams, you can have your branding side, and then your, you know, attribution driving side and a full multi channel mix of advertising, this is much more like my marketing needs to drive sales, you know, because in cannabis, you’re competing in such smaller markets, you know, there really isn’t national brands. And when we think of the national brands, more of them are retailers that operate, you know, they’re not actually leaf touching or you know, consumer based brands. So, you know, we don’t see in one state, you can buy one product, and then there’s that consistency across states. So we don’t have as much of that brand loyalty that we see with other products like if you buy Colgate toothpaste or you buy cress, like or you buy Pepsi, or you buy Coke, like we don’t see that as much in cannabis.
Lisa Buffo 23:27
And to clarify for the audience, when Ted was referring to the tax write offs, he’s referring to the tax code to add, which basically categorizes cannabis, licensed cannabis businesses plant touching businesses as as the Drug Code or as the tax code would say, drug organizations, so therefore, they don’t have normal business expenses. And so those business expenses can’t be written off. And that includes marketing and advertising. So for non cannabis businesses, you can write off your marketing and advertising expenses, plant touching cannabis businesses cannot directly so there’s much higher pressure on showing that ROI. Because you’re, I mean, that’s effectively coming out of your bottom line. Just to clarify that point there. So to add to that, I do want to ask, what is some advice you have like given that you’ve got this big picture from the mainstream CPG world and these larger brands and then seeing I actually love your perspective and have not heard it this way about how these larger companies can actually learn from cannabis companies? Because they are having to be scrappy in ways that when you are up against these challenges you might take for granted? How to focus more on attribution, how to, like really tease out what is a branding effort versus what is it what is it marketing, sales driven effort? What are some of the things you have learned or some advice you would give to other cannabis brands and retailers who may be listening that you’ve seen kind of merging these two worlds? And just kind of how to approach their marketing from a more sophisticated way.
Edward Montanus 25:02
Yeah. Yeah, one of the biggest challenges that I face, you know, coming into it, it’s almost like a frustration of trying to get, you know, people to test things that are new. And I really think that, you know, being, it’s not just going to sit here and say, you know, be open minded, but, you know, test and fail, or, but it’s more so test and learn. You know, don’t be afraid of something that you don’t understand. And having up so much in one media channel can hurt you, in the long term, I really think scale is probably the most.
Lisa Buffo 25:35
You go into that and what that means, like having so much into one channel, like, let’s unpack that a little bit.
Edward Montanus 25:40
Yeah. Yeah. So, like having so much in differentiation on, you know, in the retailer’s shelf space, you know, focusing so much on the packaging, like, the messaging across the board is, you know, sustainable packaging, you know, and then also standing out within that, but, you know, don’t invest too much in that and get focused on, you know, the brand, because the brand then ends up becoming, you know, a mirror image of like your personality, you know, not the business side of it. And so, you know, it’s a good, something that I learned, you know, early on was kiss, which is, you know, keep it simple, stupid. And I really think that that’s important, because you have to be adaptable. It’s, you know, you want to pick point A and point C, and how you’re gonna get there. But the storyline is linear. So and what I mean by that is that your branding your messaging of the company, it, you know, stays the same or is consistent through it. But the be in the in between is the adoption of testing and trying new things, and understanding that you are going to fail, because the more media mix that you have, the more scale you can drive, and the more business that you’ll ultimately end up having. So, you know, focusing on multiple mediums, and then the test and fail part, I think is like, what’s most important about this is that, you know, it’s not always you tested something, and it didn’t work. And that it’s on that partner, or whoever was doing the test, or something that might have turned you off to that. And it might be because I’m so busy, this is working, this is worrying, I’m gonna focus just on this because like, you know, I want to keep my job, you know, like, it’s across all industries, that CMOS have a short lifespan, but in this case, it’s more like, you know, being introspective and looking at yourself and being like, Okay, why did it fail? Because in my case, like, I can give all these brands, the eyeballs, the scale, you know, the content, you know, however they want it to be, but, you know, was your messaging good? Like, did the consumer really want to buy your product, but what made it stand out? So always take a step and look at that first, and then try to figure out why it failed. Because a lot of testing, and then not wanting to try something, again, is more based on, you know, a lack of understanding of how things work. So I think it’s always important to ask why, and then answer that question for yourself. Now, like, what did they do? And why did it not work? Like, keep trying to figure out that why? Because all of marketing lives on that one hypothesis. And it’s just like, in life, it’s, you know, where do we come from? And where are we going? Marketing is driven by something that’s very similar that was said by John Wanamaker, you know, 100 years ago, which was, you know, I know that half my marketing is working, I just don’t know which half. And so as an industry, we’ve been trying to answer that question, because marketing is a function of sales, like you have a business, you have a product, somebody wants to buy it, and then you get something in return, even if it’s bargain traded, marketing is just your way to say, hey, I have this product. So, you know, figuring out how to reach those consumers is if it didn’t work, try to learn why it didn’t work, and be transparent to, you know, like, what I see and what I don’t like as much in the general advertising too, is the relationship of, you know, coming into it. As you know, from a negative standpoint, I think it’s better to, you know, learn what is out there and learn why, and where it fits in the overall marketing industry, and how it can end up becoming maybe one day beneficial for you. And that transparency is very simple in the fact of like, yeah, like, this sounds great. Like we can’t test it now. But then stay in contact with that vendor because you’ll find developing that relationship and stuff is how you’ll find who you want to work with. And be transparent with what your challenges are and what your needs are to but then also use them as a resource, I think seeking advice to whether it be before investment or after, you know that it didn’t work, you know, trying to figure out why it didn’t work. And that’s also an asking around asking for more transparency. I think one thing that cannabis can do, the cannabis industry can do that, you know, the overall market is always asking for is transparency, ask for the reports asked for this, always ask for more and more information, not just to like, you know, have like a gotcha moment. But so you can also learn yourself, because it might have not worked. But like, what was what was the window you gave themselves because if an eyeball saw it, like I saw it, I always give this to CPI clients. Now, CPI is cost per install, which is a metric we use to value a price versus, you know, scale of how many impressions you’re gonna buy. So the action of that price model is, let’s say, an install, or an acquisition. So it’s, you know, like you see it, and then you immediately bought it, and why I don’t prefer that price model. And app downloads use that a lot, when they buy media, they want to do it on cost per install, so they pay a higher rate back to you, per every install.
Lisa Buffo 31:24
Saying that I basically converted immediately.
Edward Montanus 31:26
Yes, yeah. But the problem is, I always give this example to them is that, you know, I ride the train to work, and I’m on my phone reading. And if I’m reading an article about, you know, my New York Jets who suck, and I’m reading it, and a banner ad pops up and says, you know, download, like a candy crush, or like one of those games, you always see, like, you know, I’m going to finish reading, I’m not going to, oh, I need to go download this right now. But maybe some time later on, I will. So that’s why it’s not a valuable metric. So when you’re doing your, you know, linear storyline of what your brand is, and what you want to accomplish, you know, it has to be flexible to reach a ton of consumers. You don’t want to stifle yourself immediately out of the gate. But you have to understand, like, what is that window? And how do I put a value to it? Yes, somebody saw an ad and they bought this product, that’s the best. But also, they’ve maybe seen a couple ads, like they’re starting to know your business, like, car insurance is a good example, you see so many car insurance ads, and how many times you really get in car insurance. But when you go, it’s like, oh, I need to sign up for car insurance. You remember all of those ads, and all those different components and what they were saying at that moment, but that, you know, path to that purchase? You know, setting those markers is important. And then understanding, you know, how can I close the gaps on some of these? Or how can I reach that same consumer in a different place and a different way. And the only way you’re going to do that is if you’re open to testing and trying new mediums and investment. It’s better to say no, and a sense of like, not right now. Let’s save up for that in the future. Not to say I invested in this, it didn’t return your money. And I get that with to add. But let’s say we end up someday removing that from the equation. Like you want to, you want to be ahead of the game and have already understood what else is out there.
Lisa Buffo 33:18
Absolutely, yeah, I cannot stress that enough that this is the time to fail, fail early, fail fast and learn and get that because it is about refining and tweaking your strategy. While the market is as small as it is right now, given that every day, it’s growing, and there’s more competition. And it’s important to learn and tease those things out. So you can double down on what works. So I’m going to ask what advice you have for cannabis marketers who are early in their career or who are looking to get into this space, based on what you’ve learned the last few years. So heard a little bit about your advice for brands, but for the professional to what are some what some input you have there, particularly given that you did it coming from, you know, within a corporation and sort of carved out this channel and advocated for that channel within a corporation. You know, what advice? What advice do you have there?
Edward Montanus 34:16
Yeah, and I’ll start with a story is, you know, when I was in college, and I was looking for internships, and you know, through a family friend, I got introduced to, you know, president at the time of ESPN, because I always wanted to be in sports. You know, sports was my main focus. I love sports. I was like, the biggest, you know, still am a big consumer of it. I wanted to be in the sports industry, like it was so flashy and cool to me when I was like a college student. And when I met with him, the first thing he asked me was why sports. And of course, I went until I was like, you know, I like this fan. I love this. I love that like, you know, speaking from a consumer, but his question was it you know, like, I get it. You know, I he actually said this, he was like, No, I know everybody loves sports. Yeah, like, yeah, like we know, but why? Why sports as a career? Because it’s very different. You know, being a passionate consumer of something doesn’t always translate to a career. And I didn’t have an answer at the time. And it’s always stuck with me is like why sports. And I started off by like, career was like the one job I could get coming out of college because was difficult market was in long form television, which was like, the religious and shopping channels and stuff, like the ones that you don’t think anybody watches. And I was, you know, selling those. And I’ve just ended and then ended up in cannabis. So like a long, winding path. And now I get to touch so many different verticals and stuff, but it’s more so you know, taking that job to career. And I don’t think my for my first employment was a job, not a career. And so anybody that’s joining the cannabis industry is separating, you know, you as the consumer, to you, as the business professional, and a job and a career are very different. And what the biggest distinction is, is that a career is that you’re involved in an industry. And it’s not just cannabis, like you were in marketing, and you’ve happened to focus on cannabis. And you can be passionate about something. But it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be successful, you have to be a student of the industry, you have to understand all different areas of it. And you have to be able to pull in different hyper consciously different aspects of everything, and every day stuff in life. I think the best advice for somebody that I have that’s coming in as a career is don’t live two lives, you know, be who you are, and your personal life and your career. If you’re take that passion, but focus it on learning about everything else in the industry, like learn all about marketing, because marketing is your career. Cannabis is you know, what you’re just working on at that time. And so as a marketer, in that, you have to be able to pull in other worldly stuff. And then if you blind your personal life, like you live it, you know, it’s part of your every day, and that, you know, this is your life, this is your career, you’ll ultimately be successful, but you’ll also be happy. The whole thing of like, never having to work a day in your life. And like that is it’s more so that, like, you’re upset because you’re living two different lives. You’re you’re one person here, you want person there like that, you know, there is a Cookstown cook at home. But in this case, like, you know, you’re reading that you’re reading this stuff, like it’s part of what you talk, so be who you are at home, you know, be transparent, be open. And the other thing is learn. Like, don’t just focus on what you’re doing when you show up and getting your job done, because that’s just a job. But a career is, you know, being out there building up your brand, yourself, connecting with others, learning from others, you know, attending things listening, you know, and then when you get to a point of where you learn something, you’ll know that you’re in your career when you have a take on it. Or it’s something new, but you already understand why that something new is fitting into it, and then you have a take on it, you’re able to understand it, but then also speak against it or speak for it. That’s when it becomes a career. And you know, you’ve gotten to that point when you can look at all different changes coming in. And you’re like I see how that works. Or, you know, this will be good for this or that because you understand how it fits into the entire ecosystem. And so, you know, starting out I think it’s always important to learn, and cannabis right now there’s so much to learn. Like it’s just completely accelerating. It’s a rocket ship, across so many different areas. But don’t lose focus of learning about marketing, and learning about those challenges and stuff and having your own take on it.
Lisa Buffo 38:59
I love that. I’m so glad you mentioned that. It’s the why sports thing really resonates because I feel like I speak with a lot of young cannabis marketers or cannabis professionals who say that same answer because they love the plant and they want to advocate for it, but they don’t understand that the way that translates in the professional world is you need to know about the laws you need to know about how advocacy works. You need to understand packaging regulations. You need to understand the digital media landscape that having a love and passion for the plant itself is different than getting your hands dirty with some of these things that maybe aren’t as sexy or aren’t as fun, but ultimately are the vehicles that create that bigger understanding and drive this industry and this plant forward. So I’m really glad you tease that out because I think that’s you put it so nicely how that works?
Edward Montanus 39:54
Yeah, it’s so funny. You know, my father always famously asked people two questions when he Interview, what did he do? He always asked everybody he interviewed the same two questions,
Lisa Buffo 40:05
But what was his role? you interviewing for.
Edward Montanus 40:11
A media job, he worked in television, you was at Disney for 20 years, and ABC television. You know, it was definitely a legend. And, you know, it was my mentor, and kind of getting into this whole career job thing is, you know, why I’ve had like, a focus on it and speak to it is because, you know, he ended up passing away a couple years ago from cancer, and he got his medical card, and Kent and Connecticut at the time, and it really helped him, especially in those later days, and what I had missed most was, you know, talking industry and business and stuff with him. And so I got involved with a mentorship program here in New York City, and you know, those learnings and stuff, you know, and I’ve adapted, um, because the industry that I live in, and the industry that he lived in, are very different. And it’s changed, you know, there really wasn’t digital when he was in his prime. So those two questions still have relevancy now, I mean, he was asking him back in the 70s, all the way up until when he retired and, and why they’re still important for like young people getting into cannabis that are so passionate about it, and the time back sports. So the first one was like a math question, which was, you know, what is 50%? Of 3300? No calculator, pen and papers more. So just to see how you thought on your feet? The other question was, yeah, the other question was, Who did we fight in World War Two? And you got a range of answers? You know, the answer is no accident is, you know, Italy, Japan, and, you know, Nazi Germany is, you know, the full answer, but you know, and that would throw people completely off, because it’s like, I’m interviewing for a TV job wise, or why you’re asking me about history. And the importance of it was, there was a car company that ran an ad years ago, and the song they used in the ad, was about a battle lost by the US military and World War Two. And the car company was a Japanese car company. And so that consumer market still knew what that song was about. And, and saw that as, like, you know, like, you know, now we live in a world of canceled culture, and like, it only takes one tweet to bring down a brand. And like, it was almost foreshadowing, because he didn’t, you know, it wasn’t around for society now, or social media. But like, that was somebody without social media and understanding of what was going on, like, they lost, you know, millions and millions of dollars having to redo that campaign, like 10s of millions of dollars. And, you know, somebody made a mistake of not understanding that. And that’s so important in cannabis, because the industry is so passionate. And it’s rooted in social equity and social justice, and impact and sustainability, and how the product is perceived. And I’ve been at your shows, and I’ve heard people talk about, you know, how important that is, and how important it is in delivering your brand message. So it basically the question was a simplification of, do you understand consumers across all different beliefs, and all different interests, you know, your product has to speak to everybody. It can speak to specific groups for specific reasons. But you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you X out an entire group or you offend somebody, like it’s so much more important now, because of social media. And thinking about that, too. So that question is still relevant. And so that’s why education is on the industry, and on the consumer, as a marketer, you’re marketing to consumers. So you have to understand why that consumer would buy that product and why the messaging in that is so important.
Lisa Buffo 44:04
I love those questions. I think I’m gonna start having to ask those. That’s great.
Edward Montanus 44:08
Yeah, yeah. The other one I almost added was what is the internet? And that one’s that one’s too complicated people.
Lisa Buffo 44:17
But there’s so many different ways you can answer it. I mean, there’s, it’s gets out what people are thinking and what their perspective is, and even, you know, the, like the World War Two questionnaire, it’s like, okay, there’s a black and white answer of these countries, but it was also what was the ideology? What was the, you know, what was the principles we were fighting for, and the principles we were fighting or what we were fighting against. So it’s interesting to use that just to tease out how people think. Yeah. So before we wrap up, I want to ask the lightning round question. But in what ways do you believe that marketing will either help grow the industry or slow it down?
Edward Montanus 44:56
Oh, yeah. halt is tough. So you know, I kind of want to take halt out of the equation. Because just like anything, or any industry, you’re gonna run into different challenges. And, you know right now and you know, it cannabis will catch up to this point. But, you know, you read about, you know, the deprecation of cookies, and privacy and tracking. You know, that was an industry that wasn’t rooted in attribution and consumer consent. And now that’s being taken away and very heavily relying on that. So the halt of it is more so a speed bump, because it for cannabis, it’s only going to continue to grow. Like every day something’s going to change or more states are going to accept, you know, the political cycle is going to change or the terms are up, like, it’s just going to continually continually, you know, change and evolve and grow. But it’s more so on the fact that for cannabis in the short term, there’s just going to be more opportunity. You know, my focus, and what I really believe for cannabis is that it’s an opportunity for an industry to do things disruptively, or change things, and not do what others have done that hasn’t worked or getting caught into those. But I think that in the next year or two years, it’s going to be more acceptance, I think, as consumer acceptance and adoption of the product in different categories, but also more access to mainstream, my goal is that cannabis has the same seat at the table, that all of the rest of the CPG or service or for any other industry has. So they’re all competing for the same share of discretionary income of consumers.
Lisa Buffo 46:48
In any last words, or pieces of advice, before we wrap up, anything else you want to say we didn’t get to today?
Edward Montanus 46:55
Yeah, I think, you know, also on the growth thing, too, I think, you know, there’s some brands that are starting to do it well. And it’s not necessarily the ones, you know, that we call, you know, the MSOs, the big guys, you know, the big publicly traded ones, you know, like they have their short, everybody has a lot of the same stuff. And there’s certain brands that are doing things well. And ones that I’ve seen, you know, like a 40 times, you know, who I do believe, just based on their story and what they represent in the industry as being potentially one of the first national brands, and we’re very retailer focused. But I feel like that scale is going to tip and brands are going to become more in the driver’s seat. And I see brands like that, because they’re rooted in, you know, the culture, and the lifestyle of what the cannabis industry started on. And it’s obviously adapting. And that they could be the first national one because what they’ve done on the marketing aspect of their social media, who they partner with, and who they represent and what they’re trying to do, and what their message is, it’s all very linear, it’s it’s single storyline, and they’ve been very open to testing and trying new things and are out there and about and, you know, really do a good job of taking advantage of opportunities that are in front of them. But you know, and I’ve, I’ve had the chance to work with them and speak with them. And that, you know, and why bring them up is because the the best example of somebody that really wants to learn.
Lisa Buffo 48:29
Awesome. Well, Ted, is there any contact information you want to share with the audience, either personal or company, website, LinkedIn, how can folks get a hold of you?
Edward Montanus 48:39
Yeah, email is, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on LinkedIn. Edward Montana’s I’m out there, or through the media gel foundation. So you know, I think I’m also in the company or the directory on CMA. So you can find me there.
Lisa Buffo 49:03
Awesome. Well, Ted, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time and sharing your insight with us in the audience today.
Edward Montanus 49:09
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Lisa Buffo 49:12
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 association.com 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