Lisa Buffo, Founder, and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Jacob Roland, Director of Sales and Marketing at Loud Labs, to discuss How to Leverage Emotion in Cannabis Marketing.
For More Information, visit https://thecannabismarketingassociation.com/
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Lisa Buffo, Founder, and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Jacob Roland, Director of Sales and Marketing at Loud Labs, to discuss How to Leverage Emotion in Cannabis Marketing.
For More Information, visit https://thecannabismarketingassociation.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 cannabis Marketing Association. You can connect with me on Instagram @Libuff and on Twitter at Libuff21 Send me a message, I’d love to hear from you. Today’s conversation features Jacob Roland, the Director of Sales and Marketing for loud labs, he deeply understands the power of emotion and connection. He holds degrees in both dance and marketing, where he found synergies between the two fields. The job of a performer is to create an emotional experience for your audience. And the job of a marketing professional is to create an emotional connection with your target demographic. Jacob has used this unique lens to drive sales and customer acquisition in industries ranging from luxury athletic apparel, to big box CPG, and many things in between. From an early age, Jacob had a passion for justice and civic engagement. This led him to become heavily involved in the drug policy reform movement. He held leadership positions in normal at UC Santa Barbara during college, followed by professional experience at Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Washington, DC. Today’s guest I’m so excited to talk to is one of our members, Jacob Roland, who is the director of marketing for loud Labs, which is a cannabis, multi state operator. And Jacob is based in Denver. So Jacob, welcome and thank you so much for joining us today.
Jacob Roland 01:48
Thanks so much for having me on. I’m really excited to be here.
Lisa Buffo 01:51
Oh, me, too. So to get started, can you just tell our audience a little bit about yourself your background, you know, who is Jacob, what brought you to the cannabis industry? And a little bit about loud labs? And what loud labs does as well?
Jacob Roland 02:07
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, first, I guess, loud labs, we are a multi state operator, we’re minority owned. And one of the things that I think really makes us special is we were started by a pair of bud tenders that thought they can make a better product. And they did. And we’re still owned by that group. So it’s a very, very small, nimble team. And we really are engaged kind of in the community. There’s just founded Colorado. We were founded here in Colorado. Yep. And we’ve since expanded to Michigan, and we’re about to open up in New Jersey. So we’re incredibly excited about that. We have three brands in our portfolio. Now, pyramid pins is the vapes that we’re most known for. This year, we were excited to launch zoomies, which is our edible line. We’ve already had multiple awards under our belt for those in the first year of launch. And then drinks is our distillate infused pre rolls. It’s our first foray into kind of the flower category. So an exciting new space for us to explore. Myself, I have kind of a non traditional marketing background, I started in performance. I was actually a dance major in my undergrad. And after that career sunset, I went back and got an additional marketing degree. I’ve been in high end retail, I’ve been in automotive, I’ve been in consumer packaged goods. So I’ve been able to kind of approach things from a variety of different angles. My cannabis background stems from my time in policy and legislation, I was actually heavily involved in normal when I was in school. And in school, I went to UC Santa Barbara, and then UC Irvine for marketing. And so I was the president of our normal chapter out there. That’s the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This was pre legalization, it was still kind of frowned upon in a lot of places. But in college, you had a lot of opportunity to kind of express those political views. And then I was recruited to Washington DC for a short period of time after that and had professional experience as the the Outreach Director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. So I spent some time on the policy side and then got involved in more traditional channels. And then as legalization came about, as the industry started develop, I decided that it was time to get back into cannabis. And that’s how I landed at loud labs.
Lisa Buffo 04:53
And so what year what year was loud labs founded and what year did To get back into cannabis.
Jacob Roland 05:01
Yeah, loud Labs was founded in 2015. So we’ve been doing this for quite a while. We’ve been in Michigan for two years now opened up just before the pandemic, and, and learned a lot over that time period. Right now Michigan is experiencing some of those market shake outs that we see in every one of these states as they come online. And we’re looking forward to opening up in New Jersey and growing the legal industry within that state as well. I joined about a year ago, actually. So I haven’t been with loud lads too terribly long. But it’s one of the few brands that I actually was loyal to, before seeing the posting. And it’s really been a dream job for me. I’m, I’m just wildly excited about my team. They give me a lot of leeway to kind of run with wild ideas. And there were a lot of hats. I think that’s one of the greatest things about the cannabis industry is we’re building the airplane as we’re flying it. So I have a lot of opportunities to just really try on new things, see if they work if they don’t move on to the next one.
Lisa Buffo 06:20
And if you don’t mind me asking, what type of dance Did you study? And are you from California originally?
Jacob Roland 06:27
Yeah. So my degree is actually in ballet and modern dance. So I did a lot of ballet. Montecito School of ballet Santa Barbara dance theater. I was in musical theater as well. So I was in West Side Story. I was in music man. Two of my all time favorites. So kind of highlights. Did some random music videos, commercials, that kind of thing? Yeah, I am originally from California. I did go to high school in Colorado. So I have family in both locations. I’ve been absolutely lucky enough to spend time all across the country. Coast to coast. And, you know, I think the US has just a lot to offer. And I think it’s important that people explore all parts of this country.
Lisa Buffo 07:24
Yes, yes. I love that. So, and when so I saw you last week too. So our audience knows. So I saw last week. We’re gonna we’ll get to this in a minute. But I saw him at a budtender appreciation night in Colorado. At one of Colorado’s famous Denver’s famous venues, the marijuana mansion. But when we were there, you had mentioned that and we’re going to talk about experiential marketing. But you had spent, I think you said a decade at Lululemon doing experiential marketing. I want to talk a little bit about that experience. What? First of all, tell me what that was like? Because I assume those you were there for a decade if I heard you, right, that would have been it’s come up? Well, I’m sure you would have learned a lot and from some very experienced marketing folks. So you know, I’m curious what that experience was like, you know, how they approach marketing. And from the experiential side, and then maybe we can talk about how that ties into cannabis?
Jacob Roland 08:21
Yeah, my time at Lululemon was incredible. I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about people. And a lot about management specifically. One of the incredible things about Lululemon was that they really trusted the stores to act very independently. So we had overarching guidelines, but then it was really up to the individual stores to drive the community drive the consumer behavior in your market. So we had budget that not typical, it is very atypical, right, I think it’s from a marketing perspective, it becomes very challenging to kind of keep your message on brand, keep your message tight and consistent from location to location, at that sort of a scale. So to allow an individual store to be making marketing decisions that complement overarching themes and overarching activations is unusual in a retail space or traditional retail space. But I think the numbers play out I think the performance over the last decade really plays out in that you have a lot of very loyal consumers that are willing to budget accordingly even in an economic downturn, or they become brand evangelists as a result of that direct connection that you create at the individual store level. And Lululemon was very famous for doing some kind of cheeky You know, type activations, the famous story that we always told was the original store that opened up in Vancouver. The founder ran an ad in the newspaper that was naked people get free pants, essentially. And they thought there’d be a few people because it was kind of a chilly Vancouver day. And there were hundreds and hundreds of people that showed up in trench coats and just dropped their jackets and came to get their free dance. That’s awesome. Yeah, so creating a unique experience, and, you know, not being afraid to try something bizarre and out there. So, during my time there, you know, I got saddled with a lot of the men’s programming at my store, you know, so we had broga days, we have bruises and bros, we’ve you know, so we’d have people come in one time, one of my activations was actually complimentary haircuts for dads and kids. So we had local barbers in the shop, doing necklines, and just cleanups in preparation for Father’s Day. And it was a really great way to get dad in the store, Mom was able to do some shopping while dad was distracted. You know, we would take down people’s sizes and that kind of thing to really personalize the experience and, and those lessons really should have stuck with me over my career, that that personal touch at every single touchpoint. And really letting people know that they matter that they’re not just a number for the day, that it’s not just about customer churn, but it’s building those long term relationships with consumers. Especially I think, in cannabis, there’s such a low barrier to switching between brands. I mean, we hear all the time. You know, brand loyalty is hard to develop, it’s hard to drive, there’s there’s no barrier. If you show up to a dispensary and your brand, your strain, your format of choice is not available, you’re already there, you’re probably just going to try something else. And it’s more or less gonna get the job done. So really the difference and and, you know, not creating friction, but creating brand affinity through a positive emotional experience.
Lisa Buffo 12:27
Yes, I love that. And did you so Oh, gosh, this brings up so many questions about retail and cannabis. But so as far as Lululemon. So were you working at the store level, and you had say over, like those activations?
Jacob Roland 12:44
I did, yeah, we had regular guidelines. But I was at the store level, you know, and we had our peak holidays, and we’d have national support, kind of driving that awareness. But Lululemon has never really done traditional advertising, they focused all of their money on stores. So a lot of my job would have been going, going into the fitness community, taking classes with people getting to know different different fitness instructors, that kind of thing. Oftentimes giving them complimentary product or inviting them into the store for a personal fitting session, that kind of thing. You know, and I’ve applied that to my experience in cannabis. At the event that we were at a budtender appreciation event, I look at bud tenders as kind of those fitness influencers in the other space. And and so inviting them to have a more personal connection with us and get to know us on a more personal level really helps drive kind of that brand awareness, that brand affinity that we’re looking for.
Lisa Buffo 13:55
So yeah, so let’s let’s talk about so for allowed labs, in pyramid pen what tell me about how you approach experiential marketing and perhaps, you know, some activations or lessons learned in cannabis that maybe you’ve taken over from from Lululemon or that are just like, hey, we this is what we found has has worked, but also if you can speak towards any brand differentiators, because to your point about that low barrier to brand affinity, I mean, we definitely see that and that is, that is, you know, the case in the industry. So, you know, is experiential marketing, something that you know, can overcome that. Have you seen that? Can you just speak a bit to you know, loud labs and what what makes you different and how you incorporate spirit experiential marketing into the strategy and maybe what, you know, does or doesn’t work for cannabis in that sense.
Jacob Roland 14:50
Yeah, absolutely. You know, we’re highly regulated, so we always have to be very careful. I can’t just walk down the street giving away product He even, even though that would be a very effective campaign, so always looking for interesting ways to connect. You know, I think one of the things that makes us different, one of the things that makes our brand stand out, really is the people. You know, that’s our secret sauce that was makes us different than everybody else. You know, as I mentioned, we have a very lean team, they’re all incredibly passionate, we approach it as we are consumers ourselves, and we’re making product for our friends for our family. Every time I talked to our grower, I talked to our lab manager, I talked to our extraction team, I’m learning new things about the product, and nothing lights me up more than when my extraction team plus opened the door to the office and says, Oh my God, you have to smell this. This is like the greatest thing we’ve pulled so far. You know, I’ve been with other brands, where you don’t wear the clothing or you don’t use the product, but we all use what we produce. So we stand behind it. And we want to express that to to the public and to the consumers. I mean, this is this is excellent quality product, because there’s a lot of passion, a lot of self driven learning a lot of joy behind what we’re producing. And I think that really makes a difference. You can you can essentially taste it in the final product. You know, I always I always joke are our Grow glues exclusively to our rosin production, because it’s the only way that we can guarantee the highest quality supply chain for that product. Our head grower is constantly chasing phenotypes trying to find the absolute best bud to produce this rosin. Our freezers are feet away from the grow, you know, so we are harvesting that and freezing it at the peak of freshness. And, you know, at night they they sing goodbye to the plants put on some Dubstep and and let them do their thing. So it’s just an incredible volume of love and passion behind the product. It really does translate through to the final product. And that that growth journey that we all go through, you know, we started as a co2 company, and several years ago, we switched to hybrid of carbon. Because we learned so much about the product in our journey, and we decided that we can make an even better product more efficiently for the consumer, it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for us to get out of just vape and into high quality concentrates now so now we have you know, dabble grams of butter sauce rosin live resin in addition to a classic distillate vape. And so it’s that continuous journey and iteration time after time after time.
Lisa Buffo 18:13
And I’m so I didn’t know this about loud labs being founded by two budtenders Can you speak? I want to go back to that will absolutely experiential marketing. But can you speak a bit to that founding story? Like were they did they have a background in you know, vapes and production? Or were they really like, front? You know?
Jacob Roland 18:37
Jaken Kohli are they met at the health center here in Colorado? Yeah. And they were working on the med side kind of pre and early years of legalization in the state and they were you know, this was right when vape technology was hitting the market. So again, you know, 2015 is when they found it, so this would have been you know, 1314 and you know, there was cart failure all the time. I remember carts were very dirty looking or very dark oil, that kind of thing you never knew what you’re gonna get it was all fly by night brands. Jake has a little bit of marketing background from school but he was freshly graduated I think he was you know, 25 at the time maybe. And, and yeah, they said hey, we can do this better. They scraped together money from friends and family and and bootstrapped the company and they’ve been doing that ever since. So it was a lot of not easy to do. No, no, not at all. A lot of failure. A lot of you know picking yourself up and trying again, a lot of long drives to the border towns, you know, covering the entire state with With the owners doing delivery, you know, and that’s just not something that you see all the time. You know, I’m so lucky to have owners that will absolutely roll up their sleeves. We’ve had times where, you know, hey, we’re all going to come in on Saturday to fill orders, because we want to make sure that we can turn these around as quickly as possible. Because we started. From such modest beginnings, we feel very passionately about forming those partnerships within the community to kind of help elevate newcomers, and bring more people into this circle. So we don’t have ordered minimums, a lot of other companies have ordered minimums, you have to do a case pack of 50, or things like that, you know, if, if all you can afford is 10 units to get us on your shelf, you’re running really lean right now, because you’re a startup dispensary. We’re absolutely happy to help you out, we’re absolutely happy to turn that around same day if we can. So we pride ourselves on that customer experience at every level of the organization. And, and having lived it firsthand, we’re able to better support people and and grow the whole industry, not just our slice of the pie.
Lisa Buffo 21:16
That’s, that’s great. I hadn’t even thought about no minimum orders as a, even a marketing strategy and just like get your foot in the door. And if you’re selling 10 vapes, but that gets you a few customers at the store, like the potential return later on, could be huge.
Jacob Roland 21:32
Yeah, I mean, just like there’s a risk to the consumer to try and something No, we know that there is a risk to the retailer to trying something new. We have a long history with our product, but not everybody does, especially as we continue to open up new states. So saying, hey, look, try us like this is $100, it’s not going to break the budget. We know that when consumers try this, or when your team tries this, they’re going to absolutely have a great experience with it. And we stand behind that, and we’ll grow this relationship over time. Relationships are super, super important. So we want a long term relationship, I don’t want to just push products on you at a super cheap price, and then you’ll never see me again. You know, you have immediate access to me, the entire marketing team, you have access to our C suite as a customer. As a consumer, I mean, you can pick up the phone, our numbers on every single one of our packages. I love phone calls from customers, it gives me great feedback. You know, and anytime there’s an issue, it’s an opportunity for me to go above and beyond. I send people swag all the time. And it’s just I just want to create that great experience. And if somebody’s not having a great experience, I want to I want to change that.
Lisa Buffo 22:59
So if I call you I can get some swag.
Jacob Roland 23:01
Lisa Buffo 23:04
Let’s see how many calls you get. That’d be hilarious. Um, so let’s talk experiential marketing. And I do want to talk about, you know, Michigan and New Jersey and some of the lessons there. But you had a really awesome activation at marijuana mansion last week,
Jacob Roland 23:20
Man, was that fun?
Lisa Buffo 23:21
It was a lot of fun. And sometimes I get overwhelmed with those industry events. But it’s like, consumption, and it’s networking. And I’m like, you know, where do you go and it’s crowded, but that one just like, there was something about it, where the vibe was really nice. Everyone was super friendly. There was a lot of brands, there was just a really happy atmosphere. But can you tell us a bit about some of the activations that you have done? You know, perhaps what we talked about what you had there, and then you know, what you had tried earlier this summer?
Jacob Roland 23:54
Sure. So we’re doing a series of events, the marijuana management, which has been really great. The industry as a whole has been just begging for these types of events. They kind of all went dark at COVID So a big part of my job and coming into this was building up our brand ambassador team, getting the resources together in order to start doing these sorts of in person activations. Again, the the blood tender event, we we invited, we hand delivered invitations to bud tenders across all of our accounts. We went into accounts that we’ve been trying to get into different dispensaries, new dispensary patient physical invitations, you know, and then my sales team and I would call each other and just double check, Hey, did you hit this store to hit this store? Hey, I went in the store and they were all excited about the event, that kind of thing. And, and it’s that kind of personal touch that I think allowed for the great turnout that we had, you know, this was not just an IG blast or Have a bulk email that went to managers and then they just kind of put it in their, in their garbage box, you know, people knew that we were invested in the event and that we wanted to have a good time and they could see that energy behind it. And it really turned out just fantastic. The previous events have kind of, you know, faded a little bit early. And this one went all the way to the very end. And we were saying, Hey, okay, we gotta go, guys, we have work tomorrow. So it was awesome, it was a great chance for a lot of our budtender friends to experience products that they didn’t even know we had, you know, we have stores that only carry specific product lines, they only carry our CBD product or they, they only carry our edibles. And they they didn’t know that we offer like dabble grams that we offer infused pre rolls, all of these other categories. And it was just like, oh my gosh, I can try all of these, you know, from disposables to PAX pods to, you know, the pre rolls. And so it was just, it was incredible to be able to kind of gift that to people. And just have a really great time. You know, when it’s a blood Tinder focused event, that’s what I tell my team, like, have a good time, make friends with everybody. Like that’s what we’re here for. And that’s why we’re in cannabis, you know, the people are are just so exciting. There’s so much creativity, there’s so much fun energy. And, and tapping into that is kind of really the best other activations that we’ve done this year. You know, again, I bring my my background from kind of dance and Lululemon into things. So I still have a very active yoga practice. And so we’ve partnered with several yoga studios in town. Some of them have kind of cannabis focused classes already on their offerings, some of them created private events that we could invite their, you know, their populations, their community to these events. And, you know, for those private events, were able to kind of sample things. A lot of them are kind of byo see. So I just happen to bring some of my personal stash. And again, because I love our products, it’s just usually a hard product. And, and those are just incredibly fun. And at first, it was a lot of me tapping into my network. And now I have other yoga studios reaching out to me and saying, oh my gosh, like, we had fun at this one, can we do this activation at our studio. And, and I just love it, I mean, for me consuming and fitness go really, really hand in hand, it’s a way to reinforce kind of that mind body connection. And, and for me, I’m able to kind of block out all of the distractions that we have in our lives that prevent you from, from going to the gym, from, you know, taking care of yourself, and just really focus in the moment and be present and, and so being able to share my personal experience and, and authentically bring people along on that journey with me. I mean, there’s just nothing better. Like it’s, it’s the greatest thing ever. So, in fact, last night, I got another email and I just can’t wait till our next one. This one is actually a studio, they said, Hey, we want to do this just for our staff. Which is so cool.
Lisa Buffo 28:41
Yeah, they’re like, we just want We just want our team to experience this. That’s mid endorsement.
Jacob Roland 28:46
Oh, it’s amazing. It’s amazing, you know, simpler activations. We launched our zoobies, our gummies in February and you know, we kept beating ourselves up how how do we get people to try these you know, if this was traditional grocery or other consumer packaged goods, my brand ambassador team would set up a pop up and just sample people. Obviously, I can’t do medicated samples to the general public. There’s there’s age gates that need to be in place, that type of stuff. So we spend a significant amount of our kitchen resources on producing non medicated gummies I think you got to sample them at the event. And you know, I’m working on getting a budget for a Red Bull truck kind of a deal where I can just send people everywhere and sample out these gummies but we made big candy jars. And I go to dispensaries I go to traditional retail places I’ve stopped at my old Lulu lemons and given them jars because as a retail worker, but Tinder or otherwise, I know interacting on your feet all day with customers like it’s exhausting. staining sometimes you just need a little sugar boost. And so we leave giant jars of gummies all over the place for people to just taste. And then at these consumption events, I’m able to do side by side taste testings with people. And you know, one of the things that makes our gummies so special is that there is zero cannabis tastes to them. They’re 10 milligrams, just like every gummy on the market. And they taste like candy. First and foremost, they’re super simple. You just choose sour or sweet, and they’re all delicious choice. And we just wanted people to be able to, to try them and enjoy them. And that’s been wildly successful. Again, I have people calling and being like, Hey, can can we get another tub of the whole team ate them, or the manager took them home. And that’s just been incredible. So, you know, again, sometimes the simplest things and showing people that you care and that you’re making an effort to make their day to day experience better goes such a long way. And so that’s really how we kind of approach a lot of these activations is what can we do to improve somebody’s life? What can we do to make their day that much better? And hopefully expose them to our products, our brand messaging, that kind of thing. And, you know, if there’s not a product for them, right now, if they have a positive takeaway from our connection, you know, maybe in the future, there’ll be a product, or at the very least, they’ll tell somebody, Hey, man, those guys over at pyramid are doing great stuff for those gummies. We’re really good. Yeah. So that’s really what we’re trying to do.
Lisa Buffo 31:43
I love the idea of connecting with other retail workers directly. Like I, that’s so brilliant, and simple and obvious. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of that or thought of it before. But I have I worked in the service industry for a while, you know, before and even in between my time during my time in cannabis. Those things matter when people come in, and they offer samples, and they offer it to the staff. And it makes, and it’s such an obvious overlap with cannabis that it’s just to me, that’s like, that’s so simple. And so there’s so much focus on this industry on finding the bud tenders and getting to the decision maker or the purchasing manager who was by design, hard to find, because everyone’s trying to find them. But it’s like you’re going to the consumers directly. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But to think, like to think that way is just so I just love it. It’s so clear, and so brilliant. And I’m like not surprised you’ve had success with that, because I Yeah, if I was a retail manager and the store on Pearl Street, and you had dropped off gummies that would make my day.
Jacob Roland 32:48
Oh my god, I you know, I always loved it in my other jobs when those sorts of activations happened, you know, we’d get protein powder, we’d get whatever or, you know, one of my previous successes marketing for Lululemon was when we opened up a brand new store, I went to every single retailer within that mall, and brought them a holiday survival kit. And everybody knew that we were opening up a new location, and we had at personal connection and other retailers were directing customers to our store as a result of it. And I made the holiday season a little bit better for people, you know, I had honey and tea and lemon drops and some sugar and just a wellness pack something to make somebody’s life better as your lemon product, no lumen product whatsoever, just hey, this is from one retail professional to another. This is the stuff that we use to try and like make the holiday that much more palatable. You’re gonna do a lot of overtime, and you need to do some self care too. And, and that had an impact, you know, a very positive one. And so that’s again, that’s kind of my approach to all of this is how can I elevate somebody’s life? And yeah, you know, as far as reaching out beyond just the cannabis ecosystem, you know, we it’s easy for us to have our blinders on and really focus on just cannabis. But, but cannabis, consumers are made up of every population, there is no, there is no walls, except for the one that we put up. You know, so it’s incredibly important, especially as we look towards a more mature market. You know, we’ve all seen the data, the Colorado market is shrinking as other states come online, we’re losing tourist traffic, you know, it’s no longer it’s no longer unique to come to Colorado for a cannabis consumption experience. You can now have that in California, Vegas, New York. You know, other areas that have other tourists draws to come to them. So, you know, we’re seeing a downturn in tourist traffic or around the border towns, that kind of thing. Not to say that it’s going away completely, but because we are seeing that downturn, it’s that much more important for us to try and get out of our silo, and start reaching those other communities. Right. So, you know, bud tenders, our retail workers, let’s hit all retail workers, you know, or I’m very engaged in the yoga community. So let’s, let’s bring that authenticity with cannabis. So it’s been it’s been great getting to talk to people and and my favorite thing is always talking to cannabis or talking to people about cannabis in a work environment. I’m kind of destigmatizing that you know, every interview I have, I start off with, what, what is your favorite consumption method? Or, or why? And because this is a cannabis job, we’re gonna have to talk about cannabis. And you can always see people are nervous because there’s a cognitive dissonance about talking about weed in a professional environment. And it’s like, Hey, we got to rip that band aid off, and we got to start talking.
Lisa Buffo 36:15
Yeah, it’s very true. Even within the industry, there are still times where that just like, old tape that plays in your head is Yeah, it does. I mean, I catch it on myself as well. Constantly. Yeah. So it just shows you how deep that stigma and you know, what we were taught growing up, is embedded and the work we have to do, but to that point, so a lot of our listeners are startup entrepreneurs. They are you know, everyone in this industry is on a shoestring budget. So if you don’t mind, could you share the story we just talked about, about the popsicles and oh, the noodle because it speaks to this about simplicity and cost effectiveness. And it’s just such a good story if you don’t mind sharing.
Jacob Roland 37:02
Absolutely. I’m still a little salty about it. But what are flavored vape recently won the roosters. 710 showdown rooster is a publication in Colorado that runs several cannabis competitions. And we’ve got best flavored vape in the state. And the flavor is rocket pop. I love popsicles, I love summer. You know, it, smoking, it brings me back to kind of a childlike state, like summer break. I’m out, you know, fireworks, all of that. So we had just won this. And we were having another big kind of consumption event. And I got all excited. And I allocated a decent budget to buying rocket pop popsicles. So I had a whole ice chest, I bought dry ice to make sure that they would stay cold. And I got, hey, we’re gonna get people stoned. And they’re gonna get the munchies, and I’m going to have popsicles and I’m going to be an absolute hero at this event. I’m just going to be popsicle after popsicle. I couldn’t give those things away. I think I think I went through 10 Maybe 15. And I had bought 200. So I had to drag a full ice chest of popsicles back. And for months now we’ve been eating in in the office, which has been a win, but not what I was expecting. So at the event that you were at the other night, you know, I’m steeped in YouTube and Instagram and all the silly cannabis culture stuff that I’ve been participating in since I was in college. And there’s this one video that was going around where somebody had taken a pool noodle, cut it down to about a steamroller size, you know, 16 inches or so, and just filled it full of passive vaporizers the kind that you just have to inhale, not the kind with a button. And I thought,
Lisa Buffo 39:02
Like a straw basically?
Jacob Roland 39:04
Lisa Buffo 39:04
It’s like basically a straw.
Jacob Roland 39:06
It’s basically a straw. Yeah, you just inhale and the light will come on. If you if you go too long. It’ll blink. So there, those are called blinkers. And we started talking around the office and we pass it on the video. Oh, this video is so funny and silly. And I was like, we could do that. Let’s let’s do that. So I went to the Dollar Tree. I bought three pool noodles, chopped them up. And we took all of our flavors have flavored cards and stuck them in one. And then we call that the burst blaster because burst is our flavors. And then we took our rosin line because we’re really passionate about it, and we want people to try that and we filled a whole steamroller full of these rosin carts. And again, they cost me $1 It was wildly cheap. And it was the most popular thing at the event the other night, people were grabbing their friends, people were Instagramming It was and it was, I mean, it was so fun. It was so so fun. It was deceptive. People really were surprised. And it was an, it was a positive experience for everybody. It made people laugh, because it was so silly. You know, and people wanted to share it with their friends. And then that’s what cannabis is all about is sharing it with your friends, right? So coming up with something silly that allows you to not take yourself too seriously and just have fun with it, I think is really important. And so now I’m getting my whole team is like, well, those have to be at every event from now. And we’re, we’re talking about trying to figure out how to make a more refined version instead of a pool. Can we get ones manufactured, that actually are purpose built for that sort of a thing? You know, can you do a one vape instead of five? Or how do we make it? How do we make how do we scale it and still maintain that shoestring budget?
Lisa Buffo 41:07
Well, I love it, because it speaks to, it speaks to the innovation and ingenuity that can happen when you’re not afraid to try something. And, and essentially be afraid to, you know, kind of be bold, or even possibly embarrass yourself or, like, go for it. And there’s so much pressure and marketers in the industry to show ROI. So ROI because of how our roller taxes are set up. And the way like the way everything works in the space right now is that we talked with marketers all the time, where they’re like, hey, if I can’t show my finance team, or my head of you know, the company, that there’s going to be ROI on this marketing initiative, then, you know, I won’t get approval. And I understand that. In many ways, it stifles that creativity and innovation, and I think also can lead to this mindset of like afraid to fail. So I love that story where you’re like, hey, I totally went for it with the popsicles. And like I tried this and made logical sense. I mean, I lived there, I would have definitely got that made perfect sense to me. But it’s like, the willingness to try that and learn ended up in a big success for you and a new way of thinking and I, I want to just encourage marketers to sort of take those risks and understand that there’s lots of room for that. And there can be massive upside, even if it doesn’t seem like the sexy thing to do. But it just works. Because it’s thoughtful, it’s in the culture, it’s in the community, it’s, you know, based in, like you said, creating that emotional connection and then experience for people. And that’s where I think experiential marketing can have that opportunity. And that difference that sometimes digital or you know, print doesn’t have. And so thank you for sharing that and being willing to be vulnerable in that in that story. Because I just want to hear that more from marketers, like, we went for it, it didn’t work, but we learned and then had this awesome ending.
Jacob Roland 43:12
There’s, there’s an ROI. In learning and development. You know, it’s tough to make space as a manager. That’s one thing that I learned over and over and over again, you have to create safe opportunities for your team to fail, right? If you’re not pushing yourself, if you’re not failing, you’re not pushing yourself and you’re not growing. You know, I know this from fitness, right. But I also as a manager, and as a professional, know that I have to create a safe area for my team to try things and fail. And it it’s not a waste of resources. If you take the time to reflect and iterate. Everything is iteration. So I said, Okay, I thought this was a great idea. We tried it, it just didn’t work. There was too many things to bring, you know, it took time and budget. So we try something else we so every single time we do one of these events, I say what worked, what didn’t continue to do the things that work and look for opportunities to try something new. You know, each one of these is an experiment, that’s, again, we’re building the airplane while we’re flying it. We’re all in an experimental phase. You know, and so as long as you’re doing something authentically, you’re, you’re genuinely committing to it and trying it really getting in there and trying it. You know, as long as you learned that’s a success. You know, obviously, try and and be aware of your scale, right? So try things on the small side, and then scale with that larger budget. You know, and to your point. It’s easy to kind of get in that mindset of oh, these constraints This, these budgetary constraints make it difficult for me to do my job. But the simplest things can have the most impact a lot of the time. And I try and think of it as, as a puzzle, you know, as a creative opportunity, like, Okay, I don’t have as much money as wanna, you know, I’m not in every state, what I like to get 80% market penetration, like they have absolutely, what do I have now that is different, and unique to us and to my community? And how can I scale that? You know, and then, as you prove it, you continue to grow, and you refine it every single time.
Lisa Buffo 45:42
100% Thank you for summarizing that and clarifying it, because there are advantages to being small. Oh, my gosh, they’re probably not handing, you know, personal invites to budtender night like there are strengths to being small that can work in your favor. And I’m sure as you experienced at Lululemon, like that ability for, and gosh, this should be a whole separate episode, but like, how can retail do what Lululemon did, where they’re, they’re connecting with the community where that store and the products that are represented there have some freedom to, you know, outreach based on what they know about their neighbors and their customers. And keeping it really simple. Like, that’s kind of ultimately what it is, is like, what do you know about, you know, human behavior, how people connect and interact, how they want to be communicated with and connected with their communities, which involves their businesses, which involves the products which involves these aspects of their lifestyle. You know, Colorado, we have cannabis, we’ve got this amazing outdoor scene. And those two, we have amazing music, and art and culture, and all those things go really well, and yoga and how you can sort of cross pollinate, so to speak, based on these local strengths, to really help everybody just seems like such an obvious win win. That’s, you know, not going to be found in a marketing class and regardless of budget, can be achieved on some scale. But that’s, that’s ultimately what you’re you’re getting at. So I’m just I’m so glad to hear that and share that with this community. And another day, we’ll dive into the retail side, because I definitely want to talk about that. But there’s so much, there’s so much there’s so much in retail. But given that we only have about like five minutes left. I did want to talk quickly about your you know, the expansion from Colorado, to Michigan and New Jersey, we know that new states, you know, it’s a whole different beast, it’s a whole different. It just it just is and you know, you you all did this, right? You said right before COVID or COVID, right at COVID. So, in in the four minute version, can you kind of just like talk through that and explain any of those, like, high level marketing lessons learned that, you know, perhaps maybe would have worked in Colorado, but not so much in Michigan? And yeah, we wish we can.
Jacob Roland 48:06
Every market is different. I mean, that’s what it boils down to. And, you know, that personal touch translates to every market. So what I what I have learned through this is that I need to be that much more involved. When we open up new jersey, I need to be on the ground, immediately creating those connections, and setting that foundation. So we’ve gone through some team turnover, a variety of things in Michigan, and I have been involved in really building things here on the ground in Colorado and, and I can jump in my car and go to a dispensary and create that connection. And to your point that’s difficult to scale. So I can scale that. But I have to be very involved from the get go. And I need to establish that precedent and say, This is how we operate in these markets. And I need to continue to check in on my team and set those very clear expectations up front. You know, and, and be patient about it and have a backup plan. Always. So you know, we’ve run into we’ve run into continuous price changes. You know, the the market has oversaturated in Michigan, they’re they’re starting to turn off new licenses and that kind of thing. And, again, it’s I mean, it’s the same thing for all of us in every market is we just have to be nimble. You know, and we’re super excited about New Jersey because this is our third time opening up. Every single time we build out a facility it gets that much better. You know, our lab in Michigan, the the steps have our logo Go on it, you know, the stairs have like the safety grip, but it’s actually like our logo, which I think is just a really adorable touch. And, and we don’t have that here, you know, and I know the New Jersey ones gonna be that much better. So it’s it’s making sure that we’re taking the time from the gecko to really establish priorities and, and operational norms, and then holding people accountable to that, and then continuing to build and scale on that. I mean, it’s hard to summarize the lessons learned because every single day, there’s something new and because the difference in market maturity in both states is just so extreme. It really, is totally different strategies. But I think the thing that kind of ties all of them together is really, you know, taking the time to get to know people and connect, it always comes back to that, for me, you know, the turnover issues that we’ve had, had I been more connected, I would have been able to identify these issues and change them quicker. You know, we’re bringing people with me to a dispensary instead of letting my team kind of guide guide me when I’m in market. You know, I, there’s so much to talk about.
Lisa Buffo 51:21
Right now, I know that it is a lot. Well, I appreciate that summary. And to just validate it even sounds like your team is doing the experiential thing like for your company, like if I’m stepping on the stairs, and I see the logo, those touches do make a facility of facility and particularly a physical workplace, you know, that much better. So it seems like that, you know, ethos and mentality is in your company culture, which just speaks to your growth, your, you know, rapid learning curve that we’re all on for this space. But that with that sort of thoughtfulness and persistence, and, you know, like you said, each time you do something doing that, like post mortem analysis, you know, what worked, what didn’t, you are able to, you know, scale and improve. So, I just love how that came full circle as far as like inter external marketing and, you know, internal creating those, those experiences, because those details really do matter and really do can make the difference between a customer happy customer and a customer that’s, you know, a promoter for your brand and really kind of doing the, the work for you.
Jacob Roland 52:31
Yeah, I mean, if if my team is happy, if my team is engaged in our product, they’re going to be the biggest brand evangelists for us. So it’s that it’s taking that and then having them share that with their friends and then share it with their friends, etc. So, you know, it all starts in our four walls every time.
Lisa Buffo 52:54
Well, Jacob, thank you so much for your time. It just was such an awesome conversation to have. Is there any contact information Instagram handles like Where can our listeners find pyramid pens, or you website anything like that you want to share it? For the company?
Jacob Roland 53:12
Our Instagram is get zoobies get drinks and get pyramid? So pyramid drinks and zoobies is the three brands. You can you can find us on IG get zoobies and get drinks and get pyramid.
Lisa Buffo 53:27
Awesome. Well, thank you, Jacob. I appreciate it so much. And I look forward to seeing you at the next event.
Jacob Roland 53:34
Thanks, Lisa I appreciate it.
Lisa Buffo 53:35
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