Party Like a Marketer Podcast

Episode 38: Implementing programmatic advertising for cannabis brands

headshot of Matt Shait with text saying New Episode and the title of the episode

Episode Description

Lisa Buffo, Founder, and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Matt Shait, Vice President of Operations at Surfside, to discuss Implementing programmatic advertising for cannabis brands.

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Lisa Buffo  00:11

Hi everyone, welcome to party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. I’m your host, Lisa buffo, the founder and CEO of cannabis Marketing Association. You can connect with me on Instagram @Libuff and Twitter @Libuff21. I’m also on LinkedIn. And you can find our podcast on Instagram at party like a marketer. Send me a message I’d love to hear from you. Today’s episode is brought to you by altar strategies. Custom Instagram filters are a fun way to get lots of organic reach and work great with reels get a unique Instagram filter for your brand from Ulta strategies. Don’t need one yourself. Alter offers Commission’s on referrals if you know any brands that do call Wes at 866-473-6668 Today’s conversation features Matt shape the Vice President of Operations at Surfside Matt spent the last decade in and around ad tech. Eight of those at live intent, a DSP SSP and identity tech company about a year at ad marketplace a search advertising exchange and he’s now at Surfside Matt is passionate about building for scale and setting people up for success. He currently oversees surf sides, customers success account strategy and ad ops teams, and is also in the past manage business intelligence, project management and campaign management functions as well. In his spare time he has been working on his golf game. He is a huge Boston sports fans and loves cooking and going out to eat. Matt is also a big traveler as well. He has lived in NYC since 2009, and is a current and proud resident of Brooklyn. Matt, thank you so much for joining us today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself your background, what you do at Surfside, how you got started in cannabis and we’ll start there.

Matt Shait  02:10

Yeah, thanks for having me excited to be here. So I’ve been in kind of like the ad tech space now for around a decade. I spent eight years at live intent which is like a DSP and SSP based in email, so like a lot of identity, CRM first party stuff, and pretty much been in operations the entire time. So I’ve overseen like our operations teams, campaign management, teams, business intelligence, anything to try and make the generation of revenue as seamless as possible. And then I got connected with with John and Michael at Surfside around four or five months ago, so I’m relatively new to cannabis marketing specifically. But yeah, doing operations here as well and overseeing our our ad ops team account strategy and customer success. So it’s been a great experience so far, diving deep into into the world of cannabis, which definitely new to me, but I feel like not, you know, entirely foreign relative to to the digital marketing that I’ve been I’ve been doing to date. So yeah, it’s been it’s been a great ride so far.

Lisa Buffo  03:26

And where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Matt Shait  03:29

I grew up in Boston. So I’m a big Boston sports fan still. But I’ve been in New York since 2009. I went to NYU, and then kind of like, jumped into the startup space from from there. So yeah, still still kind of Boston roots, I guess. But definitely. A New Yorker officially now i because it’s been over over a decade. So that’s I think the barometer I guess.

Lisa Buffo  03:56

Definitely, Yeah and, um, did you study advertising or marketing at NYU?

Matt Shait  04:02

So I majored in, in finance and international business actually, so so not quite, but I feel like, you know, we took a bunch of classes, and then it was definitely trial by fire at live intent and like, starting off and going really deep and understanding exactly what like DTC marketers are doing in the different strategies that they have, working with a lot of different brands as well. So it was like a nice, full funnel approach where we were doing everything from like brand awareness and education, down to driving purchases, return on adspend and like, how do we maximize lifetime value and all the other fun marketing metrics and such so I’d say more of like, street smarts of marketing as opposed to at a formal kind of major in college or education.

Lisa Buffo  04:56

Yeah, totally understand. And same here I studied psych Biology English, undergrad and marketing has changed a lot. In the last 10 years, emergence of social media programmatic has changed, shaping the landscape has definitely changed. So can you speak a little bit to what Surfside does and how they help cannabis marketers? And to programmatic a bit more broadly, I know, in the industry, I speak with a lot of folks about it. And it seems like folks either get it, or they sort of understand it, but they don’t quite get you know, the application and how to implement it. So can you just speak a little bit to the discipline itself, but also what Surfside is doing and how they help cannabis companies?

Matt Shait  05:43

Yeah, definitely, I think really like our, our mission is sort of to simplify and unify the marketing stack and make it as easy as possible for cannabis marketers to get a good understanding of both prospective current former customers, and then reach them with the right messages. And certainly, I think you want to reach all of those different personas with specific messaging that actually resonates. So what we’ve done is build like a technology stack and platform that has a lot of native integrations with different point of sale providers, and like E commerce providers CRM, to really help our customers understand again, their prospective and current consumers, and then reach them with those those messages. So we’re, and then and then on top of that, analyze what actually worked and what didn’t, and are we should be leaning a little bit more? Should we be targeting our best customers with specific ads? Should we be reaching prospects with net new deals to try and acquire new customers? So I’d say like in ad tech jargon, we are a like customer data platform, and a DSP rolled into one, So really helping,

Lisa Buffo  07:04

can you explain what a DSP is for our audience?

Matt Shait  07:06

Yeah,yeah, absolutely. So demand side platform. So basically, we have connections into both supply platforms, and publishers directly across the web. And so we allow our, our, our advertisers, basically, to access different types of, of supply and inventory all across the web, both on like, websites that, you know, CNN, New York Times, etc, of the world, also in, in apps, in across different sorts of media types, as well. So like the kind of standard traditional digital ad, the 300, by 250. Banner is like the jumping off point. But certainly, you know, today, there’s a huge focus and emphasis on on video, both online and like, you know, a YouTube or connected TV with partners like a Roku or Hulu, etc. So really, it’s almost like the gateway to buying on on the web, and, and a mechanism to help us reach relevant audiences wherever they’re spending time across the internet.

Lisa Buffo  08:22

And can you Okay, so you said you will target current retarget current customers, and also, you know, seek new leads or prospects. Walk me through that process, like in particularly the, when you’re so let’s talk about both of those one, when you’re targeting current customers, like are you pulling from those brands? Like databases and their lists? And what is that process? You go through with them to say, okay, you know, these are your current customers, here’s what we know, that either works, or here’s what we don’t know. And how do you like, how do you approach that? And then also, when you’re targeting leads, or new prospects? Where do you get that information?

Matt Shait  09:06

Yeah, I think the brand’s most valuable asset in general is going to be their first party data. So like their CRM file, and with you know, sides integrations, we can pull that data in, analyze it and understand, okay, like, who are the customers that are doing the most repeat purchases, or have bought the most in the last 3060 90 days or frankly, bought one time and then never came back? Turn that those data points into audiences and then activate against the web. So you know, I do think, in general, like the it’s super, super important to leverage that that first party data because it’s, it’s, you know, the old sites, it’s so much cheaper to to retain existing customers than it is to occur. yr a net new customer. And there’s just so many ways to reach people today, whether that’s through email through text message through display banners, like I was mentioning before video, etc. So you know Surfside specifically, we’re definitely helping these these brands and multi state operators, single state operators, etc. Really get the most out of the data that they’ve worked so hard to acquire, you know, organically or through or through paid means. So, yeah, that’s definitely a huge key, I think, to any kind of cannabis brands marketing strategy has to be leveraging their their first party data as effectively as possible.

Lisa Buffo  10:45

And how do you well, and then for new customers, how do you find that? Like, what’s that? How does that process differentiate if there’s no first party data there?

Matt Shait  10:55

Yeah. So I think there’s a bunch of different ways that we can do it. And it will sort of depend on the specific use case, you know, a favorite of mine. And what I’ve seen success both in, in cannabis and outside of cannabis is is using like look alike modeling. And so what we’ll do there is because we’ve, we’ve got the integrations with the CRM, so we have their first party data, they’ll say, hey, here are the 5000 or 250,000 highest value customers that I have in my database. And then we can run that through a look alike model and reach people with similar attributes that that are not in the inset database. So it’s a good way to prospect and you kind of base it off of what you already know, which are okay, here are my high value customers. But then I’m going to try and reach net net new people that have like similar sort of, whether it’s ages, whether it is other demographic data, whether they’ve made a purchase in the past, etc, there’s a lot of different attributes that will basically access.

Lisa Buffo  12:09

And this is similar for our audience like this is similar if you’ve run an ad on LinkedIn, or Facebook, where which we can’t do in cannabis, mostly now. But if you you know, you can run a LinkedIn ad and say, Hey, I’m targeting, you know, if your b2b folks 25 Plus, who are marketing professionals in Colorado, within your followers, and then once you target them directly, so we’ll call that that first party data like these folks already follow us, LinkedIn can help scan their whole database and find that look alike. audience. So you’re basically saying it’s the same thing. But using more aggregate customer? Bigger databases?

Matt Shait  12:51

Yeah, exactly. And so like everything is at scale and anonymized. So it’s not like we’re going in looking at any individual like, oh, this, you know, Matt is like, John, it’s more at a at an aggregate level across 10s of 1000s of consumers. And then mapping it back to success, I think is the biggest key. So understanding like, have these people made a purchase? And what are the attributes that they possess that look like other people? So yeah, it’s very similar process. I think it’s something that, you know, as you mentioned, the Facebook’s Google’s LinkedIn of the world definitely offer kind of natively in their platforms as well. And yeah, I’ve seen it be a super powerful tool, both in cannabis, you know, we’re running look alikes, across most of our campaigns today. But then previously, working with direct to consumer brands, like a bomba socks, we would do the same sort of strategy. And it really helps find find net new users who are going to match kind of that that overall profile of your current and best customers?

Lisa Buffo  14:00

And are there any trends or attributes you’ve seen that have sort of stuck out? Or, like you’ve noted as far as like, Oh, I didn’t think you know, this was going to work or this customer base would be interested. But like, can you speak to any trends you’ve seen or any data that’s maybe surprised you or is noteworthy from all the campaigns that you’ve run?

Matt Shait  14:23

Yeah, I think there’s lots of interesting trends that we’ve seen in terms of like, individual people, like we’re very cognizant of, of PII and data security. So we’re not really looking and seeing like, Oh, these 10 people do XYZ. It’s all anonymized and kind of almost like locked away in a in a machine learning algorithm. So which, which makes it very, like privacy friendly and safe. Because again, we’re not analyzing like any individual people and what they’re doing. But yeah, I think in general You know, we’ve seen a pretty broad set of profiles of people that are engaging and interested in, in cannabis across kind of age ranges, household incomes and genders as well. So it’s yeah, it’s, it’s we’ve actually seen a lot of success across different profiles, relative to what you might expect historic ally , in the space.

Lisa Buffo  15:32

Nice and you had talked about measuring success. I want to get into that a little bit. So how do you measure success on these campaigns? How do you go from saying, Okay, this attribution, right, how do you say like, this ad? is what made Lisa you know, walk in the door and purchase, you know, this brands of edibles? How do you kind of measure success? And what are some of the  ways in which you look at it?

Matt Shait  15:57

Yeah, we are definitely very success action oriented. You know, I think, in general, especially nowadays, like, there’s a ton of value in brand awareness and education, and kind of building up that brand equity. But, you know, given macroeconomic trends, like I think results are super important as well. So we look very closely at are we driving people into stores, like physically, and are we driving online sales and online purchases. And so we use our kind of search side, we call it our Surfside experience graph. And we have our kind of closed loop attribution system that allows us to understand, okay, you know, you were exposed to this ad, then you clicked on it, then you physically went into a store and made a purchase or then online, you went and you checked out, you went through the checkout process, and you bought some edibles, or vape, or flour, etc. So it’s something that we are doing, literally daily in our kind of optimizations and ad ops team is looking into, because we do know how precious our customers marketing dollars are. And it’d be, we want to make sure we’re leveraging them as effectively as possible. So I think it like, it goes back to starting with the full funnel approach and understanding okay, like, if we do want to do a top of funnel campaign, that’s great. Like, let’s do some video ads, let’s let’s do some connected TV stuff, where you’re not going to generally right, if you’re watching on whatever, Roku on your TV, you’re not going to click into anything and immediately make a purchase. But it can be super helpful from an educational standpoint. And then what we want to do is kind of push people down the funnel, and continue to show them relevant ads, and okay, great. Now, maybe they’ve been exposed to a video. So whether it’s the next day, next our next month, show them other ads that they can engage with, and actually make those specific purchases, again, whether online, or if we want to drive people directly into a store to complete the transaction. And then from an attribution standpoint, you know, because we have integrations with some of the point of sale providers. And as well as like the the kind of digital EComm providers website, building software’s as well, we’re able to understand, again, and like that anonymized, very privacy friendly, no PII analysis kind of way, who, who has actually been exposed, and or clicked on an ad and then completed the actual transaction?

Lisa Buffo  18:46

That makes sense. And when you, I want to also talk about cost a little bit because I think some folks either don’t understand it or think it may be out of reach, like, how do you approach? How do you charge for this, like, how do you approach cost? And like, what can marketers, you know, expect to spend until they see results?

Matt Shait  19:09

Yeah, you know, so we charge on like the right now the traditional CPM model, so the cost per 1000 impressions. I think we’re definitely exploring other sorts of of models more like SAS Type monthly fees on a go forward. But I think the key here is really understanding the lifetime value of the customers that you’re, we’re, we’re reaching together, or that are being driven into into stores or making purchases online because it it really is all about that long term return. So, you know, we’ll, we’ll generally have like a ramp up period, something like two to four weeks where we’re understanding like, what’s working, what’s not. Is there a certain messaging that we’re that we’re ever serving that is or is not resonating, and then can we lean deeper into what’s working and pull back on what’s not. And then usually, I mean, we like to see a positive return after a month or two. And from there, we can really start to build, because we understand the users that we’re driving into the funnel. And then we can kind of keep pushing them down deeper with the messages that do resonate, so really incentivizing them to not just make a first first purchase, or maybe you offer something like Oh, 15% off for new customers. But then use that information to continue to incentivize repeat purchases, as well down down the road. So you know, I think we, we’d like to see a positive return, as I was saying, relatively quickly. And then I do think it’s super important for for brands to do a lot of analysis on their individual customers in their first party databases, because they can see, and we can help provide some of this data from our into, you know, how many ads? Are they actually being shown? When are they being shown an ad relative to when they’re making a purchase? And then are they coming back? Right? Are they making multiple purchases? If so, you know, kind of where I, where I started, the first party data and being on top of it is super, super important to ensure that we are running, you know, profitable campaigns for our customers.

Lisa Buffo  21:39

That makes sense. And so are you. So it sounds like you’re running a B tests in the sense where, like, you’re running a few different ads in saying, okay, you know, copies a little bit different on this one, and then you’re able to help those brands analyze the results, and send it out to what’s working and double down on that.

Matt Shait  21:58

Yeah, definitely, I think it’s super important also to continue to like to keep going off here. Continue to test different creatives. You know, there are generally some best practices that will work across the board. So you do want to have really strong calls to action shop now, discounts for first time customers, whatever it may be. But then we definitely like to run a bunch of different creative concepts. Like I’ll usually recommend like three to five different concepts, meaning different imagery, perhaps a different landing page, or a call to action.

Lisa Buffo  22:42

And you guys help put those together.

Matt Shait  22:44

Yeah, so we we have a Google call like our Surfside studio. And we have a bunch of in house designers and a team that will put together all sorts of different formats of of ads. So like I mentioned before, there’s like the traditional kind of standard banners that we see have a ton of scale and do perform well across the web. But we’ve also seen, especially for dispensaries, the more interactive units work really well like the technical terms like rich media, but things like a tap to map where you can click in and actually see here the dispensaries in the in the areas around me or here the specific brands dispensaries. Because I do think that awareness is is super important as states continue to legalize recreationally or medicinally. Because people just don’t know where to where to even go right now and who to trust. So if you can get in front of consumers with Hey, you know, here’s this really nice looking at that, that actually shows me with a map where I need to go. We’ve seen really good results with with with units like that.

Lisa Buffo  23:59

That’s interesting. And so you’re working with brands and retailers? In that sense. Okay. Do you have different strategies for them? Like, are there kind of best practices were for real? Like you were saying with maps and something to think about it like for retailers you want to physically, for example, direct people there? Like are there different sort of approaches as far as what you’re testing for a brand versus a retailer or any best practices that distinguish them?

Matt Shait  24:29

Yeah, I think in general, like what we’ll want to do is take a step back and understand the customer and their positioning in the market and what they’re really trying to achieve. So for example, if somebody is not doing a ton of direct to consumer purchasing online like through their website, will likely want to start and focus with Okay, let’s drive people into your actual dispensaries in your store. Horse. On the other hand, you know, we’re working with some brands that have really strong online presence. And if that’s the case, and they’ve got, you know, really nicely built out website and a really kind of seamless checkout and user experience, then we might want to focus more on sort of those online transactions and getting people to buy right there. So it will sort of depend on the customer, where they are in the market, like strategically, but but also even where they are physically, right. Are they in urban areas surrounded by tons of other stores, bars, restaurants, places where we can show ads? Or is it more rural? Where, okay, we need to figure out how do we find people that are going to make the journey, whatever it is 45 minutes or an hour to a specific store. So, you know, there’s definitely no one size fits all approach. And I think the key is, is taking that step back and understanding, you know, where, where, where are you as a brand, physically, digitally excetera, in order to kind of put together a program that that’s going to drive success, and that’s going to kind of allow us to build over time.

Lisa Buffo  26:13

Did you know that custom Instagram filters are a fun way to get lots of organic reach and work great with reels? Get a unique Instagram filter for your brand from alter strategies? Don’t need one yourself. Alter offers Commission’s on referrals, if you know any brands that do call Wes at 866-473-6668. Yeah, and I was gonna, that’s interesting you say that I was gonna say so I get asked a lot. That one size fits all question where people ask me, what is the you know, the best marketing channel you’ve seen? And I have a similar answer where I always say, you know, let’s, let’s take it a step back. Right? Who is who are your customers? Where are they? Where are they consuming media? Do you have this information and your buyer personas? And then are you targeting them accordingly? Like if your customers are, you know, on this platform or these websites, but you’re not targeting them there, there’s going to be a mismatch. It’s not necessarily again, one size fits all all or there’s like a silver bullet to it. So along that line, is there any advice you have for cannabis marketers? When they’re first getting started? Into programmatic? That is something maybe you run into with them that you’re like, I have to explain this to all the clients like What’s something you wish they knew a little bit earlier? Or you feel as a misconception that would make them more successful in these approaches? Using programmatic?

Matt Shait  27:41

Yeah, yeah, great, great question. I think, in general, it’s being realistic about where you are. And then depending on where you are, like, that’s where you need to start, right? So if if you do zero online transactions today, if nobody is purchasing online, and they’re just going directly into your store, nobody’s going to be able to take you from zero to like, a million overnight. So if that’s the case, okay, let’s figure out how do we get started and how we get started is probably more of that top funnel awareness videos, you know, get get people to understand and interact with your with your brand, or even organic content, too, right. Like I follow houseplant on Instagram. And I think they do a great, great job of just like, putting together really, really nice organic content that that makes me want to engage with it. So I think it’s, it’s all about having realistic expectations, and then figuring out what strategies are best to start with, like, it’s the order of operations kind of problem. So you do need to start and raise awareness before you’re going to just have a million people check out on on your website. And I do think programmatic can be a great option for this. Because that’s sort of the beauty of it is you can execute on any strategy that you want. You just kind of have to know what it is that you want to execute on ahead of time. So I think it’s really just about like, you know, sitting down and thinking through realistically, where am I today? Where do I want to be in a year or two, I want to build a big online presence awesome. There’s, you know, tons of opportunities to do that both through organic like managing your own Instagram page. And through paid channels as well where you can reach people on all sorts of connected TV, online video or banner ads is well I do think awareness and education is super important, especially for for cannabis right now just because it’s, there’s so much opportunity, right like there’s so much opportunity to become a brand that is a name brand, that brand that people know about that people are going to seek out because historically You know, it’s, it’s been more I think about just buying up a product as opposed to saying, like I want to purchase from this brand, right and the same way. You know, I want to drink constant Migos, tequila or whatever, there’s a ton of opportunity to, to kind of build up that brand.

Lisa Buffo  30:19

Yeah, so you’re saying that programmatic has the opportunity to achieve multiple marketing goals, whether it’s top of funnel, you know, just getting folks in bringing awareness to the table, whether it’s bottom of funnel, increasing conversions, or like increasing that customer lifetime value, and getting them to come back and be repeat customers. So the technology exists for that. But it is about when you approach working with a programmatic company like Surfside that you’re doing it with clear goals in mind, and then you create the strategy, the copy the creative, all of that, that is going to allow you to test those specific.

Matt Shait  31:02

Yeah, like the science exists, I think the key is the art to a certain extent, which is like, let’s be realistic. And let’s just start somewhere that is going to make sense for you. And that then plugs into the tech that that does exist. So I think, for example, we talk a lot about like KPIs, again, in store, we want to drive people in store, we want to drive online conversions. Let’s start with one, right. So what is most important to you today, based on what presence that you do have, and there’s no one size fits all approach. But like I said, if nobody’s buying online, and everybody’s going in store, let’s start there. And let’s understand what’s working in terms of how do we continue to push people into your store, continue to drive repeat customers or net new customers into your store? Well, maybe you’re doing some more organic stuff on your side of things to build up the, the your online presence. So really, I think, the only time that historically and cannabis and non cannabis I’ve seen, you know, brands struggle with programmatic or just digital in general, it’s just when you bite off more than you can chew from from the get go. And you’re just like, I’m going to spend a billion dollars across all of these tactics. And then everything’s you kind of get muddy together. So I think it’s all about setting realistic goals. And then working towards achieving them. And then once you hit that milestone continuing on, and maybe it’s further down the funnel, maybe it’s a new product, whatever it may be, but I think it’s really important to be very focused, in terms of what you’re trying to achieve, especially in a world where everybody has, you know, limited budgets, and just trying to figure out what’s the best way to deploy them. So the best way is always going to be choose one thing, and let’s do that really well. And then we can kind of build from from there once we’ve gotten this, this this one, you know, success. Locked in?

Lisa Buffo  33:04

Yeah, that makes sense. And do you work with brands and real retailers together or in partnership where I know they can do that in? And they do and other channels, whether it’s billboard advertising, or, you know, social media, where they’re working together, and the brands are saying, you know, we want you you can purchase this at this store? Is there room for that in programmatic? Do you see that at all? Are you kind of just working with these businesses? individually?

Matt Shait  33:34

Yeah, you know, we actually have like a formal cannabis Co Op program. So we do a lot and we see this and it’s been I think, a great strategy outside of cannabis as well with like the Walmart’s and targets working with individual brands. But you know, there’s a huge opportunity there to help the brands and dispensaries partner together. To not just okay, drag people into your store, but then really highlight specific brands that you have a partnership with. So we definitely facilitate a lot of that over time. With with with lots of different customers, you know, again, I think it’s it’s the success will will sort of determine on the starting determine from the starting point. So, are Is this a net new brand to a dispensary? Is it something that people are already buying a lot of, and then just making sure that we have the right messaging relative to what that positioning is? See, I think the context of it is is always super important. And it’s something that we especially highlighted, you know, across our Managed Services team and offering is like we want to understand our customers and what’s working and what’s not so that we can put together the right the right offerings. Whether it’s a co op sort of situation or not, but yeah, we definitely see a lot of this sort of co op partnership. And we’ve seen a lot of success with it in the past, especially again, when when messages are tailored. So like, Okay, if this is a net new brand in the dispensary, we’ll want to do like coordination, right between a digital ad. And then when I walk in, you know, kind of shove it in my face to a certain extent, like physically, right, like if I saw this ad come by these amazing new edibles, I want to see them as soon as I walk in, and so I don’t get distracted, and then like, go buy something else. So I think the more coordination and like, the more holistic we can kind of be, the better performance will will, we’ll see overall.

Lisa Buffo  35:52

And is there anything you’ve noticed? You said, You’re fairly new to cannabis coming from your previous roles and ad tech, not in cannabis? Any, like major differences that you’ve seen in this industry versus the work you were doing before? And if you don’t mind? Can you tell us a little bit about were there any specific industries or brands or types of companies that you worked with prior to joining cannabis? And like, what? Any, just similarities or differences?

Matt Shait  36:24

Yeah, I mean, I think, honestly, it’s, it’s mostly a lot of similarities, right? I think whether you know, like, I was at live intent, and we work with bombas socks and public rec pants and Wayfair. And at the end of the day, they’re they’re trying to achieve the same goals. So it’s, there’s not too much in terms of like major fundamental differences I’ve noticed certainly, there’s like a lot of nuances and all the state regulations what you can and can’t show and I think you know, even looking at someone like jewel for example, where they got into, you know, a huge lawsuit for marketing to underage people. So, you know, there’s definitely like, lines that we want to be careful not to cross but really, I think it’s mostly just a great education opportunity for cannabis brands because they can kind of look to what’s working across all all of these other spaces and try and replicate it right? If you go on to bombas site there’s they’re gonna offer you know, a lot of the same stuff the cannabis brand should offer discounts for first time customers sign up for this for an email list and you’ll get whatever deals in in your inbox deliver daily so I really see a lot of similarities overall and I think it’s it’s super important to kind of study what’s what’s worked and what hasn’t for a lot of these non cannabis brands because that’s what’s gonna give you you know, a leg up in in the space and you know, I definitely think when you look at some of the alcohol brands and you can kind of see what has worked really well for them I think quality overall has had a huge like come up it’s just across all industries right I think people are looking for I’d rather buy Yeah, less of something at a higher quality than just like give me you know, six gallons of gin whatever like no, I want to buy Ryan Reynolds aviator gin, whatever it is. So, I do think yeah, there’s there’s a ton of opportunity to align around quality and like, trusted brand, because then people will feel comfortable going into your, your, your your store or purchasing from your brand on online, especially when, you know, I think overall cannabis marketing, it’s still really in its infancy of what it can be over the next three to five years as we really take advantage of the technology and just the strategies that have worked across a lot of these these other industries. So the good news is, I think a lot of these paths have kind of been walked down before by brands from from totally different, different spaces. And you know, what I would really recommend and you know, what I’ve done in my personal life too, is look and see what has, what has worked, what what’s resonated with like with with me, and then try and try and try and replicate that because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and the tried and true strategies will will generally apply across industries as what what I’ve seen for sure.

Lisa Buffo  39:50

I’m glad you said that I was I was going to you in the sense where I get asked a lot and we talked about this a lot about like I said, You know what are the best strategy is what’s the best channel? And the strategies are what they are they work in they exist. The nuance around cannabis is the product to education and the messaging, where, you know, it’s not whether programmatic works or social advertising works, it’s how are you communicating that product value, whether it’s quality, whether it’s effect, you know, whatever that differentiator is. And then if there are gaps between your target audience, you know, whether that’s top of funnel, most likely top of funnel, or not? Are you able to educate them and meet them where they’re at? and answer their questions and be a resource so that when they see an ad, they’re not, you know, that may be their first step to clicking through to your site, but they can actually learn more, get those questions answered. Because sometimes it’s, it does pique the curiosity and it gets you thinking, oh, I want to learn more. And I want to see more about this. But you need sort of that educational content, or those resources to make folks feel really comfortable that they are actually going to go in and make that decision, particularly for new brands, you know, who are just getting started, or folks who don’t have that established, you know, kind of trust and credibility if they’re newer to the market, or really focused o n top of funnel? So I think,

Matt Shait  41:18

Yeah, and you can build strategies around that too, right. And this is something that I’ve seen have a ton of success outside. And we’re starting to do it inside of cannabis, too. It’s just like, here are the five reasons why this is the best pant you should buy. Here are the five reasons why this vaporizer will change your life, right? And then click on it and then understand and educate. What Why should I buy this? Why should I engage with this product. So you know, those those strategies have been especially like in the in the direct to consumer, good space, there’s, there’s been a lot of that over the last, I don’t know, five years or so especially with like, native as a channel has has really picked up. But if you want to educate people, right, like you need to have ads and messaging that actually educates them. So it’s always just about like matching consumers with where they are in the customer journey, so to speak of like, if they need to be educated, like educate them, right, as opposed to just hoping that they are going to engage with your, you know, by this by this vape why, hey, you know, like, tell me why I should buy it helped me understand, why is this better than like the 20 other vapes that are out on the market, or that if I just walk into a store, I’m probably going to ask, you know, a budtender, like, hey, which what should I buy here with? Why is this? Why do I do? What do you recommend if I want this or I want that, whatever it is. And I think we can do all that in, in digital. And it just needs to kind of be like thought out ahead of time so that we can match the buying and the strategies with where customers are relative to your brand.

Lisa Buffo  42:58

And I want to come back to you had mentioned compliance earlier, and how there’s nuance with the different states and what they allow, and what you can show. Are there checks within sort of sense technology? Or how do you approach that? Like, is it within the source side studio? Where, you know, when they’re coming up with an ad, it goes through a compliance process? Or is that an added thing? Like, can you just talk through insuring how that is insured for your customers?

Matt Shait  43:26

Yeah, I mean, we basically have like a, almost like a database by state of here, here are the different rules and regulations, here’s what we need to do to make sure in Pennsylvania versus Massachusetts versus Florida. What can both be on ads, and what needs to be kind of behind it in Massachusetts, we know we need to have disclaimers on on the ads. So, you know, really, we because we’re actually building a lot of the the ads for our customers, we’re kind of able to like build in compliance because we you know, our team is trained on it understands it, and then has the resources to know okay, like, this is what we have to do and in each of these markets, so really, our goal is not to have to need any sort of like automated check and balance because we want to submit something that is compliant from the get go and, you know, the there’s also nuances in the platforms themselves. So there are certain publishers who are who will work with like supply partners who say like, you know, we can’t there’s there’s can’t have any flour in our in our ads. And so because we know that nuance, we can create an ad that’s going to be able to be approved on those partners and able to run so you don’t run into like, well why did I launch this and now I haven’t spent any money and I don’t see any results and nothing’s happening here. So you know, we try and almost like cut it, cut it off before it can can get started by just making sure that we’re we’re building ads for the markets themselves that are compliant with the rule. rules and regulations. So we’ve we’ve invested a lot of time and in making sure that it’s, it’s very explicit across our organization.

Lisa Buffo  45:08

And you’re saying, like from the publisher side, regardless of the laws, if they’re just like, we don’t want flour being shown that you’re able to accommodate both?

Matt Shait  45:17

Exactly. And, you know, I think over time, this is where we definitely want to work to move the publishers and help educate them in terms of what, why this is not, you know, not necessarily a bad thing. But I think, because everything is sort of still in its infancy here. And obviously, state by state, there’s different rules. So a lot of publishers, I think, will take a blanket approach to lower risk. And so we’re able to accommodate that out of the gate, and make sure that we can, you know, buy on all of the channels and all the publishers that even if they have very specific rules in place where we’re,  we’ve got an ad to match that basically.

Lisa Buffo  46:02

That makes sense. Okay, Matt? Well, before we wrap up, is there any lessons learned anything you wish you knew? And if you learned the hard way, you know, now that you’re five months into your cannabis experience, like, Oh, I thought it was gonna be like this, or it’s like this, like any advice you would give earlier stage cannabis marketers or entrepreneurs? Given everything that you know, now?

Matt Shait  46:27

Yeah, I mean, I think, in general, marketing is going to continue to play a huge role and who will succeed and who won’t in this space? I really think it’s just about, like, there hasn’t been any massive surprises. It’s like, oh, my god, I can’t believe that this is what I’ve gotten into. And I think having that experience and understanding what has worked in some of these other spaces, has been, you know, hugely beneficial for, for me and something I would I would recommend, really to, to all, kind of young cannabis marketers is look and see what has worked elsewhere. Because it is going to it’s going to work here in cannabis as well. So yeah, I mean, I I think it’s that yeah, there’s no I think specific challenges really, that I’ve I’ve seen or face that have surprised me. You know, I think it’s mostly just about continuing to educate consumers and brands and publishers across the space so that it can it can just become more of a mainstream you know, marketing channel for brands, so, yeah, I mean, nothing. Nothing too, too crazy. comes to mind there. Yes!

Lisa Buffo  47:59

Nice. Okay, well, is there any contact information you want to share for either yourself or Surfside website social handles, things like that, for how our audience can get a hold of you?

Matt Shait  48:13

Yeah, so we’re at You can definitely contact us there directly can send an email to [email protected]. Feel free to reach out to me on on LinkedIn as well. Matthew Shay. But yeah, that’s that’s definitely the best way to to find us is head to And feel free to shoot us a note. And we’ll we’ll definitely get back to you as quickly as possible.

Lisa Buffo  48:41

Awesome. Matt, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your insights and everything you’ve learned. It’s really much appreciated. And I’m glad that you haven’t had any wild surprises in cannabis.

Matt Shait  48:53

No, it’s been great. Thank you for having me. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it.

Lisa Buffo  48:59

Okay, thanks, everybody. 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 Check out our website for more details and membership information. We’ll see you next time.

Meet Your Host

LISA BUFFO, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association

Lisa Buffo is an award-winning entrepreneur and marketer with a passion for launching companies with experience in both the cannabis and technology industries. Lisa is the Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, a membership based organization focused on education and best practices for industry marketers with the vision of rebranding cannabis at the national level. She was named one of 2019’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Cannabis by Marijuana Venture Magazine in 2019 and named “The Marketing Guru” by Women & Weed magazine and is a featured speaker and media source in publications like Forbes, The Guardian, and VICE. You can find her on Instagram @libuff and Twitter @libuff21.

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