Party Like a Marketer Podcast

Episode 44: Navigating Cannabis Marketing: From Retail to Tech

Episode Description

Lisa Buffo sat down with Jeremy Johnson, Business Development Manager at Dispense to discuss how he got started in the cannabis industry and his contribution to building Dispense into a thriving business.

Lisa and Jeremy delve into the importance of starting small and growing conscientiously, as well as the differences between product-based SEO and iframe-based SEO. Jeremy shares his insights on what product-based SEO is and how it works, and highlights some of his favorite marketing tools.

Finally, the pair discusses the most important thing to consider when building a tech stack, and how this can impact the success of your business. Whether you are new to the cannabis industry or a seasoned veteran, this episode provides valuable insights and tips that you can use to grow your business.

Learn more and connect with the Cannabis Marketing Association:


Read the Transcript

Lisa Buffo  00:22

Welcome everybody to today’s episode of Party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. I’m your host, Lisa buffo. And today’s guest is Jeremy Johnson. Jeremy, thank you so much for being here and joining us on the show today. Thank you. It’s always fun. Nice. So Jeremy, can you give our audience a little bit of background on who you are, what you do and how you got started in cannabis?

Jeremy Johnson  00:56

Yeah, definitely. So currently, I work for a ancillary company in the space. We we focus on E commerce and order management for retailers. So the company is called dispense. And we we build, we build online menus, kiosks, menus, anything digital, for retailers to help them sell cannabis online or in store through different digital channels. That’s my current focus. And that’s also like, kind of my background, previous to cannabis. I was involved in the digital space building websites and mobile apps through agency work. So I built like hundreds of different websites, and probably close to 50 different mobile apps over like 15 years. And that’s, that’s where like cannabis and technology kind of intersect for me. But previous to that in the cannabis space. I’ve been involved for a long time. Kind of was like born into it. But then, you know, I was lucky that I am from Michigan. So in 2008, we passed the caregiver bill. And I happened to just be turning 18. So I got my caregiver card right away. And got started as a caregiver for and did that for about 10 years, but also had the opportunity to see the industry in California during that time, as well as Oregon. I got I got to vote on three different recreational bills, California, Oregon and Michigan. So that’s like a fun fact, it was a good time. And then, when Michigan was finally going legal in 2018, I kind of moved back to Michigan full time and focused on that and helped open the first recreational dispensary chain in the Upper Peninsula so that they opened the first store and then I kind of got involved on the second store. And as we got going the pandemic setting pretty quickly, we our first store opened in like November of 2019, I think it was. And then I started kind of working on the digital side. And all of a sudden, everything switched to online orders. So that was kind of like the lightbulb moment for me where I was like I can take my past experience and apply it to cannabis and do some really cool stuff with it. So it’s spent about two years working for that company. And then a few months working for 315, one of the largest non vertically integrated retailers in the state of Michigan. But then it just made sense to go and help build a better ecommerce platform. Because this is a new industry. And I felt like a lot of the tools were lacking. And that’s where we are now.

Lisa Buffo  04:01

So did when you were saying you were building those websites and mobile apps do you have a depth background?

Jeremy Johnson  04:09

Originally I do. I saw I taught myself like pretty early on how to program just with like bit like Age of Empires. More craft I was mining anything I could. But and I started I got about halfway through like a attack technical degree in college, but then I kind of realized and MIT Canvas was probably part of this journey. I know in college like, I was like, I don’t want to sit behind a computer my whole life. Like I want to be out doing stuff and like talking and socializing. So I dropped out of my program, but when I graduated, I graduated with a communications degree in rhetorical communication, which like not a whole lot of jobs. I was studying Like propaganda and social movements, so not a whole lot of jobs in that. But because of my technical background, I was able to get a job in the development space. But I quickly kind of positioned myself to be more of a project and product manager so that I wasn’t having to do all the code myself and couldn’t still like work on fun things and have an impact but not be glued to my keyboard.

Lisa Buffo  05:28

And tell me a little bit about dispense and how. So it sounds like you’ve worked with a lot of startups, which is what most of us do in this space as a startup industry, almost all of our businesses or startups, depending on how you look at it, but that you’ve got some deep experience there. Tell me about dispenses story and your role there.

Jeremy Johnson  05:52

Yeah. So dispense was started, like early 2020. And it was it was started by Kyla CNE and Tim officer who they had a previous startup that’s still in existence called Table list. And it was in the hospitality space. If you’re familiar, or if you’re not familiar, they did like book booking is kind of like Open Table, but for like bars and clubs. So it’s like digit online bookings for you know, private spot at a club and bottle service and all that kind of stuff. And so through that business, they were connected with Abner at who is or was the founder and CEO of a sudden wellness. And, you know, once the pandemic set in, obviously, the hospitality industry took a huge dive in so their business was kind of kind of non existent. At that point, nobody was open. But at the same time, cannabis was exploding. And so a son had this store in Illinois, that was right on the border of St. Louis, that was just crazy busy doing 1000s of orders a day. And they couldn’t, they didn’t have the technology to keep up with all those orders. And so Abner called Kyla and was like, hey, I need help, I need an order management system. And that was the first iteration, the first iteration of dispense actually sat on top of another ecommerce platform. And all it did was help to manage orders from like a time slot perspective. But then, you know, they quickly realized that a lot of the stuff they built for table lists could transfer to cannabis. So that’s how it evolved into more of a full order management system with a focus on E commerce.

Lisa Buffo  07:47

And so did it you said it started March early 2020. Was that like, pre pandemic? Right when it started? Or?

Jeremy Johnson  07:56

Because of it? Yeah. Because all the, you know, all the different states were putting in restriction. So like you couldn’t shop in store. And so really, you had to shop online, but then it was it just made it a mess for like, how do you control the flow and like, as this store in this sense, store, like, people are dry, they were so busy, people were driving across the border, they had a by a parking lot. And so people were parking in this parking lot. And then they had buses that were busing people to the store. Like that’s how crazy it was. It’s how busy it was in that survey. And everybody had to make the pre orders online. So it was like you’d park at the parking lot. You get on the bus, you drive to the store, you pick up your order, you get back on the bus, you go back to your car.

Lisa Buffo  08:41

Nice. Okay, so, um, you know, I do want to talk about your approach to marketing and your philosophy. But I want to ask, too, about how resourced your company is. A lot of our listeners, we haven’t really talked about it in the podcast yet, but a lot of marketers in this space are highly under resourced as far as funding team. You know, whatever, what have you. So where did dispense get funding? If you don’t mind me asking and how much resources go towards marketing? And then we’ll get into strategy a little bit.

Jeremy Johnson  09:24

Yeah, totally. So I kind of skipped over one of the second part of your last question, but like I got involved with dispense right after their first round of funding. You know, I had spent about three years working in recreational cannabis focused on E commerce, you know, kind of a little bit pre pandemic, but then mostly post pandemic started in like 2019 ish. And I got introduced to Kylo, like right after they had raised their first round. And that’s kind of how we met and how we ended up working together. But dispense raised about two point point $5 million in the, let’s say like fall of 2020, it must have been. And maybe it’s 2021, I don’t know, dates, or I don’t know, stuff. But either way, that first round was obviously a lot smaller than like some of the other companies in this space. It was led by Poseidon, who is one of the original cannabis cannabis investors. So that was really cool. One of the things that attracted me to the company, but then it also had backing from like a lot of mainstream investment companies like NextView, who, it’s the that’s the venture capitalist firm, or the founder of LinkedIn, for example. So it was really interesting to see a cannabis technology company that didn’t just have purely cannabis investors. And that was like, another thing that was really attracted attractive to me personally, when I was looking at different platforms and where I wanted to be at. But yeah, so we raised 2.5 million, which is nothing to like, you know, that’s a substantial amount, but we’re not raising, we didn’t raise like hundreds of millions, like a lot of these other people. So that does kind of keep us resource constrained. You know, at this point, we’re like a team of 14 or 15 people now. And not a ton of the budget goes to marketing, we have one full time marketing person, and then there’s, you know, maybe two or three of us that including myself that kind of dedicate part time resources to marketing. So I, you know, I, from a marketing perspective, I wish we would do more of it. But like, we also we have to be conscious of how we grow. And most of our resources are dedicated to engineering and support right now. Because if we don’t have the product to backup, the marketing, what’s the point?

Lisa Buffo  12:08

Yeah, yeah. And I think thank you for sharing that. When you are, there’s something to be said about being a little bit constrained, because it forces you to learn, it forces you to be scrappy, it forces you to really test and test on a smaller scale, so that when you do get more money, and the time is right, or resources, you’re you’re able to make some conscious decisions. And I think you can kind of build that into the culture. When you start, you know, you start small, but grow conscientiously. That can really serve you in the long term. But that definitely makes sense from a tech perspective, as far as you know, how much just goes into building the product and making sure you’ve got something functional that you can sell in the first place?

Jeremy Johnson  12:51

Yeah, and we started behind to, you know, like, some of the other ecommerce companies in this space got their start in like, I think, like 2018, or 2019. So they, they have like, a year to two years head start on us. So we’ve, we’ve definitely had to put that focus on product first. Yeah.

Lisa Buffo  13:10

So tell me a little bit about your approach to marketing. And, and we can actually, you can answer this either as Jeremy or on behalf of dispense? Because I know, I know, you’re also a marketer, too. Even if it’s not necessarily all of your day to day, do you have a marketing philosophy or strategy that you stay true to?

Jeremy Johnson  13:31

So from like, a theoretical standpoint, a lot of my like, I didn’t, I didn’t like go to, like, I didn’t graduate with like, a marketing degree or anything.

Lisa Buffo  13:44

If I said, Did I, by the way?

Jeremy Johnson  13:46

Yeah, I don’t know. I the marketing degree, like the marketing program at my university just wasn’t really attractive. But at least to me, like it didn’t grab my interest, but like, my, my background is in communications, like, which marketing communications, lots of overlap there. But like, specifically, I mentioned earlier, like propaganda and social movements, and like, a lot, a lot of that is like, you know, I specifically like I studied like World War Two a lot. And like, so much of that is like, how do you create a message and distill it down in a form that can be like, easily understood, but then a message that you can like, blast out to multiple channels, and you know, that you have to be able to tweak that message for each different channel that you’re using for it to truly be effective. So like, for me, I really think about marketing as propaganda, which like, maybe as a negative connotation for some people, but like, propaganda is neutral. It can be positive or negative. And it’s just how you choose to utilize it. So that’s like my personal All background. When it comes to business, like I really believe in more like product lead marketing strategies and letting the product speak for itself. And then also from I think, if I was a, you know, if I was a studied marketer, I think the correct terminology is like demand generation. So, like, with dispense just as a concrete example, one of the things that was missing in cannabis e commerce when we got started was the ability to leverage product data for SEO. And so like, for the first like year, I mean, I still focus on this a lot, like you’ll hear me talking about it all the time. But for like the first year, we were just building out the ability to leverage your product data for SEO. And when we launched that product, so much of what I talked about, so much of what we talked about, as a company was just focused on like, Hey, here’s how, here’s how, here’s what you don’t have access, here’s what you’re missing out on, here’s what you don’t have access to right now, if you’re using an iframe menu, and here’s what you could be doing if you were using technology that allowed you to drive SEO traffic. And so it was just like, in a way, it was like education, because a lot of people didn’t even know the traffic they were missing out on and subsequently the revenue. But that’s, I think that’s like, for me, that’s the most effective thing. It’s like demand, you know, demand generation, as well as education mixed in and just being like, being, like, open about what your product can do and how you’re doing it.

Lisa Buffo  16:50

That makes sense. And I know you, I was gonna say so just to make sure everyone understands that. Can you just talk about the difference between what an iframe is and product based SEO?

Jeremy Johnson  17:03

Yeah, well, so that’s like,

Lisa Buffo  17:07

I know, they’re not like two separate are

Jeremy Johnson  17:09

the same? Yeah. So like, most online menus, and this is like, it’s kind of funny how this happened. But like, online menus in Canvas weren’t really a thing until the pandemic, right. So like, there were a couple players in the space that had built out and VPs of online menus, so the minimum viable products. And to do that, like one of the easiest ways to do that is to just do it with an iframe. iframes are like 25 year old technology, but they’re, like, simple to get up and running. And so when the pandemic hit, there wasn’t any infrastructure for this stuff on like a more robust scale. So then all of a sudden, iframes were deployed across 1000s, of dispensary websites. The issue with iframes there’s there’s many but I mean, the their security issues, their speed issues. But then most importantly, from like SEO standpoint, Google has a really hard time crawling and indexing content inside of iframes. So all these dispensaries out there are hosting a menu. But then if you were to search for a brand category, or stress or strain, none of your dispensary isn’t showing up in Google. Instead, what’s showing up is like one of the marketplaces whether it’s duchy or Weedmaps, or Leafly, or anything like that. So, you know, there’s kind of there’s iframe based menus, which is like the, I guess the technical or the, like, technical term for like, the container would be like embedded style menus. But then there’s native style menus. So native menus are built into your website, they’re a part of your website. Every page is, you know, has a unique URL. And that content is fully indexable and crawlable by Google. And that’s what allows you to show up when somebody searches for, like, Where can I get some Jeter pre rolls near me. And that’s as a retailer, that’s what you want, you know, if somebody is looking for that product, and you carry that product, you want them to be able to just find you instantly through Google, because at the end of the day, Google is the largest marketplace. So hopefully, from a technical perspective, that clears it up a little bit.

Lisa Buffo  19:26

Yeah, so when you’re talking about product lead marketing, there’s you just in general, excuse me, for technology. You obviously want to build a good product that speaks for itself, where your customers are going to be happy with but also as far as your specific vertical and the product that dispenses building, there is this almost inherent benefit to your customers because they own that they have control of that technology, and they can use SEO and in this use case As for the products to be able to rank and be found and increase their revenue, so there’s kind of two sides to that, but they do work together.

Jeremy Johnson  20:08

Yeah, and I’ve kind of I’ve like product led SEO is like a real industry term in the SEO space. And it’s it’s like, create it’s like using SEO as a strategy but focused on your product. And it mostly comes from the b2b space, actually. But I kind of CO opted the term for cannabis and but I tweaked it a little bit. So I call it product based SEO. Because for cannabis retailers, their product is, you know, the the actual, you know, it’s b2b b2c. And so it’s the actual thing that people are buying. So when I say like product based SEO, I’m talking about SEO revolving around categories. So things like pre rolls versus flour, and then brands, so they can cheater wanna wild? And then strange to you know, people don’t realize it, but there’s about 12 million searches per month, just for cannabis strains on Google.

Lisa Buffo  21:10

So there’s just worldwide or in the US.

Jeremy Johnson  21:14

In the US. I think that no, that’s just us. That doesn’t include Canada. That’s just US numbers.

Lisa Buffo  21:21

Yeah, that’s enormous. Yeah,

Jeremy Johnson  21:24

it’s crazy how many people are searching for cannabis strains and like, the more mature a market gets, you know, at first, you might just be searching for, like, what’s the closest dispensary to me. But then the more mature a market gets, you can see those searches change to be more like Brandel oil, or strain specific. So people really want to know, like, Where can I get some pineapple express that the more they know. So there’s a large part of education, are they too?

Lisa Buffo  21:51

Yeah, and we’ve seen at least on the CMA side, that, that backed up by other data as far as what consumers are asking for and what they’re looking for on the like, not just from an SEO, SEO side, but like consumer research and market research is showing to that there actually is really high brand loyalty in mature markets in cannabis. So for newer markets, it is something to pay attention to, because that is just how consumer behavior is gonna change and get just give another example like, you know, if I’m searching for clothes, I might say, like, conference outfit, you know, in Denver, or, you know, red shoes near me and that, like, that’s the same thing as far as people are, they searched specifically as far as what they’re looking for then versus sometimes within that retailer. So that that makes a lot of sense that it’s happening in cannabis, and that retailers and brands should pay attention to that, but it comes down to the core technology ultimately.

Jeremy Johnson  22:52

Yeah. 100% Yeah, it’s like, it’s not like you’re gonna, if you’re looking for clothes, or I mean, there’s so many examples, but like, if you’re looking for a particular style of clothes, you’re probably not gonna search for like, the target nearest to you. You’re gonna search for like, like you said, like clothes or conference clothes. And then if Target happens to have it, sure, you’ll go to Target but you want to know that target has it first. And same thing with dispensaries. Like I got three dispensaries within a mile of me. But I don’t want to go to that dispensary if they don’t have the product I’m looking for. So I’m going to go online first figure out which dispensary has it and then go to that one.

Lisa Buffo  23:30

Yeah, that makes sense. So what are your favorite marketing tools? Are there any specific platforms or resources that you recommend?

Jeremy Johnson  23:40

Yeah. So for me, my favorite marketing tools are analytical based. So you know, there’s, there’s this like concept, like, if I’ve got an hour to solve a problem, I’m gonna spend 55 minutes researching that problem, and then five minutes, like executing and solving it. And so like, when I’m talking digital marketing, usually the tool that I live in is Google Analytics, Google Search Council. And then a number of third party tools like sem rush. I SEMrush is probably the one that I use the most. But I mean, my my morning, start by just like, opening up all of my analytical tools and like going through the data for the last week or the previous day and like seeing if there’s like, unusual spikes on a certain thing and just like trying to understand what is going on from a consumer standpoint, whether it’s at the retail level, or on the b2b side. And so I’m constantly like, kind of switching mindsets between b2b marketing and B to C marketing. But regardless, I’m still in like, those analytical platforms. First and foremost,

Lisa Buffo  25:02

and Google. So SEMrush isn’t free, but Google Analytics and Google Search Console Are you just need to install them and have them on your site. And you can also if you have a CRM, like we use HubSpot, you can have them connected sort of directly embed to so you can have a dashboard of that information. But I know Google has made some changes to analytics recently. But just want to let everyone know if you don’t already have those set up that you they you can just do that.

Jeremy Johnson  25:28

Yeah, 100%. And one thing I will say, too, as a retailer, like going back to the actual technology, like when I was on the retail side, and I still see this when I’m working with retail clients, but you know that, that iframe technology, again, like really difficult for Google to crawl it and index it properly. Because you’re they’re not individual pages, you’re just reloading content in it. So when I was working on the retail side, like, I would go into Google Analytics, and I would look at my conversion rate, but then I would, I would double check those numbers, right? So I would see like, Oh, my conversion rate is 20%. But then I’d be like, wait a minute, Google is telling me I only had 300 orders today. But then I go into my E commerce platform, and I had 500 orders or you know, however many orders. And I’m like, not all, you know, because of that iframe technology, not all my orders are being able to be read by Google. So that’s like another really important thing when you’re building out your tech stack is to make sure that the tools you’re using are compatible with everything else. Because when I was first started looking at that data, I was only seeing about 30% of the actual data. I was missing 70%. So I was trying to make decisions based on a minority of the data, which actually led me to making some bad decisions until I realized what was going on there.

Lisa Buffo  26:51

Yeah, and that’s that’s a whole nother conversation we could have about data ownership and what that means and how to implement that. But yeah, Google Analytics, SEM, rush, Google Search Console, those are all good to know. So I want to talk a little bit about some successes and failures. So to the point of, you know, working at any early stage company, and you know, certainly in cannabis tech, and as a marketer, we go through both of those. Maybe first you want to share a success story with us some an initiative you tried or something you did that that worked?

Jeremy Johnson  27:27

Yeah. I think one of the coolest things that I got to do recently, a few years ago was where I met in Michigan, we border the state of Wisconsin. And we rolled out the first when I was working on the retail side, I helped to roll out the first out of home advertising campaign for cannabis in the entire state of Wisconsin, because there are no dispensaries there. But we’re right down the border. And so we put up I think, initially, we put up like five billboards, kind of on the main highway leading from Wisconsin to Michigan, and then we also utilized

Lisa Buffo  28:08

as a retailer,

Jeremy Johnson  28:09

yeah, as a retailer. Yeah, they

Lisa Buffo  28:11

let you do that.

Jeremy Johnson  28:12

Yeah. So it was really, you know, I had a call so many people, you know, in like, your big out of home, advertisers wouldn’t touch it, you know, out front and Lamar, like they’re like, No, we’re not doing it. But the state of Wisconsin doesn’t actually have any laws against advertising cannabis. And so like, it just took me finding the right partners and like, talking to usually smaller media owners to be able to make this happen. And I actually had to help rewrite a lot of internal policies for these companies. Because it wasn’t state law that was preventing them from doing it. It was their own internal policies. So like, we worked with their lawyers and our lawyers to like, go through this. And it took about like, a year to launch the first campaign and we were literally the first Canvas company to advertise in Wisconsin. And so, you know, we started with the five billboards, but then we also worked with a network of advertisers at restaurants, bars, and like venues, so like sports arenas and stuff. So we like we’re not too far away from Green Bay, Wisconsin. So we had screens in the bathrooms at every bar surrounding Lambeau. You know, like, people would go to these Packer games and tailgate, I would literally get stadium. Oh, yeah. Okay, bathrooms. Yeah. So, like, and we’re pretty close. And I’ve got a lot of friends in Wisconsin, so like, the weekend of a Packers game. Like I would literally get text messages from friends in Wisconsin, like, in the back of send me photos of like the ads in the bathrooms. I’m like, I don’t I need to see that but thank you like really cool. So that that was like awesome to see. And then there was even like the, when I really knew that it was like working in effective. There was a kid from Wisconsin that came up to visit. And he tattooed the logo of the company I was working for on his like ankle. And he was like, I just want to show this to you guys. Like, I saw one of your billboards like I’m, you know, he’s like, I’m a stoner. I love weed like, but we don’t have it in Wisconsin. He’s like, I come up here, like once a month now. Like, this is how much I love you guys. And I was like, that is effective marketing. Like,

Lisa Buffo  30:40

oh my gosh, yeah. So


that was probably one of the in marketing. That was probably one of the coolest things that I’ve gotten to be a part of.

Lisa Buffo  30:48

Yeah, I would say any campaign that would actually get someone to execute on a tattoo. Unsolicited is like a huge win. Yeah, that’s crazy.


We will back him up. He got some free practice. Yeah, that totally

Lisa Buffo  31:00

seems worthy. That’s exciting. It’s it’s good to hear that. There are ways to get things done. And interesting how you approached it in Wisconsin, where there was actually no rule stating No, and you still figured out how to get around that and do it completely compliantly. And one of the things I do love about marketing in this space is it does require that creativity and a little bit of that artistry. Because in this space, these things haven’t been done before. So you do come up against that internal resistance. But that’s awesome.

Jeremy Johnson  31:37

Then those boards are still up today. They are, you know, a lot of people are like, Oh, how long did you get away with that for? Like, we didn’t get away with anything, those boards are still up way.

Lisa Buffo  31:50

And that store, I’m guessing is still doing great.

Jeremy Johnson  31:53

Yeah, those stores are some of the highest volume stores that that chain is one of the highest volume chains in the entire state still to this day. Wow.

Lisa Buffo  32:02

Okay, well, that’s great. So conversely, do you want to talk about any failures, any marketing things you’ve tried that maybe didn’t work out as well? And what you learned from them?

Jeremy Johnson  32:11

Yeah, I mean, I feel like it’s, it’s hard to fail at marketing, because you, you’re always learning, right? For sure. I think one of the one of the more amusing stories I have is, like I saw, I started college in 2007. And Facebook was becoming like a pretty big thing at that point. And it was like one of the, one of the first digital channels where like, you could all of a sudden reach like, entire groups, like specific groups, and specifically college, right. And so they, they were pretty popular, they’ve been around for a minute, and they started rolling out their advertising platform. And I was like, I’m going to teach myself how to do Facebook ads. So I created a couple of accounts, and I messed around with it. And I like started to get some random Facebook pages with likes and stuff. But like, I wanted to, like do it for something. Like I wanted to, like actually do it for something real. And so I had a friend at the time that was making music. And I was like, let me see how many people I can like get to like his page with like a little campaign and I set up a campaign that was like, I don’t know, like a maximum, like $15 a day or something like that. And I ran it and it started to work. And I was like, Cool. This is awesome. Like, it’s fun. But I thought I’d turn the campaign off. I did not turn the campaign off. And I spent I ended up spending like $1,500 as like a 18 year old kid. Advertising my friend’s like music career. And I was I you know, I didn’t have a lot of money. So $1,500 was like my the only reason I knew about it because I overdrafted my bank account. Yeah. And I was like, What is taking all my money? So that was like, that really hurt. And I learned a lot. That being said, like like over the next three years like my my friend when he got to open for Bone Thugs and harmony. He got to play all these big show like local, you know, as a local opener, he got to open for all these big artists coming to town. Ying Yang twins, that was another one. But like, so it was a failure. I lost a lot of money, but I had a lot of good times.

Lisa Buffo  34:39

Good to him good to learn that young and that it did help your friend. That’s a good story.

Jeremy Johnson  34:44

Yeah. Don’t ya keep paying attention to your budgets is the moral of the story there.

Lisa Buffo  34:49

Yeah, they can I’ve we’ve I’ve had a similar story with LinkedIn. They can they can totally sneak up on you if you’re not really clear about the parameters on how much to spend and you got to really watch it because as it will, it’ll happen that money will get eaten up really fast. Yeah. So what would be the end? Thank you for sharing that story. But what would be your best advice to cannabis marketers? Right now?


I think this goes back to like the success story and like talking about Wisconsin, but it’s like don’t my my best advice would be to don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do. Like, do the research for yourself. Because, you know, I’ve talked to you know, probably 22 dozen people that told me no, for advertising in Wisconsin, and before I found the person that was like, Tell me more, like, Can we do this? Let’s find out. And I still think that’s, like, very pervasive in our industry, like, so many people think they can’t do things is like, Oh, I can’t advertise on on social media, or I can’t use Google ads, or I can’t, it’s always I can’t do this, this and this. But what can you do? If you think you can’t do something? Ask why? Because usually, there’s a way to do it. I mean, I remember getting when I was on the retail side, I remember getting calls from different, like advertising platforms. And they’d be like, hey, like, you know, whether it was digital ads, or like, publication ads, they’d be like, Hey, we’re, we’re, you know, we work with cannabis, we want to sell you some ads. And I’d be like, cool, what do you got in Wisconsin? And they’d be like, Oh, well, we can’t advertise in Wisconsin, because it’s illegal. And I’m like, Okay, then I’m not interested. I wasn’t gonna let them tell me where I couldn’t, couldn’t advertise. And then a lot of those times a month or two down the road, I would get a call back. And they’d be like, so we looked into it. And we’ll advertise in Wisconsin with you now. And I’m like, Cool. Now I’ll do business with you.

Lisa Buffo  37:00

Nice. Nice. Yeah, that’s very true. And I think it is. What is when someone tells you no, it’s just another opportunity to keep opening doors and find that person who’s going to tell you yes. And

Jeremy Johnson  37:16

like, and make an impact. Like, if everybody like, if those people are telling you now they’ve told everybody else no to. So if you can find a way to make it happen, that’s gonna stand out, you know, if everybody’s, if everybody’s doing the same thing, and you find a way to do something different, like people are gonna pay attention to that.

Lisa Buffo  37:33

Yeah, very much. So. Awesome. Well, anything else you want to share? Jeremy, before we wrap about cannabis marketing? Or any thoughts you have to for the audience’s looking to help grow their business?

Jeremy Johnson  37:49

Yeah. You know, I think in general, like, it’s just a fun, it’s a fun space to be in. Because it’s so new. And like, we’re still writing the playbook. Like, no, there is no playbook for cannabis marketing. You know, we can borrow from other industries. And we can learn, like, take lessons from other spaces. But like, we get to make it up. And it’s very rare to have that kind of opportunity. And, like a even larger level, like, this is a space where we’re having real impact in people’s lives and like, again, like how many opportunities you get to do that, in your professional life. And like, in general, this is a once in a lifetime, cannabis is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We’re not legalizing this thing. Any other time in the history of the United States. Like it’s, it’s now and we’re making history. So if you’re, if you’re interested, like, go for it, because you’re never gonna have another chance.

Lisa Buffo  38:51

And do you have any contact information, maybe a website, you want to share with the audience, their social handles?

Jeremy Johnson  38:57

Yeah, if you’re, if you’re interested, like if you’re a retailer, and you’re looking for online venues and digital ordering platforms, dispense If you’re just looking to find me, LinkedIn is the best place. Jeremy Johnson on LinkedIn, I don’t I don’t know. I don’t think LinkedIn has like tags. But it’s not like there’s like a million other people with the last name of Johnson on LinkedIn.

Lisa Buffo  39:28

In the show description on our website,

Jeremy Johnson  39:30

you’ll find you’ll find me on there. I’m the one with a joint in my profile picture. So you’ll you’ll figure it out. Cool.

Lisa Buffo  39:38

Well, thank you so much, Jeremy, I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and share your stories with us.

Jeremy Johnson  39:43

Yeah, thank you. You know, see CMAs I think are really cool organization in the space and I appreciate all you guys do and I think we need we need more of that and mix. It’s just cool to have an outlet for like, that’s specific to our industry. You know, especially as such a new industry, sometimes it can be hard to find community and I think you guys do a really good job of it with your, your podcast, your, your Slack channels that you guys have for people. And then in in person events too. It’s it’s fun to like, find your little niche, you know.

Lisa Buffo  40:19

Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah, it’s much, much needed. It’s not the space isn’t easy and community does make it a lot better. Particularly we can when you can share stories like this and learn from each other. I think that’s, you know, the best way forward. So, thank you. Yeah, thank you. Okay, thank you, everybody. We will see you next week. Bye.

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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