Party Like a Marketer Podcast

Episode 54: Dispensary Dilemmas: Website Concerns and SEO Strategies

Episode Description

Lisa Buffo, Founder & CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association sat down with Max Juhasz, CEO of DopeSEO and Co-Founder of Bud Plug, to discuss predatory website development practices, uncover concerns for dispensaries, and gain valuable insights into SEO strategies for cannabis businesses. Discover the impact of Google’s algorithm changes on marketing strategies in the cannabis industry and explore the importance of owning and controlling your data.

Learn more and connect with the Cannabis Marketing Association:


Read the Transcript

Lisa Buffo  00:03

Okay. Welcome everybody to today’s episode of Party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. Today’s guest is max Hugh has the CEO of dope SEO and the co founder of Bud plug. Max, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining. Thank

Max Juhasz  00:22

you so much for having me this this is great. I’m super excited.

Lisa Buffo  00:25

I love doing interviews and podcasts with you and just chatting with you offline. We’ve had so many good conversations. Can you let our audience know a little bit about Max, who you are? Tell us about dope SEO and Bud plug and how you got started in cannabis? Sure.


So hey, everybody watching us, Max us, the founder of dope SEO and the co founder of Bud plug. I have a I have a weird, you know, history with cannabis. I have a weird story with cannabis. You know, I grew up in on the East Coast in New Jersey in the 80s and 90s. In the early 2000s. You know, basically I left I left East Coast in 2001 2003. But like I was there during the whole, you know, and way before legacy was legacy, and it was just normal. The I got into direct sales, I ran a door to door sales company for about 15 years. And what ended up happening was the internet was killing us. Because when we started, it was great. You could just do door to door sales and any story that you told people they would believe and then the internet happened and people wanted to research a company and you had to have a website, you had to have a Maps listing and all this and the guys that I worked with were absolute dinosaurs. And I decided to in my part time when I wasn’t running my company, I learned digital marketing. And I basically, you know, and me just just being a, you know, having like decades of sales experience. You know, before all this I was doing like club promotions in New York, we ran some of the biggest Hip Hop parties in New York, I partied with Wu Tang eater. Like there’s, there’s a whole like in Eminem and all these other guys that like that’s a whole like lifetime before a lifetime before a lifetime. But then I got into sales because I was like, I gotta do something because I’m going to jail just because of all the people that I’m around. So I got into direct sales and I moved across the country. And the, you know, basically I taught myself digital marketing, I invested money into digital marketing, I invested money in how to do you know how to rank websites on YouTube, how to do this, how to do that a lot of my videos are still up just as proof, you know, just because I’m kind of curious to see how they aggregate still. But I mean, like I ran, I made my first $10,000 online through YouTube videos, back in 2016 2017, just from creating content that I thought was helpful for people and because I could do it for myself, then I could sell it as a service. So that’s when we started creating the agency. I built my first you know, cannabis website in 2016. For a buddy of mine who was running a cannabis delivery service out in Arizona. I was hired on by plain Jane or triplane Jane plenty and CBD like which back when 2018 the farm bill and everybody was going crazy about CBD and hemp and the whole world thought that, you know, CBD was cannabis that we had to educate a ton of people. But through organic SEO, just from E commerce, we helped them go from 600,000 a year in online sales to 4.2 million in online sales. And I’ve actually got this it’s funny it was the back and forth literally like within a month we we help them gain an extra 1000 to $2,000 a day in online sales. And that’s huge for a small business. I’m talking like basically three partners, a couple employees. And and then you know, I worked with them for a while they sold the company to another company. And I got a wonderful thank you very much for all your help. You know, and that happened about two or three more times with different with different with different companies and I was like alright, this is kind of crappy. I hate looking for a new client more or less or a new job. So we basically after COVID I had a had an epiphany about like, Who do I like working with the best and I was like oh like cannabis companies are honestly the most fun companies to work with. So I made a really tough decision to fire about half of my clients that we were servicing from the agency and I took literally weeks we we killed close to a quarter million dollars in recurring revenue, just to free up space for us to focus on working with cannabis clients and like get back into like free up time into Like, Hey, let’s go set up demos let’s so let’s set up pitches, let’s go travel, let’s go to events. Let’s go this let’s go that, let’s join organizations and start, you know, talking to people. And since then, you know, we’ve helped launch a number of brands, we’ve helped launch a number of companies we’ve helped, you know, people make millions and millions and millions of dollars in online sales, both for CBD hemp, other gray area stuff as well as dispensaries, cultivators, edibles, companies, manufacturers vape, you know, and and other ancillaries like we you know, we work with some cannabis, CPA groups and whatever. So, yeah, and then just just the evolution of that was from because my background is in E commerce and in sales, we started you know, we, we won the runner up award for weed wire last year, but the week which, which was awesome, because I was like, Holy crap, like, we actually won something for this, I think we have something but we we built a platform that allowed us to legitimately take ecommerce, you know, traditional e commerce, like any other online store and build it for a dispensary. And for the last, you know, we, there’s a whole other story about that, that we can get into if you want to, but we we, we’ve had a couple of companies come after us couple companies tried to shut us down, a couple bigger players tried to buy us out. And that’s when we knew when we actually had something that kind of scared the crap out of some of the bigger guys. So we’re like, Alright, we’re gonna turning them all down, and we’re keeping it going. And yeah, this is about, like blood plug evolved from blood pooling evolved from a, from a, from a delivery app to a online kind of thing, to just like a just like a menu platform to, you know, integrating with with different with different with different features. And like what we actually figured out what’s it’s like, we’re not really we’re not really a point of sale company, we’re not really, you know, we’re not, we’re not all these other things, what we are is actually we were more of a SAS, like tech company, you know, to where, like, we just built really good functional back end, plugins to help dispensaries just kind of operate and work versus having, you know, multiple third party companies come in and just like, Hey, would you pay extra for actual analytics, you know, you pay extra for actual reporting. You know, it’s not like abstract blobs, you know, it’s not iframes it’s not, you know, menus that are hosted on another website like this is all built into your website live like it connects with metric connects with bio track live reporting back and forth, like all of your inventory is synced, has delivery options, has everything else has all the other stuff. And it’s, and like I was telling you before we went live, like we’ve literally the first store that we had running 100% on our platform, we actually met at the Cannabis marketing summit last year. It was a social equity license holder that was just planning on opening we met at the after party on the rooftop. And we just got to talking and he signed up with us. And like he literally opened up, we literally have the first 30 days, 45 days of data from a store that opened up running 100% on us. And it’s really exciting to say the least. So it

Lisa Buffo  08:46

sounds like your SEO experience and agency experience allows you to build this new solution that will help cannabis marketers in a similar vein because they are cannabis business owners and marketers because they get to own their website and the data in the E commerce that comes within it.


So that was it. Yeah. Yeah.

Lisa Buffo  09:07

So how does this? Like could you articulate exactly what that problem is? And again, like how cannabis marketers can take the lesson learned or like, what’s what’s the most important takeaway for them with this, like being able to we know that most like your clients, Mark cannabis, marketers don’t have much budget, and a lot comes down to their online presence and making sure that looks as good as possible, because that’s really what you got. Right? So can you kind of like articulate that problem and also a little more about what the solve is, as far as the you know, how you see that in the day to day business side, but also in context to the broader industry. That was not the case with the companies you’ve worked with before? Well,


think about it this way. I mean, like there’s when you because because we have to move at the speed of technology, you know, And since the internet, you know, the sharing of information has just become incredible. You know, it’s not like, oh, have you heard or like, hey, such as such just published this, like people pump content nonstop all day long like your any app that you’re on is newsworthy is, you know, whether it’s real news or quote unquote, fake news, or, or whatever. But like information is shared at lightning speed compared to where it was 2030 years ago. And there are still a lot of agencies and digital marketing companies that operate like, we don’t know how to build a website anymore. You know, in that sense in there, like there is a, let’s just put it this way. One of the things that’s really that’s always irked me as a as an agency owner, as a digital marketing agency owner, as a business owner, was what I consider to be incredibly predatory Terms of Services, when it came to who you hired to build your website. You know, we’ve had, I’ve had four or five dozen conversations with people who run a dispensary run a grow, run a brand from this that hired an agency. And the agency went and bought their website domain, does their hosting, quote, unquote, owns all of their content. And the actual business owner who went and incorporated all this paid all this money built this brand did all of this stuff, doesn’t own any of their digital presence. And I’ve seen things to where the the agency that built our website starts eventually holding them hostage, you know, to where it’s like, Hey, if you don’t pay us the money, like we’re, you know, like, yeah, you’ve paid us 1000s of dollars to build your website to do all this stuff to set everything up. But we’re gonna shut your website down if you don’t pay us. You know, and I just feel like if you know, because generally speaking, unless you’re a giant Ms. I mean, even if you are a giant MSO like, it’s still like your quote unquote, business baby, like you care about building your brand, you killed what you care about doing anything else. But more so for a small list to say, a social equity license holder, a small business owner, you know, like, Hey, this is like, I’m a one woman shop, or I’m a two person shop, or I’m a three person shop. And like, this is what we’ve been working on now, for the last year, two years, whatever we’ve invested 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of dollars, and who knows how many man hours into opening and building our brand or business. But we’re still forced to pay this company, that doesn’t really do anything for us, other than, you know, they’re, they’re slow to respond, they don’t, you know, it takes three weeks to make updates, the websites broken, we’ve seen stuff to where, like, you know, we had a client who was paying a marketing company 5000 a month to build them a new website. And nine months later, they didn’t have a website, they paid $45,000 to this company that they didn’t have a website built. You know, we’ve seen it to where, like, the hosting company, like owns the business, and it’s just like, hey, if you don’t pay me, like literally shut down their entire business shut down their entire website, where the agency owns their social media handles, and if you know, and won’t release them, you know, I’ve seen stuff to where the company that built your website, for some reason pushes out a live demo version of your website, you know, like, you know, like staging.or, whatever, that they’re collecting sales orders on. But and you see this commonly in Canada, oh, you have no idea. We get calls once a week about this stuff. And we’ve seen everything and I’m like, this is this is outrageous. And then, you know, it’s a couple that just now it’s like there, there are a ton of point of sale companies, not a ton. But there’s there’s a few large players that are like, Hey, we’re giving out a free point of sale platform to dispensary owners. But with that free point of sale comes a bunch of upsells that they don’t tell you about when you sign up, you know, but you’re locked in a contract, you’re paying for the you’re paying for the hardware you’re paying for this, but hey, like your website, or your actual your actual sales menu, your menu of your inventory is hosted on our domain. You know, so you’re either I framing into your website, or you’re using their websites as your menu, you know, which does nothing for you for your product searches for your SEO for but but they’re also what they don’t tell you is that they’re also gathering all of your customer data, you know, and sharing it with whoever. But on the flip side of that though, too, it’s like oh, if you want us to integrate with your website, here’s one of our preferred agency partners, you know that that we recommend, that is going to charge you 2500 or $3,000 or 1500 bucks to for the setup fee. And then, you know, to $3,000 a month to post your store, you know, or integrate your web, you integrate your online store your your menu into your website that you don’t own if you stop paying us, so it’s essentially a hostage situation for a lot of decision. Trees. So, okay,

Lisa Buffo  15:25

so two follow up questions. So that one. Now tell us more about plug plug in terms of like the solve for that. But also, just to tackle like, the problem you’ve brought up? What are the questions that business owners need to ask agencies when they are interviewing them? And they do need to find a website provider?


Like, how do I own my data? Yeah, I mean, I mean, there’s, there’s a bunch of questions you should own. It’s like, do I own my website? Do I own my URL? Do I own my content? Who are you sharing this information with? You know, if I choose to leave you, am I able to take what I’ve paid for and move it somewhere else? You know, where, where is my, where does my data go? You know, if I choose to change point of sale companies, or or or my menu company, you know, am I able to keep all of the work that I’ve paid for. There’s that and I mean, there’s there’s just so much it’s just like most people are just like, oh, yeah, like I had a talk with a guy in New York. A couple of weeks ago, social equity guy, he was like, he’s like, I need this is least I can eat there. I mean, I was I was this guy called me on Christmas day. Yeah, you know what I mean? And I was just like, this has to be important. You got you’re actually calling me out. Like, I just got to know this number is like, hey, you know, I’m hoping to talk, you know, whatever. And like, literally, he’s like, I’m opening in 30 days, I’m using this platform, you know, because it’s because it’s the free one that everybody recommends. And I had a talk with their with, you know, and I was like, so here’s what’s funny, like, you sign up with this company for your free point of sale platform, and you instantaneously go into their hot leads list. He’s like, Yeah, I started getting phone calls from from this other from like, two or three other agencies that integrate with them through their API. And they’re gonna build me a website, you know, for XYZ amount of money per month. And I was like, he’s like, Yeah, but I don’t own it. And I was like, well, that’s a bad decision to start with. But he’s like, he’s like, yeah, they’re showing me all these examples of these big brands that they’ve worked with. And he’s he’s like, listen, here’s the deal I need to make I was like, Do you have a website is no as if you have a Maps listing? No, as if you have a phone number or an email set up? He’s like, No, he’s it goes, you don’t have anything set up. No social media, no branding, no, sort of like, any sort of build up or press or any sort of like, you have no following but you’re opening up in midtown Manhattan in 30 days, and you’re still under construction, but you’re telling me like you need a website built, you need a social media marketing campaign built, you have you need, you need everything set up. Your rent is 50,000 a month. Your payroll is 25,000 a month. And you need to do at least 300 transactions a day to break even on day one. Yeah, I mean, yeah, that was like, as if we can help use it. Because yeah, but to be honest, like my marketing budgets, only probably about three 4000. And that’s to build the website to get everything else set up to do this to do that. And I was, you know, and then I was like, I was like, we can pull some miracles out, but not for that budget. You know, what I mean? He’s like, Well, I guess, you know, I guess maybe I’ll just go with his I don’t care about really, I don’t have the time to like, you know, build a website, manage a website. So I guess it’s worth paying those guys to 3000 a month to build my website. As if you don’t own it. He’s like, Yeah, we’ll figure that out later. That was like, but this is, but this is what comes into play when it comes to starting a dispensary or starting a business. It’s like it’s, you have all the upfront costs of getting the license, getting the inspections, doing the construction, doing the branding, do it, find your inventory, you know, and then you have this whole digital world. That’s basically like how do people find you, you know, they find you through maps they find you through through through location they find you through through this, but if you’re already opening up saying hey, I need to do 300 sales a day with zero build up zero brand following zero brand awareness. Can you guarantee me that? And my my response was no way I can I can honestly tell you. You can pay me five grand today, but there’s no way I can guarantee you 300 sales a day starting off in 30 days starting from zero.

Lisa Buffo  19:57

So how do you sell Oh, so it’s important for business owners to make sure before they start, they own their website. They own their data. Yeah.


Yeah. On your data on your hosting on your domain name on your social media URLs own all of your digital presence. Yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s kind of like, you know, you’re like, imagine cannabis Marketing Association being owned by an agency.

Lisa Buffo  20:25

Yeah, that’s that’s not the case. But that is definitely not the case here.


But that’s, that’s scary, though. It’s almost like, Hey, listen, if you don’t pay this, we’re gonna shut down your website before your event happens. Yeah,

Lisa Buffo  20:40

no, that’s those are the things that can put people out of business and absolutely ruin your financial and mental health. But I’m curious. So assuming all of this is they’ve got it, or they’ve done their due diligence, and they’ve set up the right foundation, I do want to understand a bit more about you mentioned earlier, using digital marketing and SEO strategies, you can scale effectively, and be able to get more traffic, get more transactions, and really increase your revenue. So a lot of our listeners here are marketers, they are fairly digitally savvy. But again, this is cannabis. So like, not everyone has a budget, and people are a different levels of that. So can you talk about a little bit about the SEO strategies that folks can implement that are somewhat accessible? Or maybe not so obvious? Like, what what are some takeaways for our audience as far as how to approach SEO, what they can do? What is important? And how to hone in on that? And, and yeah, so let’s, let’s start there.


Yeah, I can absolutely, I mean, this is the I mean, you’ve hit a hot button, so I can talk about this all day. So. So essentially, with this, it’s like, from an SEO standpoint, you know, you want to start off with with the good foundation blocks, you want to make sure that your site is not only Well, for one, the first thing you should obviously trying to rank for is your brand name. And that actually goes into some thought process for like, what you’re going to call your brand, because we’ve seen some incredibly great brands, and then we’ve seen some other people try to call their brand name the gas station. And, you know, while I think that’s a cool name, it’s like, if you type in gas station, you know, you’re Google’s gonna automatically think you’re a gas station. So you know, gas station dispensary, you know, and I’m not gonna knock the people that call there. You know, like, hey, like, that was a very bold maneuver. And you don’t have to cut the so but essentially, it’s your brand name, your brand name. First, you want to have a location up, you want to have a Maps listing, you want to have an Apple Maps listing, you even want to have a big location and all the other stuff that needs to go in into that.

Lisa Buffo  22:53

Your work from home? Yes. Like, even if you’re not a dispensary, but your service, yes, you want to look,


even if you’re a service, have a Maps listing, and just set an area, you know, or at least have a ping. So, you know, one of the thing that I can start talking about search by shot is search box optimization, too. But one of the things that essentially, it’s like when somebody is looking for your brand, the worst thing you can actually have worse than bad reviews is no presence, you know, no presidents know or, or you’ve picked a name very similar to 15 other companies, and they’re showing up before you, you know, and because then it’s like you there’s going to be the misconception of that so, and it’s weird, but like, you know, I chose dopey SEO as the URL for the company because for one it was like really simple to spell really simple to you know, it’s, it’s you don’t have to type much it’s really hard to it’s not impossible to screw up when you’re typing it but you know, it’s a brand name that you remember. But beyond that, it’s like have a URL that’s friendly. Have you know, think about this like don’t don’t buy like the best cannabis dispensary in your like, you know, that’s way too many words to type into something like have your brand name own that when it when it comes to this and it’s like there’s a bajillion builders out there. You know what I mean? Like, I had an interesting conversation with a dispensary that was opening up in New Jersey. And the guy is another social equity group, whatever. This these guys built their entire website on Wix. And while Wix is a really you know, it’s like you could build a website using you know, we’ve all seen the commercials on YouTube wicks is probably in like Wix spent millions of dollars on this whole like Wix SEO like Wix is good for SEO like they did this whole campaign on like, why Wix is good for SEO. When you type in the name of this dispensary, their website doesn’t show up for their brand name. You know, their press shows up to me. And it’s it’s incredibly unique it’s it’s incredibly unique. You know what I mean? Like their their press releases show up. They do have a Maps listing their Maps listing their Maps listing shows up for the name of the dispensary. But if you actually but you have to go to the Maps listing to click Website to actually go to their website. And because it’s built on Wix, like when you go to shop their menu, it opens up another companies, it opens up the menu platforms URL because it was built on Wix and it doesn’t integrate and do all this other stuff. They’re like, what we really love the way it looks. And I’m like, that’s great, but it sucks for SEO. So what you know, and the other thing was, anyway, like, what we did was basically from an ecommerce standpoint, because there’s going to be hot strains, there’s going to be brands that you work with that are that are statewide, you know, that they’re really popular brands to work with. So let’s just hypothetically say I’m looking for cookies, you know, strain, you know, cookies, banana Cush, oh, gee, near me, you know what I mean? Or like, or dispensaries that sell, you know, you know, cookies, banana Cush, oh, gee, when you have all that embedded into your website, when you have a real store, like with all of your, all of your, all of your product information synced in there and properly schema tagged in properly, like metadata, and you know, with good photos and reviews on the website, you’ll rank for those you’ll rank, you’ll rank for your brand name, you’ll rank for the brands that you carry, you’ll rank for your brand name plus reviews, you’ll rank for strain reviews on the products that you that you carry, if you’re doing any sort of event or whatever, like you can rank for that. And what we’ve seen is, is, you know, because most people years ago, when you know, let’s just say Colorado A couple years ago, like Colorado, Colorado is like a great thing. A lot of people just use their website as like, as a menu, you don’t I mean, like they basically, it was almost like a digital flyer, where it’s like, Hey, we’re just gonna post a picture of our menu, on our website, nothing clickable, you know what I mean? Like, we’re just gonna, we’re gonna, we’re going to update the PDF photo, but you can’t actually see anything, but hey, we’re going to integrate with this thing that’s going to take you away from our site. And what we did was actually it’s like, hey, that that PDF, you know, picture that you’re putting up on your website is now clickable and searchable, you know? And that’s that, but it’s also like from from this it’s like, depending on how many locations you have, depending on whatever like Google has changed its algorithm you know, within the last couple of years to go location based, you know, it’s everything is mobile first now. So it’s like your reviews, your search reviews, whether you’re searching from a desktop or your phone or a tablet are going to be based on your location. So this this manipulates a lot of like how you show up so even if you show up for the best dispensary in XYZ city the first thing that’s going to show up are maps above anything you know if you type in restaurant near me sneakers near me food near me car repair, auto repair oil change,

Lisa Buffo  28:02

you are typing with location that intent


with no no even if you’re not, you know you could go anybody that’s watching this you can just go in and be like, you know, just type in Chinese food or type in dispensary or type in you know, oil change, it’s going to show you the results based on your location. So a lot of the things with this and I know everybody wants it, we want to be the best dispensary in the state. Let’s be honest about how people shop though most people aren’t going to drive 30 miles for anything unless they live in nowhere. You know, but for most people the local focus on it there’s there’s a very hyperlocal focus so with this, it’s like if you can if you can if you have a shop in an area with enough population and you can show up in maps in you know, above everybody else, you’re gonna get those clicks because what are they doing for it’s a buyer intent search the buyer intent searches if I’m searching for a dispensary. I’m not doing research on dispensaries. It’s because I want them to shop at a dispensary. You know, so you have to think about the user experience on this. You know, if I click on this, and I go there, and the hours are correct. And one of the one of the craziest updates now that Google did when Google Maps did is that your open hours are going to reflect how you show up during different periods of the day.

Lisa Buffo  29:22

So if I’m searching dispensary near me, and it’s like at 10 o’clock, when you’re closed, it’s less likely to come up, okay, you’re


not going to show up compared to the people that are open, you know, versus noon, you know, because you know, the guys that are open, the shops that are open are the ones that are going to get, you know, and they’re there. So it’s a really interesting, it’s a really interesting twist, like Google’s always Google’s goal is to get you to use their platform, you know, because, you know, and essentially it’s like they want to deliver the best user experience for the person that’s using their search engine. So as long as they can get you to stay on their platform and continue to stay on Their platform, so they’re constantly updating how their algorithm thinks and basically with, you know, since COVID, or whatever, and since the the 800,000% increase in online sales, you know, how people shop, they’ve realized, you know, it’s, it’s way more, but I know, it was like, it was like an 8000. Or like it was, it was at least like 8,000% increase in online ordering. During COVID. And here’s the thing, it never went away. Yeah, you know, it never went away, like the whole, like, grocery delivery thing, the whole food delivery thing, the whole line delivery thing, we delivery thing, all of that. Stuck, stayed, you know, it normalized for everyone, you know what I mean? So even, so, it’s like, I don’t have to, I don’t have to go to the grocery store, I could just order my groceries. I mean, like, that’s a job. That’s a job that wasn’t around five, six years ago, like delivery driver for groceries, you know, delivery. You know, whereas like, where it was, like, Uber was the new thing. But then it was like, UberEATS, and whatever. So, you know, like, like, there’s, we’ve we as consumers, so you got to think about how we shop how they do this. So it’s like, Hey, if you’re within a thing, and let’s just say you’re in a state that a lot that allows delivery, if you’re a dispensary that can show up, hey, you’re with it. And we can almost guarantee you that’s like, Hey, your order will be delivered within 30 minutes. Wow, that’s amazing. You know what I mean? If I’m searching for cannabis, cannabis dispensary with delivery, you know, or cannabis delivery. You know, we were working with some guys on the East Coast that ran that ran a delivery service. And I mean, these guys were doing 150 200 orders a day. Just just for just for weed delivery. And it blew my mind. I was. And they had all the data was like, Look at this. And it’s just that maps of like, where are your drivers? Your drivers are like, you’ve got six different drivers covering six different areas, doing pickup, and I was like, This is amazing. So this is the thing, it’s like you have, and especially whether it’s medical, whether it’s wreck, the age group, whatever, sometimes you have senior citizens that don’t want to go to the dispensary. And they’ll pay, you know, they’ll pay for this. Yeah, you know, some people can’t drive, some people are too busy. Some people, hey, just meet me after work, you know, I’m getting off for 30 minutes can be you know, could be who we’re supposed to meet me to give me what I need. It’s very consumer based. So with this, essentially, it’s like, the more data you can control as a business owner, the more data you can keep for yourself and not have to give away to other platforms, the more powerful it is, and the better when you actually have like a full understanding of the products that are selling the categories that our selling, the time of day that people are shopping. You know, you can gauge your inventory ordering, you can gauge the sales promos that you do, you know, you can actually get the feedback from your customers to say, Hey, what did you think about this? Do you want to leave a review? Because this is what the thing with online shopping is, most people don’t buy anything without reading reviews first. You know, it’s like, hey, is this string good? Is a string bad? Is this this is this that, you know, how does this vape pay how, you know, do these dabs. So the more user generated content you can get as a business owner, it’s only going to help you more, you know, and when you have all of that built into your website that you own, you know, because that’s, that takes, you know, whether it’s automation, or whether it’s, you know, whether it’s manual, you’re going out, like hey, leave us a review on this product. It’s going to help you get the results that you want, and help you rank up for other terms. So I don’t think it’s a good breath.

Lisa Buffo  33:50

Well, and I do but we’re getting close to time, but I do have a few more questions. So first, really quickly, Google has made some changes to their algorithm and cookie tracking and 2020 Can you give us the like quick rundown on what that is and what marketers need to know. It


looks like they’re they’re kind of expecting the whole cookie thing you know, and they’re keeping their cookies but third party cookies they’re not really a big fan of anymore so this is once again this this is one more reason why you should own your data and not give it away to third party tracking companies you know, and I think this this is this is probably going on a higher level between Google and the other larger social media like meta and whatever because like just for ads delivery just for other stuff like I know that like this is going to really screw up a lot of ads agencies in regards to retargeting remarketing audiences, user audiences or whatever. But this is one more reason that SEO and like controlling your data is that much more important? Because if Google is not allowed If Google’s essentially because they started, they rolled it out this month. And I think by the third quarter of this year, they’re going to ixnay it all together. So if your Facebook pixel or your retargeting pixel or your cookie tracker or your whatever that you’re using from your third party software doesn’t work anymore, guess what, the only thing you have is your email list your phone number list, your customer user database that should be held within your website or within your store that you hopefully don’t share with anybody else. In regards to keeping in touch with the customer, you know, because it’s going to be really hard to I mean, it’s really hard to run retargeting ads for cannabis dispensaries to begin with. But from a like, from a user generated thing, it’s like, this is this is going to really kill a lot of a lot of ads companies, or they’re, they’re scrambling right now to get everything together to figure out how to make it work. Which, you know, honestly, as an SEO I’m not mad about, you know, because it’s one more reason you know, it’s the same thing. It’s like, I’ve been preaching this for years. It’s like, Listen, you should don’t get me wrong. Social media is very crucial for cannabis dispensaries, but you’re at the mercy of the platform. You know, you don’t own meta, you don’t own Instagram, you don’t own Tik Tok, you don’t own anything. You know, I’ve seen I’ve seen people get get pushed out on LinkedIn, you know, like, hey, LinkedIn took down my post recently, because it seemed like I was selling something. Facebook is very anti cannabis. Instagram is very anti cannabis, if you’re trying to sell, you know, and you can have your account shut down. Overnight, you know, I’ve seen I’ve seen companies just lose their account instantaneously, because there’s, I’m shadow banned. You know, my Instagram is Shadow banned. I gotta, it’s like you’re talking about things that you’re not supposed to talk about. And we’ve restricted,

Lisa Buffo  36:55

they’re not, they’re not friendly at all to right. And so


so here’s the thing, it’s like, getting people to follow you on a platform that you have no control over. To me, it just seems like a really bad investment. And if if your entire strategy is social media, I don’t think that’s that’s a really good thing. Because once again, it’s like, people use search engines, people search on their mobile phones, you know, from a buyer intent standpoint, when I look for reviews on something, when I look to go shop, I don’t go on Instagram or Facebook, you know, hey, where do I want to eat? Let’s go on Facebook. Where do I want to go on Facebook, I go on Google, you know, and the thing with this is that like Google nine times out of 10, if you do proper optimization, you’ll outrank the Weedmaps, you’ll outrank Leafly, you’ll not rank the third party menu, menu services that you pay for. You know, it’s good to have them I’m not saying that they’re that they’re not beneficial. But what I’m saying is like, you don’t need to run your entire business. I’ve seen people use weed maps as their as their as their website. Yeah,

Lisa Buffo  37:57

so So owning your not only owning your tech in your data on your website is important, but owning your content and creating it and having a system for that is going to be a more primary strategy and marketing then some folks have relied on in the past, which is really ad space and retargeting based, as opposed to focusing more on ads and focusing more on what content can recreate and Google’s updating algorithm is now or they’re touching does are now really putting that to the forefront of marketers problems. So basically, if people and businesses who are more ad reliant or third party reliant, yeah, top of funnel are going to struggle more if they


could, because your your top of funnel awareness is going to get crushed, you know, your your, with these cookies going away your your cross channel, you know, impression based ad campaign, you know, that goes on different online publications, your marketing is going to get completely jacked, you know, to where it’s like you don’t have a target demographic anymore. Your your quote unquote, audience is going to disappear eventually, and you’re not going to have that anything. I’m sure that there are going to be some some really inventive agencies that hide their cookie somewhere, or that are going to start buying email lists. And we’re going to start retargeting based on email lists, or, you know, we’re potentially even geofencing it’s like how many people you know, they may start, but but I think like even with that, because you can geofence it gets really scary when you actually start looking at geofence targeting and cookies on phones and what you can do, but I think a lot of that has to do with that too. It’s like they don’t want people you know, being able to geofence target people based on where they shop or where they live or where they frequent was just one more reason why SEO is just going to be way more crucial. Um, because like for you, it’s like you can run ads, I think this is, it’s almost like it could potentially be grand reset for, for for marketing again, you know, to where it’s like you don’t have that data, you’re not going to be able to retarget you’re not going to be able to read, you know, rerun impressions on on publications for your stuff. So it’s one more reason to own all your data. And that’s why we went ahead and built out the whole Bud Plug plugin platform because it allows you to run your entire dispensary 100% on your own website, you can run point of sale registers from your website, you can run, you know, and you don’t need hardware. That’s the whole thing. We built this so that you can run it on tablets.


That’s awesome. Just crazy.


You know, so so it’s, it’s, we’re pretty proud of it. But yeah, this is this is essentially like, I’m actually really excited that goes killing the pixels, and killing the cookies. Because it’s, you know, it’s gonna leave a scramble, it’s gonna leave whatever but I’m a big fan of like supporting small businesses versus like the big mega companies. Like, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the underdog. I’ve always been. And I think this may be why I love cannabis. Because like cannabis seems to be like, like, you’ve got your big, you know, players like your big money players, but there’s, it’s, it can be a great equalizer in the sense of like, it can even the playing field for a lot of small companies, as long as they’re doing everything the right way. You know, and, you know, it’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna hurt some brands, it’s gonna hurt some manufacturers, it’s gonna hurt some other stuff. But it also, you know, it’s like, we’re all entrepreneurs, we all learn to pivot and dance and, you know, come up with crazy marketing ideas to grow our brands. However, we have to, essentially so, you know, it may may kill some people, it may kill some ad agencies, but we’ve always been SEO first before anything else. So I’m actually looking forward to it.

Lisa Buffo  42:02

Well, thank you, Max. I really appreciate your time and your insights. My pleasure. Yeah. Any, any any contact information, where can our listeners find you? How can they get a hold of you?


Yeah, so I have I’m one of two Max Juhasz on the on the planet right now. The other guy lives in Europe, and he’s a photographer, but if you type in my name, you’ll find me. Best way to get in touch with us though is actually or if you’re interested in checking out the plugins, like go to Yes, we know what it sounds like. And yeah, you won’t forget it. So you know, but it’s or And you know, I’m always around, you’ll see me at the events. You’ll see me at the thing. You’ll see me doing stuff and you know, I love talking this stuff. I don’t talk sports. I don’t talk politics. I do talk marketing all day long. So.

Lisa Buffo  42:59

So that’s a great match. We are the same type of people. Absolutely. Well, thank you. Appreciate.


Thank you so much. All

Lisa Buffo  43:08

of your insights with everybody. Again, if you guys want to reach out to Max, you can also find him on LinkedIn. And we will see you at next week’s episode. Appreciate it. Thank you.


— Transcribed by

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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