Party Like a Marketer Podcast

Episode 61: Brand Building in the Cannabis Industry: Strategies and Best Practices

Episode Description

Kate Biggs, Senior Director of Ad Sales at LeafLink dissects the marketing strategies driving growth in the cannabis industry. Gain insights into effective advertising campaigns, compliance issues, and the role of technology in enhancing sales.

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Read the Transcript

Lisa Buffo  00:10

Hello, everybody. Welcome to this episode of Party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. I’m Lisa buffo, your host and the founder and CEO of the cannabis Marketing Association. We have an exciting spring and summer coming up for you. We are launching at CMA, a new product called Get can FX which is an online subscription for our members only that takes information from scientific studies and translates it into facts and myths into basically more readable language that you can use in your communications and marketing specifically to reach the kind of curious and the Canna averse. And for those of you who are cannabis marketing summit fans or attendees and have joined us in the past, we are moving the in person event until later in the year. But we are hosting an online eight part mini series this May and June and July. That’s called Ask a marketer anything. So we’re going to have eight sessions. I’m going to start with the first one on May 21, where the speaker will talk about a vertical within marketing, call it SEO or content marketing, we’ve got compliance and legal. We’ll be talking about PR two ad e brand building all of these in different sessions. Their speaker will talk and give their take on it for about 1015 minutes. And then there will be 30 minutes of open q&a. And those are going to be on to mostly on Tuesdays we have one Wednesday session but mostly on Tuesdays at 420 Eastern Time, and we’ll go until five o’clock. You can register for that on our website if you are a CMA member at the Cannabis marketing association.com And the first one is open to the public and that is May 21 2020. For that being said if you are interested in engaging with CMA, either as joining as a member advertising on the podcast or advertising in our media kit, please reach out to us at membership at marketing cannabis.org And you can learn more. Now let’s jump into today’s episode. Today’s episode is fantastic. I had a great conversation with Kate Biggs. Kate Biggs is the Senior Director of ad sales at leaf link. She’s a seasoned executive and a results driven leader. And Kate has demonstrated an exceptional ability to lead high performance sales teams drive revenue growth and establish enduring client relationships with an extensive background in the cannabis industry working at MSOs such as acreage holdings and curaleaf. Kate brings a strategic customer centric approach to the table, leveraging a unique blend of leadership innovation, and cannabis industry expertise. Let’s hear from Kate.

Kate Biggs  03:05

Lisa. So it’s such a pleasure. Thank you. Yes, yes. I’m very excited to speak with you today. First, could you just introduce yourself to the audience so they can get to know you? Who is Kay, what’s your background professionally? How did you get into cannabis? Let’s talk to the audience a little bit about yourself. Yeah, definitely. So I’m originally from Ireland, which you might pick up as I talk. But I started my career with Irish distillers, who were the brand owners of Jameson Irish whiskey, and I moved to the US in 2011, to join their US parent group. So I spent like eight years in a variety of sales leadership roles with them, starting in Las Vegas. So you know, moving from Ireland, to Las Vegas, to learn to sell alcohol was quite a baptism of fire was it’s fair to say but something that I loved. And that experience really taught me the importance of having a really strong sales team and, you know, working with a really strong distributor partner. And, you know, throughout my time with Pernod Ricard, I really got extensive experience in working with those distributor partners. And when I relocated to to San Francisco, I just consistently heard from cannabis brands about the challenges that they were facing in terms of selling in California. So it made me realize that I could take some of my experience from the wine and spirits industry and help some of these cannabis brands, you know, with their go to market strategy. And, you know, what,

Lisa Buffo  04:48

what year was that?

Kate Biggs  04:50

Again,

Lisa Buffo  04:51

what year was that that you went to? 19 2019? Okay, yeah.

Kate Biggs  04:56

So the appeal for me as well is like I really wanted to learn like a new industry. read and learn from the legacy growers and operators that have been in the industry. You know, since day one. You know, I think in the cannabis industry, there’s so many entrepreneurial spirits, and I really thrive like working with this kind of like minded people. So that’s that’s how I got into this. I worked for acreage holdings and curaleaf selling to dispensaries, their key accounts in California. And that’s when I came across like leaf link. I was just hearing from these dispensaries about the challenges that they would you know, face every day like inventory management, Category Management, cash management, just the basics of getting the right product at the right time. And, you know, I saw leaflike were really trying to like streamline that whole, you know, cannabis supply chain process. And I thought, Okay, this company is really going to make an impact on the industry for the better and really streamline these operators lives. So that’s what attracted me to Li flanked. In June, I’ve been here three years. And I’ve led the go to market sales team. And we’ve sold everything from the marketplace to our logistics offering. But in the last year, I’ve been solely focused and dedicated on selling our ads product. And working with our product team in terms of developing that as well. So it’s been like a super, super exciting, exciting time. I can’t believe like thinking 2019 was when I first started in cannabis. It feels like yesterday, but like it was a while ago. Yeah.

Lisa Buffo  06:37

Yeah. Especially with the pandemic happening since then. So can you talk a little bit about the ads product? And was that built like in response to everything that leaf Lynx customers had experience from? From the retail issues to the inventory management? Like what was kind of the evolution of that? Or was it part of the plan? And yeah, so your experience there was kind of applicable? Like, how did that come to be?

Kate Biggs  07:03

Yeah, so we we launched Leaflink cards in 2019. And, you know, we had so much in our operating strategy and plan in terms of our focus of selling financial services, products, selling our logistics products. And last April, we made the decision to really drill down and get super focused on our what a ball, we’re offering a tech offering to help streamline the industry. So we just doubled down on our focus for selling ads. And we increased the sales team from two dedicated individuals on on ads to currently it’s for today. And we hired really, really talented Product Manager experience from go puff and Amazon. And he’s been able to help us evolve the product roadmap. And I think, you know, what we’ve heard from customers over the last 12 months or so has massively influenced the strategy and the the ads offerings that we have, because we’ve just basically the building things that they’re asking for, yeah, help achieve the goals that they have. Yeah, yeah,

Lisa Buffo  08:11

I understand that we we do something similar at CMA where our content and what what question, what we’re producing is in direct response to the questions that our members asked us in relation to what are their marketing struggles and whatnot. And that’s, I feel like that is very much. So a theme of this industry is it just evolves and grows at such rapid pace. And as of this week of recording, we got the possible news about rescheduling like things are just, they’re changing quickly, and you have to be able to respond and adapt in in real time. So that’s really cool. And that makes sense. Yeah. So can you provide a little bit of an overview of what what those unique challenges are like? What were the customer saying? And what are those opportunities when it comes to b2b marketing?

Kate Biggs  08:55

Yeah, for sure. So a really welcomed challenge that I’ve observed over the last 12 months is the education piece, some of the user personas that we talk to our heads of marketing heads of digital marketing, but not all of them have that background, like we’re talking to operators that are wearing many, many hats, mountain sports, managing distribution, and managing HR. So there is a bit of that component of education that we need to bring to them when we speak with them. And we also want to use their time like really, really wisely because we know that they’re, you know, wearing wearing many hats. So what we really encourage people to do is look at their their CAC, like their customer acquisition costs, and advise them on where their marketing dollars, you know, essentially are best spent and like, you know, in the industry, you got to really strike the balance between field marketing and digital marketing. So like with the latter with digital marketing, advertising effectively, you know, your ROI is higher and more measurable, right. And we have to do a bit of education around how to balance that. I see, you know, huge value and field marketing as well. You know, when I was selling on the ground, in California, there was a huge presence of that in the the dispensaries I was visiting, but it’s just very time consuming, not very cost effective. And you know, it’s it’s difficult to measure. So then another piece that we have to challenge that we have is we’ve we’ve, we have to educate people around the difference between b2b and b2c. And so like, while our CPC cost per click is higher in b2b advertising than it would be to b2c, we do have to remind our brands that the average order value they’re going to get from a b2b order is much higher than it is to be to see order. And then we also look and advise people and have to remind them that, okay, the long term value of your dispensary, you know, customer purchasing customer is also much higher than, say, an end consumer in b2b to see. And, I think, what I really love about some of the brands and customers that we talked to, like they’re always willing to test and learn, but we have challenges, so I only have minimal budget, and I just want to test this for one month, and we have to do education around you have to have three to eight interactions with a dispensary buyer before they are willing to make a purchase, or they trust your brand. So like multi month campaigns are recommended, like a minimum of three months, you know, the month is, it’s okay, but it’s not really going to drive the needle. So like if you’re really going to spend your dollars like hold often till you could commit to the the three month is what we would advise. So also, like, you know, the importance of evergreen strategies is a big one. You know, there’s a reason why coke like, consistently advertise that they’re the number one soft drink in their category. So yeah, there’s a there’s some education around that as well. But like we we we recognize that we’ve been too consultative with our our brands, and just provide the insight and the the value that we see looking across all brands, marketing strategies nationally, and all states as well.

Lisa Buffo  12:36

Yeah, and I appreciate you making the distinction about b2b and b2c because in this industry for brands in particular, they have to do both, they are selling to retailers to get their products there because that is how they interact with the consumer. And so when they’re because you can’t just do you know, direct from the brand there, there’s no DTC in this space for licensed products at this point. That that is a kind of a longer term marketing thought process, but they’re also at its core different strategies and different ways of thinking about it. But in cannabis, you can’t, they are related, and they are tied together. Because the retailer is ultimately where the customer is coming to ask for the product. And, you know, that can be different. There’s different retailers, right, that would caregivers. So they do have to think about both of those and think about their costs and relations. So I appreciate you, first of all calling that out because that is a big task that requires a lot of resources that brands don’t have right now. And it’s also two completely different thought processes that for one and I talk with brands and retailers a lot and they like you said they don’t necessarily have a head of marketing or they they don’t necessarily have one person dedicated to just strategy and then slowly in like larger businesses or corporations, they would have someone who’s just b2b marketing or just b2c marketing met, let alone doing both plus all these other business functions and operations. And it’s it’s, it’s it’s just It’s difficult. It’s it’s a challenge. So I

Kate Biggs  14:06

think about like the the day and the time that we have in cannabis, the marketeers that like Jameson Irish whiskey had when I started selling us, like like you said, we’ve dedicated campaigns teams dedicated digital dedic dedicated social, like, I get that granular. Yeah, it’s gonna be it’s gonna be great when we get there. But you know, we’ve a little ways to go.

Lisa Buffo  14:27

We do we do. But we’re on the way hopefully you scheduling if 280 changes, it’s a step. It’s a step we haven’t had in quite some time. So are there any other differences from b2b and b2c advertising and marketing that you want to speak to that we haven’t covered or that you feel is important or you find yourself talking to your customers about?

Kate Biggs  14:51

Yeah, I think we we definitely double click on the fact that there’s so So much restriction around what we can do in terms of marketing, cannabis brands, right. And the beauty of you know, being on a b2b platform like leaf leaf link is that we, as you essentially know that it is a marketplace that it’s private marketplace where we have recruited qualified buyers qualified brands that go through a compliance process. And when you spend on advertising, there’s no risk of your advertisements being taken down effectively, which, which, you know, some people have experienced through avenues like Google and whatnot. But I think that’s one thing that we need to like, we double click on with people like this, the you will see the ROI here. And there’ll be no risk of things being taken down from, like regulations perspective. Yeah,

Lisa Buffo  15:51

it’s a contained. It’s a container essentially, for the exactly who, that and customers, which is are those buyers. So that makes sense. Okay. And then what other strategies does leaf link employ? Or do you employ when you’re trying to reach a targeted audience within the cannabis industry? So I know said, you know, b2b, and you have buyers on the system, but are there other b2b audiences? And what are other strategies that you use?

Kate Biggs  16:21

Yeah, so I think you probably know this, but I want to make sure that the audience knows this, like, leaf link is the largest community of licensed operators in the US. So we have over 12 highs and retailers are on brands like cannabis companies as a whole across 30 markets, and on the platform, so like, we’re consistently adding more, and you know, trying to increase the penetration of each state. So just, it’s just a more of a captive audience. So to say that we have that captive audience is really, you know, an understatement. So, specifically, like our ads, with CPC, so like our cost per click ads, and keyword and category word search, we are ensuring that we’re serving those ads to the right purchasing managers at the right time, like specific to exactly what they’re looking for. So like, if they’re looking for, you know, a flower, or if they’re looking for to tick a specific brand. And you’ve bid on that keyword search, your brand will be served to that retailer. So we know that they’re prime for purchasing something as they’re actively searching for it. And then our ad server which delivers these ads also is taking into consideration the retailer’s shopping habits, and what they have purchased before. So it’s really, really getting very, very smart about ensuring that our retailers get exactly what they want served to them when they want it served. We are currently beta testing targeting as well, in which we will receive an ad to a specific user group, whether it’s as retailers in the specific zip code retailers within a specific chain retailers that haven’t ordered from this specific brand, and 90 days or whatever the brand has asked us to target in on, we’re currently beta testing that, which just gives us the power to just pull more levers and get really, really, you know, specific about getting in front of that targeted audience.

Lisa Buffo  18:25

That makes sense. So it’s, it’s, you can drill down even more within? And do you also know, when you say 12,000? How much that represents of the total market of retailers? I know it’s kind of a just for the audience. So they have kind of a sense.

Kate Biggs  18:40

I know, we have like 51% market share of the total brands and retailers across nationally.

Lisa Buffo  18:49

Yeah. Cool. So that makes sense. Okay. And then what are some other ways to maximize effectiveness? Like there’s the different strategies and the different personas and you know, sort of the strategic conceptual high level of how but also, what are the different ways to make it better maximize it? Yeah,

Kate Biggs  19:09

yeah. So we, we really encourage brands to think about what are the goals they have for the campaign? And just be really specific about that? So are they building brand awareness in a totally new market? Or are they trying to cross promote a new product category that they’ve just launched? Like, for example, they might be really strong and vape and they’ve just launched gummies. But you know, they don’t they want to get that in front of their existing retailer base. And then another question that I always ask them is like, how important is it to you to to increase your average order value with existing dispensary partners because a lot of people might be focused on like, securing net new retailers. Yeah, well, I always encourage people like if you can get your or tier B accounts, dispensaries and classified as tier a based off the volume that they’re ordering or the number of products and SKUs they carry, like, that’s just going to do so much for your business. You know, when I think about when I worked in wine and spirits, you know, the top 20% of our accounts did 80% of our business. So you taking that tear B to chair a is so, so important. And like just being focused on that new accounts. You know, it’s, it’s, you’re kind of wearing, you know, blinders, right, I think you should, you should increase the value of those accounts. So basically, we ask them to determine those goals. And then our team are pretty consultative about, okay, what are the best combination of ads that you guys should run within your campaign to achieve brand awareness, increasing average order value, getting that new retailers or getting new products in front of people? So yeah, that’s effectively number one. And this is a really, the next one’s really obvious one, but it’s just a key component for success is making sure that your menu on leaf link is updated, and is reflecting the best that your brand has to offer. So like, you know, the retailers trust your menu to be correct and accurate. And you should rely on your menu to articulate your brand’s story. Articulate the correct pricing, your inventory as well must be accurate. So we ensure that advertisers you know, get some time with our account managers to review their menu and make sure that they are putting their best foot forward before they even start advertising to ensure that they get the most you know, ROI out of it. Another piece is like being really thoughtful about your creative. So we make recommendations on what like best in class creative looks like. And it’s important like to include a call to action within your creative whether it’s like learn hear more now or if you’re running a promotion, like collect that the fact that you haven’t promotion. And then the fourth piece is I think this is just so so important, requires a bit of work on the brand side, but it’s to really utilize the ad insights platform that we give you access to when we set up your campaign. We are completely and fully transparent about the success metrics that were you looking at to measure the success of your campaign. And we give you access to that. And it looks at like your impressions, your click through rates, the retailers that have engaged with your ad clicked on it, but not necessarily ordered. And you can share that information with your sales and marketing team. So it’s almost like a warm lead list. And yeah, your sales and marketing team have to do the little work and look at the data. But it’s really, really powerful. So, you know, make our sales team or sorry, make our ads offering an extension of your sales team is what I tell people by utilizing this data.

Lisa Buffo  23:15

Yeah, it’s it sounds like even just like we use HubSpot, right, so we are b2b as well, very similar. But when you do even things like your newsletter, right? You can it has the same type of capability, we can see who’s opened it, you can see who’s clicked on things, and you can see how they’ve engaged and that is exactly what marketing is supposed to do, which is create the top of funnel for sales to pick up and kind of bring it down as you get to see and and measure what is the interest? What is the engagement? And then based on that, how hot might that lead be? And what what content are they interested in? What are they engaging with? Is that you know, speaking to something that’s an insight that the sales team can use. So I I’m glad you called out like how those things relate together. Because that’s that’s how it should be is and everything you’ve just said to also, when I hear that these are like the same conversations I have with dispensary marketers on the b2c side, it’s how do you increase the average order value? How do you increase that customer loyalty? How do you show them new products they haven’t seen before, but that they might be interested based on their past buying history, those things can those things are related in terms of the concepts and the strategies even though it is a different persona in terms of their needs and what they’re purchasing for and how they’re purchasing it. But even you speaking to the 8020 rule, like that’s just that applies in all different areas of life too. Right? It’s known as what is it parados law, it’s, it applies in business, it applies in work and effort and all these different ways. So I thank you for mentioning those and calling that out because those are very relevant on both the b2c and b2b side as well. As with how marketing and sales tie together. So do you have any specific case studies you can speak to of successes and what that looks like? Like I like talking strategically and conceptually, but also, what does that look like in practice?

Kate Biggs  25:15

Yeah, definitely we have. So we’ve gone through with the most recent one of the top of mind for me is tribe collective in Oklahoma. So they’re

Lisa Buffo  25:24

just a very competitive market.

Kate Biggs  25:27

A very competitive market. Yeah, yeah, I’m really, really proud of what tribe has been able to do, you know, they initially experienced a huge amount of success launching, and only Flink and leveraging the marketplace to become a leading brand in in Oklahoma, but they recognized okay, we’ve just got to like up the ante here. So their goal to increase like growth was they wanted to attract new customers. And they also want to engage those customers that hadn’t made purchases in the last 90 days. And it was, you know, it was a thorn in my side when I was selling for curaleaf is, you know what I would, we would have stock outs on the shelf of the dispensary, and couldn’t get the reorder for the monthly on a monthly 30 day basis. But we would extend that to like 6090. And this was the same thing that tribe were looking for. And we’re trying to prevent the recognize the importance of, okay, net new retailers, but again, engaging, consistent, every artist as well. So they realized that they needed to make a pretty strategic shift in their marketing and customer engagement. So they engaged us on on our ads. And what they had done was like taking a two fold approach, essentially to their advertising campaign, they did a feature brand ad campaign. And then a retail dashboard campaign, the featured brands is on our shop brands page. And that’s where your retailer will go to search for and shop on brands. And then there’s the dashboard pages. It’s like a bat, it’s a banner ad on the first page that a retailer will login to when they log into the platform, it’s almost like the control center of their, their account. So they essentially did the two prong approach. And they wanted to make sure that they were, you know, bringing in, like I said, net new retailers, but also re engaging the the the the people that have an order in about 90 days. So after like a six month campaign with us, they were able to reengage 36 clients, they added 11 net new retailers, and you know, this helped their GMV massively and increase, you know, their revenue GMV Oh, yeah. gross merchandise value is how we, you know, pass by revenue on the on orders on the on the platform, essentially. And so, you know, they they did all the right things, right? They were very thoughtful about their goals. They were very thoughtful about their creative, they had their menu optimized, correctly, they took the advertising to different types of spots on the platform, and then they were actively looking at our data insights portal, and, you know, monitoring their success. So, for us, when somebody goes six months advertising has these type of results yet, look, we’re ready to reload. You know, that’s a huge win for us. And that’s the type of you know, engagement and commitment we encourage other brands to do, right? Because, you know, it doesn’t happen overnight or in the first month, but it happens when you’re committed to it for a multi Month campaign.

Lisa Buffo  28:46

Yeah, that Yeah, very much. So it does, it does take that so and it sounds like they also went through the checklist of things you’ve already mentioned, as best practice, like, be in multiple different places, understand your goals, understand who and what the persona is, and you know, that you’re putting those ads where they are, and based on what they need, and that there’s a call to action, it’s clear, and that they took the time, six months to be able to test it, see it and look at the data. And I’m guessing based on what you said over those six months, that they could look at the data and start to optimize a little bit over that and get the results that they wanted, because they were

Kate Biggs  29:24

measuring it. Yeah, they’re very, they’re very shrewd operators on marketeers as well. They roll that all the all the right things.

Lisa Buffo  29:31

That makes sense. Yeah, I love hearing those stories. And I also want to get your thoughts on storytelling and how that relates in marketing. It’s something we talked about on this podcast a lot. That in certainly in the early days of the industry, you know, as an industry, we sort of have this responsibility to talk about what is cannabis? How does it help people, but now that we’re getting more to a place where it’s a little bit more accepted, it’s really important for brands to be able to say here’s why I’m different or here Here’s what makes this product, maybe a nuance and how it was manufactured or some element of the product that makes it a little bit different than its competitor, or, you know, what makes it better in that brands mind. But it’s hard to do that when you’re talking about display ads, and, you know, banner ads, we only have so much space, and it’s okay, it’s a little bit on his screen. And, you know, click here learn more. So how do you? How do you weave storytelling in when, like you said, these buyers are like they they’re shrewd buyers, right? They know, they, they’re purchasing manners for retailers they have they have a good sense of what’s out there and whatnot. How do you view storytelling, first of all, in b2b marketing, but also how do you kind of advise or coach on it in that sense, within? Well, just in general, but also, I guess, within the platform?

Kate Biggs  30:48

Yeah, I think the storytelling is, is integral for any business, any packaged goods business, right. And we encourage brands to ensure their menus are up to date in terms of company and then product description, before they even start advertising because where retailers going to go learn to learn more about your brand after they see the ad is clicked through straight to your menu. And that’s your opportunity to tell your brand story. Our banner ads, placements for brands like visually allow you to make an impact and tell the story. But like you said, there’s only so much real estate on that banner ad, right. And then when you’re thinking about like our our CPC, the cost per click, you know, category and keyword search ads, it’s just that little bit harder to tell the story when you’re trying to capture that retailer in that moment when they’re ready to purchase. But without giving too much away, we do plan to explore an option to offer shoppable video format that allows brands to promote their products through video on leaf link, to drive more retailer educate like education, engagement, and then awareness as well behind that brand. And I think that’s when you’re going to really see the ability to tell your brand story in an ad format on on me flank. And where the idea came up for that as essentially like as a sales rep. Like when you’re in there, you’re articulating telling that brand story and telling people what the budtender is the purchasing managers, what’s unique about their brands? And like, how do we bring that on platform, you know, and make it really really scalable kind of education piece for the industry and for these brands to get that brand story out there. So exciting things to come in terms of storytelling with your brand on Leafly in the latter half of this year.

Lisa Buffo  32:51

Yeah. And that’s awesome, because video does allow you some creative freedom. And it’s it’s standard across well, engagement on social media, right? Even Instagram, like everything is prioritizing video. But I know when I shop online, whether it’s for a dress, or a blender or something, you can literally watch the video that shows you look at it from a 360 angle, look at how it looks and how it moves. Or that’s just how the product works. And those things can actually make the difference of I think I know what this might do or what it’s like or what this company is. And oh, I can actually see myself buying that. And that does look like a fit. And I like what I’m seeing and take that a curious buyer a step forward, but allow that brand control of the narrative and just a different format to be able to tell it when you can only do so much in words and creative space. So that’s really exciting. Yeah, we’re excited about it. Nice. Okay. And then. So we’ve talked about storytelling, we’ve talked about strategy. We’ve talked about some of the nuances and b2b, b2c and compliance. But ultimately, success comes down to being able to measure it and define it. So what are some of the metrics that you use to measure the success of b2b cannabis marketing? And also if there’s any that you would say are? I don’t want to say vanity metrics, but it’s kind of like on social media, right? So people are like, Oh, I have however many followers, but if you don’t have engagement, like what are those followers worth? So what are what are the success metrics? And then are there any where you would say, you know, this might be important, but you want to look a little deeper into what that actually means or what that story is? Yeah.

Kate Biggs  34:32

And so this came up from our customers, you know, they were saying they advertise b2b. But they were not really clear on the ROI and didn’t feel there was a lot of transparency from the particular provider they’re advertising on. So, you know, our data team, as I mentioned, we have this insights portal that we give to advertisers to basically you know, see a all of the metrics that we use to measure their campaign. And yeah, the the team, the data team have really, really evolved its robustness over the last nine months based off of like that feedback that we’ve heard. We just want to give people full transparency right? Now, there’s so many metrics in there that we look at how to slice and dice the data. But in my opinion, the following are like the most important, right, so like, you know, your impressions. How, if you’re, if your goal is brand awareness, you want to know how many eyeballs are on my your advertisement, right? So impressions is great, but like, you know, the, the example you use on Instagram, like, followers are good, but like, How engaged are they in your in your content? It comes down to in advertising sales, it’s clicks, like, how many retailers are engaged or have clicked on the ad? So we measure that also. Another component is like, how many retailers are actually purchasing from your ads? You know, is it drive? Is it demonstrating effectiveness of the campaign? By them, you know, purchasing and spending money towards the, the the advertisement, and then not just the number of retailers, but like, what are they spending? What is the ads attributed order value, like ao V that they’re spending. And that’s a really important metric to look at as well, when you’re looking at somebody who’s already an existing dispensary partner, and they ordered from you on a monthly basis, but they’ve ordered this month after an advertisement. And you’ve noticed like, Okay, your abs higher. Why is that it’s because you’re advertising a specific product or SKU, or they’ve picked up a SKU that they’ve never carried before, carried before. So that’s another metric to look at. And then I think I referenced this earlier on in our conversation, but new retailers are exceptionally valuable reengaged retailers in the last 90 days, also exceptionally valuable. But getting your retailer to increase their ARV is what takes your TRB account to your tra, you know, they’re going to drive more more revenue for you. So we give you the ability to measure and look at the ARV that you’re getting from that retailer, and then you know who’s reengaged after a certain amount of time. And I always encourage people as well is like to look at the we call it LTV, but the longtime value of a retailer, like a net new retailer, you might get one net new retailer in your first month of advertising, but like you need to look at them over the next six months. If whether you continue to advertise you stop advertising the value they bring, and if they’re recurring recurrently ordering from you across that six month period, after the first engagement has been driven by leaf link ad that you got to use that when calculating your your RO s your return on adspend. You know, you invested in say January, and the revenue kept coming from this customer, you know, the following six months, 12 months, whatever it may be. So I think I think they’re the most important metrics. We have an increment and incrementality metric as well, that allows you to look at like the SKU level that people are ordering and allows you to identify okay, this is the first time this dispensary buyer has ordered a SKU from me, which is really valuable. Like I mentioned, like if you’ve launched new SKU, or if you have always been a really strong player in vape, and you’ve just launched gummies. And you can see, you know, that new product category starting to make a move with your existing dispensary partners. That’s that’s a really good one to to look at.

Lisa Buffo  38:46

And do you say that within within a brand or as a category as a whole? So like if you’re a vape company and you release gummies and retailers are ordering gummies from you, that’s a well, obviously that’s a good sign. But you mean that within a brand, not just category Hall? Okay. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay, cool. Um, let’s see anything else? We haven’t mentioned in terms of metrics or measuring ROI on on those ads. I mean, you’ve said, you’ve said all the things that I’ve I learned quite

Kate Biggs  39:20

a few I would, I would probably open up the reporting that the brand sees today and be like, Oh, we will leave this one to this one to you. There’s so much in there. And so I would encourage anyone who’s listening and isn’t a leaf link advertiser, like dive into us into the reporting that we provide you. And if there’s one that I haven’t mentioned, that you really, really like, please let us know. And I’ll make sure to double click on that as well. Nice.

Lisa Buffo  39:41

Okay, cool. And then let tell me if this applies to you, because I know you’ve already mentioned that on the b2b side and you are a contained, you know, you’re not a public facing marketplace, right. This is this is b2b that we’re talking about within cannabis. How you stay compliant and also how you coach your brands was staying compliant, because they are, you know, putting content and advertising and marketing materials within this ecosystem. But I would imagine perhaps maybe I could be wrong. It’s correct me on this, that some of that content might also be used for b2c, or at least that creative can be repurposed or put towards b2c. So can you just speak to some of the compliance, advertising compliance perspective that are important in relation to the platform and b2b conversation and also how how leaf link as the brand and you in sales, stay on top of that, given that it is changing in different states and, and things like that, like people’s packaging can change and Colorado and like, what happens if they still have those units on your system? How do you approach that? Yeah,

Kate Biggs  40:49

so we’re really, really fortunate in which we have a dedicated lead on public policy and a dedicated compliance team. So like, we really rely on that team, to keep us up to date on any regulatory changes that need to be made, as it pertains to advertising. And they’ll just keep myself and then our ads product leader informed. We don’t actually have too many scenarios in which brands will like tell us that the the creative or is going to be repurposed for b2b. So it’s really the onus is on them, they know that being on the flank, it’s a private marketplace, and everybody’s a licensed provider. So they know that there’s no regulatory risk to any of the advertisements that they’re placing. But if they, you know, take them off platform and you them in any of their b2c capacity, we don’t really have a whole lot of visibility to that. And it’s really on the brand to make sure that their their compliance, but I rely on my mighty internal team here to to guide us. Yeah,

Lisa Buffo  41:57

and that’s good advice for everybody in marketing in this space, because there’s just so much, there’s so much content with that, and there’s so much to be aware of that it does take a very dedicated lens and process around compliance to make sure you’re not missing anything, because there is a lot and marketing in the space is such a big definition. Its packaging, its labeling, its branding, its storytelling, its its their events, that’s everything. So there’s a lot to be aware of,

Kate Biggs  42:28

like he said, like it’s ever evolving, right. You know, it’s changing all the time. So it’s something that people need to be really diligent by it. Yeah,

Lisa Buffo  42:35

and until we have national standards that at least set a baseline and then we sort of informally are, we sort of do but we don’t at the same time, right. There’s, there’s there’s some universal rules we know from the b2c side, right? You can’t make health claims you can’t advertise to children. But there isn’t like a there isn’t a origin document anywhere that says this is what applies to everybody across the board, even though there are these themes. And a lot of them are similar, which just there’s just more to to know. You also have to go to more sources. So given that sounds like you’ve been in the space a while you’ve seen the product evolve, you’ve seen you know how things were an alcohol now we’ll see how things are in cannabis. What do you see for the future and cannabis marketing and advertising, particularly on the b2b side, but also just like what’s your what’s your take on it? Yeah.

Kate Biggs  43:23

So our I really believe in the power of like making our ads offering an extension of your sales team. And I also believe in how important an interaction with a sales rep is right? Because I was one you know, I did that job. It’s all about them cultivating trusting relationships with the dispensary buyer, helping them with category management, identifying underperforming, you know, brands, and then then making recommendations to swap out the underperforming brands. And, you know, that’s really what the rear really, you know, tra sales reps should be doing. And I, I see a world in which we put more tech in the hands of the sales reps. And also allow them to interact with our ads and basically share them with their decision makers or the dispensary buyers. So like they could use it as a lead gen format that allows them to engage with those retailers helps them drive leads helps them with product assortment. Effectively, we just want to use our tech to make these sales reps more intelligent and better partners to their dispensary buyers. So that’s something that we’re going to explore on the product roadmap this year. I also think there’s a world in which where b2b and b2c like advertise or create campaigns together a full integrated 360 advertising campaign that tackles all strategies of the sales like flywheel where There’s, you know, at the at the b2b level and the b2c level. So in terms of how we plan to innovate in relation to this, I just would say, you know, watch this space, from leaf link. That’s all I can really say on it. But I’m really excited about that process of like integrating the two, because that’s where we really add some power and fuel to, to, you know, brands, marketing strategies.

Lisa Buffo  45:24

That’s awesome. And then Kate, last question I have for you what, what has been your biggest surprise or difference? Or favorite thing coming from alcohol? And now being in cannabis like is, was there anything that just, this was so new, or this was so different, or this was so interesting, given that you have deep experience in both spaces?

Kate Biggs  45:45

Yeah. And I really just love the people in cannabis. Because it’s so challenging, and we are constantly pivoting, and you and you know, the, these these legacy operators in the space, they’ve just been out for such a long time. Like, I think we all have this mentality of like us against the world, like, we’re gonna figure this out, we’re gonna solve these problems, and we’re gonna band together. That’s, that’s really what attracted me to the space and what’s kept me in it for this long. You know, when something’s thrown at us, like a change in regulation, or in packaging, we’re like, Okay, well, we’ll just pivot, right, we’ll figure this out. So that’s been the biggest thing, I think, and what I’ve enjoyed mostly about it, and I love to see, you know, our smaller brands, like come on the platform, and then just have exponential growth within the first six months, because it is just not an easy industry to operate in. And when I see that, but that’s just like, so satisfying. So yeah, that’s really that’s what’s kept me in.

Lisa Buffo  46:52

Nice. Thanks for thank you for sharing that. Well, is there anything else you haven’t said today or want to mention to our audience before we wrap up,

Kate Biggs  46:59

I think if you’re a brand, and you’re listening, and you’d like to learn more about me flank advertising, please reach out to ad sales at leaf link.com. And we’d be more than happy to get you know, one of our account executives on the line with you guys, and we can explore like, an advertising strategy for your brand and the goals that you have. And then also, you know, if you are currently in a leaving advertiser, we’re really grateful for the partnership and we’re really excited to continue to see your brands grow. And we yeah, we just we thrive when you guys thrive. So grateful for that.

Lisa Buffo  47:37

Well, thank you, Kate. I really appreciate you taking the time to come on the show today.

Kate Biggs  47:40

Awesome. Thank you so much. Such a pleasure.

Lisa Buffo  47:44

Thank you for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoyed this interview, please subscribe to party like a marketer on your preferred podcast platform and follow at Cana marketing on social media. If you are interested in learning more in joining the cannabis Marketing Association, or advertising on this podcast or our media channels, please reach out to membership at marketing cannabis.org Or you can visit us at the Cannabis marketing association.com where you can subscribe to our newsletter. See you next week.

 

— Transcribed by otter.ai

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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