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Streamlining Marketing Operations for Smaller Cannabis Teams

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

In the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis marketing, smaller teams face unique challenges that require strategic planning and adaptive operations. With a focus on post-rescheduling strategies, budget trends, and efficient project management, CMA Founder & CEO Lisa Buffo provided valuable insights to help cannabis marketers navigate this dynamic industry in part three of CMA’s summer Cannabis Marketing Summit web series, “Ask a Marketer Anything.”


Marketing Operations and Post-Rescheduling

Legal Considerations and Budget Implications

Lisa Buffo kicked off the summit by addressing the legal considerations and operational changes following the rescheduling of cannabis. She highlighted the public comment period for rescheduling, open until July 22, and encouraged the Cannabis Marketing Association members to submit their feedback. One significant benefit of rescheduling is the potential elimination of the 280E tax code, which could lead to increased marketing budgets for cannabis businesses. This change offers a prime opportunity for marketers to expand their efforts and allocate more resources to growth initiatives.


Trends in Marketing Budgets

Current Budget Allocations and Future Opportunities

Buffo presented data on current marketing budget trends, noting a significant decrease from pre-COVID levels. CMA data reveals that cannabis marketing budgets are only 1% of annual revenue, a stark contrast to non-cannabis marketing budgets, which Gartner states is 7.7% for 2023. Despite this decline, Buffo highlighted the potential for increased budgets post-rescheduling, encouraging marketers to advocate for more funding within their organizations.


Importance of Leadership Understanding and ROI

Communicating the Value of Marketing

Emphasizing the importance of marketing budgets, Buffo pointed out that founders’ biases often influence budget decisions in the organization they lead. For example, a founder/CEO who is also a developer is more likely to invest in software (their own or external) because they know it. They can see any bugs and room for improvement. If an organization’s leader doesn’t understand marketing or can’t “see” the investment, it’s on the marketing leader to communicate the need during budget-making season.  She urged cannabis marketers to communicate the return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts to leadership, using data to demonstrate the tangible and intangible benefits of increased investment in marketing.


Streamlining Marketing Operations

Goal Setting, Team Organization, and Project Management

Effective marketing operations are crucial for adapting to regulatory changes and maximizing efficiency. Buffo stressed the importance of a strong team and simple, streamlined project management processes. She shared her team’s experience with various tools, ultimately finding that Google Sheets and Google Docs worked best for their organizational needs. The key takeaway: prioritize team buy-in and choose systems that make sense for your team, even if they’re not the most sophisticated.

Implementing AI Tools for Efficiency

Starting Small and Ensuring Proper Training

Buffo discussed the benefits of incorporating AI tools into marketing processes, advising teams to start small and focus on one area at a time. Proper testing and training are essential before widespread implementation to ensure everyone is comfortable using the new tools. Data-driven marketing and easy access to key performance indicators (KPIs) can significantly enhance efficiency and productivity.


Measuring Marketing ROI in a Rescheduled Market

Centralized Data and Effective Resource Allocation

The need for a centralized data repository was a key point in Buffo’s discussion. A real-time data access system can streamline information sharing across teams and improve decision-making. Buffo also emphasized the importance of measuring marketing efforts using benchmarks and qualitative data to allocate resources effectively and meet leadership expectations.


Project Management Practices for Cannabis Teams

Entrepreneurs Operating System (EOS)

Buffo introduced the Entrepreneurs Operating System (EOS), a management philosophy that helps teams set clear goals and solve problems efficiently. Regular meetings, including EOS’s  Level 10 meetings, ensure issues are identified, discussed, and resolved (IDS) with input from all relevant parties. Implementing checks and balances can prevent compliance issues and maintain organizational integrity.


Overcoming Marketing Operations Challenges

Compliance, Creativity, and Adaptability

Navigating the challenges of compliance and creativity is essential for cannabis marketers. Buffo suggested separating creative brainstorming sessions from compliance discussions to foster creative thinking without restrictions. Training and adaptability are crucial for managing marketing operations, ensuring teams can respond to regulatory changes with logical decision-making. Regularly updating standard operating procedures (SOPs) helps maintain quality control and adaptability.

Addressing Common Challenges

Buffo addressed common challenges faced by cannabis marketers, including digital disorganization and lack of clear goals. She emphasized the importance of secure passwords, clear leadership, and leveraging team strengths. Buffo also encouraged CMA Members to participate in next week’s legal and compliance AMA for valuable advice.



AMA: Navigating Marketing Operations provided a wealth of insights for smaller cannabis teams looking to optimize their marketing operations. By streamlining operations, advocating for increased budgets, and fostering a culture of adaptability, cannabis marketers can position their businesses for success in a rescheduled market.

CMA Members: log into the Member Portal to watch the full recording, and register for the full virtual ‘Ask a Marketer Anything’ Cannabis Marketing Summit mini-series here.

If you aren’t already a CMA member, join the community today!

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