The way your cannabis brand is developed and represented in the market is critical. From the earliest inceptions of brand strategy to monthly email campaigns, partnering with the right cannabis marketing agency can make or break your business.
In the cannabis industry of today, marketing plans grow more sophisticated in conjunction with an increasingly knowledgeable customer base. To stay ahead of the curve, cannabis marketers must develop professional brands and shrewdly manage them across both digital and traditional avenues.
At Most Consulting Group, we're acutely aware that not all cannabis marketing agencies are created equal. Different agencies have their specialties, but some don't have the cannabis knowledge required for success in the industry.
What Phase is Your Cannabis Company In?
Looking at your own business is a great way to start choosing a cannabis marketing agency. Understanding what phase your cannabis business is in will help you quickly eliminate a good deal of potential agency partners.
The field of marketing is vast - certain agencies are better suited for some tasks than others. Notably, brand new cannabis startup ventures require dramatically different marketing skill-sets than more established cannabis companies.
Startup Businesses & Creative Agencies
At the most basic level, cannabis startups begin as ideas. Creative marketing agencies primarily focus on this initial phase of development when new cannabis businesses are just being born.
For the early startup phase, businesses should partner with a cannabis marketing agency that focuses on branding. For effective branding, the best marketing agencies carefully balance a strong creative team with expert knowledge of the cannabis industry. Even more, they will help you honor your original vision while also guiding a realistic entry into the market.
New cannabis startups should focus on marketing agencies with experience in the following areas:
- Brand aesthetics & mood
- Logo design & graphics (color and font)
- Mission statement & brand story
- Competitive landscape & company tone
- Consumer personas & brand attributes
Established Companies & Digital Agencies
Established cannabis businesses have different marketing needs than startups. Generally speaking, once a cannabis business is up-and-running, its marketing focuses shift from conceptual branding work to more direct campaign management.
Cannabis companies often partner with digital marketing agencies on a monthly subscription basis. If you are looking to hire a digital marketing agency for ongoing campaign management, you should focus on the following areas:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Blogs & Newsletters
Budget and Business Goals
After deciding between a creative and digital agency, you need to consider your operating budget and business goals. Please note, well-established marketing agencies with diverse capabilities will almost always charge more than smaller agencies. Yet, just because an agency charges premium fees and has an extensive client list doesn't necessarily mean they are a good fit.
In the end, your marketing budget should be directly tied to your end business goals. Let's say you own a small cannabis industry accounting firm. If your goal is to stay relevant and attract a few new clients every quarter, then a small and affordable marketing agency is probably more than enough. However, if you are looking to scale your business and expand across the United States, you will likely require the resources and expertise of a more prominent firm.
Cannabis Marketing Agency Expertise
You should take a good look at potential partners to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This notion is even more important in the cannabis industry, as strong industry knowledge is required for such areas as brand positioning, competitive analysis, and compliant marketing.
Beyond obvious concerns with industry expertise, you should closely look at the team's talents in question. Please note, one of the best things about working with an agency is that you get the skill-sets of an entire marketing team behind your brand. To capitalize, you should do a bit of research to see precisely what strengths each group brings to the table.
A great way to learn about a marketing agency is to read team bios on the company website. For example, the agency might have done branding work for a cannabis company that you enjoy. Similarly, they might have a technical marketer on board who can guide you through the complexities of Google Analytics. Either way, reading up on team members will help you better understand the people you might be working with.
Agency Vetting Process
Once you have established your marketing needs and researched available agencies, you should vet a marketing firm before establishing a partnership. Luckily, the internet makes it relatively easy to find information on almost any business.
A great place to start in vetting a marketing agency is with their website. For starters, if an agency's website looks unprofessional, you probably want to pass on them. In like fashion, if you can't find any information on their client list or locate any solid testimonials, it's hard to gauge their experience.
Online platforms such as Google My Business, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer an inside glimpse into how a marketing agency treats its clients. Poor customer reviews on any of these sites should be considered red flags. Finally, you should note what sort of presence an agency has on social media. If they have a small following for their own business, likely, they won't do much better building a following for yours.
As the cannabis industry matures, marketing work like brand differentiation and digital advertising will only grow more critical. In like fashion, as the average cannabis consumer grows more sophisticated, cannabis marketers must pivot to keep brands relevant in an ever-changing marketplace. With such challenges in mind, it's more important than ever to choose the right marketing agency.
At Most Consulting Group, we pride ourselves on being expert cannabis marketers and being great partners. While we are always focused on our client's objectives, we also like to have fun and keep things positive. After all, we feel the best business partnerships are founded on excellent working relationships and mutual respect.