Cannabis Marketing & Demand Generation: How to Build a Winning Strategy

Cannabis Marketing & Demand Generation

Connecting with customers is an essential part of business marketing in all industries, but in cannabis marketing in particular, it carries even more weight. Effective demand generation draws new customers in and keeps them feeling engaged and valued. As a result, they’ll buy more and refer their friends.

marketing

Although demand generation and marketing sound similar enough, the two are distinct concepts. Understanding the difference allows businesses to design winning strategies and implement them effectively.

Here’s everything you need to know about marketing and demand generation in the cannabis industry.

The Difference Between Demand Generation & Marketing

To some, the terms “marketing” and “demand generation” are synonymous. However, although used in similar contexts, the two concepts aren’t the same. In a general sense, if your goal is demand generation, then marketing is the means by which you can achieve it.

Particularly, demand generation focuses primarily on building and maintaining customer relationships. According to HubSpot, demand generation is unique due to its “commitment to long-term customer relationships and a strategic mindset.” In cannabis, building and nurturing relationships keeps customers happy and coming back for more. 

Marketing on the other hand is the mechanism that facilitates demand generation. Cannabis marketing has to do with functionally executing strategies. Printing flyers, posting on social media, and blog posts are all forms of marketing, and each of these can be used to capture leads and cultivate customer relationships.

Building a Winning Demand Generation Strategy

Developing a solid demand generation strategy is key for cannabis success. Without a thoughtful and deliberate strategy, your business will see few new customers and even fewer returning ones. Fortunately, we’ve got a few pieces of actionable advice so that you can build a winning strategy for generating demand.

Know Your Target Audience 

First, you need to know who you’re selling to. Get into their mindset. Figure out what they like and dislike, where they spend their time — physically and digitally — as well as what their problems are and how you can solve them. Once you have all of the information, tailor your strategy to them.

Show Your Individuality & Cut Through the Noise

Using curiosity and intrigue — while still maintaining compliance — is a great way to spark interest among a large group of people. This type of exposure will also increase brand awareness and develop a positive identity for your brand. All of the interest in the world won’t mean a thing, though, if your target audience isn’t hearing your message.

Personalize Your Content

Continually personalizing your content gives your leads the feeling that they’re valued. Through this process, you’ll narrow communication down from one-to-many to one-to-few, and finally to one-to-one. The one-to-one communication allows you to directly interact with leads and begin to design a solution to their particular problem.

Make the Sale & Continue to Nurture the Relationship

Once a solution has been designed, now’s the time to seal the deal. If done correctly, cannabis marketing would make closing the contract seem like the next logical step — as though it was never in question whether or not the client would buy what you’re selling.

After the deal has been done, maintaining the relationship is still important. Keeping patrons engaged and delighted even after they’ve bought your product makes them feel even more valued. This good feeling eventually translates into better word-of-mouth marketing and more new customers as well as the increased lifetime value of current customers.

Cannabis Marketing & Demand Generation Recommendations

The cannabis industry is huge and each operation has plenty of competition. How do you cut through the noise and achieve true success? 

Demand generation is the answer. Understanding your audience and making them feel valued will draw them to your business time and time again. Eventually, their love for you will turn into referrals to friends and family.

Be unique. There’s too much homogeneity in the industry. Deliberately standing out will set you apart from the competition and bring more customers into your circle.

Interested in maximizing your marketing and demand generation strategy? We can help! Contact us today for a free consultation.

The Ultimate Guide to METRC in the United States

cannabis growth

As part of the most regulated industry in history, cannabis operators face intense scrutiny from local and state governments. METRC, a seed-to-sale tracking system, helps operators stay compliant by creating an easily identifiable chain of custody for each cannabis product. Using METRC makes recalls easy and ensures accountability.

cannabis growth

Mandated in 15 states plus Washington D.C., METRC is similar everywhere. However, there are nuances in each state. In order to remain compliant, businesses must be aware of and adhere to their state’s specific regulations. To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of where METRC is required as well as how to stay compliant.

This is the ultimate guide to METRC.

Alaska

Using the system in Alaska is as simple as it gets. All you have to do is complete the training course and you’re given your METRC application program interface (API). The training is relatively uncomplicated as well. 

In the beginning, the state conducted in-person training but has since made the switch to virtual sessions. Now, webinar-style courses are offered three times per week for 50 weeks out of the year. This makes it quick and easy to get trained and start implementing METRC.

California

With several agencies overseeing the industry, California is one of the most heavily regulated cannabis states as well as one of the most complicated for operators. When the Golden State chose to use METRC back in 2017, several problems were created. 

For starters, many local governments have their own track-and-trace requirements that use different systems. If your business operates in one of these areas, you’re required to use both the local system and state-mandated METRC. Fortunately, a few third parties offer software that integrates different systems to avoid double entry.

Due to California’s desire to have control over the process, RFID tags — which are required for METRC — have to be bought through the state. The process is needlessly complicated and sometimes prevents businesses from opening their doors. 

If you’re getting started in California, find an experienced consultant who’s familiar with the situation there as well as with METRC.

Colorado

Unlike California, Colorado works closely with the METRC team. As a result, quite a few helpful updates to the system have come out of state. 

Through the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), Colorado aims to improve METRC so that it serves the state and the community equally. To further this goal, Colorado offers online METRC training that’s simple and straightforward.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia began using METRC back in 2018 but has yet to announce how it will operate. We’re watching D.C. closely to see how things will turn out. When we know more, we’ll update you.

Louisiana

In the great state of Louisiana, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry as well as the Board of Pharmacy oversee cannabis-related regulations. Unfortunately, neither of these agencies can come up with an efficient method of training. 

For now, one person from each cannabis operation is trained and the responsibility then falls to them to train others. This style of training is immensely error-prone, so additional training and METRC support may be necessary.

Maine

In Maine, METRC training is unique. Unlike in other states, at least one owner of each business is required to be trained to use METRC and pass a qualifying exam. If you don’t pass the exam, your business stays closed until you do. Prepare for the exam and succeed — contact us for additional training and support.

Massachusetts

Another heavily regulated state, Massachusetts manages cannabis in a logical way. Overseen by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), the state offers plenty of resources to guide operators through the process of integrating METRC. 

Additionally, Massachusetts has been working diligently to make sure every licensee has at least one trained METRC admin and allows businesses to get multiple employees trained if they want.

Maryland

Maryland has a unique training situation for cannabis businesses. Unlike in any other state, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) requires every employee of an operation to be trained in the METRC system. Such training redundancies keep tracking systems running smoothly and efficiently. 

Michigan

Michigan’s goal is to “establish Michigan as the national model for a regulatory program that stimulates business growth while preserving safe consumer access to marijuana.” 

Although its system is very similar to those of other states, Michigan has a booming market and few issues, making it one of the most successful cannabis states. Here at Higher Yields, we want to know how Michigan has achieved so much success. We’ll keep an eye out so we can share successful strategies with operators in other states.

Missouri

Similar to a few other states, Missouri requires METRC trainees to take a course and pass an exam. That being said, the state has partnered closely with METRC to develop quality training courses that prepare trainees to pass the exam. 

metrc compliance

However, since the market for cannabis in Missouri is so small, operators aren’t required to have a POS system. Instead, cannabis businesses can simply input sales data into a spreadsheet and upload it to METRC. This strategy leaves plenty of room for error, so if you’re a Missouri operator, be sure to accurately track your sales data.

Montana

As of January 1, 2021, recreational cannabis is legal in Montana. The Department of Public Health and Human Services has chosen METRC to be the seed-to-sale tracking system in place for this nascent market. 

However, the state is still in the early stages of implementing METRC. We’re following this situation closely and will update you when we know more.

Nevada

Nevada has been using METRC since 2017. However, training was overhauled in 2019 after a state-led audit found reporting discrepancies in operations around the state. 

Now, Nevada has one of the highest quality and most available online training programs in the country. The Silver State also offers plenty of resources to help business owners navigate the system and related regulations.

 Ohio

Although METRC was expected to be operational by September of 2018, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) is still developing training and fleshing out mandates. 

We do know, however, that each business will need to earn a METRC Certificate of Operation. Ohio is another state that we’re watching closely and will update you on as the situation progresses.

 Oklahoma

After a landmark Supreme Court decision in July of 2020, Oklahoma signed a seed-to-sale tracking agreement with METRC. Although we don’t know much about how the system will be implemented, we expect that it will be rolled out sometime early this year. Again, when we know more, we’ll let you know.

 Oregon

Overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the state’s cannabis operators are required to use METRC. Each business owner must train in the system and then prove their proficiency by taking an online exam. 

Additionally, the OLCC regularly checks METRC systems and points out discrepancies. This proactive approach keeps licensees on their toes and avoids any dramatic upticks in enforcement.

 West Virginia

As one of the most recent states to adopt METRC, there isn’t much information yet on West Virginia. We anticipate, however, that the Office of Medical Cannabis will implement the system in the spring. We still don’t have any training or mandate information yet, but when we do, you’ll be the first to know.

METRC Across the United States

Across the country, states have different requirements when it comes to their seed-to-sale tracking programs. Although it can be hard to keep track of the varying requirements, it’s necessary for legal operation. Keeping up to date on local and state regulations will help you stay compliant and avoid any painful fines.

Working with an experienced consultant can take a lot of the pressure off. Knowing that your business is safe and compliant in the hands of a professional allows you to focus on other areas of your operation.

 Are you looking for additional METRC support? Contact us today for a consultation!

Cannabis Investments, Due Diligence & SWOT: Ensuring Viability & Success

investments

When first getting into the cannabis industry, many would-be operators grossly underestimate the time, money, and energy required to get their business off the ground. For those without the resources to start from scratch, cannabis investments provide a sound way to break into the industry. Whether you’d prefer a hands-on or a hands-off approach, there’s an investment opportunity for you. As long as due diligence is done properly, you can have a strong entry into cannabis.

investments

Two crucial aspects of any investment, due diligence and SWOT tell you everything you need to know before getting involved with a cannabis business. Armed with this information, you can make the investment decision that will yield the best results for your personal goals.

Here’s everything you need to know about due diligence, SWOT, and your cannabis investments.

Get the Most Out of Your Cannabis Investments

The cannabis industry is already volatile and risky, so investors should conduct business accordingly. Consider partnering with someone already involved with cannabis who can help you make informed and responsible investments. Having this insider knowledge and experience will allow you to mitigate risk while maximizing profitability

Furthermore, working with seasoned industry professionals sets you and your investment up for success. Experts who’ve been down in the dirt — not just warming the bench — understand the ins and outs of cannabis businesses as well as how to make them thrive.

For example, at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, there’s almost nothing we haven’t seen. Across our team of handpicked professionals, we have decades of combined expertise. Our experience enables us to deftly navigate risk, avoid common pitfalls, and identify and fill market gaps in the most efficient way possible. We understand that your vision is unique, so we work tirelessly to ensure fiscal responsibility without compromising your individuality.

 Performing Due Diligence

Arguably the most important step in making successful cannabis investments, due diligence involves intensive research and analysis to determine whether or not an investment is viable. With due diligence, it’s about the destination, not the journey, so always start by identifying your endpoint. Understand what your business goals are and go from there.

 The old real estate adage “location, location, location” holds true for cannabis. Keeping your endpoint in mind, evaluate locations that support your goals. If you’re looking at a dispensary, you’ll want a location that provides the best customer experience as well as foot traffic. Consider things like parking availability, visibility — for marketing and security purposes — and neighboring businesses.

Additionally, doing a market analysis allows you to peel back the layers and explore the specifics of the local market. Identifying gaps and sweet spots allows investors to see a potential investment that could be a more profitable option.

Understanding local and state regulations is crucial for compliance. Similarly, analyzing enforcement history can show you how consistently authorities enforce these regulations and whether or not they enforce them at all. In spite of enforcement patterns, though, always make sure your operation stays compliant.

Using SWOT for Cannabis Investments

Whereas due diligence looks outward, SWOT analyses look inward. Standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT gives you a look at where a business is making money, where it isn’t, and where it could be. Looking at the team, business, investors, and overall operation, a SWOT analysis involves:

  • Areas of strength that can be leveraged for further profitability.
  • Weaknesses within the corporate structure, team, or investors.
  • Opportunities to fill gaps in the market to get an edge over the competition.
  • Internal threats like tax problems, debt, or compliance issues.

swot

A SWOT analysis is a good way to gauge an operation’s internal viability. When done in concert with due diligence, SWOT helps paint the bigger picture and determine which businesses would be profitable cannabis investments.

Putting It All Together

Properly evaluating potential cannabis investments tells investors how they need to be involved in order to make the operation successful. Whether more time, money, or other resources are needed is something that due diligence and SWOT will reveal.

Working with experienced consultants brings a certain degree of expertise to the table. Knowing the ins and outs of the cannabis industry, seasoned professionals can help you get the most out of your investments.

Interested in making successful cannabis investments? Contact us to get started!

Metrc in Oklahoma, Massachusetts & California: How to Navigate the System & Get Compliant

METRC

As part of one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States, cannabis businesses must work diligently to stay compliant with state regulations. One of the tools states use to ensure compliance is Metrc. An advanced seed-to-sale platform, Metrc makes it possible to digitally track each plant throughout its cultivation, manufacturing, and retail journey.

Higher Yields Consulting Metrc States: How to Navigate the System & Get Compliant

The powerful Metrc system makes it easy to account for plants as well as to identify products that need to be recalled. However, regulations and criteria for compliance vary by state. Similarly, the level of enforcement also differs from state to state. Working with an experienced Metrc professional keeps your cannabis operation out of hot water and away from avoidable fines.

 

With rigid timelines and harsh penalties, the Metrc process can be stressful. Fortunately, we’re here to help you get and stay compliant.

 

New Ground in Oklahoma

After a landmark Supreme Court decision rocked the boat in Oklahoma back in July, a cloud of uncertainty descended upon the cannabis industry there. In September, however, the state made a decision to lend security and accountability to its cannabis market. By signing a contract with Metrc, Oklahoma has joined 14 states and the District of Columbia in the mission to track and trace plants from seed to sale.

 

Since the contract was only signed in September, little is currently known about the agreement itself. However, we do know a few details. For starters, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) has granted about 9,600 business licenses so far. Those licensees should be preparing for the new system now as Metrc expects to launch by February 2021.

 

According to Dr. Kelly Williams, OMMA Interim Director, a primary motivator behind the contract with Metrc is to “detect unusual patterns that may indicate product diversion.” Seemingly, for this reason, OMMA will require each cannabis operation to submit a monthly Metrc report. However, the contents of such reports are largely unknown at the moment.

 

Metrc in Massachusetts & California

The state of Massachusetts signed on with Metrc back in 2018. Since then, Massachusetts has become one of the most heavily regulated cannabis states. Overseen by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), licensees in the Commonwealth face strict Metrc regulations. At any point, CCC investigators have the power to inspect a facility and scan the RFID tags associated with each product. Any violation — from an out-of-place plant to poor safety measures — can result in steep fines and other penalties.

 

Despite these heavy regulations and strict enforcement, Massachusetts has a solid structure. California, on the other hand, presents a learning opportunity for businesses and state governments alike.

 

When it comes to Metrc, one of the big areas where the Golden State falls short is training. In California, the state puts on one-and-done training programs and educational workshops that make it difficult for participants to go back and review later on. Other states — like Colorado — have easily-accessible pre-recorded trainings online.

 

Futhermore, many license holders in California were only having one employee trained in Metrc. With multiple people versed in the system, they can check each other and make sure businesses stay compliant. With only one trained employee, there’s the potential for serious violations that no one is aware of until it’s too late.

 

PSA for licensees in California: There are rumors that the Bureau of Cannabis Control is getting ready to crack down on Metrc violations. Get compliant or pay the price!

 

Recommendations for Cannabis in Metrc States

When it comes to running a cannabis operation in a Metrc state, the best thing you can do is work with an experienced professional. Get someone on your team who’s worked with Metrc in multiple states. These professionals understand the small fluctuations that can happen state-to-state and can save your business thousands (if not tens or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in fines.

 

Additionally, inputting all of the information into the system is a nightmare to do by yourself. Seasoned professionals can ensure loading inventory, updating nomenclature, and building out new SOPs all happen with minimal headaches.

Higher Yields Consulting Metrc States: How to Navigate the System & Get Compliant

Finally, there’s a lot to learn from California’s missteps. In particular, the importance of creating training redundancies cannot be overstated. Having multiple people trained in Metrc creates a system with accountability and oversight while also ensuring competence. Proper training along with appropriate organization — which professionals can help with — significantly reduces the risk of violations and penalties.

 

Although the majority of requirements are the same in each state, the differences can cripple any cannabis business. At the end of the day, proper expertise — whether from an outside professional or a well-trained employee — is your best tool for maintaining compliance.

 

Once you have a solid team, get ahead of the game. Integrating Metrc is an immense amount of work, so get started as soon as you can.

 

Do you operate a cannabis business in a Metrc-regulated state? Contact us today to ensure you stay compliant.