Good. It’s here.
LegalMO22 will be on the ballot in November as Amendment 3 after obtaining the required signatures. According to a recent SurveyUSA poll62% of Missourians support the legalization of recreational cannabis.
While it may not yet be time to fire up a SafeBet (The Devil Wears Chanel 🔥) to celebrate, it seems likely Missouri voters will approve of the initiative.
Some people may not be inclined to party at all. Many people have objections to the elements included in the bill. So far, no one is opposed enough to invest PAC money in his stoppage, so the path for LegalMO22 to become law seems reasonably straightforward at the moment.
So whether you’re excited or worried, LegalMO22 has a good chance of becoming the reality of the Missouri cannabis industry very soon.
But what does this mean for local cannabis brands looking to expand into commercial ventures from the medical sector?
What will legalization mean for manufacturers who are already starting to battle industry giants like Cookies on pharmacy shelves?
One could think of endless opportunities. And that may be the case. However, when new trades come into effect, the little guys will find it hard to fight. Large, heavily-funded – and in some cases nearly ten-year-old – cannabis companies will continue to enter Missouri. They will have a seemingly endless supply of marketing dollars. They will have brand awareness before they open and will be available on the shelf. They will have a fantastic product, beautiful packaging and a story to tell.
They will know their target market. They have defined exactly who they are and how they will speak to their consumers. They will spend hundreds of hours developing their sales funnel and mastering the tactics they use to achieve their goals. They will have supply chain synergies. They will have sales teams. They will have retail and online promotions.
They will have a plan. Then they will execute it.
Local brands need to invest in their brands early and often if they are to be competitive over the long term. Our Missouri brands are very fortunate to be able to build with a restricted statewide focus. They need to leverage customer retention with targeted marketing investments and competition that more or less starts on flat ground and the same starting line statewide.
What a rare opportunity. It’s not every day that a $350 million industry emerges with so much room for growth for local brands.
Here are five ways local Missouri cannabis brands can compete when the room gets bigger.
1. Invest early and often in branding
As the market grows and more licenses are issued in Missouri, differentiation will become paramount. The brands that tell the most engaging story will always win. A good example is the Californian brand OLD PAL. 1. They created a lifestyle brand parallel to their cannabis brand, targeting the artsy and bohemian crowd with beautifully designed merchandise, progressive slogans and a hell of a Instagram Feed. They knew their target market and created ways for people to engage with the brand without even buying cannabis. The result was a $8 million infusion for expansion beyond the 7 states it already serves.
They did this without becoming everything for everyone. They created an awesome brand and combined it with awesome creativity. They knew who they wanted to be, who they wanted to serve, and where they wanted the brand to go.
Define your target market. Define your voice. Define how you will speak to your customers – and more importantly – how you will not.
2. Communicate directly with consumers through automation
A mobile communications strategy is absolutely vital in the cannabis industry right now. We are still limited in traditional ad buying, so speaking directly with your potential and existing customers is paramount. If you can start involving them in your brand on a fundamental level, you can create a relationship that will be stronger than a weed Walmart that comes after the rec.
This is a 16 month view of Google searches for our dispensary client in SWMO. We are super proud of our steady climb with them and even more amplified by the recent surge of interest.
This meteoric rise over the past few months coincides with our new mobile communication strategy for them. Direct communications with existing and potential patients has been a game-changer for their brand. It goes way beyond mass texting. This is a personal connection.
If you digitally tap someone on the shoulder, you better have something relevant to say when they turn around.
3. Play the good game on social mediaMost brands are already aware of the organic social media shift from feed to short video over the last 12 months. The battle between Reels and TikTok has completely changed the social landscape, forcing brands to play the SFV game to stay relevant. I1. You can fall behind if you still rely on stream as your primary social strategy. But it goes beyond just creating the content. Brands have taken a hit since this move, primarily on Facebook, where brand pages expect around 2.5% of followers to see their content.
SFV has given influencers even more clout, growing the influencer industry to nearly $20 billion in 2021. Almost every major US brand is investing heavily in influencer marketing in one form or another.
When it comes to our industry, every brand in Missouri has someone in the organization who would be considered an influencer, whether that be the founder, chief culture officer, or budtender. Someone likes to talk about weeds. It is possible to share this personality on SFV to feed the algorithm with the content it is looking for and simultaneously present the experts of your brand.
4. It’s time to adopt a media strategy that can really reach the masses
We all know the limits of advertising on platforms like Google (email me if you want to know how it can be done), Meta and TikTok. Until cannabis is federally legal, these aren’t great options for generating a ton of ROI. But that doesn’t mean you can’t advertise. Omnichannel campaigns using TV, podcasting, targeted display, and many other types of ad inventory aren’t just possible, they’re just waiting for cannabis brands to pounce.
With OTT we can now serve ads on the most popular streaming apps and then through wifi and other connections we can serve retargeting ads to the viewer of your ad. Additionally, we can geolocate your business and measure when viewers enter your establishment. We started a campaign like this to start a dispensary in Springfield, Missouri, and people started coming after they saw it the first day the spot aired. The best part is that OTT costs a fraction of traditional TV. Our campaign had a modest budget and ended up costing $25 per thousand impressions. For reference, traditional TV campaigns cost nearly $40 per thousand. That $15 difference adds up quickly when you hit 100,000 people.
Omnichannel campaigns have also lowered the thresholds that have been driving new brands away recently. Just a few months ago, demand-side platforms had expensive monthly minimums that made it very difficult for young brands to participate, but with the emergence of companies like Ryan Reynolds’ MNTN and Simplified.fi these minimums have been reduced. This means that industry-specific ad options like Surfside will need to expand their offerings to keep pace with the feature-rich DSPs that are now within reach for Missouri cannabis brands. The competition has created a wealth of opportunities for cannabis companies. Along with a killer creative concept, these advanced advertising channels can make mobile units easier than ever.
5. Measure the return on investment!
When you have the brand, the communications strategy, the social game, and the campaigns in the world, you need to know what they’re actually doing for your bottom line. In days gone by, the ROI of something like a TV spot was simply measured by how much business went up or down. Now we can tell you exactly who saw the ad, if they came to your store and what they bought. Then we can text that person a few weeks later when we know they’ve smoked it all out and invite them back. All while spending an amount that takes nothing away from the profit.
At Supper, we create custom dashboards for all of our clients, showing them exactly how their campaigns are working and how the money they’ve entrusted to us is working for their business.
At this point in the digital marketing world, there’s no excuse to rule out tracking the ROI of every spend. The big brands that enter our market will know exactly how much their customers are worth, to the nearest penny. They will know how much each digital conversion costs. They will know how to attribute these conversions to the campaign that attracted the user. And they will benefit from it.
Just because a lot of money is flowing into the state doesn’t mean the brands that have been there since the beginning can’t compete. This means that we will have to get smarter. All of the same tactics are available for our Missouri brands.
All we have to do is make a plan.
Then run it.
I am Kyle Drenon. I lead the digital department of Supper Co. We are an advertising agency specializing in cannabis. We believe this new market segment is coming soon and will only intensify as more states go rec. If your brand is looking for ways to communicate with this segment, let’s talk. We would be delighted to reserve a place for you at the table.