Tag: B2B Tips

7 Ways to Make Your Dispensary Event a Success

Hosting a cannabis-friendly event at a dispensary can be a bit tricky. On one hand, you want everyone to feel welcome, but on the other hand, there are strict rules and regulations on how customers may consume cannabis legally and dispensaries must maintain strict compliance.

There are currently no states that legally allow public consumption of cannabis, which can put a cramp in the plans of most cannabis parties. However, if there’s one takeaway from using marijuana, it’s the wonders of cannabis creativity being put to good use. Dispensaries should consider throwing events like customer appreciation days, launch parties, and other celebrations at their location. Not only is it a marketing win, it’s a fun way to give back to the community.

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Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning an event hosted at your dispensary.

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Let the Music Play

A key to any great event is an awesome soundtrack. Whether this means enlisting local bands or perusing the local house DJ scene, make sure that your event is rocking to spice up the party. If the band or DJ is also a hit with the cannabis crowd, all the better!

A great example of this stands out from the 420 pre-parties Leafly hosted in Southern California. DJ Francesca was on the scene to keep things grooving at Evergreen, Western Caregivers, and Airside Wellness during the days leading up to 4/20.

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Offer Great Deals

Nothing entices customers like a screaming deal, and if you’re gearing up for a big event in-store, spread the word on your upcoming sales. Send out flyers, update your Leafly deals, and let your regular customers know about the big day. Advertise in the local papers or just use word of mouth to let the market know you’ve got an event coming up and it will be worth their time to attend.

Greenworks sponsored Leafly’s 420 Comedy Show in Seattle and boosted their pre-sales with a 4/19 Stock-Up Sale where everything in the store was 50% off, causing enough buzz that on 4/19, the store was overflowing with customers.

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So Much Room for Activities!

Admittedly, this is not always a possibility if you’re working with a limited floor plan. However, making full use of the space you do have, whether indoor or outdoor, is a great way to magnify your dispensary’s appeal with a whole lot of fun and creativity.

This was perfectly displayed when Dockside SODO celebrated its one-year anniversary and went all out with fun activities–they had a bouncy castle, live glass-blowing demonstrations, several bands performing, stoned yoga, henna tattoos, and even a planetarium yurt! Not only was the event a raucous success, customers were enticed to stay long after they’d made their purchases due to the fun and creative activities available. Who doesn’t want to go jumping in a bouncy castle?

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Don’t Forget the Munchies!

If there’s anything that goes hand-in-hand with cannabis, it’s great food. Free food is even better. For those who are concerned about cost or the mess involved with onsite food services, food trucks are an easy, affordable solution.

At Dockside SODO’s one-year anniversary celebration, not only were there food trucks available, they also offered free scoops of ice cream and free cupcakes. There’s no better way to a person’s heart than through their stomach.

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Invite Influencers

Expand your event reach by inviting a top influencer to visit your dispensary. Influencers can be anyone from a celebrity in the cannabis realm to a popular Instagram or YouTube star. They often have thousands of followers and their popularity can give your event a boost.

This was exemplified recently when Snoop Dogg made an appearance during the grand opening of the Jardin Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas. He met with fans, signed autographs, and posed for pictures while budtenders educated customers about the various medical cannabis products available.

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Educate Your Audience

Join with local industry folks and educate your staff on the best products, best practices, and latest innovations in the cannabis industry. Customers trust budtenders to help them choose the best strains and products for their needs, and these events serve as an opportunity to spread knowledge and keep your staff up to speed.

Leafly is now offering the Budtender Sesh, designed for newbies and veterans alike, aimed at bringing together the best and brightest leaders to network and learn about the latest cannabis trends. This includes vendor demonstrations, happy hour, and an exclusive Cannabis 201 Master Class from Leafly’s strain experts.

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Brand Your Customers

Swag for days! A great way to ensure that folks remember your event and your brand is to deck them out in branded merchandise. This can be a bit tricky because many states prohibit cannabis giveaways. However, branded accessories are fair game and can include sunglasses, lanyards, lighters, rolling papers, shirts, stickers–the possibilities are nigh endless, so long as there’s no cannabis product involved. Customers love freebies, and giveaways can help encourage them to return to your business.

If you’ve got the overhead available, creating your own line of branded merchandise is a great way to make an impact on your customers and nurture loyalty for returning consumers. The investment will easily be paid off in the new customers you’ll acquire and the brand affinity you’ll inspire. A little bit goes a long way!

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Have you hosted a successful event at your dispensary? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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6 Strategies for Selling Excess Cannabis Product Inventory

As you prepare to replenish your inventory, one problem can throw off your entire sales technique. Stale cannabis flower, edibles that are nearing their expiration date, and other products gathering dust can be a revenue killer. You’ve got excess inventory taking up valuable space on your shelves. Now what?

If you’re looking to free up your shelf space and burn through your excess products quickly, here are a few ideas to maximize your business and make the most out of your inventory.

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Sales, Sales, Sales

This sounds incredibly obvious, but there is a method to the madness of a well-timed, well-planned, and well-promoted sale. A flash sale is a great way to unload your extra products, and positing the sale as a one-time event makes customers more inclined to stop by. Leafly users often search their area for local deals, so take advantage of this feature and entice customers into your shop with a flash sale. The FOMO is real!

This is a great time to pull out the oldest inventory from your shelves and put them on full display with a fitting price tag. Particularly in an industry where fresh flower is generally preferred by the consummate cannabis consumer, any cannabis flower that has been sitting on the shelf for more than four or five months is past its prime.

Bottom line: Slap a new price tag on slow-moving products and reinvigorate those sales.

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Rearrange Your Inventory

If you’re having trouble moving products, the first step is to make the products more visible. Customers can’t buy what they’re unaware of, right? This can mean moving product to a more prominent location, updating your Leafly menu to highlight special deals, or creating promotional signage for your display cases.

Using products that are particularly eye-catching or displaying products that have bright, attractive branding and marketing is another way to draw attention to a slow-selling product.

An excellent example is Seattle’s Dockside SODO setting out a prominent display of Solstice packs of Obama Kush pre-rolls in February 2016. Stocking up on Obama Kush was likely a great play during the election season for both the retailer and the cultivator, but with sales inevitably slowing after November, putting the Solstice packs on display at the front with a relevantly political DOPE magazine cover attracts the eye and alerts customers to a great deal.

Bottom line: A prominent location and attractive branding can make a product look twice as enticing.

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Bundle Your Products

This is a great way to move excess inventory quickly. If you’ve got tons of one product, why not offer a special on multiple units of the item? Consumers are much more drawn to an appealing deal. For example, offering 5 pre-rolls for $25 sounds may be more appealing to the consumer than selling each pre-roll at $5 apiece. Phrasing matters, especially in marketing.

Another way to take advantage of bundling is to pair fast-moving items with less popular items. If, for example, a single infused chocolate bar sells like hotcakes, pairing it with a slower-moving edible at a comparable price makes a sweet deal for an edible-loving cannabis consumer looking to stretch their dollar.

Bottom line: Bundling items that complement each other is another way to maximize your sales.

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Find Creative Ways to Advertise

This can mean flyers, postcards, newspaper inserts, drink coasters, and more. A few carefully placed adverts in a prominent and popular location nearby is a great way to get the word out about a new deal or promotion, and placing these advertisements effectively can introduce a whole new subset of customers who might not have otherwise known about your business. However, pay close attention to your state’s cannabis advertising guidelines to make sure your advertisements don’t break any rules.

Bottom line: Effective advertising is key!

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Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Placing deals and specials on some of your more active social media channels is a great way to reward loyalty for your followers. This is great for a flash sale or clearance sales on sluggish items. Add a special loyalty rewards code to give your followers and regular customers a discount. The strategy encourages extra business, which means customers will be more likely to frequent your establishment regularly. Reward your loyal customers and they’ll not only more likely to continue shopping at your business, they’re also more likely to recommend your store to their friends in the future.

Bottom line: Word of mouth is a powerful business tool!

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Team Up With a Neighboring Business

This trend is popping up more and more frequently. Cannabis businesses face a plethora of restrictions–no giveaways, no freebies, selective advertising–that make it difficult to create an enticing promotion. However, neighboring businesses are a great way to spread the word about your dispensary, as well as spreading goodwill among the neighborhood.

If you’ve got a good business relationship with your neighboring companies, a great way to boost your brand’s visibility is to offer branded swag and merchandise onsite. If your shop doesn’t already have swag, this is definitely a great idea to consider. Branded sunglasses, lighters, lanyards, vape pen batteries, pins, stickers–all of these are enticing goodies that will encourage sales. This is especially useful if there happens to be a head shop, smoke shop, or glass store nearby, with items that complement your inventory.

Bottom line: By combining forces, both businesses reap the benefits and customers get twice as good a deal.

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What sales and marketing strategies have worked for your business when you’ve got excess cannabis products to move?

Is Your Business Prepared for Nevada’s Legalization Rush?

Nevada’s Las Vegas strip has long held the reputation as Entertainment Capital of the World, and with the upcoming introduction of legalized cannabis for adult use, the state will have the opportunity to become the country’s, and possibly even the world’s, leading canna-tourist destination.

For cannabis-curious vacationers, Las Vegas offers a chance to safely try something new in a city that’s famed for its anonymity. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is the city’s notorious motto, meaning that many tourists from states that may not look too kindly on cannabis use will have the opportunity to try it in a safe, legal environment.

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Retail cannabis stores begin operating in Nevada in July. The current market in Nevada relies mostly on in-state qualified patients, with the occasional out-of-state patient taking advantage of Nevada’s medical marijuana state reciprocity, usually visiting from neighboring California.

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However, adult-use legalization has the opportunity to change all of that. Once the doors open for tourists to visit cannabis shops, the market will be exploding with both new cannabis consumers and business opportunities, unlocking a new stream of revenue for licensed retail cannabis shops.

We spoke to TJ Wright and Demetri Kouretas, General Manager and CEO of The Grove, Leafly’s #1 rated dispensary in Nevada, to gain a better perspective on the current market and how legalization will change things.

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“Currently, about 80% of our customers are local medical patients, with about 20% out-of-towners using Nevada’s reciprocity,” Wright explains, “but as soon as legalization hits, we expect those numbers to flip.”

As of February 2017, there are 26,519 registered medical marijuana patients in Nevada, but the demand for cannabis is high. “We see at least 10 people a day coming in to ask [about purchasing cannabis],” Kouretas tells Leafly.

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After Oregon transitioned from a medical marijuana market to a new combined medical and adult-use cannabis market, dispensaries saw a huge spike in sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission had estimated that cannabis sales would generate between $17 million and $40 million annually. However, when the final totals were tallied for 2016, sales from adult-use cannabis in Oregon topped $60 million in revenue and $240 million in total sales.

When a market explodes in growth, businesses must compete with each other to stand out to potential customers. Because the cannabis industry must comply with tough marketing restrictions, dispensaries, manufacturers, and other cannabis businesses are forced to think of some outside-the-box ways to market their business.

For example, Brad Zusman, owner and operator of CannaDaddy’s in Southeast Portland, noticed a distinct return on investment after signing up with Leafly, and after trying several tiers of Leafly packages, he recognized the value of maintaining an active Leafly presence.

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Oregon’s boom in sales are likely to be only a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue potential in Nevada. More than 55 million visitors a year visit the Silver State, and medical marijuana sales alone produced $121.6 million in 2016.

With the introduction of a legal market, Arcview Market Research and New Frontier have predicted that by 2020, Nevada could be seeing as much as $629.5 million in sales to adult consumers. This new clientele will come pouring in from all over the country, as well as from across the globe, to visit what may well become the new hot cannabis tourist destination for consumers. In addition to the typical cannabis enthusiast, Nevada is more likely to see an influx of consumers who might otherwise be interested in the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but have not been able to sample it due to federal or state restrictions.

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Nevada could very well become the new cannabis mecca, drawing visitors from far and wide to test the waters of newly legal cannabis. How will your business stand out when the floodgates open July 1?

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What Are Dispensaries Planning for 4/20, and How Can Your Business Take Advantage?

The cannabis world is buzzing and brimming with excitement in preparation for the industry’s biggest holiday, April 20 (otherwise known as 4/20). This day is and has always been one of the biggest for dispensaries and retail cannabis shops, with many stores pulling out all the stops to make it a day to remember (or forget in a blissful haze, depending on your favorite strain or product).

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Leafly reached out to some of our top-rated dispensaries to see what deals and promotions will be floating around the scene, what lessons store owners have taken away from past 4/20 events, as well as which products are the most popular this year.

Some stores are going all out with celebrations, while others are sticking with low-key, word-of-mouth promotions. Which method works best for your canna-business?

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Infinite Wellness Center in Fort Collins, CO, decided to step up its 4/20 game this year and will be holding a three-day event from April 20 through April 23, featuring giveaways of 500 vendor-sponsored T-shirts with applicable purchase. Every hour, the store will be holding a raffle drawing for a $1 ounce of cannabis flower. That’s right, an ounce of cannabis for just $1!

Over the course of the three-day celebration, various brands will be 20% off, including vapes, edibles, concentrates, topicals, and flower, so keep an eye on the specials! Additionally, there will be giveaways of CBD capsules, Eureka Vapor cartridges, and a Pax 3, plus goodies from the O.Pen bus, which will be onsite all day Sunday, April 23.

Emerald Dispensary in Phoenix, AZ, also took a lesson from last year and combined forces with a few of their cannabis-friendly neighboring businesses to harness the full power of the cannabis holiday, including a 4/20 party with Leafly onsite giving away gifts and swag.

Business Takeaway: Events and free giveaways are a great way to boost your sales and create brand loyalty with new customers.

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General Manager Rob Smith of Emerald Dispensary took note of a few 4/20 trends from years’ past. “I’d say probably about 75 percent of 420-goers do a tour and go to more than one place, to pick and choose all the best deals,” he informs us. Since moving to their new location in Phoenix, their store has 12 point-of-sale systems to make for a quick and painless visit for patients. “Those people will know to put Emerald on their list because they know we won’t eat up their time.”

Additionally, Emerald Dispensary (formerly known as Emerald Palace) has formed a partnership with several neighboring businesses. Paraphernalia Boutique, billed as the Best Head Shop in Phoenix, is offering specials that help promote both businesses, and Emerald will be offering specials on flower and concentrate to help drum up more business for the neighboring shop. Between that and Sun Valley Certification, a medical marijuana clinic just a few doors down from Emerald, this is a prime example of how working with your neighbors can have a great, positive impact on both companies.

Business Takeaway: Make sure you’re fully prepared for the onslaught of customers and patients, and consider partnering with local canna-friendly businesses to make the most of your sales while also garnering goodwill with your neighbors.

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Have a Heart in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, on the other hand, is taking a decidedly different approach to 4/20. Rather than promoting a big party, as it has in the past, the prominent Seattle cannabis company is relying on word of mouth from its loyal customer base and keeping mum on the biggest specials and promotions for the celebration. Have a Heart will be offering surprise deals to any walk-in customers on 4/20 and will be releasing new products with special prices. Additionally, there will be another surprise promotion over the weekend. What will it be? You’ve got to stop by to find out!

Business Takeaway: When you’ve got strong brand loyalty, use the power of your customers to spread the news of your specials. Highlighting “surprise” deals and “mystery” perks can create a sense of intrigue and attract curious customers who want to see what you’ve come up with.

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At Purple Star MD in San Francisco, CA, the hot ticket item of the year is the newly released Pax Era, and the dispensary has stocked its shelves in preparation for one of the best deals you’ll find all year. Combining the hot new product with a desire to maintain an eco-friendly cannabis industry, Purple Star MD will be accepting old 510 thread vape pen batteries to be recycled in exchange for a brand new Pax Era for just $4.20! This is a great example of helping the cannabis community be more sustainable while also giving patients a great deal in the meantime.

Business Takeaway: Using an environmentally-conscious approach to deals and promotions is a great way to earn new business and a warm spot in the heart of every eco-friendly cannabis consumer.

Meanwhile, most dispensaries are sticking with the tried-and-true method of rewarding loyal patients and customers with freebies, deals, specials, and, best of all, free swag giveaways. What are your 4/20 plans this year? If you don’t have anything specific in mind, try some of these business takeaways and see what sort of success they bring!

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6 Tips to Help Budtenders Survive the 4/20 Rush

For many, 4/20 is just another day in April, but for the cannabis community it is Black Friday, Christmas, and St. Patrick’s Day rolled into one massive joint, dipped in wax, and dusted with kief. Please imagine, if you will, what it’s like for the humble sales associates on the opposite side of the dispensary counter. Consider this: a holiday with the consumer traffic, spending power, and reckless abandon of three major holidays, not to mention the festivities, party buses, and all manner of cannabis-infused fanfare abound on this sacred stoner day.

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From one budtender to another, here are my tips for surviving the cavalcade of customers headed your way soon. Steel your heart, bend your knees, and get ready for the cannabis sales crucible.

Eat a Good Breakfast and Pack a Lunch/Dinner

close up of woman with food in plastic container

Sorry if I sound like your mom, but seriously, you are going to be on your feet for at least eight hours (likely more) and a hearty, well-balanced meal will equip you with the necessary sustenance to soldier through. Food is so important that I recommend packing an extra sandwich or snacks the night before to be doubly sure you’re set for a long day. Nothing kills a good sale quicker than a hangry budtender.

Manager Tip: Take care of your staff on this busy day by stocking up on snacks and beverages in your break room, or go the extra mile and cover lunch for your employees by ordering pizza, sandwiches, or other catered options.

Rely on CBD Vape Pens (When Appropriate)

Man Exhaling Vapour from E-Cigarette

Vape cartridges are an excellent way to have potency and discretion in a single package. I recommend strong CBD-dominant strains like ACDC and Remedy, or 1:1 CBD/THC strains to keep the heady buzz to a minimum while generally tempering stress and inflammation. CBD cartridges can also work well for headaches, which can naturally occur within the exuberant din caused by an increasing number of customers per square foot.

Budtender Tip: Don’t consume or become impaired while on the job. Make sure you follow your manager’s protocol; honestly, what your employer wants is for you to show up on your A-game, so obey company rules. Consider saving your vaping for after your shift so you can fully enjoy the relief your strain of choice can deliver.

Keep a Topical Nearby

Enhancing her natural beauty

Budtenders come in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of your stature, the likelihood is that you will be stocking and pulling products from multiple parts of the store repeatedly throughout the course of 4/20. This means reaching and bending and squatting and juking, which can be hard on even the most limber employee’s extremities. Topicals with high quantities of CBD can be indispensable when it comes to long days on your feet. Consider sharing one with your coworkers. A few applications can turn the volume way down on achy necks, elbows, and knees.

Budtender Tip: Turn your topical use into a recommendation! Put some of the product you’re using on display and give anecdotes to customers that it’s helping you stay on your feet and get through a long shift with little discomfort.

Remember to Hydrate

water bottle lids blurred

Many of you budtenders will be showing up at the crack of dawn to prepare displays, ready door-busters, and to simply start the coffee. STOP! Before you take that first life-giving sip of caffeine, hydrate! Coffee and soda are natural diuretics, which means they help circulate fluids out of your body, inevitably dehydrating you if you don’t replenish your fluids. Drink a tall glass of water before that coffee and your brain will function better. Double down on water throughout the day while enjoying your favorite cup of joe or sugary soda. This will ensure that you stay hydrated and give you a good excuse to take a five minute break every 45 minutes or so.

Budtender Tip: Take some time to stretch during your hydration breaks to shake out any tightness and to keep yourself strong and alert for the day ahead.

Snack It Up

Almonds

Snacking will keep bellies full, blood sugar levels stable, and morale high as this consumerist holiday persists. I recommend food high in protein, like nuts, charcuterie plates (meat, cheese, crackers), protein bars, bite-sized sandwiches, or pizza. You might be thinking, “But Jeremiah, pizza is not a snack.” Shut up, and yes, it is.

Budtender Tip: Eat little meals throughout your shift vs. one big chow fest, which can result in a hard-hitting food coma that can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated.

Find Your People

Celebrating our achievements together

Try and connect with the customers you’ve developed rapport with. These small, joyous interactions will remind you why you woke up so early or stayed so late, which will hopefully recharge a small amount of your personal battery. Help your coworkers create meaningful interactions by pulling products or tag-teaming a sale. This can also help sustain overall employee stamina throughout the day. As the saying goes, many hands make light work, and teamwork makes the dream work.

Manager Tip: Consider dispensing fun or humorous awards to your dispensary staff after the 4/20 rush is over. Things like “Best Attitude on 4/20” or “Most Helpful Budtender” paired with a coffee gift card or free pre-roll go a long way in keeping employee morale high and rewarding your staff for their hard work.

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Which Cannabis Conferences Are Beneficial to Your Business?

The business of legal cannabis is booming, and as interest in the cannabis industry continues to grow, it’s no wonder that a wide range of cannabis conferences are popping up like weeds. Whether you’re a small business looking to expand your reach to more customers, an entrepreneur seeking new opportunities, or a firmly established organization making your presence known, cannabis conferences are a great way to network among like-minded individuals and find new business opportunities.

However, with an industry that is rapidly becoming saturated with cannabis conferences, all of which require significant costs to attend and participate in, it can be difficult to know where to put your priorities and which conferences will be worth a financial investment. It creates a kind of redundancy–many of these conferences feature the same brands and products, creating overlap and repetition.

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For smaller businesses on a tighter budget, it may be tempting to attend every convention, conference, or trade show in an effort to get more eyes on your brand, but it may be a better investment in the long term to choose three or four conferences per year to maximize your budget and your presence.

Kayla Cook, Director of Events for Privateer Holdings (Leafly’s parent company), lent us her expertise on the subject. “The cannabis conference space is a very saturated sector of the industry,” Cook acknowledged. “It’s difficult to decide which conference to attend and which one will give you the best bang for your buck.”

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Cannabis trade shows are often broad and unfocused, leaving much room for improvement and opportunities. For example, at each larger conference, you can find any number of investors, growers, light manufacturers, extract makers, marketing agencies, production companies, and more. With so many specializations within the industry, some companies may benefit significantly from a conference where another may see return on investment.

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“I’d suggest defining what your business goals are prior to buying your conference pass,” Cook encouraged. “Many conferences have different focuses and specialize in different topics within the industry, so doing a little research before you commit will be well worth it.”

With interest in cannabis rising in mainstream society, there are more conferences popping up in states without medical or adult-use cannabis markets, raising the question, once again, if it’s worth the investment to attend a conference, particularly one in a state where there’s no chance of expanding your business.

Gavin Newsom speaking at a cannabis conferenceLieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom speaks at a cannabis conference. (Courtesy of Matt Emrich Photography)

When asked if there’s any value to attending cannabis conferences in states without medical or adult use legalization markets, Leafly’s Event Production Assistant, Bennett Kaplan, offered some advice. “It’s good because there is brand exposure to a new audience,” Kaplan explained, “but be wary: There’s not much to be earned.”

He pointed to the recent example of Leafly as the first and only cannabis brand to officially sponsor the popular SXSW festival in Texas, a state with a limited CBD law and no access to any form of cannabis. The presence of multiple cannabis companies served to offer information about safe, legal cannabis consumption in a state that still carries major penalties for cannabis. “The culture is moving forward without the laws moving forward,” Kaplan observed.

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At the conference, Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer of SXSW, also recognized the positive impact of having a cannabis company in sponsorship. “We’ve definitely had cannabis-related panels and presentations at SXSW in previous years, but probably never as much as we have on the 2017 schedule,” he said. “I think the increase in sessions reflects the overall growth of this industry—and the fact that more and more so-called mainstream entrepreneurs are seeing the kinds of opportunities that cannabis presents.”

“The culture is moving forward without the laws moving forward.”

Bennett Kaplan, Leafly Event Production Assistant

As for the smaller, lower cost conferences, it may seem like the better choice, but that’s not always the case. Low-cost events can attract lower-quality vendors and participants, so even though it may be tempting to take part in every event, it’s important to recognize which events will be the most valuable for your business.

Here are some of the conferences that we have found to be valuable:

MJBiz Conference in Las Vegas

The MJBiz Conference is the premier B2B event in the cannabis industry. It is one of the more expensive conferences, but it has an incredibly large attendance of high-quality vendors, and many would consider it to be the forefront cannabis industry trade show. The company hosts an annual conference in November, but recently started offering a spring conference as well.

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NCIA Cannabis Business Summit

The NCIA Cannabis Business Summit is considered of the most influential cannabis shows in the United States, hosted in Oakland, California, and featuring more than 4,500 cannabis industry attendees. This one of the longest-standing B2B conferences, and aside from the annual Business Summit, the organization also hosts quarterly caucus events for industry networking.

International Cannabis Business Conference

This is one of the first and best international cannabis business conferences, and the event will be exhibiting Europe’s first B2B cannabis conference hosted in Berlin, Germany this April 2017.

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New West Summit

New West Summit is one of the first cannabis conferences to specifically focus on technology, investment, and media in the cannabis space, making it a more unique cannabis trade show experience.

DispensaryNext

DispensaryNext is a two-day conference & expo focused on the next generation of products, services, and strategies for cannabis dispensaries. It is specifically designed for cannabis dispensary owners, managers, marketing directors, and those in the process of building dispensaries in emerging markets.

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Lift Cannabis Expo

Lift is Canada’s largest and most forward-thinking event in the cannabis industry, and it’s attracted attendees from across the world for events in two major Canadian cities, Vancouver and Toronto.

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Lessons Learned From a Failed Cannabis Compliance Check

In the legal cannabis industry, it’s incredibly important to pay close attention to local and state regulations to make sure that your shop is always in compliance. Because we’re lucky to be working in the world of legalized cannabis, it’s our duty to show the world that these products can be safe, smart, and well regulated.

When a store fails a compliance check, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and examine why the infraction occurred. Beyond that, take their shortcomings as a lesson for your own cannabis business, and use that knowledge to ensure that your business won’t make the same mistakes.

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Washington’s Retail Marijuana Compliance Checks Didn’t Go as Well as Colorado’s

Failing Compliance Checks Can Shutter Your Business

One of Washington state’s more prominent cannabis retailers, Lux (formerly known as Stash Pot Shop), announced that it would be closing doors for 15 days starting March 13 due to a failed compliance check. In this instance, it came to light that two former employees failed to enforce the state identification checking standard when selling cannabis to undercover Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) officers.

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The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board regularly works with underage investigative aides to ensure that cannabis shops do not sell cannabis to minors. Businesses cited for a Sale to a Minor face a 10-day suspension and a $2,500 fine for the first penalty, a 30-day suspension for a secondary penalty, and may face license cancellation for a third violation within three years.

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The Washington state identification checking standard requires the following:

  • Identification MUST be valid (not expired) and show:
    • The bearer’s date of birth,
    • The bearer’s signature (except US Military ID – see below)
    • A photograph of Bearer

Examples of acceptable identification:

  • Driver’s License, Instruction Permit, or ID card issued by any US state, territory, or district
  • Driver’s License, Instruction Permit, or ID card issued by any Canadian Province
  • Valid Washington State Temporary Driver’s License
  • US Armed Forces ID card (encrypted signature acceptable)
  • Merchant Marine ID card issued by the US Coast Guard
  • Official Passport
  • Washington State Tribal Enrollment card.

The WSCLCB may consider mitigating circumstances and allow for some negotiation regarding penalties.

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Lux had already faced a $500 fine for a previous infraction involving standard ID checks. As this was its second infraction, the shop faced a 30-day suspension, which it negotiated down to 15 days and a $3,100 fine. A third violation within a three-year period could result the loss of the business’s cannabis retail license.

Why It’s Crucial to Comply Every Time

When navigating the uncharted territory of regulated legal cannabis, staying in compliance is not always easy. For those who are in a similar situation, building a new cannabis business in an industry that’s just starting to feel established, avoiding a violation like this can mean the difference between staying afloat and falling behind.

Take this as a lesson and take the time to train your employees, emphasizing absolute compliance with state law. Ensure that your employees recognize valid (and invalid) identification, and require that employees always check ID.

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“One of the most common complaints are from people who are obviously of age, not wanting to have their ID scanned. Unfortunately, while a ‘we card everyone under 47’ policy works at liquor stores, bars, etc., scanning every single ID that walks in the door is the only way retailers can truly safeguard their business,” Lux owner KC Franks echoed in a press release on the closure.

How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive

Lux has taken these infractions with a grain of salt, using what could be perceived as a negative and turning it into a positive. During the 15-day closure, Lux is offering compensation to its employees to volunteer and give back to the community. Employees will be volunteering at St. Luke’s Parish serving food to those in need, as well as volunteering for a new cleanup program called “Beautify Ballard.” The location will also be holding a Customer Appreciation Sale on the day it re-opens, March 28.

The location has reacted admirably, choosing to turn this embarrassing oversight into a positive PR move by giving back to the local community while simultaneously taking care of its employees. Its Customer Appreciation Sale also acknowledges its compliance oversight to its patrons and thanks them for their patience and loyalty during its temporary closure.

This is a classic “making lemonade out of lemons” situation from which other cannabis businesses can learn. By being open and honest with the public, Lux makes it easier to forgive the business for its missteps, and locals can rally behind the dispensary for its perception of learning from its mistakes and striving to be better in the future.

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The Benefits of POS System and Dispensary Menu Integration

If you’re the owner or operator of an up-and-coming cannabis dispensary serving customers and patients, one of the most important parts of tracking your sales and revenue will come from your point-of-sale (POS) system. For businesses that are listed on Leafly, one of the best ways to maximize store pages is to integrate Leafly menus and POS systems.

To get the full scoop on POS integration, how it can impact your cannabis business, and how dispensaries listed on Leafly can use it to maximize their listing, we caught up with Leafly’s own client success specialist, James Scott, and developer Andrew Otwell.

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What is POS integration?

POS systems can be integrated with a variety of other tools and functionality. For example, POS menu integration allows a dispensary to automatically feed inventory information into a menu. On Leafly.com, POS menu integration allows a dispensary to automatically feed inventory information to their corresponding integrated menu on our site.

Please note that POS integration on Leafly only updates a dispensary’s menu. All other features of a dispensary’s Leafly profile will still need to be updated manually, but POS integration helps do away with the time-consuming task of updating a large menu.

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How does POS menu integration software work?

This allows a point-of-sale system to push menu items through Leafly’s API directly to a dispensary’s Leafly menu. Once POS integration is enabled (instructions available here)  you will be unable to edit your menu from within Leafly. Instead, all edits must be performed from the POS. Edits you make in the POS will be reflected in the corresponding products on the Leafly menu.

Why should dispensaries use a POS to keep Leafly menus up to date?

With a proper audit of the store’s inventory beforehand, and if a store follows strict formatting procedures when in-taking new product, it will eliminate the need to focus valuable employee hours on updating the menu. For stores that struggle to keep an up-to-date menu, or for stores with a large inventory, it can be an invaluable resource to keep menus accurate for their customers. It also allows clients to use other parts of their Leafly profile that they may have neglected due to the labor of updating their menu.

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What are the biggest pitfalls to consider when setting up Leafly integration with a POS?

The biggest pitfalls going into an integration come from:

  1. Not performing an initial audit of a dispensary’s inventory before turning the integration on. As integration relies on data built into individual products in the POS, if any of them leave the “strain” or “brand” fields left blank or filled out incorrectly, those menu items may be incomplete or missing from the Leafly menu.
  2. Not following a consistent inventory intake procedure. For example, leaving a strain field blank or mismatching the strain also listed in the “name” field can cause inaccurate data to be floating around in your POS. It is possible to fix after the fact, but again, if the goal with POS integration is to spend less time managing menus, formatting products properly the first time will eliminate costly corrections further down the line.

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I have a Leafly listing and want to integrate my POS and menu. Who should I talk to?

Currently Leafly can only integrate with GreenBits POS. Contact your Greenbits representative to get started.

Can I turn it off if it doesn’t work for me?

Absolutely. Your Leafly menu will be left as it was when it was last modified through Greenbits and you’ll be able to edit it in Leafly again. Important note: Don’t be tempted to disable the integration briefly just to make quick manual edits in Leafly (like updating a price). Greenbits works by replacing a Leafly menu with its current inventory data, and won’t first check to see if you’ve made changes outside Greenbits.

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What Is Influencer Marketing and How Can It Help Cannabis Businesses?

Leafly is the first ever cannabis company to sponsor SXSW, and as we gear up for this year’s festival, we decided to take a look at one of the most crucial pieces of any successful brand: influencer marketing. With cannabis restricted by the federal government, many standard marketing platforms are off-limits. Because traditional marketing efforts off the table, cannabis brands have to be incredibly creative to ensure their campaigns are successful.

We spoke with Dominick Damico, the founder of Adspire, the world’s fastest growing influencer marketing agency dedicated to cannabis, to see how cannabis businesses can make the most of their brand by using outside influencers to boost their audience and maximize their marketing impact.

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Leafly: What is influencer marketing?

Dominick Damico: Influencer marketing is the usage of people and platforms to drive a brand’s message to a target market. The influencer can be a person, a website, or a social media page. Essentially, any person or platform that has influence over an audience can be considered an influencer.

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What are some examples of different types of influencers?

  • Niched: These influencers are typically devoted to a specific market or subject (ex. Cannabis / beauty / sports / etc.)
  • Celebrity: These influencers are traditional celebrity types (artists, athletes, entertainers)
  • Social: These influencers found their fame through social media platforms
  • Micro: These influencers have a small amount of influence, but they can be useful when brands are looking to activate many niches at once
  • Localized: These influencers and their content are typically localized (ex. “Seattle Stoners”)

Influencers can fall under more than one of the categories above. For example, there are localized-micro influencers, and there are social-niched influencers.

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What are some of the challenges of achieving impact through influencer marketing?

The number of followers does not necessarily equal impact. Bigger is not always better. Many brands make the mistake of judging the value of an influencer based on how much influence they possess. Engagement rate is the holy grail of measuring influencer value. This is because a 100k influencer with a 50% engagement rate gets five times more action than a 1 million influencer with a 1% engagement rate. I’ve seen pages with millions of followers that get less engagement than pages 1/10th their size.

Your content and ads will not do well just because they’re going out to a lot of people. There is a misconception that influencers have the magical allure of getting their fans to do what they want. Just because you post your products, content, and ads on influencer platforms in the same industry, doesn’t mean you will get results. They need to be aligned with your content style, focused on value-add, and consist of a well thought out advertisement or post. It’s no different than any other advertising methods. Bad ads and content will always perform badly.

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When do you think paid digital marketing channels may be available to cannabis brands? What about print/traditional marketing?

Hard to say. I’d imagine even if Google, Facebook, etc. does want to get on board, their legal team will give them the thumbs down due to the current federal standing of cannabis. I would guess 3-6 years for USA advertising only, or whenever cannabis is no longer a federally illicit substance in America. As for the rest of the world, I have no clue.

I do believe that print advertising at a local level is easier to access. This is because local print works within the jurisdiction of state lines, where cannabis is legal. It’s different for these digital companies that have an international presence and have much more pressure to abide by federal law compared to the local print companies complying within their jurisdictions.

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Do you have any tips to run a successful influencer marketing campaign?

  • Keep up with social rules and algorithms: Social media platforms are always changing the rules of the game. Companies that don’t stay nimble and up to date on the latest rules can miss out on changes required to maximize success.
  • Keep up with the latest marketing trends: Take some time out of each day to go through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and platforms of interest. This will help you recognize what is working well for other pages and companies. It helps you to identify successful and unsuccessful marketing strategies without having to spend your own money to find out.
  • Follow page patterns: If an account only does direct photo posts, try to format your marketing campaign so that specific influencer drives your goal with a direct photo post.
  • Be good to the influencers you work with: At the end of the day this is a relationships game. Everyone knows everyone and if you screw over an influencer, other influencers will find out about it and won’t want to work with your company. These influencers get plenty of opportunity. At the end of the day, they are going to want to work with people they like who treat them fairly.
  • If you aren’t sure how to do all of this, outsource it to Adspire: I’ve watched new companies waste thousands of dollars on influencers and campaigns that absolutely bombed due to their lack of expertise. We’ve got the knowledge and experience to make your influencer marketing campaign a success.

You can hear more about influencer marketing at the SXSW Conference. Leafly will be sponsoring a three-part track of cannabis programming, including one keynote speaker and two panels, on March 14, 2017.

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Ask A Budtender: How Do You Determine Cannabis Quality?

As a budtender, I am your in-store tour guide, here to help you choose the best product for your personal needs or desired mood. Consider me the cannabis industry’s version of a sommelier (but much more casually dressed), and imagine your shopping experience as something akin to a wine tasting as you look at as many products as you want in order to get a good assessment of which is right for you.

I try a lot of products each month in order to be as familiar as possible with all of my store’s brands and strains, but cannabis has to be pretty special these days in order for me to make a repeat purchase. I have honed in on a first impressions technique, my own cannabis-specific version of wine tasting, and these are some of the routines I follow as well as qualities I look for when trying new strains.

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1. Start Out Sober

This may seem obvious, but it bears pointing out that in order to get a true impression of what the effect is like on a particular strain, it is important to start fresh. I usually try a new product as my first smoke after getting home from work, or when I am waking up on a day off. Going into it with this clear-headedness allows for me to examine the properties of just the strain I am trying.

2. Use a Clean Pipe 

Taste can be just as important as effect (taste plays into effect as well, thanks to terpenes), so using a clean piece matters when finding out if you like a new product. I always like to make sure that at the very least, my bong or dab rig has fresh water in it before smoking something new. If something doesn’t taste good on that first hit, I know it is the product and not my pipe.

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3. Pay Attention to Your Lungs

Cannabis makes people cough as a general rule, but if you are smoking something that is making you hack, that isn’t normal. Sure, some folks say that “you have to cough to get off,” but there’s coughing and there’s choking, and one does not equal the other. I look for strains that are fairly smooth on the exhale even after larger tokes or dabs, and that don’t leave me with a lingering cough.

4. Make It A One Hit Wonder 

Instead of smoking your whole bowl (or joint, or doing a few dabs back-to-back), try taking one hit and then taking a break for a bit to ride out the effect of just that toke. I like to do this to test how potent and long-lasting a strain’s high is; personally, if I feel the effect of one hit for longer than a half-hour, that’s a strain I want more of.

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5. With Flower, Ash Color Matters

Bud that has been properly flushed and cured has lost all of its chlorophyll and moisture content, which makes for a much cleaner smoke as well as a cleaner residual ash. Ash should be, well, ash-colored: white or grey, never black. I also suggest paying attention to whether or not your bowl cherries (stays smoking in between hits without having to be consistently torched with a lighter), as this is another good indicator of whether or not your cannabis has been appropriately dried and cured.

6. Go With Your Gut

This tip is probably the most important one I can leave you with. Each person’s relationship with cannabis is unique because each person’s endocannabinoid system is unique. When it comes to trying new products and strains, these tips are here to assist, but they are not by any means hard and fast rules for what is or isn’t a good choice. Follow your instincts; if you are in the store and torn between two products, pick the one you were drawn to first. I practice that method and it has yet to let me down.

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