Tag: B2B Tips

Reward Your Regular Customers With a Dispensary Loyalty Program

In the increasingly competitive cannabis industry, it can be hard to stay ahead of the curve. Ensuring that you retain your customers’ loyalty and give them a reason to return to your store can be an ongoing process.

One of the best ways to encourage regular business among repeat customers is to offer rewards for those who do. A loyalty program allows customers to earn points for every dollar they spent–it helps you get rid of excess inventory that might not otherwise sell and gives customers and patients a great incentive to keep coming back, perhaps with new friends and patient referrals in tow.

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Here are a few examples of exemplary loyalty programs from dispensaries across the United States.

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Dockside Cannabis

Dockside Cannabis is one of the pioneering brands in Seattle when it comes to unique innovation, and it’s one of the first retail cannabis stores to create a loyalty program to encourage repeat business. The location offers an in-store kiosk where customers can enter their cell phone number. Every time members check in, they earn more points, adding up to great deals and discounts with each visit.

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Infinite Wellness Center

With two locations in Fort Collins and Lakewood, Infinite Wellness Center offers a Loyalty Member program that gives any retail customers a point for every dollar spent and bonus points for checking in. Medical marijuana patients with a valid registry card get even more benefits–a $50 patient gift voucher, a free hat or T-shirt, and lower prices on flower!

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Silver Stem Fine Cannabis

Silver Stem Fine Cannabis offers both a Primary Patient Program, a Loyalty Program, a discount for new customers and patients, cash back on all purchases, and a bonus of $100 when they refer a friend. The dispensary chain has two locations in Portland, Oregon, and four locations in Colorado, all of which honor the Silver Seeds Loyalty Program.

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Urban Greenhouse

Customers who join the Bonus Buds Rewards Program at Urban Greenhouse in Phoenix, Arizona can get the most bang for their buck earning points that add up to spendable cash in-store. As soon as they reach 250 points (or $25), points can be redeemed to use towards any merchandise or cannabis products.

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LivWell

By becoming a free rewards member through LivWell‘s Colorado dispensaries and retail shops, customers earn points towards future purchases for every dollar spent. They also earn points for referring friends, and receive extra points on their birthday and LivWell Rewards anniversary date. Members also receive special promotional emails and news.

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The Jazz Club

Repeatedly earning the #1 spot on Michigan’s Leafly List, the Jazz Club in Detroit offers generous rewards to loyal patients, including 500 bonus points for referring a new patient, matching donations and a gift bag for first-time patients, and great daily deals. There’s a reason it’s been voted best of Michigan and #3 for medical marijuana dispensaries nationwide.

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Bloom Room

All California dispensaries require a membership signup, but Bloom Room treats its patients with a little more TLC. The location offers free massage and reiki healing, joint-rolling workshops, and product sampling demos, and even serves the community with monthly volunteering opportunities. It’s a loyalty program with more heart and soul than just a few discounts (but don’t worry, it offers patient deals, too).

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Southwest Patient Group

Southwest Patient Group in San Diego goes out of its way to ensure that patients have many reasons to return. From first-time patient discounts for the first three visits to monthly specials to loyalty points accruing for every dollar spent, SPG knows how to treat its patients with love and compassion and keep them coming back for more. It even offers bonus refer-a-friend hookups for both the customer and their referral!

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Have you had success with a dispensary loyalty program? Share your tips and tricks for customer retention in the comments!

How to Successfully (and Legally) Advertise Your Cannabis Business in Nevada

Nevada’s proposed date for adult-use is July 1, 2017, which is coming up quick. Although a court order may push the date back a bit, for retailers getting ready to open doors, now is the time to make sure you are prepared for the inevitable onslaught of new customers and tourists looking to visit the new marijuana mecca. This is also a crucial time to make sure you’re well informed to maintain compliance while still making a splash on the new scene.

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One of the best ways to increase your brand recognition is through positive branding and advertising. The rollout of the new retail regulations has been slow and steady, with only draft regulations available now. These rules are not set in stone just yet, but will be the basis for retail cannabis advertising regulations in Nevada.

Nevada Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

If you want to be ready for the new market and have your advertisements approved by the Department of Taxation with flying colors, these are the most important rules to keep in mind:

Do not advertise towards children (or anyone under the age of 21)

  • No cartoons, toys, or characters in your logo or ad

Do not show the consumption of cannabis

  • Advertisements must not show smoking, vaping or otherwise consuming cannabis

Do not encourage overconsumption

  • Promote safe, responsible use
  • Do not promote alcohol use and cannabis consumption together

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Do not promote false or misleading information

  • Inform and educate your customers with factual, accurate information

Do not give away free product without a purchase

  • Unfortunately, freebies are prohibited. All products must be purchased.

Do not advertise anywhere that is not restricted to adults

  • This includes playgrounds, public parks, libraries, schools, and public transit

All advertising must include warning messages as required by the Department of Taxation

  • “Keep out of reach of children”
  • “For use only by adults 21 years of age and older”

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Nevada Cannabis Advertising Best Practices

Now that you’re aware of what you can’t do, here are some ideas for what you can do to entice new customers and encourage repeat business:

Do advertise in areas where adults are the primary target

  • Coasters in casinos, billboards, flyers to hand out on the Vegas strip, or placing an ad in Vegas Magazine are all great ways to bring adult-only eyes to your business

Do showcase your product, not consumption

  • If you’ve got beautiful cannabis products, put them on display in your advertising. Vegas is all about the glitz and glam, and the marketing of cannabis should be no exception.

Do promote safe, responsible consumption

  • It’s easy to overdo it in the Nevada heat, so adding a disclaimer in any advertising is not only a good safety measure, it shows the Department of Taxation (and your customers) that you are a responsible business owner and want your customers to be responsible, too.

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Do educate your audience

  • Including facts and knowledge in your advertising is an excellent way to educate your customers, many of whom are likely to be tourists coming from a state without legal cannabis. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

Do advertise discounts and deals

  • Giving away free products is a no-go, but offering a discount with the mention of an advertisement will have customers knocking down your door and help spread the word about your business.

SEO Service Red Flags That Cannabis Businesses Should Avoid

Working in the cannabis industry can be daunting with the looming threat of a federal crackdown and the frequent ambiguity about what’s legal and what isn’t. This legal grey area restricts many traditional marketing and advertising options to dispensaries and other cannabis companies. With limited options available, prioritizing search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for any cannabis business interested in using digital to grow their customer-base.

SEO is a marketing channel that focuses on improving a website’s visibility in search engines’ unpaid listings. Fortunately, there are many companies and consultants (often called “SEOs” or “SEO agencies”) that can help you. However, there are many SEOs that aren’t genuine and can take advantage of the state of the industry, or worse, implement bad tactics that don’t adhere to Google’s guidelines; these are referred to as “black hat” SEOs. Black hat tactics can lead to Google penalizing or even blocking your site from their results, which can be detrimental to your business.

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Luckily, there are several red flags to watch out for so you can find an SEO service that will help, not hurt you. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re hiring a consultant or agency that has your best interests in mind.

Bold and Unclear Claims

Many SEOs will say they can get you on the coveted 1st page of Google for some highly competitive term. This isn’t only unrealistic, it doesn’t connect to any sort of strategy. The algorithm also prioritizes personalization and localization; the search results for any given word or phrase will vary greatly depending on the searcher’s location, browsing history, and many other factors. What’s ranking #1 for one person could be completely different for someone else, so this claim is meaningless.

Another red flag is the promise of your website(s) ranking permanently or for a long time. The consistent algorithm changes, along with plenty of other companies that are also vying for Google visibility, makes “permanent” and sometimes even “long-term” not a sure thing.

There are also some SEO companies and professionals that claim they “know someone” at Google or have inside information on the algorithm, which gives them an advantage. The truth is that no one really has inside information about the algorithm because Google intentionally keeps it pretty wrapped up to keep their results authentic. Genuine SEOs use data and strategy to make a hypothesis on an intended outcome.

Questionable Tactics and Strategy

Numerous factors play into Google’s algorithm, and they sometimes change in priority or even become irrelevant. Some tactics can even hurt your rankings or get you blocked from the results. Here are a few things to look out for as you review potential SEO service offerings:

Meta Data

The importance of meta data has lessened over the years, but it’s still a simple tactic that many cannabis companies don’t take advantage of. It can also potentially help you better position your website in Google to reach more customers. However, anyone highlighting meta data as one of their key strategies either isn’t up with industry trends or is trying to pull one over on you. And if they mention meta keywords (other than to say that Google doesn’t pay attention to them or Bing penalizes abusing them), run the other way.

Link Building

A link from a quality website that’s topical to your business is basically a popularity vote that tells Google you can be trusted, and it’s an important factor in the algorithm. However, good links are earned with quality content, a solid promotion plan, or creating something that is very useful to your audience (although you should still have a promotion plan when you invest in creating content).

If a link appears to be “unnatural” to Google–meaning it was most likely bought–they will potentially penalize your website, as well as the website linking to you. I’m not saying all “link building” is bad, but you should proceed with caution. And any SEO company that is promising “X number of links to your site” is likely purchasing them and/or they’re not focusing on quality, relevant links.

Search Engine Submissions

If someone is telling you they’ll submit your site to some ridiculous number of search engines, or even just major ones, you’ve spotted another red flag. Overall, submitting sites to search engines is a waste of time. There are also many free and simple ways for you to submit pages to search engines, so being charged for it is a rip-off. Dispensaries usually don’t have the kind of budget to throw at nothing.

I wouldn’t recommend this tactic if you’re trying to improve your SEO because there are many other things to focus on. In fact, major search engines say that over-submitting your site to be indexed can yield negative results.

Anything ‘Secret’ or ‘Quick-Fix’ Recommendations

There are many industry-wide, agreed-upon best practices that any knowledgeable SEOs know and follow. If your potential SEO partner is secretive about their methods, they’re likely performing some of those black hat tactics. This can include the “bad” link building methods, cloaking content, and several other frowned upon practices.

Also, make sure that the company or person you’re talking to has some sort of maintenance or retainer option for you to select. Otherwise, they’re likely doing one-off optimizations that may be dated after the next big algorithm update. SEO is never a “one and done” deal.

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Confusing or Sketchy Website

A big part of SEO is having quality, relevant content that is useful to users and answers the questions they’re asking about your industry. If an SEO company’s or consultant’s website isn’t accomplishing this, how can they successfully execute a content strategy on your site?

One major red flag is if the company website is filled with thin, nondescript content. SEO is an often-misunderstood industry, so unfortunately many companies will take advantage of this lack of education with their clients. Make sure their tactics and strategy are clearly explained, in human language. “If we increase the keyword density and build links to the page, we’ll get you more link juice and improve your PageRank in Google” is not human language.

Some SEO companies will use plenty of jargon in website copy to confuse uneducated potential clients. If you’re confused about what a website is saying because it’s full of unrecognizable terms, they’re likely not going to be a good partner with your business.

Lastly, take note of how professional the website looks. Are you afraid submitting your email will infect your computer with malware? Does it look like it might have been designed on the Geocities platform? If the website doesn’t look professional, you’re most likely not dealing with professionals.

Too Good to Be True Pricing

When reviewing pricing for SEO, shop around and see how much other comparable companies or consultants cost. If something seems too good to be true, there’s a strong chance it is. If someone can charge an unnaturally low price for a service, it’s because that’s how much it’s probably worth. Avoid looking for SEO on sites like Fiverr or Elance, because you’re more likely to find the “quantity over quality” SEO approach.

An even bigger red flag is when a free trial period is being offered. Companies that advertise SEO services with a free trial aren’t always bad; just proceed with extreme caution. Remember that you’re giving them access to your data and information, and what they do with that is unknown; you didn’t pay them, so they have no ties to you, which can be incredibly risky.

What to Look for in a Good SEO Service

After reading through the above list of red flags, you might be starting to develop some SEO trust issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent SEOs that genuinely want to help your business. Here are signs of a trustworthy, effective SEO company or service:

  • They communicate with you. A good SEO will ask questions about your industry, competitors, target audience, and business goals. They’ll want to understand the full picture to determine how they can use their expertise to improve your business.
  • Their website uses human language. The content is clear, their services make sense, and you’re not having to look up every word’s definition and essentially learn SEO on your own. At the very least, there should be an SEO glossary to help you better understand some of the terminology.
  • You can trust them. Browsing around the website will make it easy to see how authentic the business is. Look for accolades, client testimonials, media mentions, information about the person/people behind the scenes, and companies they’ve worked with.
  • Their reputation isn’t tarnished. Google can help you here; simply do some searches for the company/person’s name to make sure they’re not flagged on sites like the Better Business Bureau or from an angry ex-customer’s social feed. As we all know, bad behavior rarely escapes the scorn of the internet.

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Hopefully this provides you with the right information to find a quality SEO partner in your path to grow your cannabis business. For every scam or unethical service, there’s also a worthy one. Just keep your wits about you and recall this advice before bringing on some outside help!

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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6 Tips to Help Budtenders Survive the 4/20 Rush

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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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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