The Marketing of Marijuana

What excitement as we head into a new era in Canada with the pending legalization of marijuana. Surely I’m not alone in envisioning the billowy cloud of smoky serenity soon to be floating over us. I’m practically salivating at the thought of the much needed slower pace we’ll enjoy here in Canada. The broader, more thoughtful perspective on …. well …. whatever, eh?

But enough of the fantasy that will be the new Canada. Savvy marketers have already gotten down to business, planning and scheming, taking this situation far more seriously than the rest of us and wondering how best to market our latest and greatest product.

It’s one thing to appeal to seasoned users of the stuff, but now we have to get into the minds of a whole new demographic – a mainstream audience who could be trying it for the first time. And only because it’s legal.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the basics. There’s so much more to come, but to start, step one will be to shed the stoner image and brand marijuana as a reasonable, normal, even harmless recreational product. As many laughs as many of us have already had coming up with every play on word one could possibly imagine, an obvious choice will be to shed the slang and start calling it what it is – a plant named cannabis. There’s a lot to shed. The Online Slang Dictionary lists 120 slang terms for marijuana. And if you think I just suggested a great new party game – I did. How many can you come up with? If all you can name are ganja, weed, Mary Jane, and pot – you have work to do.

Step two in shedding the stoner image? Let’s peruse the casting couch and only select those models who reflect the polar opposite of our classic Canadian stoner. I’m sure we’ll be surrounded by ads of healthy, vibrant, energized, professional people enjoying life and all the healthy activities that go along with it. It’s not that much of a stretch to add some cannabis to the mix, right?

And since we’re focusing on healthy activity, much of it in the great outdoors, and since cannabis is a plant, I can already see the earthy colour palette. Ahhhh, the greens, the browns, the greys… serenity now.

Clearly, this is only the beginning. We haven’t even gotten the green light yet. But once the branding begins and cannabis quickly becomes as Canadian as maple syrup, the next step will be convincing the market your brand is better than the next. Discerning consumers want to know.

Sock it to Me: The Power of Words

Images attract. No surprise there. In our fast paced world where attention spans seem to be getting shorter by the minute – or second – pictures continue to be worth a thousand words. Or maybe more these days.

How convenient then. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, an engaging image says a whole lot about you and your business. That’s a whole lot of writing out of the way.

But as important as captivating imagery and alluring design is to your content marketing, words are powerful too, as much, or even more so than those images and colours you’ve carefully selected.

Words paint a picture of who we are. Spoken words immediately make a statement about how interesting we are – or aren’t. Just think about how quick we are to use the same old phrases even though it takes so little effort to change it up. Here’s a pretty common one. How did you respond the last time someone asked, “How are you?” Did you reply with, “Good” or the ever intriguing, “Not bad.” That’s too bad. Had you responded with “Top drawer!” or “Bloody fantastic!” you would have made someone smile. And, you would have created an instant connection. Two words, one big impression.

So what about the written word? Maybe when it comes to your website, you’ve started to focus less on words because you feel that reading is falling out of fashion. Let’s face it. Libraries have always been quiet, but they do seem to be getting even quieter these days. Yet, that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped reading. In fact, with a device on hand at seemingly every moment of the day, we’re actually reading more than ever. And your brand storytelling can’t be done with visuals alone.

So don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the look and design of your website without carefully crafting your words. Your words communicate who you are. They’re a reflection of your personality. Just as easily as a picture, they can forge an emotional connection. Words tell a story. And people love a good story.

So what’s yours? How did your business come to be? How did it involve? What motivates you to do what you do? No matter your business, no matter your product, there must be some interesting story behind it.

Take a look at the Sock Club at www.sockclub.com for a perfect example of great storytelling. I bet you never knew that socks could be so interesting. But at the Sock Club, every sock comes with its own story, and some deep inspiration. Whether it be panoramic mountain views, Greek Gods, philosophers, or even the circus, every sock tells a story. Seriously. The socks have a lot to say.

Even more seriously? I can hardly wait to become a member and receive the sock of the month because – surprise, surprise – they just connected with me and made me smile.

This hashtag has my brand all over it.
Can I copyright it?

In a word … no. No matter how powerful or perfectly suited to your brand, no matter how fully it speaks to your campaign, regardless that it feels like your intellectual property in every way, no, it can’t be copyrighted.

Popularized on Twitter as a means of indexing tweets, hashtags have taken on a life of their own on most other social media platforms, allowing us to quickly search and view related content, and have even creeped into communication in general. What’s more, hashtags have become the slogan or central focus of many social media movements, generating conversation, emotion, action and – you guessed it – going viral.

The power of hashtags has not been lost on the marketing industry. Appreciating their trendsetting value, their ability to drive conversation, traffic, and sales has made brands eager to create their own hashtags and keep a firm hand on the reigns, keeping control of their hashtag by preventing other brands from using it.

But too short to copyright, and unlike inventions or ideas one can patent, the only way to protect your hashtag is to trademark it. And yes, you can trademark a hashtag. If you can effectively demonstrate why you need to do so, and if your product or service can be directly associated with that hashtag, trademark registration is possible and can offer you some protection. Although it won’t stop others from using your hashtag, you can legally challenge a business who appears to be using it to undermine or directly compete with you.

But is it worth it? Naturally, you can assume that challenge won’t be simple. You can also assume it will be time consuming, costly and downright frustrating – and quite possibly unsuccessful in the end.

So, what do you do with that perfect hashtag? If you come up with one that’s truly irresistible, one that’s sure to drive engagement and conversation about your brand – and it hasn’t already been branded by a competitor – go for it. Then relax, enjoy the attention, and don’t worry much about others wanting to use it. After all, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

Ring, ring. Business builder calling …

Although technological advances have dramatically changed the way we do business, outbound calling remains a go-to strategy for businesses of all sizes and industries from high-growth startups to Fortune 500 companies. Why? Because it works. But like any tactic, outbound calling only works when backed by a solid plan.

So what’s the best way to build an effective outbound calling campaign? Much depends on your strategic objectives – every plan is unique. But as a general rule, we’re sharing some tips that lay the foundation for any successful campaign.

First, here at Brickworks, we prefer to call outbound calling – outbound conversation. Although each dial starts as a call, the minute a real person is on the other end of the line, your call becomes a conversation. Framing each contact as a conversation reminds your callers that helpful, friendly conversation is their goal.

Next, start by gathering your data. Develop a list of prospects who would actually consider buying your product or using your service. Does it offer any value to the prospect? Does it meet any of their needs? There’s no point calling if you can’t fill a gap.

Now, consider the road blocks. You believe you’ve created a list of hot prospects, but what might be their potential objections? Prepare responses to these objections ahead of time so callers can keep the conversation alive.

And speaking of the conversation, should you use a script? Absolutely. A carefully planned conversation builds caller confidence, and when well-written, it allows for flexibility. Effective callers can make any script sound fluid and natural. And, since you’ve already anticipated potential objections, remind your callers that although they’re using a script as a framework for their conversation, they’re strongly encouraged to take extra time to address any barriers, and should never force a close just to stay on track.

And finally, plan for persistence. It’s not easy to get your prospects to the phone, never mind keep them on it. It could easily take several calls to get a decision maker on the line, so build time for persistence into your plan. Simply decide how persistent you’d like to be, then set your guidelines for repeat dial ups and leaving messages.

Set your benchmarks. We’ve blogged about measurement many times before. You’ll never know if your campaign is successful unless it’s properly measured. KPIs like handling time and conversion rates allow you to analyze your results and make improvements for even greater success down the road.

Clearly Persuasive Website Content

Let’s talk website content – again. If you read our last blog, you’re probably already sold on the benefits of a one-voice website. So let’s move a little deeper into the topic of website content by looking at two critical features for effective writing: clarity and persuasiveness.

Let’s start with clarity. Unless you strongly believe that visitors enjoy reading long, drawn out, copy-heavy sites – which I’m sure you don’t – when creating copy for your site, aim for simple and clear messaging. Here are some basic tips to ensure you’re keeping it clear:

  • Aim for short sentences. A maximum of 18 words per sentence is a good guideline.
  • Use common words. Leave the thesaurus alone.
  • Write directly to the reader. Use words like you and your. It’s so much more personable.
  • Expand on acronyms the first time you use them, and every time you use them on a new page.
  • Use bulleted lists whenever possible.
  • Avoid wordiness. Think of the KISS theory and keep it simple. (I’m not going to call you stupid.)
  • Use short descriptive headings to clearly describe the content of each section.
  • Make link text descriptive. Rather than click here, write an accurate description of what will be found at the link.

Now that you’ve grabbed your reader with clear, simple, easy-to-navigate content, how will you persuade them to stay engaged with your site?

First, understand that your site content, no matter how creative and savvy, will be scanned, not read. Just accept it. Site visitors are on the hunt for information and they’re in a hurry. But you’ve already made their hunt easier by offering up clear, concise content, right? Right! Succinct headings, imagery that relates to the copy, and bulleted lists appeal to scanners.

Next, expect that people will NOT read your home page before clicking elsewhere. Like a falling leaf, they could land just about anywhere. Each page should be a clear collection of content based on one topic. Clear navigation and well divided content satisfies every reader.

Be a little top heavy. Place your most important information close to the top of each page. Here’s what most visitors are thinking as they scan your site: What do you do? What’s in it for me? What will I find on this page?

To persuade visitors to stay where they are, remember – you can’t possibly be everything to everybody. Just be yourself. Say who you are, what you do, and why clients and customers want to stick around.