Authored By: Glenn Johnson
Today’s Cannabis market has attracted entrepreneurs from all walks of life which is a benefit to the astounding growth we see at every level, but many may lack the expertise to properly convey their vision, or the know-how to market their idea.
For many, this may begin with an investment deck. Kenny Feigeles, himself an investor, created a consultancy and a website soulstringreport.com where he and his team cover the markets. Most recently, Cannabis has been of keen interest to his work.
Who are you and what do you do?
I have a company called Perceptive Analytics, we offer a full suite of fully disclosed marketing services to small cap, publicly traded companies. Our team utilizes social media, syndication partners and electronic media to generate targeted media exposure for our clients. We also have a site, soulstringreport.com which covers market news, research, analysis and commentary.
How did you start?
Being an investor for 25+ years, I’ve built up a good network and over time my tentacles spread out. I began to do work with clients helping to prepare decks and copy for SEC filings. This bloomed into more of a marketing business where that network became an avenue for small cap growth opportunities that lacked resources.
Which parts of the overall Cannabis Value Chain do you work with?
Our comprehensive, client-specific marketing services offer consultation and referral services to venture capitalists, we provide fully disclosed public marketing and targeted social media campaigns and prepare and distribute company sponsored press materials in a targeted and professional manner.
Generally speaking, a client reaches out to me, we discuss the company vision, where they are, where they want to be 5 years, 10 years ahead and I make sure their business plan is together, and make sure the pieces are in place to facilitate their goals and create the strategy to market it.
Many play with the term “marketing,” for you this means getting the word out, correct?
I look at the business of business–the business plan has to be clear and well presented first. I work with clients to ensure that the message makes sense; then we apply the tech to reach the target audiences that needs to see the materials. We start with Macro view–as we want to see success–then we want to drill it down to a targeted market.
I look at my broadest audience to start with before I whittle it down. We do full research on behalf of a target–right at the publishing stage for instance in MMJ, the publications are very focused in that industry; we aim to get all those eyeballs, medical, retail, etc, a host of different sub-categories and levels in the category to drill deeper depending on what the business is.
A press release is a good start to hit the masses, but the best return comes from a smaller market looking at it. I can hit 50k with Yahoo release but 49,800 may not care what its about, with our engagement I can get it in front of 1000 targeted people who are more interested and engaged with the topic. That’s where success lies. A strategy is very important.
How prepared are your clients?
It varies from client to client, I always respect the work they’ve done when I talk to them, sometimes they come with a plan in hand, 75% of the time I suggest a better plan, and work with them to refine and implement. They build the company, I take the data and present it in a way that brings eyes to it
We use a large portion of social media, twitter, reddit, linkedIn etc, whatever social media opportunities we have available, to drill deeper and find the right eyeballs. These can be less comprehensive but their reach can be enormous and targeted, the content gets more buzz about the company. A refined strategy is important.
What if a company only has an idea they need to develop into a plan?
I have those projects come across my desk, often directly or through my network. If they are just getting started, that’s where I bring together a team to develop their idea into a business investors would be interested in. I work with folks like yourself to define their story, look and feel etc. Other’s think they’re ready to go to market, but lack the right materials or expertise to get there, we help guide them.
What do you see happening right now in the Cannabis industry–what would you like to see?
At soulstringreport–we’ve been primarily covering some MMJ and Cannabinoid companies, this is where i see the most excitement and a huge benefit to the global population. There are so many things going on in CBD therapy and THC benefits that people don’t yet even know about.
Take Vitality Biopharma (OTC:VBIO) for example, “VBIO” is differentiating itself by focusing on the development of novel cannabinoid prodrugs that have the unique capacity to enable therapeutic use of THC without any psychoactivity through targeted delivery. With these novel compounds, VBIO is intent on first treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Narcotic Bowel Syndrome (NBS), a severe form of opiate-induced abdominal pain.
I think we’re on the verge of having a mass adoption of cannabis and CBD drugs for conditions like IBD and MDF and Crohn’s disease. But, until the time big pharma and big tobacco too can get fully integrated for scale, we’re still in a trickle period, restricted by the Federal schedule 1 status. When it comes to testing, historical data actually shows that studies intended to measure the potentially harmful effects of cannabis were more likely to be approved than studies of its medical benefits, so we have a ways to go.
What do you tell clients about marketing for the category?
Understand the power and embrace the power of marketing. Many entrepreneurs have died because they’re afraid to tell or sell part of their dreams.
Put your marketing budget first and always have money to tell your story. Don’t be out of sight, out of mind. Personally, if I don’t hear about a restaurant I don’t go there, if people don’t hear your name, eventually you’ll be forgotten.
For small and emerging companies, I always recommend they have resources available to continue to tell their story–a 1 or 2 month campaign is strictly only promotional–the power of marketing can be so substantial, you should always maintain a budget especially as trends evolve quickly, a brand should always continue to flow with the traffic as trends emerge in the market, to participate and position themselves.
If the story doesn’t get out of their office building or if they wait too long to tell their story, things will move past them and they can get lost.
If you could change one thing about the Cannabis Category today, what would it be?
Legalization. I would like to see broader coverage of the benefits from the medicinal side, not let it get politicized from what it can do.
What do you see on the near horizon for Cannabis?
In 6-12 months from now—with the the FDA approving one drug–the FDA will be more receptive to CBD and THC drugs.
Once that starts–the momentum will grow for legalization on the recreational side. When we see a spike in new drug technology it will lead to overall legalization
What’s the biggest misconception you see today about building a brand?
The biggest misconception from companies is that they don’t need marketing, they don’t think they need to rely on experts in marketing to get to their goal. The biggest misconception is that all the money should go into product—with a strong business plan in place, your budget needs to go into marketing before they go into products.
Example—a home alarm company, like Ring.com the guy started with very little money–he put his radio commercial on, on a syndicated talk show, within two years he had a 100M product, he put his money into marketing and got to that level; the product is the same, but grew to $100m with marketing and managing a plan to scale for growth.
Peloton is another example–they grew through their marketing to a $300M company this year, 3 years ago they were a fraction of that. The most successful brands today are putting marketing behind their message. This drives consumer decisions across a multitude of platorms, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, where people are looking for ideas.
Be nimble, be proactive. Look at Leesa Mattresses as an example–it’s a high dollar item, but good marketing gets it across the finish line in a consumer’s mind. I didn’t hear about LEESA mattresses six months ago, but i can repeat their message now, and I can even recommend it based upon the good feeling I have for that company. Marketing helped my awareness and built trust for me with the brand. Those are powerful emotions.
About Glenn Johnson
I am a Marketing, Branding and Communications Consultant w/ experience in high-touch luxury consumer marketing in the travel/hospitality, wine/spirits, fashion/beauty/grooming and Cannabis categories. My talents include Branding & Brand development, Business Building, Strategy and Brand Storytelling. I excel in working with Founders, startups, and small brands.
Previously I was VP/Creative Director for a boutique Madison Avenue communications agency and co-founder & moderator for the Creative Mind Salon series hosted at Soho House NY w/ industry innovators, creatives & decision makers from fashion, film, photography, music and digital industries which provided IRL intelligent discourse amongst highly-curated leading edge creatives.
Marketing / Matters: Glenn Johnson
A Cannabis Column with a Marketing & Branding point of view, including Q & A articles I call “Conversations in Cannabis,” with industry innovators across the spectrum of start-ups, founders and brands doing business in the Cannabis category.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org