The cannabis industry is expanding rapidly. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned vet, you’re likely working hard to gain an edge during this critical moment in time. For many, that means looking to cannabis consulting firms for guidance, advice and tricks of the trade.
However, not all marijuana consultants are created equal. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the demand for high-level cannabis knowledge and may not actually be able to deliver what’s needed to succeed.
The good news is there are bona fide experts out there who can help take your cannabis venture to the next level right now. Cannabis Now spoke with the team at Higher Yields Consulting, one of the top full-service cannabis consulting firms in the world, to get their insider tips for boosting any cannabusiness.
Ensure Your Applications Are On Point
Building a business plan, creating a brand and honing your target audience are all important when starting a business. But if you’re plant-touching, the cannabis license application is an exceedingly critical phase since it holds the key to your company’s future. The application process varies widely from state to state and is hyper-competitive. There’s no doubt that bringing in expert help gives you the best chance of winning a license.
Shannon O’Mara, Director of Startup Services & Compliance at Higher Yields Consulting, strongly recommends investing in application assistance. “We’ve seen a lot of business owners try to go it alone and complete the applications without any outside help. This is risky because you don’t know what you don’t know,” she says.
The Higher Yields team has seen tremendous success with regard to cannabis licensing. Pre-application assessments help potential licensees understand their strengths and weaknesses, while experience helps guide the process forward.
“When we work with aspiring cannabis business owners on their competitive applications, we’re drawing from a wealth of knowledge based on what we’ve seen work, what we’ve seen fail, and what application review boards are actually looking for,” O’Mara says.
Get Your Team In Order
When seeking out a vendor, whether it’s cannabis consulting services, suppliers or facility builders, be sure to do your homework. A robust team is crucial for the success of any business, but especially something as nuanced as cannabis.
The number of people capitalizing on the lack of knowledge about the cannabis industry means that newcomers may be taken advantage of. Word of mouth means a lot in this heavily networked industry, so a company with the highest recommendation from someone you trust is typically worth its salt.
“Look for operators with a proven track record. There are a lot of startups in the cannabis industry and a lot of people who say that they can do something for you, even though they’ve only ever done it once for themselves,” says Cory Waggoner, CEO of Higher Yields Consulting.
Waggoner suggests working with teams with broad experience, especially since cannabis is such a unique space. “Make sure you choose someone who has been in business a long time and has seen it all because no project is the same, and you’re always going to encounter new obstacles,” he said.
Research and development into the cannabis supply chain have grown exponentially over the last decade. As operators scale up and seek out ways to boost their bottom lines, the reliance on newly developed tech has increased—which Waggoner believes is a good thing.
“It’s all about efficiency. Too many operations are throwing operations together and doing things the old-school ‘duct tape and chewing gum’ way,” he says. “But the cannabis industry has come a long way, and we now have an incredible amount of technology, data, and proven systems that we can use to set up an operation to be more efficient, less costly to run, and therefore, more profitable.”
This is especially important for vertically integrated cannabis and hemp businesses. Every aspect of the operation must be a well-oiled machine. Automation is becoming a key part of the supply change, creating an eco-system that works as one. Data analytics derived from these systems help pinpoint areas of improvement while generating SOPs crucial to multi-state expansion.
“It’s all about making sure that your systems are talking to one another and that you’re not relying so heavily on humans for things like remembering to change lights or remembering to water at a certain time,” Waggoner explained. “You need to get a complete picture of what’s going on in your cultivation or your dispensary or your extraction and manufacturing facility in order to see where you have room for improvement. We do this with our data suite.”
Focus on Educating Your Audience
Spreading the word about your cannabis company is not always an easy feat. Between restrictions on advertising and a crowded marketplace, operators often need to get creative.
Rai Cornell, director of marketing at Higher Yields Consulting, suggests emphasizing education around the solution your product or service provides. This includes quality search engine optimization (SEO), which is how companies land on the top of internet search results.
“Meet people where they’re already seeking out what you have to offer,” she says. “For a lot of people, this is Google. Be a problem-solver and answer the questions people are asking.”
When creating a marketing plan, put an emphasis on brand story. This helps to identify a target audience while simultaneously developing trust and awareness in a space where integrity matters.
“It helps to know your ‘why’ and have something that you truly care about,” she says. “Then, create a communications strategy focused on sharing that passion with people and connecting with them where they’re already open, receptive or seeking the answers you have to offer.”
Generate Demand the Right Way
Creating awareness and interest in your company is one thing, but building a need is oftentimes even more important. Demand generation helps turn people from curious to customers through trust and data.
Targeted campaigns designed for different points of the customer journey are key to this strategy. By approaching people on their level, your company stands a better chance of conversion. That may include automatically generated emails, SEO blogs, event sponsorship or pay-per-click ads.
However, you don’t want to throw spaghetti at the walls and see what sticks. Successful cannabis companies will focus their efforts where they’ll make the most impact. For consumer-facing brands, this may include popping up at a music festival or engaging with influencers. B2B brands could offer lead magnets like white papers or present at industry conferences.
The cannabis industry is a marathon, not a sprint—and the race is only beginning. Companies that want to start strong and go the distance should hone their strategies to focus on ROI. Engaging with skilled and experienced cannabis consultants like Higher Yields Consulting may be just what a business needs to edge out the competition.