Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook for Removal of Ads Pertaining to CBD

Facebook Denies Advertisers the Ability to Promote CBD Related Content…And it Could Prove Disasterous

More and more states are continuing to legalize a substance which once suffered at the hands of an immense display of propaganda: Cannabis. Society still hasn’t overcome the stigmas cast upon cannabis which were largely displayed to the public between the years of 1930 and 1937 by Harry Anslinger, at that time, head of the Department of Prohibition. And with legalization still not standardized by federal legislature, laws across the country vary greatly from state to state. In twelve states, cannabis remains fully illegal, ten other states have fully legalized cannabis, and the remaining twenty-six states have laws which fall somewhere in-between—either decriminalizing the substance or allowing it to be purchased for medicinal purposes. This inconsistency isn’t only affecting American citizens in regard to their choice of cannabis use; it’s affecting the entire cannabis economy where the substance is completely legal to use, possess, sell, and grow. Why? Because at least two titans of the internet are denying advertisements related in nearly any capacity to cannabis from being displayed on their platforms. Worse still, businesses have had their Facebook accounts deleted entirely for attempting to advertise any cannabis related products with no word of warning from the social media platform. The latest Facebook advertising casualty for cannabis? Advertisements which feature CBD.

For those of you in the audience asking, “what’s CBD?”, I’ll give you a quick rundown. CBD—an abbreviation for cannabidiol—is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s a substance used more and more frequently in products like oils, edibles, beverages, and salves for its perceived ability to relieve pain and reduce the effects of anxiety and depression. Unlike the chemical compound which imparts a psychoactive experience to cannabis users, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not have psychoactive effects. Put simply, CBD doesn’t get you high when consumed. This chemical compound found within the cannabis plant has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years. Up to 65 million Americans have tried CBD at least once, and many others use it as a holistic medicine which doesn’t require a prescription. But despite the chemicals widespread use and social acceptance, Facebook is crippling advertisements and businesses whose product is centered on it.

Numerous cases have been reported by Facebook advertisers and business owners alike who have attempted to advertise products related to CBD. The cases reported have not only had their ads denied from being displayed on the platform, but, in some cases, entire ad manager accounts have been completely shut-down—denying advertisers and business owners access to assets, analytics, and audiences they may have paid good money to garner. Worse still, some business pages which have posted content relating to CBD and attempted to sponsor that content have had their entire Facebook account deleted in the time it takes to snap your fingers.

Why Facebook? Why turn the gun toward the businesses who depend on your platform to succeed? The social media giant’s advertising policies don’t even make mention of CBD—not caring to warn would-be advertisers of CBD containing products about the potential repercussions that may occur if they attempt to utilize the platforms paid advertising features. What the advertising policies do say is that advertising “illegal products or services”, “drugs & drug-related products”, and “unsafe supplements” (unsafe supplements are determined by the sole discretion of Facebook), is not allowed. But with CBD as common in some areas as coffee, it’s hard to believe that Facebook is willing to excommunicate business who are trying to give the social media juggernaut their hard-earned money.

Facebook’s incomprehensive and ill-defined advertising policies have brought many businesses back to ground-zero on the platform, stripping them of any notoriety they may have acquired by deleting their account. But justice may yet be served. Facebook’s inability to educate advertisers on what content can be advertised and what the repercussions may be if content doesn’t adhere to advertising policies has brought a lawsuit into the picture. The suit was filed by Felicia Palmer, founder of one of the internet’s oldest hip-hop websites. Facebook accepted a payment given by Palmer to increase the reach of her posts about CBD while she was promoting an online summit called Cannaramic. After accepting Palmer’s payment, Facebook didn’t show the ads Palmer had promoted to the users she had selected when using Facebook’s targeted advertising features. Then, like so many others, Facebook disabled Palmer’s ads account entirely, stating that her ads had been blocked because “we don’t allow ads that promote illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”. That’s when Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, David Holland, stepped into the picture. Holland is representing Palmer in her case against Facebook pro-bono and has left the suit open to other plaintiffs to join.

While there are no guarantees as to the outcome of Felicia Palmer’s lawsuit against Facebook, all we can do is hope that sometime in the not-so-distant future, Facebook will, at the very least, give a more specific definition as to what type of content is allowed to be advertised on the platform, and the repercussions that advertisers will be subjected to if the advertising policies are not adhered to.

 

Until next time, this is Paris Marketing’s Head of Social Stories, Eric Troy, signing off ✌️

 

✌️ 🖋️ 📖

-Eric Troy

 

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.


How Does Google Work?

A Simple Explanation for a Complex Question 

But First, A Search Scenario

You’re watching TV and see an ad for a new gadget. Within 10 seconds, you’ve become amazed by this revolutionary product. You wonder how you lived without it for all these years. But you’re no sucker; you’re certain you can find a better deal online than the one the infomercial is offering. You pull out your phone and head to everyone’s favorite search engine: Google. Within the top three search results, you find exactly the gadget you’re looking for (but the infomercial deal did turn out to be better than the online version).

It’s like magic: translate your thought into a written form, hit the search button, and get relevant results; it’s as if you’ve thrown your inquiry into the heavens and God himself gave you back just the right answer instantaneously. But have you ever wondered: how does Google work? Thinking beyond Google, how do search engines work? If you find yourself reading these words, then it’s safe to say you’re at least a little curious. Let me help you understand the broad strokes of how search engines work. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty, but, after reading this blog, you’ll have a better understanding of the wizardry of search engines.

But first, I want to take a moment to express my appreciation for the capabilities search engines enable us with. Thanks to search engines, we can get answers with nearly the same rapidity that we can ask a question. In days of old, finding that information might take weeks of reading various books on a topic until you find that nugget of information that you were truly in search of. The internet is our modern-day equivalent to the ancient Library of Alexandria (and don’t tell Plato, but our modern-day version is even better, although it certainly lacks the aroma that must have filled the great library), and search engines act as that library’s Dewey Decimal System, enabling users to find exactly what they’re looking for amongst the infinitesimal contents of the internet.

“That’s all well and good Eric, but we didn’t come to this blog to hear you squak on and on about how great the internet and search engines are. We aren’t here to read your historically relevant comparisons to long lost places revered for their ability to store and make assessable the knowledge of the ages (no matter how good the comparison may have been). We’re all here because we have the same question: how does google work???” -Readers Everywhere

Alright, alright! I’m getting to it! Just this once, Readers Everywhere, can you cut me a break? It’s not my fault I’m a total search engine nerd!

How Google Works in Three Simply Explained Steps

1.) Crawling (Finding Web Pages)

We all know the saying: you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk. What’s walking got to do with the price of tea in China? Well, it’s not so much the walking part as it is the crawling part that has relevance to our knowledge quest, Readers Everywhere. Crawling is the first step Google takes in determining relevant search results for searchers around the world. In the crawling process, Google catalogs all web pages on the internet. That’s right ALL PAGES ON THE INTERNET (that’s a lot of pages). After all, how can it give searchers the best result to their inquiry if it doesn’t know what pages exist to direct users to?

Right about now, I imagine your asking “Wait, why does Google catalog all pages on the internet? Isn’t there some type of organization or authority—some type of web page registry that keeps track of that?”. The answer: no, there is no dedicated organization, government or otherwise, tasked with cataloging what web pages are on the internet. Google and other search engines compile this data by constantly scanning the internet for newly created pages, then, they add them to their repository of known web pages.

2.) Indexing (Determining What Those Web Pages are About)

When Google has found new web pages while crawling, the search engines next step is determining and understanding what each new web page is about. This process is called indexing. To determine what each web page is about, Google analyzes the content of each web page, then catalogues the content (which includes text, images, and video files embedded on each web page) in the Google Index—a huge database stored within what Google describes as “many, many (many!) computers”. I imagine tens of thousands of processing units in an underground warehouse somewhere beneath the sands of the Sahara Desert, but I’ve always been a romantic.

3.) Serving and Ranking Web Pages (Determining Which Results Best Suit Searchers Inquiries, Then, Displaying Those Results)   

And finally, we’ve made it to the search results page, and how Google determines the order in which those search results appear after an inquiry has been made. By analyzing content on indexed webpages, Google tries to determine the best answer for the query that’s been searched. How does Google determine which web pages will best answer the search query? By cross-referencing information about the searcher—such as location, language, and device used to make the inquiry—and the web pages, more specifically the content on those web pages, which are in the Google Index. There are many more factors which Google considers aside from site content when determining search rankings and a web pages relevance to a searcher, but that’s a topic for another day.

 

In Closing

Now that I’ve shed some light on the magic of search engines and their wizardly ways, I hope you have a better understanding of just how search engines work. Hopefully, you’ve just become the resident search engine expert in your social circle, telling your family around the dinner table, your half-drunk friends at the bar, or your dog (because dogs almost always listen, even though your significant other probably won’t want to), just how Google gives you the results that you’re looking for. Until next time, Readers Everywhere, this is Eric Troy, signing off.

 

✌️ 🖋️ 📖

-Eric Troy

 

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.


Boss Mom Tips That Don't Suck

3 Non-Sucky Tips on Being a Boss Mom from Paris Marketing VP, Lisa Woodford.

Recently I read an article published in Entrepreneur Magazine which reported that almost three-quarters of female business owners juggle entrepreneurship while being the primary childcare provider in their family. Now that’s a statistic I can get behind. As a single mom of two (now grown children), I was often the primary, secondary—and sometimes only caregiver available. Full transparency, I also had the support of my family, friends, and an incredible employer. So, while it wasn’t always ideal, it was doable; it had to be—I mean, what was the alternative?
What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that this was also an incredibly valuable learning experience. I was developing a critical set of skills that would one day enable me to be a successful business owner (another thing I didn’t know was going to happen to my future self).

Life, and motherhood to an extent, share a certain irony. Typically, neither one turns out the way you expect it will, regardless of the best planning, preparation, or intention. This leads me to Mother’s Day. Recently, I’ve seen more than the usual amount of social posts, articles, tips, and Pinterest quotes written for and about women like me—mompreneurs. Maybe you’ve heard this term? It’s become part of our cultural lexicon and is defined by Wikipedia as: “a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.” In other words, a Boss Mom. I prefer this term (with the obligatory capitalization), mainly because I can’t say the word mompreneur without stumbling over it.
But back to my point about all this content meant to help me live my best authentic Boss Mom life. Frankly, I think a lot of it sucks. Platitudes like “avoid mom guilt at all costs” and “cherish your alone time” make me cringe. How exactly, I wonder, am I supposed to find, then cherish, this alone time without feeling incredibly guilty?
Of course, being a Boss Mom is easy—said no Boss Mom ever. It’s freaking hard. But it’s also amazing, surprising, joyful, stressful, exhausting, scary, and fun. It’s a lifestyle, and those who share it can rarely see themselves doing or being anything else, regardless of how old their children get…
I am a proud member of the Boss Mom tribe. And for me, there’s no going back. And because I believe in karma and paying it forward, I want to share with my fellow Boss Moms what I’ve learned on my journey. Whether you’re an aspiring, struggling, or slaying Boss Mom, feel free to take what works, share what helps, and leave the rest behind.

 

Non-sucky Tips on How to Be a Boss Mom

1.) As Moms, we try to teach our children to be good humans, play fair, share, take turns, be kind, and follow the rules. This stuff all matters and should carry over into any good business mindset—EXCEPT THE LAST ONE – “follow the rules”. NO, NO, NO! Break the rules when you must or ignore them completely if they don’t help you get to the next level. Just repeat after me: “I will ask forgiveness, not permission”.

2.) Surround yourself with women who share your level of crazy and embrace them, hard. I have a tribe of women who form a sisterhood of crazy, adventurous, weird, creative, brave souls. Some are twenty years younger than me, some twenty years older. I love them all. This is a network that provides me with unlimited access to a depth of experience, resources, support, friendship, laughter, encouragement, acceptance, and inspiration that no professional association or networking organization can touch. Although, I guarantee you’ll meet many future tribe members at these places, so you should join a few of those as well.

3.) Finally, give yourself the same permission to fail that you would give your kids when they’re learning a new skill or trying to navigate a challenging situation. Honestly, I can’t stress this last one enough. You need to be (or pretend to be) undaunted by failure because ladies, let me break this down for you: you’re going to fail, more than once—and that’s okay. This last tip is a crucial one. Develop an ability to find alternative solutions, work with what you have, stay flexible and see setbacks as opportunities to learn. Want to know how you keep this last tip from becoming one of those “stay positive sunshine” platitudes? Go back and read Tip 2.

Of course, it takes more than 3 tips to rock being a Boss Mom, but embracing these fundamentals is a great place to start. Maybe they can even save you some time and frustration, (honestly, I wish I had learned Tip 1 way earlier in my career).

Ladies, you got this. And if you feel like you don’t have it just yet, or if you have some of your own tips to share, catch me on Instagram or LinkedIn. I’m always happy to add another Boss Mom to my tribe.

 

Lisa Woodford

CEO? More like Commander-in-Chief. Someone’s got to aim our team’s creativity at the right target, and Lisa’s the woman for the job.


If your agency isn’t actively managing its own brand growth, what makes you think they're prepared to handle yours?

If you’re in charge of running an agency, then you know growth isn’t optional, it’s essential. And while all agencies understand that recruiting and retaining talent is a key driver for agency growth, I think the current trend in our industry may be focused more on providing distractions (Yogibo furniture, catered lunches, ping pong tables), rather than opportunities for development that will ultimately benefit their team, their agency, and—the most important part of this equation—the client.

I believe that having a culture that celebrates a “mentorship mentality” is one of the quickest and most cost-effective solutions to help agencies overcome the challenge of how to grow leadership in their organization. And the beauty is that it doesn’t always have to come from the top, so all you busy bosses can relax because anyone can be a mentor. There are only two requirements:

  1. You have a great deal of knowledge and experience.
  2. You’re willing to share them with someone else.

As an agency leader, I’ve benefited immensely from the mentors I’ve had over the course of my career, and mentorship is a foundational principle at our agency today. Here are some of the ways we’ve made mentorship a part of our culture:

  • We have formal internship programs with several colleges in our area. In addition to rotating through each department, every intern is paired with a senior team member specific to their educational focus.
  • We encourage everyone on our team to spend time each week learning something new or developing a skill they have a passion for (even non-agency stuff like extreme couponing). The only caveat—they must participate in our monthly Lunch and Learns and share a presentation of what they’ve learned with the rest of the team.
  • Part of our onboarding process requires new hires to identify 2-3 short-term and 1 long-term professional development goals that they want to achieve within 12-18 months. Once identified, they have the option to meet with me on a scheduled basis where I help them develop a plan and provide ongoing guidance and support as needed.

I’ve seen the benefits of mentorship, both in my career and in the growth of our agency. Just seven years ago I started as a brand consultant. Today, Paris Marketing has a team of ten highly invested and deeply committed creative brand warriors, and our portfolio of work includes clients from start-ups to global legacy brands. And in 2017, we became an affiliate of The BlueHive Group; that allowed us to add custom exhibit design and build, and custom branded interiors to our list of services. The combined creative staff and resources of the BlueHive Group amounts to nearly 100 employees and lets us offer end-to-end brand management solutions that other agencies of our size just can’t.

So if an agency’s offering is only as good as its people, then mentoring makes a strong case. Otherwise, how can you trust your team to keep your clients happy, if you haven’t created a culture that empowers your employees with the knowledge and confidence to do so.

Does this matter? Well, I think it says something about an agency that can maintain a client and employee churn under 10%, especially when the industry average hovers around the 30% mark.

Maybe you can distract a frustrated client with an agency-branded Yogibo lounger? Just kidding, I love bean bags chairs as much as the next gal, but I hope you understand the salient point here. If you’re an agency struggling to grow, feel free to try some of these tips. And if you’re a client that’s looking for an agency to help you grow your own brand, ask how they’re handling that challenge within their own house before you make the decision to trust them to help you grow yours.

 

Lisa Woodford

CEO? More like Commander-in-Chief. Someone’s got to aim our team’s creativity at the right target, and Lisa’s the woman for the job.


Legally Purchasing Cannabis for Recreational Consumption: A Massachusetts Resident’s Experience.

On November 20th, 2018, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts witnessed a historic moment: the first legal sale of recreational cannabis. In spite of this incredible moment, I didn’t step into one of the two facilities currently serving the public until December 1st. You might be asking why it took me thirteen days before venturing into one of these facilities. The simple answer: I didn’t want to wait in a line comprised of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals awaiting their first legal, recreational cannabis purchase.

Nearly two weeks after the facility opened its doors to the general public on December 1st, I drove by the Leicester, MA, dispensary, Cultivate. My eyes widened with shock as I saw the swarm of people waiting in line. After seeing this, I was adamant: “I’m not going to wait in that line.” I thought as I drove by the facility, frustrated that, as a resident of Massachusetts who lives a stone’s throw away from a dispensary, why was I unable to even get near the door?

Later that evening, I had accepted the facts: if I wanted to make a legal cannabis purchase, I’d have no choice but to wait in that line. Once again, I drove to Cultivate, only to have my hopes dashed by a sign on the roadside outside the dispensary, which read: Recreational Sales Closed for The Day.

Most people would have taken that roadside sign as an omen—December 1st just wasn’t the day. I, on the other hand, had had enough waiting. With two of my closest friends, we drove to NETA Northampton—Massachusetts’ only other recreational cannabis dispensary currently in operation. After an hourlong ride, we finally arrived only to see that, like Cultivate, this dispensary also boasted a mile-long line. The plus side: recreational sales were still open and would continue until 10 P.M.

We walked to the back of the line and stood in the bitter New England cold for three hours before finally entering the facility. During those three hours of waiting, I spoke with many individuals who, like myself, were beyond excited to make their first legal cannabis purchase. These people were of all ages and nationalities; the line was a veritable melting pot which showcased the array of individuals who wanted to be legal, recreational cannabis consumers.

The demographic diversity—both in nationality and age—of the crowded line held little surprise for me. What did surprise me was the locations these individuals called home. There was a woman in her 60s who’d driven, by herself, all the way from Pennsylvania, wearing nothing more than sweatpants and a hoodie; another woman in her 40s had made the pilgrimage from Massachusetts’ northern neighboring state, Vermont; a husband and wife who shivered in the bitter elements (and who also gave me a half-dozen McDonald’s chicken nuggets two hours or so into our wait) had driven from hustling, bustling Manhattan; another couple, I’d guess to be in their mid-60s, came from New York. Like my friends and me, they had come to get their first legal taste of the cannabis industry. The difference between them and my friends and me? They had driven between four and six hours to stand in that mile-long line.

Eventually, my friends—both the ones I had gone to the dispensary with and the new ones I’d made while waiting in line—and I walked through the dispensary doors. We purchased our wares and were on our way back home to enjoy the crop less than fifteen minutes after we’d walked through the door. After the ride home, we got our first taste of legal, recreational cannabis. The product was just as incredible as we had hoped, but I was left with a myriad of thoughts regarding this experience. Paramount among my thoughts was this: Why, if so many individuals are cannabis users, has the federal government not legalized cannabis for the whole of the nation? This is a question that citizens across the country are asking themselves, and one which we all hope will soon be answered. Until then, people will continue to travel far and wide to experience what may be the first legal cannabis purchase they’ve made in their lives. How does that impact me, a resident of Massachusetts interested in exercising my legal right to purchase cannabis? Until more dispensaries open their doors, I fear the lines outside the facilities will be far from empty. It will likely be another three-hour wait in line before I can purchase cannabis from a dispensary again. But despite the inconvenience to Massachusetts residents, I think this is a great problem to have. The excitement among all states regarding the prospect of legal cannabis is clear. You can see it for yourself; all you have to do is visit a dispensary and talk to the people waiting in line.

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.


How to Achieve Staggering Click-Through Rates Using LinkedIn Sponsored InMail.

When the BlueHive Group exhibited at HCEA, we did so with a mission: to help event and meeting planners in the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, and Medical Device industries who needed to improve their tradeshow experience. Exhibiting proved fruitful; we met many great event and meeting planners within the aforementioned industries, but that’s where our mission to ease the process of meeting and event planning really started. Through our conversations with HCEA attendees, we learned a lot about the specific pain points that event and meeting planners in these industries experience. Armed with better insight, we took our mission to the next level, setting our sights on the digital world.

The BlueHive Group offers customers end-to-end brand management solutions to help clients thrive. With industry experts from varying industries under our roof, coupled with the insights we’d gained from speaking with HCEA attendees, we developed a survey for event and meeting planners designed to help ease the meeting and event planning process.

Have you ever asked someone to fill out a survey? Or, better yet, have you ever received a phone call where the person on the other end of the line asks if you have a moment to answer a few questions? I’d be willing to bet you have, and I’d also bet you swiftly hit the end call button before answering any questions. Getting survey responses in the digital world isn’t so different. It’s difficult. That’s why determining the best channel to elicit responses from event and meeting planners was extremely important.

After the survey was built, the BlueHive Group team put our heads together and determined that LinkedIn was the most effective social channel for this campaign. Moving forward, we developed a LinkedIn Sponsored InMail campaign. Unlike other ad formats, Sponsored InMail allows you to send a personalized message directly to a LinkedIn user’s inbox. We wanted to capitalize on that AND add an additional incentive for LinkedIn users to fill out the survey, offering users a $5 Starbucks gift card which they would receive after the survey was completed.

Before I tell you about the jaw-dropping click-through rate our ad received, I want to tell you an approximate estimate for click-through rate averages across LinkedIn for Sponsored InMail ads. According to LinkedIn’s internal data, open rates for Sponsored InMail messages are 45% and of those 45%, 4-7% will click-through to a desired landing page. For our purposes, the landing page would be the survey. So, now that we have a little context, here are the results of our campaign.

During a span of one month, our ad was delivered to 1,000 LinkedIn users who fell within our targeting criteria (meeting and event planners within the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, and Medical Device industries). Of those 1,000 users who had seen our message, 570 clicked-through to the survey. That equals a staggering click-through rate of 57%.

The BlueHive Group #WhereGreatBrandsGrow #MoreThanMarketing

Connect with Creative Brand Warrior Eric Troy to learn more about this article.

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.


Trend Observations, Pt. I: To Infinity and Beyond

Since last Friday (9/28/18), I’ve been riding the high of trend observation. It’s a pretty straightforward concept: observe themes in entertainment, advertising, and your surroundings at large to establish relevant, timely trends.

What trend did I observe last week and how did it become more than just an idea and observation? Let’s get to it.

My girlfriend and I often settle down for the evening with a binge-worthy T.V. show. We had just finished watching the Hulu series Castle Rock (which I highly recommend) and were looking for the next series that would captivate us while we finished off our night with a cold one and a bag of chips. What did we find? The First, featuring Sean Penn. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, it’s a story about astronauts in the near future as they plan a Mars expedition.

Because we don’t pay for the ad-free version of Hulu, we get stuck watching commercials. To clarify: Just because I’m an advertiser doesn’t mean I like commercials any more than the next person. In fact, I can honestly say I hate commercials just as much as you do, if not more. But, when the commercial for the new iPhone XS came across my television screen, inspiration ignited in my mind like a freshly struck match. I thought of the soon to be released movie First Man and the film’s premise (The Apollo XI mission). I thought of The First. I thought of the iPhone XS advertisement. Epiphany: Space is in. Space is the trend.

So, that’s how I realized the trend, but what happened following the observation? Implementation, baby. Implementation and inspiration.

For our client, AO® Eyewear Inc., we created a social media campaign which I’ve affectionately titled “See New Worlds”. Our image content was space-themed and our audience is comprised of people with interests like, NASA, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Neil Armstrong, Cape Canaveral, etc. We’ve yet to launch this campaign, but audiences will be sure to see it within the next week or so. I’ll be making another entry in this blog following the results of this campaign, and I’m hoping they’ll be out of this world (pun intended).

So, in partial conclusion, inspiration and trend observation can be found anywhere and at any time, you’ve just got to be perceptive enough to notice.

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.


Want to Know What It Really Takes to Grow A Brand in the Cannabis Industry?

We’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with calls.

Cannabis branding, you know it’s a “real” thing when Adweek starts writing about it. Snarky sarcasm aside, there is something to be said when one of the most influential publishing platforms in advertising starts posting articles on best practices to brand your bud. And while this type of recognition is also vindication at the highest level (no pun intended), the legitimization of cannabis as an industry, while long overdue, is certainly not going to make building your bud brand easier. Cannabis is a billion-dollar industry; to think Fortune 500 companies and big pharma with their million-dollar marketing budgets aren’t going to be jumping on the Pineapple Express soon is not just short-sighted, but fatalistic.

Smart growers in the cannabis community know that once the federal government opens the commercial flood gates, their priority—in addition to growing healthy plants—will be nurturing brands that can thrive in an emerging market.

As seasoned advertising professionals (code for we’ve been at this a long time), both my co-author Brent and I have worked with clients from a wide range of industries from legacy brands to start-ups. And regardless of size, product, or service, we’ve discovered that the one constant across all good advertising is this: great brands don’t just know what makes them different, they celebrate it!

Federal regulations notwithstanding, should cannabis marketing be any different? We don’t believe so if your goal is to present an honest face to your consumers. It takes courage and a few calculated risks, but when brands are fearlessly authentic and creatively accountable, the risks are undeniably worth the rewards—just ask True Humboldt.

Of course, many of you reading this article have spent your days (years) developing your grow-craft, not managing national marketing campaigns. But that’s good, because while making a profit is important in any business, the passion you have for the product is what’s going to help you grow your brand without having to sell your soul in the process.

So, if you’re interested in developing a cannabis brand that can stand out among the competition, you may want to consider the following before you get started:

Be Really Clear About Your Purpose

Many people mistakenly believe a brand is a product or a logo, but that’s not the case. A brand is a collection of immutable characteristics that together represent a promise about:

  • What your company does, creates, or offers that makes it awesome;
  • Why everyone at your company wants to do, create, or offer this awesome thing; and
  • Whether your company really cares if this awesome thing matters to its customers.

A clearly articulated, authentic purpose makes it easier for customers to understand what they can expect from a brand, especially when it’s unapologetically and proudly reflected in the logo, website, packaging, content, and throughout the retail space. But when digital and physical experiences aren’t consistent with what a brand promises or is so weakly executed that the brand message isn’t shining through, then it becomes harder for consumers to trust you.

Get to Know and Love Your Customers

Strong brands don’t just have relationships with their customers, they have love affairs. And like all great romances, not only is it reciprocal, it may even border on obsessive. Just think about your first real crush, how many hours did you spend thinking about:

  • What they liked, or didn’t like;
  • What made them happy, or didn’t;
  • Could you orchestrate a way to talk them again, and when you did, what would you say;
  • What were their hopes, their dreams?

Ok you get the picture, but every relationship is built on trust, so be honest about your purpose and don’t be shy about it sharing it. If you’re not honest about this stuff then your customers are going to find out—maybe not right away, but ultimately, it’s going to happen. And just like dating, if you break your promises, if you try to be something you’re not, if you just aren’t emotionally invested in the relationship, then you’re going to get dumped.

Send the Right Message to the Right Customers

Because it’s not practical to market to every individual, begin by placing your customers into several main groups that encompass your main customer types and then create personas that represent them. The personas should include basic demographic information like age, sex, education, location, and so on. But it should also include factors like:

  • What is a day in their life is like?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What do they value?
  • What’s important to them when selecting a vendor?
  • What are their common objections to buying?
  • Where do they go for information?

Creating these personas allows you to send the right message to the right customers. For example, if middle age professionals are one of your major customer groups, they’ll likely respond differently to an ad that’s targeted at younger people just entering the workforce. By knowing your brand and who you’re trying to reach, you can focus your marketing and advertising efforts appropriately. This saves time and money, something you can’t afford to waste as a business owner.

Conclusion

Growing your brand involves being honest about what you want your brand to represent, learning who your customers are and what they expect from you, and having the guts to tell your message. If you can keep this mantra of honesty and courage in all your marketing efforts, it’ll pay off. Don’t try to be something you’re not and your brand authenticity will show through. As a bonus, you won’t end up selling your soul—just your grow.

If you like what you read, then check out our podcast for more episodes on creative accountability and how to bravely develop a brand in the cannabis industry at creativebrandwarriorpodcast.com.

Lisa Woodford

CEO? More like Commander-in-Chief. Someone’s got to aim our team’s creativity at the right target, and Lisa’s the woman for the job.

Brent Martino

How can so much mystery fit into his earthly frame? Who is the man behind the unicorn mask? Is it a mask? The world may never know.


AO Eyewear Block Island Photo Shoot

20 sunglass styles, 18 hours, 7 models, 5 crew members, 3 vintage cars, 1 legendary photoshoot. Check out this behind the scenes look at our recent lifestyle shoot on beautiful Block Island for our client American Optical Eyewear.

Brent Martino

How can so much mystery fit into his earthly frame? Who is the man behind the unicorn mask? Is it a mask? The world may never know.


Cannabis and Social Media

How Social Media Marketing Can Help Your Cannabis Business

At Paris Marketing, we think cannabis is pretty dope (insert picture of a pot leaf with a smiley face and sunglasses, here.), but more specifically, we think successfully marketed canna-businesses are.

So, let’s talk about how you can market your cannabis business on social media.

Sponsored Social Media Updates are a No-No:

For other industries, my first suggestion would be sponsored social media ads. For those of you in the audience that are asking, “what’s a sponsored social media ad?” allow me to elaborate: Sponsored social media campaigns are posts, tweets, updates, or other content that are backed by cold, hard, cash ensuring that the content shows up in the news feed of targeted users.

Why would you want to spend your money on social media ads? Because social media is an incredibly viable marketing source with a lot of potential for getting in front of the right people. Unfortunately, social media platforms are reluctant to allow sponsored advertising for cannabis under its current, federally illegal, status. When the Federal law inevitably catches up with forward-thinking state legislations, this is bound to change, but for now, sponsored social media campaigns for canna-businesses aren’t in the cards.

Organic Social Media Updates are a Go-Go:

So how can you utilize social media to increase your brand’s awareness, reach, and ultimately your bottom dollar without putting money behind social media content? Organic social media is the ideal alternative solution.

Organic social media is just a fancy way of saying you can post social media updates without putting money behind those updates. In early 2018, the kingpin of social platforms, Facebook, updated its algorithm to prioritize content that engages audiences (content that inspires conversation between users, is “Liked” more often by users, or is more relevant to connecting friends and families through social networking). By and large, this resulted in greatly reduced organic social media effectiveness for businesses. Why then, am I suggesting organic social media for your canna-business? Because if you provide relevant, engaging content to your audience, you can still reach those users who matter most to your business.

Canna-businesses lack the ability to sponsor content, making organic social media their new best friend. By maintaining a consistent posting regimen that promotes relevant content to your audience, your canna-business can still achieve great results from its social media efforts.

What content would be relevant for my business?

That all depends on what type of canna-business you’re running. For some businesses, photos of flowers would entice your audience. For others, showing your unique manufacturing processes and how they relate to the cannabis industry could be the stuff your audience craves.
Every business is different and should highlight what makes them unique, while still keeping the audience up to date with industry news and showing them content that entices.

In closing: Until federal legislation changes and social media platforms allow sponsored updates, organic social media is your brand’s best friend.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out Paris Marketing’s Creative Warrior Podcast.

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.