Future of cannabis sales relies on data-driven, targeted marketing, expert says

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Sending promotions for cannabis concentrates to a longtime shopper who buys only flower is not just a waste of resources.

Such blanket marketing practices also could drive consumers to look for a different company that better understands their preferences, Lisa Buffo, founder and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, told an audience during MJBizCon in Las Vegas.

Buffo addressed how marijuana companies can amplify their branding while customizing experiences to retain consumers.

She noted that using good data – such as what a specific customer buys at a dispensary – helps foster a sense of loyalty, keeps individual shoppers returning and potentially drives others to your brand.

“Your customers can turn into promoters who then attract strangers,” said Buffo, who referenced a report by software developer and marketer HubSpot that said the biggest threat to a company’s growth is bad customer experience.

“We all have a low tolerance for a bad customer experience,” she added.

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One of the best ways to mitigate the problem is to ask employees for points of friction in the company, because they often have a better handle on such issues than executives, Buffo said.

The staff’s perspective about internal friction might not be customer-facing, but it can point to poor internal processes or lack of communication within the organization.

“I have seen companies eliminate friction and see enormous returns,” she said. “Eliminating friction can be better than any kind of marketing program.”

Buffo noted data that showed less than 30% of Americans participate in the regulated marijuana industry.

Rather than trying to woo consumers from other businesses, she urged companies to focus on people who don’t currently buy cannabis at all.

If only 10% of that population started using cannabis somewhat regularly, it would make a world of difference in sales, Buffo said.

“There is a big opportunity to find customers out there,” she added.

(Video and slides from Buffo’s presentation will be available to MJBizCon‘s full-conference and digital-only passholders through the end of 2021.)

– Kate Lavin