Cannabis: Marketing

How Should Cannabis Companies Market Themselves?

Mike Reeves of Portland branding company LTRMN breaks it down.

By Marty Patail January 30, 2018 Published in the February 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Mike Reeves of LTRMN

Southeast Portland’s LTRMN (pronounced “Letterman”) isn’t your typical weed company. They don’t grow cannabis; they don’t make edibles. LTRMN is carving out a niche in an increasingly important (once nonexistent) service: packaging, distributing, branding, and marketing product for companies, giving this old-school product a modern, higher-end vibe. We asked LTRMN’s Mike Reeves about marketing this new industry.

How do cannabis companies market themselves?

You see a lot of what we call “red, green, and yellow.” A lot of Bob Marley. A lot of tie-dye. A lot of lions and big old manes on packaging. We’re trying to go for the opposite end of the spectrum—something much more traditional, like something you’d see in Plaid Pantry. A lot of heavy users make product for heavy users, branding them in a heavy-user-ish way. We’re trying to go the other way. We’re going to eliminate the stigma by making it seem just like a wine or a beer brand.

To whom do you market?

Budtenders. The budtenders don’t realize how much influence they have. In this modern world of influencers, they are the apex influencers. Think about if someone walked into a bar, and every time said to the bartender, “You pick my drink.” That’s essentially what’s happening in cannabis shops. Even I say, “Hey, what’s new here?” The average consumer has no brand loyalty, no brand affinity, and really no brand awareness. Same goes for products. They’re a blank slate. Budtenders will sell what they like and who they like. They decide how much product we sell. Even our social media, that’s really targeting the industry. We want the industry to see us, to understand our brand, to see us as relevant players in the market.

Will that change?

Until it’s federally legal and we have full access to all social media, like using Facebook ads, it’s going to all come down to the point of sale: that’s a combination of your whole sensory experience, packaging, and displays. And the budtenders—making sure they know and love our product.

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