Cannabis is now a $61 billion industry. To reach those heights, it’s adding crossover cred to its core businesses. Lifestyle brands blend cannabis with beauty and wellness products. General contractors specialize in greenhouse and indoor-grow buildouts. Travel and hospitality companies focus on the new green tourism. Specialized law and accounting firms handle the ways and means. Staffing agencies fill jobs for cannabis retailers, cultivators and manufacturers.
Let a thousand flowers, and uses of flower, bloom.
To move into new markets, these businesses need to be fluent in cannabis. That is, they need clear understanding, which leads to clear messaging, which helps customers and clients navigate a wealth of information specific to the cannabis industry.
TALK THE TALK, OR CUSTOMERS WALK
Fluency is a hot term in the broader marketing space—coming from the Latin root fluentem “to flow.” In this case, it means conveying what you know in a way that your key customers easily understand. Fluency also refers to how well your target audience can use all kinds of messaging—visual, narrative, digital, and influencer.
Businesses need to translate regulatory legalese into guidelines even non-lawyers can follow. Then there’s the glittering vocabulary of cultivars, spouted by budtenders who can’t help but gush about terpenes, trichomes and entourage effects. But cannabis talk can easily enter a mystery zone between scientific jargon and street slang, if you’re not careful. The intimidation factor can be huge, especially for new users.
If you can’t speak their language, they’ll find some who can. Think of those big clear windows at the Apple store. If customers are welcomed in, and the lights are bright, they stay a while, learn, and spend.
EXPERTS WHO MAKE IT EASY FOR EVERYBODY
It’s not just the customer-facing people who need cannabis fluency.
A cannabis-friendly law firm familiar with industry regulations and precedent can streamline everything from licensing to lease agreements—without extra time and effort needed for discovery or client education. The same holds true for software-solutions consulting and cannabis marketing groups and advertising experts. Cannabis fluency, on top of specialized skills, turns into business opportunities.
Consider a lifestyle company that sells cannabis products. If that firm hires a cannabis-fluent number cruncher who knows how the IRS 280E tax code might impact their write-offs, things will be much simpler on April 15th.
Hire the right media partner, and they’ll know why cannabis journalists have increasingly dropped the word “marijuana” because of the term’s racialized history.
And you’ll want to hire a marketing agency that knows exactly how to get Google to accept a cannabis business’s ad campaign, or which state’s compliance laws frown on particular terminology like “vape” being used in cannabis content marketing.
Cannabis fluency will break down barriers between businesses and customers, and ease the way to market with your best products. These kinds of language lessons are worth the cost.
YOU’RE SPEAKING. CAN CUSTOMERS HEAR YOU?
Cannabis fluency also means understanding exactly how consumers are incorporating cannabis into their lives, and meeting them on their terms. For the undecideds, you’ll need to lay out the reasoning that turns them into regular customers.
If a company speaks clearly and authentically about different strains and products, customers will engage. Suddenly, you’re in this together. Education reduces stigma and pushes back against stoner stereotypes, and makes cannabis feel more accessible to target buyers—whether they’ve ever been in a dispensary, or not.
THE AUDIENCE IS GROWING. GROW WITH THEM
Cannabis sales increased 67% nationwide in 2020. The business is growing more and more mainstream, and more valuable, every month. To maintain that momentum, and cozy up to the 12% (and growing) demographic of Americans who regularly consume cannabis, you need to engage with them in their language.
Next time you’re networking, hiring service providers for your cannabis company, or igniting a discussion in your local business community, seek out those who are cannabis fluent. Businesses are built on relationships, and relationships are built on communication. Make sure yours flows freely.