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Cannabis Marketing

What Are Table Stakes, and How Do You Claim Cannabis Industry Whitespace?

November 20, 2023

Ever been to a poker game where everyone has the same hand? Likely not, but you can imagine that it's predictable and lacks excitement. In the competitive world of cannabis marketing, playing with table stakes is a bit like that repetitive poker game. Everyone's doing the same thing—yet expecting a royal flush.

But, dear cannabis entrepreneur, if you're aiming to distinguish your brand and seize the crown in this bustling marketplace, it's time you learn more about the game's nuances, and explore the vast expanses of industry whitespace.

Table Stakes: Necessary, But Not a Differentiator

At its essence, table stakes are the basic requirements or standards in any industry. It's like opening a cannabis dispensary and having quality products—that’s expected. Every other dispensary will, or at least should, have quality products too. The problem arises when brands think that merely meeting these standards will set them apart. (Spoiler alert: It won't.)

The cannabis space is replete with brands boasting about their "premium quality,” “organic methods," “hand-cultivated techniques” and “natural flavors.” And while these claims may be critical to your brand’s reputation or desired impact, when everyone's echoing the same sentiment, it tends to become white noise for consumers. 

Table stakes are the baseline. To truly resonate and connect, brands need to dig deeper.

Cannabis Whitespace: The New Frontier

If table stakes are the foundational bricks, then whitespace is the open sky above. It represents the untapped opportunities, the niches not yet fully explored—the areas where you can truly make your mark.

Whitespace in the cannabis industry could be anything from addressing a particular lifestyle need to innovating a product for an overlooked or neglected demographic, or even pioneering a fresh approach to consumer education. Maybe your brand uses a proprietary extraction method. Maybe it’s a fresh approach to customer service. Perhaps you’re a law office or accounting firm that recognized that cannabis brands are different earlier than your peers. Or maybe you always have the next trendy strain in your genetics lineup before other growers. 

Finding and establishing yourself in this whitespace gives your brand the chance to be seen as a trailblazer. And in an industry marked by economic uncertainty and an insatiable appetite for novelty, seizing that whitespace can be a game changer.

The Grasslands Solution: Crafting Your Unique Narrative

Recognizing the need to transcend table stakes and venture into whitespace is one thing. Actually doing it is another. This is where the signature marketing products and services from Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency™ come into play: 

  • Messaging Kickstarter: Begin with clarity. What's your brand's story? Why should consumers choose you over others? Our cannabis branding playbook helps you carve out this narrative, ensuring it's both authentic and compelling.
  • Naming Workshop: A brand's name is often its first impression. But it's not just about being catchy—it's about capturing your essence. Dive deep and find the name that not only stands out, but also stands for something.
  • Message Map: Once you've got your brand narrative and name, the Message Map ensures consistency. Every touchpoint, every interaction is an opportunity to reinforce your unique position in the industry. Don't let it go to waste.

Major Pain Points: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities

The cannabis landscape is as challenging as it is promising. Markets are saturated, economic and societal tides are unpredictable and consumers are increasingly discerning. They don't just want a product—they crave an experience, an education, a brand they can rally behind.

Furthermore, with so many players on the field, differentiation is not just a good-to-have—it's a survival imperative. And this differentiation doesn't come from merely ticking off the standard boxes. It's born through courage—the courage to venture where others haven't, to speak in a tone others aren't, to be the brand that doesn't just sell, but captivates.

The Bottom Line: Claim Your Space

The cannabis industry is not for the faint-hearted. But neither is it for those content with the status quo. In this ever-evolving space, brands have a choice—be one among many, or be the one that many flock to.

That means you not only need to find the whitespace where your brand can grow tall and thrive, you also need to make sure you’re factoring in the basic table stakes for cannabis marketing and PR. After all, differentiating between table stakes and whitespace for your brand doesn’t turn into a winning hand unless you’re building your marketing strategy around those stand-out qualities.

Claiming your messaging whitespace requires these basic marketing table stakes:

  • Compliance with regulations
  • SEO-optimized owned media
  • Social media engagement
  • Establishing expertise, authority and trust
  • Leveraging earned media to take your messaging further
  • Maintaining a consistent brand voice across all marketing and PR channels
  • A fundamental understanding of who cannabis consumers are and their essential pain points

So, when you're crafting an updated marketing strategy or ideating that new product, ask yourself: Are you just playing with table stakes, or are you ready to claim your piece of the cannabis whitespace? If it's the latter, well, the game's about to get a whole lot more interesting—and Grasslands is here for it. Reach out today to up the ante.