Discussing Cannabis Marketing Strategy With Surfside.io

Brandon Quan | Founder

Published: December 1, 2022

I’m joined by our awesome guest, Matt Shait! He’s the VP of operations at Surfside and has spent the last decade in the adtech space. He currently oversees Surfside’s Customer Success, Account Strategy & Ad Ops teams.

He brings his INSANE wealth of experience to the Dispensary Marketing Podcast and I’m super excited to bring this episode to you. You’ll get tons of value from it!


Cannabud Marketing is the top digital marketing agency for Cannabis Dispensaries. Our specialized expertise will put you in the best position to succeed when working with us.

Let’s keep in touch:

👉 For more info find our website: https://cannabudmarketing.com/

👉 Follow us on IG: https://www.instagram.com/cannabudmarketing/



Welcome to the Dispensary Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Brandon Quan, the founder of Cannabud Marketing. we do marketing for dispensaries, both in Canada and the United States. And I’m joined here by Matt.

He’s a VP of Operations at Surfside. his past decade of experience in the ad tech space means he’s the perfect expert, to give us some insights on advertising in the cannabis space. he is also, unfortunately, a major Boston Sports fan. So, you know, the, the most hated ones are the most loved ones.

Pats and Celtics. I’m a Toronto fan myself, so, you know, we have a little bit of a rivalry going on right now, so depending on which side you’re on, you may love or hate him. but welcome to the podcast. Thanks for hopping on. Yeah, excited to be here. Thanks for, thanks for having me. Great, great. So, we’ll start off with this.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Yeah, so I’m Matt. I’ve been in New York City for God over 12 years now. So I guess I’m officially a, a New Yorker, cause I, I hit my decade. I’ve been in ad tech also, as you said, for, for a decade. Worked at a couple different companies, on both the demand and supply side of the business.

So a lot of experience working directly with advertisers and directly with publishers, and across a whole different set of channels as well. I’ve been in search, I’ve been in display, and here at Surfside, you know, we are, we’re pretty channel agnostic, so I’ve had a lot of experience now with everything from display to native to, video and connected tv, out of home, et cetera.

So, yeah, you know, excited to, to be here. I’m definitely a big Boston sports fan. I am, you know, a little bit down on the, on the Patriots right now. It’s been a, it’s been a tough couple years since my man Tom left, but, you know, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll get through it, hopefully. So look, you’ve had enough winning years, so I think it’s about time you let other people, you know, you know, have some fun.

I definitely cannot complain, that’s for sure. . Awesome. So, thank you for the intro. thank you for coming on the show as well. Really, really appreciate it. So just give us a tiny, little bit about, insight about Surfside, and then we can touch on the rest of their, the rest of our questions after that.

Yeah, absolutely. So we are a sort of like a combination of a cdp, a customer data platform, and a dsp, a demand side platform. So we make it really easy for customers to connect and onboard their first party data, through direct integrations that we have with companies like Dutchy and iHeart, Jane, as well as like CRM providers like Spring Big and Clavio.

Allow customers to then onboard that data into our platform and then activate against it. So basically by media, really across the entire digital ecosystem. You know, our, our goal is basically to simplify, our customer’s marketing stacks. so, you know, especially if you’re from one of these bigger CPG type brands, you might be working with like a live ramp who will help you onboard your data.

You might be working with a demand side platform, like a trade desk. All of those onboardings take tons of time, tons of effort, tons of money, six, seven figures usually. you know, we’re really trying to make it so it is super, super easy, to get going, and, and, and start buying media, and, and, and reaching new and existing customers, without a lot of those, like, barriers to entry and all those costs.

Right, right. So let’s bring it a little bit back just for the people who might not understand some of the data chat. So, first party data, what exactly do you mean by that? That is your owned earned data, right? So your, your customers, people that have come into your dispensary, bought some flour, bought some products, giving you their email address, giving you their phone number.

I think it’s one of the most important concepts that business owners really in any sector can, should be focusing on, is making sure that you are keeping solid up to date records of your customers. and then all of your touch points with them, are they coming to your website? Are they buying in your stores? and so, yeah, when we think about that first party data concept, it’s really like your data.

You’re not getting it from, an outside provider or buying it. It’s, it’s really a customer who has chosen to engage with, with you, right? Right. So these are customers, or you know, people who have already purchased where you possibly got their phone number, email at checkout. It could be some sort of newsletter that you have available.

It could also be some sort of giveaways that you have. and a lot of retailers and brands have this information. And then what Surfside does is help leverage this information and puts them out to different marketing channels so that you can then retarget these people and then also target, people that look alike in the sense of demographics.

Is that, you know, in a nutshell, what you guys do that, that, that’s definitely it in, in a nutshell. Yeah, I mean, I think the, the, the good thing, or the great thing about having all first party data, and then with Surfside being able to onboard and activate against it, is we can really tailor different programs, right? based on some of the characteristics of, of the data, right? So you’re gonna have some people in your customer pool who haven’t purchased from you in the last last 90 days, or the last 120 days.

You’re gonna wanna reach them with a message like, Hey, come back. You know, like, we’ll give you a special deal. Here’s 25% off if you come by with us. on the flip side, you’re gonna have some people who are super, super loyal who are, you know, coming in every week. Maybe you don’t wanna target them with any sort of ads, cuz that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s money that you’re, you’re, you already have in, in, in the bank.

So, you know, what we allow you to do is to both target and then suppress. and so you can reach customers with very specific tailored messages, that are gonna be most relevant to them because, you know, there’s nothing worse, right? Than like, you go into a store, you buy something and then, or, or even online, you buy something and then five minutes later you’re seeing an ad for that product, right? Right.

Like, I just bought it. I don’t, I don’t need this belt. so what Surfside allows you to do is make sure, okay, cool, you know, we’ve, we’ve reached this person, we’ve tracked them from before they were, a customer through to purchase, and now great. We can either retarget them with new different offers, or suppress against them so that we’re not reaching them with an ad that’s, that’s not super relevant, because again, maybe they’ve just purchased.

Perfect. So if I were to boil it down, kind of the two main things you touched on was, the first one is just efficiency of marketing spend, right? Like, if somebody already purchased product from you within a specific window, whether it’s 10 minutes a day, two days, whatever it is, you just wanna make sure you don’t retarget them and waste the marketing dollars.

And then two, on the other side of the equation, you would have customers who have spent money with you, maybe they came in and they were consistent every single week, and then boom, all of a sudden they stopped paying. Maybe they went to another customer, maybe they just forgot about you, whatever it is.

But what you, what you guys, allow the, again, the retailers and the brands is to retarget these people or reactivate the customers, bringing them back into the ecosystem of what you’re selling, correct? Yeah, exactly. Right. And I think like a really tangible use case would be, there’s gonna be a pretty big pool of customers that are, or, or just prospects that are coming to your website, they’re exploring, maybe they’re clicking on a couple pages, they might even add items to their cart, but they’re not actually completing that purchase.

I’m sure all of us, myself included, right? You’ve added it, you’re like, do I really wanna buy this right now? Maybe, maybe not. and so what we can do is serve ads to them again in the future where they are spending time, you know, whether that’s in different apps and mobile web, on YouTube, and really get them, push them through the funnel to, to purchase.

Which I think is, is a super powerful and important component of your marketing strategy because if somebody’s already taken that first step coming towards your, to come to your website, you know, you’re, you’re that much closer to converting them into becoming a, a, a customer, right? Right.

They’re, they’re much lower down in the funnel. The chances of you turning them into somebody that’s actually going to exchange and give you money, for the the goods that you’re providing them is a lot higher than if you’re just gonna randomly kind of like, just do, do just anything. Right? Yeah. Yeah.

Awesome. Exactly. Awesome. So, I think we know that reactivating and also just kind of getting the awareness of, you know, the retailers and the brands and stuff is, is really, really important. so how exactly do you guys do that? Like, what is the process? So I give you my first party data, right? Here are all my customers, here are all these things.

How do you then do exactly what we just spoke about, you know, retarget, you know, reactivate, and then, you know, make sure that that’s efficient in that, we are not continually marketing to people who are just paying us money, whether or not they would’ve seen her at anyways. Yeah. So I think a lot of what we’ve just talked about is more of the customer data platform component, right? So that’s all about getting your data in, understanding your customers, understanding the actions that they’ve taken on your website or in your store.

The follow up to that though is what do you actually do with that data Exactly. And how do you activate it? And so that’s the dsp the demand side platform component of our platform. and really that’s what’s going to allow you to reach people to make sure you’re reaching them with unique messaging or the right messaging to make sure you’re reaching them, wherever they are spending time, like I mentioned, in specific apps or on specific properties.

The DSP or the demand side platform is really what allows that activation flexibility, because that’s what it’s built to do, right? It’s built to, to ingest, basically a trillions of, of, of, potential ads that could be served across the, the web on any given day. and then say, okay, you know what? Like, here are the 10,000 that I actually wanna buy, here are the 1 million that I actually wanna buy.

Right? and, and connect that to the, to the messaging that, we’re, we’re targeting. So the demand side platform basically allows you to set up these sorts of campaigns with different rules and guidelines and creatives, to make sure that we are taking that data and then reaching people with the, the right message.

So Right. If, if we have a campaign set up to, retarget people that have abandoned carts, you know, we, we, we might go on and, and create creatives that say, Hey, you know, like, you’ve got stuff in your cart, you know, you should go and complete that purchase. Or it doesn’t even have to be like that specific.

It could just be, you know, come back to us, whatever, or some sort of engaging ad Yeah. To get people to click and engage and then, and then complete that, that purchase. Right. Right. So as we know in the cannabis space, there’s like, it’s seemingly more places that you can’t advertise and you can advertise.

So when you are retargeting, you know, the people that in this example are doing the ad to carp, where exactly are you retargeting them? Yeah, I mean, so to be honest with you, one of the biggest surprises for me having been, you know, in ad tech for as long as I have is, is actually, actually it hasn’t been as restrictive in cannabis as I thought it was going to be.

So we basically have access to tons of different supply sources, both direct with publishers, or through SSPs, which are these supply side platforms effectively, like the big aggregators of, of publishers, this is what, like Daily Beast or New York Times, they’re going to connect into these supply side platforms and then offer their inventory up Tobe purchase.

So, you know, really the possibilities are endless because we are connected in to a wide variety of supply. and generally that will just become sort of one attribute, in terms of what sort of campaign do we want to run, you know, if the main goal of our campaign is awareness, for example, just we want people who are, who, who, who you, who you really want to like, understand what your brand is, what you’re offering, you know, where it’s located, et cetera.

You know, maybe we want to use some really premium publishers and, and we can basically set up these deals so that okay, you know, you’re serving your ads in the Daily Beast on the homepage, like right above the fold. so that it’s super easy for, for people to see, you know, if our goal is retargeting customers that have come to your website already, the, the property is really second.

So, like, to be honest, in those cases, like I don’t even care what the publishers are for my own, you know, if I had a business because really what I want, what I care about is those users, I care about people, that have been on the website. And so whether they’re, you know, playing Sudoku or they’re reading the New York Times, right? I don’t really care.

I I just wanna reach them and get them back onto my website. Right. Right, right. So would you say it’s fair for, let’s say, you know, the smaller owners or the people that don’t have such large data sets, let’s just say they’re just starting out, they have 50, a hundred, maybe even only just 500 emails, right? Obviously with the larger data, size, you have a larger sample size, you can kind of do be better targeting and better experiments.

Would you say it’s fair for people who want to quote unquote reactivate as like, let’s just say a version one to just like utilize their email list in terms of just consistently sending out messages? Cuz even though you can’t do the same like attribution strategies as you’re talking about, or even reaching out to these kind of major publishing platforms that allow you to kind of advertise and retarget, a lot of times that I’m seeing with at least these retailers is that they have a list of phone numbers and emails, but they’re not even using that.

So I was thinking that phase one would very much be like, at least use your email list and send out something consistent. Yeah. So, you know, I’m a little biased here. I did spend eight years at, at, at Live Intent, which was all based in email. So Right. What I can tell you is that sending emails is the most important, easiest, best way to, continue to retain and grow, you know, your customer, customer base, especially, you know, when you’re just starting out, because these people have given you their email, they want you to send them, messages and, you know, the, it’s, it’s gonna be cheap, efficient, easy, you know, you have to be careful not to overdo it, right? Cause nobody wants to get seven emails a day, or frankly, sometimes I don’t even wanna get one email a day.

Maybe it’s one email a week. Yep. so you do have to be careful in terms of like frequency messaging, et cetera. but it is probably the lowest hanging fruit, especially for brands as they’re, or, or retailers as they’re starting out. number one rule would be get emails upon purchase, right? Yes.

Like, if somebody’s walking into your store, can I have your email to send your receipt, get emails, get emails, get emails. Yeah. and then yeah, sending, sending emails and, and keeping people engaged is, is a super great start to, to your, you know, marketing strategy. and then, so for example, like let’s say somebody has 500 or a thousand emails.

some of the strategies I just talked about, you know, at Surfside we wouldn’t necessarily need to even use what we would focus on as prospecting. And so what we would try and do is use our massive, you know, data set of cannabis data of cannabis purchasers, and, and engagers with, with, with cannabis content, et cetera, right? And then really try and prospect net new people at the top of the funnel, drive them into your website, and then hopefully they’ll purchase, give you their email, and you can kind of keep that cycle going.

So, you know, one thing we in particular sort of pride ourselves on is, is that like, full funnel approach. So making sure that we’re not just saying, you know, what works for, you know, cresco or truly or pharma can, like, that’s probably not gonna be the same thing for somebody who has one or two dispensaries because the scale of data, and the scale of awareness is just not gonna be the same.

So, yeah, I would say, you know what, what would be a great strategy for a smaller customer would be, you know, send emails and then simultaneously, you know, you can work with a partner like Surfside and really try and build awareness. So just drive people to your website. and frankly, you can collect emails on your website without even getting, purchases or conversions.

You can say, Hey, you know, 15% off, give your email. Right. And that, and that might incentivize people to purchase right then, but worst case scenario, you’re getting their email and then you can send it to them and get them, down down the funnel that way. Exactly, exactly. For everyone who wasn’t paying attention, that should have been paying attention.

Emails, emails, emails, it’s like one of the lowest hanging fruit that you can possibly use. super low cost, you can get even super complicated doing segmentation and then workflows and doing all this stuff, AB testing. But you can ignore all of that stuff if you don’t send out emails consistently, because like if you don’t do that, then like, you, you can’t optimize for anything, right? So everyone is listening, send out emails, .

Yeah. And, and just like, you know, even if you’re maybe not quite as familiar with some of this stuff, right? Like part of the value prop as well at Surfside is that we are a managed service. So we, we can help do this, right? We can, you can onboard your data with us, we can take a look at it and we can tell you like, okay, here are the segments we’d recommend building, we abandon cart, you know, super frequent purchasers, dormant users, whatever.

You know, it’ll, it’ll vary from, from client to client, but I think that’s, that’s really part of the value of working a partner like us, is that we are gonna be very consultative and, and, and make it work for you, not just kind of like one size fits all. Good luck, you know, and, and we’ll see you in a couple months.

Right? Right, right. so use the word funnel a little bit. one of my favorite kind of sales and marketing , I don’t know if you call it a strategy, a tactic or whatever it is. but how would you e ecosystem, maybe ecosystem. Exactly. So how would you explain what a funnel is, and how do customers normally go from a stranger to a paying client or customer.

, how does that, the, the way that I would think about the funnel is sort of like the customer journey, which, you know, a little buzzwordy, but like you’re, there’s a certain point where you either aren’t aware of, of a brand or you haven’t engaged with them, and that you’re going to be basically like, you know, outside of the funnel at that point, because it effectively the entire world, you know, exists in that plane, right? When we think about the funnel, what we’re talking about is really how do we get people, first of all, aware.

of your brand, you know, making sure that they know, okay, you know, I’m gonna shop at Whole Foods versus Kroger or whatever. and then it kind of narrows down from there into people who actually purchase our loyal customers, et cetera, right? So you, you, you, the reason we call it a funnel is because it starts wide with everybody who has ever engaged with your brand, been to your website, you know, clicked on an ad, et cetera, and then you can kind of narrow it down to, okay, maybe it’s somebody who has read a blog post.

, maybe it’s somebody who’s made one purchase. and then even further down it’s like, okay, these are my loyal customers, et cetera. So, you know, the goal is really to continue to feed people into the top of the funnel, to, to get more people aware and then push them down to purchase.

Because the more purchasing, the more money, you know, everybody’s making. and, and the more successful that your, your business is, right? Right. So, top of funnel, just the general awareness stuff, like, if you run any sort of business, technically you can say the whole world is your customer, but they’re probably not .

So you wanna get deeper and more concise and more detailed in terms of your customer demographic. So for the retailers out there, you would probably start with, Hey, okay, you own a cannabis store, okay, cannabis customers are one, and then you can solely figure out your additional demographic, right? If you’re in a higher income area or a lower income area, you can then tailor your headlines, your copy, the marketing material you sent out to specific, specifically resonate with the people that you’re looking to target.

So if you are in a college slash university area, you can probably guess that, you know, these guys and girls don’t have too much money to spend, but they’re also younger, right? So when you figure out what your client demographic is or your customer demographic is, it might be tailored towards the more like, slaying colloquial terms relating to, the university or college saying that you have like a, a discount for anybody that yells in whatever the mascot name is, just for fun as a gorilla marketing campaign.

And then as you continue figuring out what your customer looks like and your copy then mimics the thing that resonates most with them, that’s the thing that’s going to translate people into wanting to spend more money with you because you’re now emotionally polarizing them to being like, yes, this is who I wanna work with, or, no, this is not who I wanna work with.

Because if you’re just kind of in the middle of kind of selling things like, Hey, maybe you can have this, we sell it to older people, but also to younger people. Hey, we sell this like super, super luxurious product, but this super cheap, cheap product as well. If you don’t pick a side, by you doing that, you’re essentially like the whole, what is it? the, the jack of all trades master of none, right?

. Yeah, exactly. So the funnel really helps boil it down. but what you guys helped do is really help with the top of the funnel stuff, even the middle of funnel stuff, and then tracking what the bottom of funnel stuff looks like in terms of the first party data, optimize that, and then go back to the top of the funnel so that you can make the whole funnel purchase more efficient.

Is that the gist of it? Yeah. And I think the, the, the other key is like, how do you connect your marketing tactics to different stages of, of the funnel? So a good example would be like connected tv. So if you watch on Apple TV or Roku, whatever, and you see an ad, you, you, you kind of can’t purchase right from that ad, right? For the most part, if you’re watching on tv, you see it.

But, so that, that’s a really good top funnel tactic because generally people are very engaged when they’re, you know, watching whatever they’re, they’re watching. So, as we kind of go lower in the funnel, what we’re trying to do is really get that like purchase action or that engagement action. so what we’ll try and do is tailor approaches to different stages in the funnel.

And you can also, you know, determine your investment in, in those different stages. it’s something we look at all, all the time. You know, if, if, if a client is only driving, you know, four or five online sales per day, right? We, we can’t just immediately launch a campaign and try and drive conversion, conversion conversion because you don’t even have enough people coming to your website to potentially convert.

And what we have to do is start and get people to your website. So present them with, some sort of awareness offering, which again, there are, there are many, everything from video to, just traditional kind of display ads, native ads, YouTube, whatever it is. we need to get them just into your, your website and start to, to build that relationship with your brand so that we can drive conversions.

You know, I’d say that’s, that’s one of the misconceptions that we’ll see a lot, which is just, you know, I’ve just launched my website. I have a couple, couple people on every day, like, you know, make me a million dollars in a month, and it’s like, I wish I could do that. but, but really we have to, it’s, it’s, you can’t cut the line, you know, it’s kind of a step by step process.

And, and really to start with awareness before you can build down into anything more detailed. Right? Right. So let’s touch on that. So in terms of the expectations of performance, but not only that, like how do you go through and optimize a campaign? And I know, I know you just touched on it, like, if you’re just starting out, you don’t have a lot of data, you need to focus more on top of funnel stuff in terms of awareness.

But whenever a client comes to you and says, Hey, Matt, do do your magic, you know, how do you step by step, go through and optimize, I guess their campaign for max maximum effectiveness? Yeah, I’d say, you know, there’s a couple general rules of thumb that we’ll use, and then it will vary on a case by case basis, depending on what’s actually, you know, going on with the customer and a lot of the stuff we talked about.

So generally it starts with two things, which is your creative and your landing page. So if we’re not seeing good clickthrough rates and good engagement, that’s a great sign that like, there’s something wrong with your creative. and at this point, you know, we’re 20 years or so into to general digital practices with everybody from Google to Facebook, et cetera.

There are some really straightforward things that we can do. And we actually have a, a, a really well built out creative services team that will build creatives for our customers. but there’s a lot that we can do to just drive those engagement rates up. Because if people aren’t clicking and they aren’t engaging with your ad, you know, that, that it doesn’t really matter what else we do down down the line.

Right? so that’s where I usually like to start, which is like, you know, industry standard display click through rate is about 0.1%. How do we, a, are we even there? We might be lower than that, which would definitely be a creative issue. or b, if, if we’re around 0.1, can we entice customers to be 5.2 0.3? and so there’s a lot we can do with creative strategy just right off the bat.

Different creative concepts. you know, they’re, they’re oftentimes we’ll get ads or whatever from customers and it’ll be like 17 different promos. And what I, what I always tell people is like, look, we just need one promo. Because for the most part, you know, if somebody is deal conscious, if they’re price conscious, like they’re gonna see the promo and they’re gonna engage.

Yeah. So what you should do is have one promo concept, and then, you know what, maybe it’s one premium flower concept or one cart concept or a, you know, big bunch of different products inside of it, what, whatever it may be. So, creative concepts, strategies is, is really where I would start from optimization, right? And then I would follow up with landing page.

So once somebody clicks on the ad, where do they land? and this is a huge opportunity and it’s, it’s also a huge place where you can go wrong. because what you want to do is get people to, I mean, it, it will depend on the strategy, right? Of a, a top of funnel awareness versus purchase. But, you know, for, for this example, let’s say we want somebody to, to, to actually convert and, you know, place an order for pickup up, what you wanna do is drop them on a relevant page that a aligns with the creative.

So what they just clicked on, you know, if, if non-cannabis example, if I click on an ad for, for shoes and you take me to a backpacks page, I’m kind of like, what? Why? Yeah. so it should be a relevant page. and it should make it super, super easy for people to actually purchase and, and engage. you know, this is definitely, a challenge.

And, and I see, you know, for example, with some delivery brands, they want you to enter, you know, your zip code before you even get on the page, but that might just cause 50% of people. Cuz if, if I don’t know your brand, that might just cause a bunch of people to, to drop off and say, now I’ll come back later.

So long way of saying net net, I think creative, how you engage, what’s on the ad itself, and then the landing page where you’re really driving people to are gonna be like the most widely applicable optimization. and then from there, it, it really is client specific. And that’s, that’s where we and our, our, our different support teams, really pride ourselves on looking into our client’s data, understanding what’s going on on their website, how many people are adding to cart, how many, what percentage of people are converting.

And then from there we can dig into different audience building strategies and stuff to try and, to try and maximize performance. Right? Right. So, so what you do is you look, the funnel , you, you look at the, the top of funnel activities and you’re like, Hey, okay, what is our engagement on the first thing that a potential customer is seeing? So you put an ad up there and it’s like, ah, that catches my eye.

And then on a certain number of people are gonna click it out of a thousand people, 10 people, a hundred people would be great . but they would click it. And then based on kind of, industry standards, you would then be be like, okay, this creative is good enough for us to continue optimizing down the funnel.

And then once the engagement is made, you then take a look at the specific page that they land on and then see what the conversions are from there. So for out of every hundred people that end up clicking the ad, what is the percentage of people that then end up purchasing the product, right?

And then you then start at baseline, you know, what is industry standard, and then move on from there. That’s, you know, again, the, the overall of of kind of the, I was gonna say marketing 1 0 1, but it’s like science 1 0 1, the, the scientific method where you have the hypothesis, you test hypothesis if it’s right, good.

If it’s wrong, then you have to test something else though, right? Yeah. And, and most of the time, like it is pretty simple in the sense of we’re not trying to do rocket science and, and make it overly complex or non-transparent. It’s like, look, you can see it in the data yourself. You have, you know, a million people adding to cart and then only like 10 people purchasing.

So like something is happening between when they add the product to cart to when they purchase. Let’s dig in and see what that actually is. Yeah. And I mean, you can use a strategy for pretty much every part of your business, right? If you are finding, a lot of people are walking into your store and nobody’s purchasing something is wrong, and the conversion of people walking into your store and then actually making a purchase, whether it’s your bud tenders are very rude people.

Whether it’s your store smells, whether it’s you don’t have inventory, there is something that is affecting how many people are actually making a purchase, right? So that’s one aspect. Another aspect is testing out for emails, right? You have a big email list and you send out, an email saying, Hey, get this deal.

And you realize that the percentages of people who purchased the deal that you sent out via email is wrong, but even higher up in the funnel, what do people see on emails? They see the subject line and they see the first sentence of the email. So you can then go higher up in the funnel on the email funnel and be like, Hey, what are my open rates? Right? Because if your open rates are not big enough, right? Then you know that you have a, like a hook problem.

You can’t get people to open up your email , even worse, if you have a branding issue, right? And you’ve just sent spam emails for the past six months, people are probably just not gonna open up your email anyways. but that’s, you know, a whole other conversation in of itself, .

But so touching on email and all of that stuff, what would you say would be like the main, aside from obviously adding surfside to the marketing stack, would be the main fundamentals of marketing for, for retailers? Yeah, I think to take a step back, the first thing that I is super, super crucial, especially in today’s world, is gonna be data completeness and data cleanliness.

So, you know, we for example, have lots of integrations with like point of sale providers, right? That data is only gonna be as good as what you’ve entered into the system. So whether that’s inventory levels, brand names, et cetera, the, the cleaner that data is, the better analysis you can do and say, man, we’re really selling a ton of this.

We should talk more of it. Or, this is not moving at all. Maybe we could create a promo. So, I think just, you know, at its most basic level, really spending that extra hour or two to have clean data in your system is gonna be hugely beneficial and it like reduces the debt for your kind of organization down the road.

Because once you have it all messy, it’s very, very, very hard to kind of untangle. So I, I do think that is kind of like where it all starts. you know, from, from there, I do think it is about realistically understanding where are my sales coming from today, where do I think they can be coming from tomorrow? And then how do I attach different strategies to that? So there are like fundamentals, like email, right? We talked about it at Link, but you should definitely be sending emails at, at some, regular cadence, text messages as well.

You know, there’s, there’s lots of options for how to do that. but you know, every, every big brand that I’ve ever thought from, whether it’s crate and Barrel or RA Bone or whatever, they’re sending me texts like three times a week, Hey, 20% off lights, whatever. Its right. you know, really I I would encourage, the cannabis brands to emulate a lot of the strategies that you can see in different sectors.

So, direct to consumer brands like a Bombas Socks, they’re, they’re a great example of somebody who has grown, and is using a bunch of different strategies in order to, to execute on that. So, you know, frankly from like a fundamental standpoint, it’s, it’s going to be, it, it it really is about taking stock of the kind of flow of, of your customers.

, and then trying to maximize returns from each stage. so, you know, it’s hard cause it’s not necessarily one size fits all for everybody. Yeah. but again, if you know, 80 to 90% of your customers are coming in store to purchase, you know, you, you gotta figure out a way when they’re in the store, tell them about your website, you know, give them a special offer, loyalty programs.

I think a loyalty program is something that is super, super key. especially in, in a world where, you know, it seems like every day customers have more options and they have more places that they can go. Yep. and so how do you really thinking about building that brand loyalty is, is something I would strongly encourage, cannabis brands to, to focus on.

And it’s something we can definitely help with at, at Surfside. And then just in general though, because, as the markets move and it becomes legal, you know, you can really study what’s worked in what, what hasn’t in different sectors. You know, alcohol is a great example. You know, there’s, Casa Amigos is sure it’s fine.

Tequila, why have they been able to be so successful and not in large part because of George Clooney and all the branding, you know, he, he’s done. Yeah. so there’s just a ton of examples and parallels, from, from other industries verticals that I think can, can really help inspire, brands.

And, and I see that as like kind of the next frontier. you know, it’s, it’s a little bit hard for me to say because I’ve lived in New York for so long and we obviously haven’t even really given out licenses yet. but I do think that that brand loyalty, brand awareness, like, you know, you, you want me coming to the same store, buying the same brand, you know, every time I purchase.

And so you can kind of get a leg up by focusing on those sorts of strategies, right? Right. And I mean, I tell us people all the time, like even if you have no clue on how to do anything, right, just, just pick an adjacent industry. You know, I think the alcohol industry is, probably a perfect example because again, they have their own regulations and restrictions in what they can and can’t do.

But like, just go to their website, right? If these guys are making tens, hundreds of millions of dollars, you can bet they already did all the marketing research, right? Just you would, if you don’t owe anything and you don’t have any data and you’re just starting out, it’s almost best to not necessarily copy Exactly.

Just follow the exact framework that all of these other companies are doing, and then you can tweak after that because, you know, unless you’re some sort of genius prodigy, and you know exactly what needs to be done, then everything is gonna be perfect. just taking the information from what the big dogs have been doing already and just doing it yourself at least to start off with, will give you probably one of the best starting points on what you can and can’t do.

On the loyalty side, another good example that I like to use is like, is Starbucks, because. Starbucks, despite there just being cafes on literally every single intersection, there was a study and their lifetime value of a customer’s like almost 15 or $14,000. And it’s like, how do they keep, you know, people coming back despite just coffee being this relative commodity that you can pick up anywhere.

, and aside from branding, the loyalty part is, is, is really, really important. Right? so if, if, if nothing else, you can see and take a look at what some of the big guys are doing and just like sign up for their email list, sign up for their SMS marketing. Like, you may not want direct messages from them, but you can then essentially what would be called funnel hack.

You can funnel hack the stuff that they have going on, see if you, you know, go to their ad to cart, what type of popups pop up, see if you stay on their website, if a popup comes up, what types of discounts they’re giving, so that they can capture customer email. cuz all of these things are super, super important and exactly to your point.

Like there isn’t necessarily a one size fit all thing, but at least if you kind of see what best practices are from what other people are doing, it will, you know, set you off on the right foot at least. Yeah. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Right. and frankly, a lot of these companies, whether they’re in cannabis, giant multi-state operators or outside of cannabis, have spent, you know, tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to, to learn this before.

Yeah. and, you know, if, if nothing else, it’s a great case study to see what, what has worked and what and what hasn’t worked for them. And especially if you think about alcohol, I mean, right now the restrictions on, on alcohol advertising, I’d say are even more onerous than than cannabis from, from what I’ve seen.

So, you know, you really have a leg up, you can still take on a lot of these digital strategies and drive conversions directly online. Yeah. Whereas, you know, alcohol is still just a lot of awareness and then it’s like, you know, go into the liquor store and buy casamigos as opposed to, you know, directly on casamigos.com or whatever.

So. Exactly. Exactly. another really big thing that you touched on that I also think is important is, is branding. Right? And I think a lot of the strategies, tactics, techniques that we were speaking about before we’re very, I don’t wanna say short term thinking, but they’re very like, you know, how do we immediately get a customer within the next couple weeks, right?

, whereas branding takes a little bit longer, but the advantage of branding is that you then really get to keep a customer because they will then drive an extra couple miles, to go to your brand or to get your product versus the competitor. And then you have the advantage of also, you know, not saying that you’re just gonna charge as much as you possibly can, but you do get that kind of brand margin in that, you know, if you buy a t-shirt with a little swoosh on it, you’re gonna pay more than if you go to Walmart and get the same T-shirt.

Same thing if you go and you get a Valencia t-shirt that’s gonna cost 30 times more than the Nike t-shirt and a hundred times more than the Walmart t-shirt, but effectively it’s all the same. They can say, Hey, it’s different, but like, it covers your body, it does the same stuff. so let’s, let’s touch a little bit on, on branding and, and the importance of branding or, you know, why you think branding is important.

Yeah. you know, for me especially, this will be super interesting as, as New York hands out licenses and I can kind of see it firsthand, but I think it’s the biggest opportunity for, for all of these, these brands and companies today, to really differentiate because you, you can kind of look at it from two perspectives.

You’re gonna have your price conscious customers who are always gonna just say like, okay, what’s the best deal? You know, I can get announce for 50 bucks. Awesome. Yeah. and, and you know, I think at the end of the day, you’re gonna be hard pressed to win those customers because it’s a race to the bottom.

So wherever it’s cheapest is where they’re likely gonna go. And you wanna be competitive, but you can’t build your whole strategy around just, just the price conscious consumer. So on the other side of things, you know, I think there’s an opportunity from a quality perspective to really focus and build a brand that people trust.

, and, and that people want to purchase. you know, a good example of this in my opinion is like a house plant. I think they do an awesome job, just, you know, setting death rogan and celebrity relationship aside. Like, you know, if you follow their Instagram, like they just really have this, this branding that, you know, that’s, that’s one of the brands that I wanna try when it comes to, to New York.

So, I, I see a huge opportunity to build relationships with customers and trust and focus more on the quality versus just saying, again, you can get as much as you want for as little as possible. Right. because there’s a huge pool, you know, of, of consumers who are going to really, you know, want to have something differentiated, some specific quality, you know, something that is, that is really, it doesn’t even have to be like upscale, fancy foofy.

It’s not that it’s just, you know, more of a, specific, very focused brand message. I, I, I would say, and, you know, a lot of the customers we’re, we’re talking to are definitely thinking through this as they, you know, rebrand and update the, the, their, their brands. but I do see it as a, as a huge opportunity, because I think a lot of people are sort of today just like, let me go in.

I’m gonna click pre-rolls and see what’s available. Right. As opposed to specifically asking for, you know, a a a brand versus another. So to me that that’s a huge, huge opportunity, for, for the future. What, what do you think goes into making a good brand? Because I don’t think it’s as simple as just hiring any celebrity and then boom, all of a sudden.

, it’s the biggest, you know, baddest boss everywhere. and I’ve been really trying to boil it down like, what, what is it? And I think ultimately it’s like, it’s that again, that emotionally polarizing thing that pull, but like at what point is it like, so for example, the Seth Rogan example, right? Like, why is it that you want to try specifically Seth Rogans? Is, is it because you watched, pineapple Express however many years ago that followed his journey all the way up and he is made you laugh, so that’s why you want to try it.

Is it because of his laugh? Like, you know, I think there’s so many good things, but what do you think really makes a good brand that would really make people want to, like you said, buy the product and go and actually go outta their way to buy it? For the house plan example? You know, I think the, the, the celebrity connection was awesome for top of funnel, right? That’s how I became aware of the brand, right? but then subsequently why I’ve continued to follow them is much more because of the content that they’ve produced.

And if you go on their website and how they talk about their flower, how they talk about the pre-rolls, how they talk about what they’re doing. how they put it together, I think it all looks really good. Good. And so, you know, setting, setting them aside in general, I think it is really just the attention to detail across the board, right? Packaging is super important, quality is super important, you know, the message that you communicate on your packaging, on your, your brand is, is all really, really key, right? I mean, it’s, it’s cliche, but it’s the same.

Like, why do people like Apple more than they like, you know, Microsoft sort of computers, right? It’s, it’s that total package. It’s the look and feel, the ease of use. So, you know, I see a lot of parallels in, in the sense of, you know, and, and again with regulations and stuff, it’s not, you can’t just put anything there and, you know, replicate an apple, MacBook, whatever.

But, I do think that to looking at the total package, looking at, you know, how do you speak about your product on your website, how does that translate and is it consistent with the packaging when somebody’s buying it? You know, obviously the actual quality and the experience, you know, when you’re engaging is, is, is super key too, right? so, you know, and I think to your point, like, it, it’s not easy and it’s not just like you can pick a celebrity endorser and then all of a sudden, boom, it’s all amazing.

And, you know, I think there’s plenty of brands that have invested in, in celebrities in all sectors and Right. You know, you can’t, you can’t just do that. so it’s, it’s really about the connection. And I think just if it was one word, it’s like consistency, right? Like what do you expect across all phases, again, from the website to the packaging to the product? Like, it all needs to flow and it needs to be consistent, with the message that the brand is trying to communicate, right? I, I, look, I wrote that down exactly.

I mean, it’s, I, I think it’s the, the mission of the company, but then the company also being consistent with what they say. So if they say, you know, whatever it is, we have the highest quality product or the best thing ever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can say that, but it’s another thing actually committing to the action and continually doing it over and over and over again, right? So if you are a sustainable business and you wanna make sure that, you know, you’re the most environmentally conscious company out there, you can’t just say you are, you would have to possibly, I don’t know, grow your plant outdoors.

So you use the power of the sun and then you go find a vendor that has sustainable packaging that you can then reuse. And, and, and I think that is what would really draw in somebody to invest not just money, but just like themselves into the company. and I think that’s exactly it. It’s whatever the mission of the company is, plus the consistency of the action done over a specific length of time will then contribute to how well branded that company is.

And I think if that’s the equation, that would be at least a good starting point. yeah, definitely. I think the, the mission is, is super key and it, you know, can kind of sound cliche or corny, but you know, and it does, it doesn’t have to be to be, it’s like, what, what, why are you in business? Like what are you, what are you actually trying to do? And you know, if the answer is you wanna service price conscious customers, you know, Walmart is a multi-trillion dollar cus company that is, serving price conscious customers.

So there’s a huge market for, for all groups, but I think you have to kind of choose something and focus on it. because, you know, if you’re both trying to be upscale, you know, fancy expensive eight, but then selling, you know, an ounce for 20 bucks, like, like people are gonna look at that and people aren’t stupid, they’re gonna look at that and be like, what, is this the same thing? Am I just paying more for less? Like, what’s actually going on here? Yeah.

Yeah. You’re not, you’re not emotionally polarizing them, right? . But at the same time, if you’re, if you’re bringing customers that really, really, really love your business and what your brand is all about, you’re also gonna have customers that really, really hate and, you know, don’t like what they’re all about just by the nature of what you’re doing, right? So, if anyone’s building out a brand, that is something that you need to be aware of as well.

At what point do you think, so, you know, like you said, the foundation of everything is probably the most important thing. If I don’t give surfside a good data set of my customers and it’s just random emails, you’re not gonna be able to provide a good marketing campaign, right? Same thing. If I don’t have a good mission of the company, then it’s not gonna resonate with anyone.

At what point in time, again, this is just a general question, would you think that it’s time for somebody to pivot once they’ve selected the, the direction the company wants to go? You know, I think it’s, it’s, it’s being, it’s, it’s just, it starts with kind of like honesty, to, to yourself, right? And, and so even if we’re talking about like advertising and working with Surfside example, right? If you, if you don’t have an amazing email list, like that’s totally fine.

We can still run a successful campaign for you, right? Let’s just have that conversation from the get go. Be like, you know what, CRM is not my strength right now. Let’s prospect net new customers and, you know, leverage surf side’s cannabis audiences so that we can reach those customers and we’ll focus way more on, you know, the creative messaging and again, that landing page.

So I think it’s about kind of setting your own ego or, or, unrealistic thoughts aside and just, you know, taking a step back, being, being realistic, having expectations, and then understanding, you know, if you fall in short or if, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re really achieving the mission that you set out to, to achieve.

So, yeah, I mean, I, I don’t think there’s like one perfect formula for it, right? But I, I do think that being realistic, taking stock, and again, that step back understanding where you are with your data cleanliness and with the data and, you know, are you col like, are you just doing the basics well, right? You can probably start and just understand like, am I asking people who walk into my store for their email address? Like that’s something you can change within five minutes, and that doesn’t take a lot of investment.

That’s like, you know, train your bud tenderers, train your staff, make sure that they are asking for email addresses. Yeah. with every transaction. So you know, there’s, there’s different steps that we can take. I think it’s something where we can have that kind of consultative conversation with, with you.

Or obviously, you know, people can kind of do, do research on their own as, as well, and, and, and think through it. Right. Right, right. So we touched on a lot. We touched on, you know, optimizing the serve side campaigns, talking about top of funnel stuff to bottom of funnel stuff, how Surfside leverages the first party data and essentially helps optimize that stuff as well.

You know, the reactivation of campaigns, which is really, really important. and just getting good lists and importance of branding and all of that stuff. so out of all those things, you know, is there anything, that you think that we’re missing in terms of what, you know, these retailers or brands need to do to help kind of like, take their business to the next level? I mean, I think we were pretty comprehensive.

And so it’s really about, like I said, picking your spots and like, you know, you’re, I would much rather, you know, invest a dollar in a program as opposed to like, you know, 10 dimes . So that, that, that is kind of like, you know, the, because we’ve talked about so much, you know, maybe you wanna like, try and do everything, like don’t, right? Like start somewhere, be, be very specific in terms of what you’re trying to achieve.

You know, again, from a search side perspective, we can have lots of conversations about what does that look like? maybe it’s just billboard outta home placement. as opposed to running digital campaigns, what, whatever. but I, I do think it’s important to go deep on a, on a specific program and do it well.

Like make sure you get your email program situated, as opposed to trying to bite off everything all at once because you’re, you’re, you’re gonna end up achieving nothing if you try and kind of dip your toe into, into everything. And, and, you know, we have these conversations with clients all the time.

If, if they only have a certain amount of budget per month to spend, you know, okay, great, let’s start in the LA market or whatever. Let’s start in Pennsylvania. Let’s not try and go in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, blah, blah, blah, because we’re, we’re not, we’re not gonna be able to take a thousand dollars and make that super effective in 20 states.

So I think being realistic and, you know, starting and doing something well, and, you know, it’s like the old sales land and expand, you know, that, that I think applies to this, this concept too. Look, I say this all the time, and to, you know, a lot of other kind of colleagues and stuff that I have, it’s like, look, if you’re gonna commit to marketing strategy, if you’re gonna do it, you might as well do it Well, because if you try and do a million things, it’s like none of them are going to work.

But if you can get the one thing to work and provide you you that positive roi, then you have a proof of concept, you can move forward with this thing and then you can use that money to then make the next thing work, right? And there’s no guarantees that any said campaign is gonna work 100%, but you can set the campaign up for success, right? Like, exactly.

Let’s just say out of 10, you know, in total the campaign has an eight out of 10 or, you know, 80% chance of succeeding whatever your metrics are for succeeding, right? But if you try and do 10 other things, you are not letting that campaign have the 80% chance of success. Maybe it’s 20%, maybe it’s 30%, maybe it’s 40%.

So what you really need to do is go test it out. Figure out for sure if where you are on your business at this current point in time, is it gonna work or is it not gonna work? Right? If it works, great, do more of it. Optimize, get your roi, then you can move on to the next thing. So, you know, exact, exact same thing that I’m talking about as well.

And then I guess for, the last question is, do you have any golden nuggets to share, to any of our listeners out there? You know, it could be life, it could be about business, it could be about funnels. , do you have any golden nuggets, that you’d like to share with, with them? I don’t know.

I mean, I feel like I’ve, I’ve already gone far right now, a few, you know, I, I really think it honestly is what we just said, right? That to me, that is the nugget of all nuggets, which is pick something, go deep on it, do it well before you move on. It’s, and I can do analogies all day, but like, when you build a house, you have to start with the foundation.

You’re, you’re not gonna be able to build the walls, put the bathroom in, put the foundation in all at the same time. And so to me, I think that is the nugget because it’s really independent of the strategy, right? So if you’re focused on branding and you like, like figure out what your brand is.

. Cause if you don’t have a consistent brand messaging and then you all of a sudden spend a million dollars on advertising, like that’s not gonna end up being super effective because it’s not consistent. so I think it, it, it is about being consistent, having that consistent experience throughout, the entire kind of customer life cycle and, and and journey, whether that’s online or in store, you know, even like color pallets, right? Like the website color palette should basically match the in store color palette.

I mean, you talk Starbucks, like the app basically looks like you’re in a store, you know, same thing. So the more consistent you can be and, and the more you can kind of pick and choose your spots, the, the more successful and the better it will be. Cuz then we can build the program over time and we can add different components, as, as the business itself grows.

So yeah, I think it’s, it’s setting realistic expectations, and, you know, being willing to, to try a couple different things and to, to maybe fail at one or two, but then come out, come out on the other side a more successful business. Yeah. Look, that’s, that’s awesome.

I know you can probably spend thousands of dollars on consulting, but these, these consultants, you know, they’ll tell you the same thing. We’re not reinventing the wheel. Get your basics down pat. and then you should be good to go. sounds easier said than done, but you know, that’s, that’s what you gotta do, right? So yeah, that but not least, you know, where can people find you if they want to get in contact? Yeah, so definitely you can head to our website, surfside.io.

You know, feel free to email me directly, matt surfside.io. Pretty basic. we will be at MJ Bicon next week. I don’t know when you’re gonna release this to the masses, but, yeah, Surfside, we definitely have a, a booth and a and a and a suite at the Cosmo. So definitely would love to connect, with, with, with everybody.

Just feel free to, to, to shoot me a note. again, Matt, at, at surfside.io, or directly on our website, surfside.io, there’s, you know, plenty of, plenty of places we can, we can get in touch. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Matt, thank you, very much for hopping on the episode. once again, I’m your host, Brandon Qu, founder of Can Bed Marketing.

If you need any marketing for your dispensary both in Canada or the United States, you can just go to can bud marketing.com. and I’ll see you over there. But, that’s it for, for today. And you know, thanks for listening. See you later.

Article By

Brandon Quan

About The Author: A digital marketer with over 7 years of experience, Brandon Quan is wildly known as the top marketing expert within the Cannabis Industry.

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