Ask Our Experts 6/16/2019: Sage Advertising Advice Shared at Women Grow Leadership Summit
Q: I’m a small business owner just trying to establish my product. What are some basic do’s and don’ts for trying to advertise and get my name out there?
A: Among the participating panelists at the two-day event Women Grow Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., last weekend was New Frontier Data’s Director of Analytics Kacey Morrissey, who described it primarily as an industry networking event, rather than a standard convention or trade show, per se.
The agenda featured a variety of business experts, industry veterans, and entrepreneurial specialists. She participated in a panel within a “business & investment” track — others were themed for “marketing & public relations”, “policy & legal”, and “health & wellness” — titled “The Business and Branding of Edibles and Infused Products”.
Morrissey joined four other women sharing their experiences and insights about industry trends, and the challenges in getting their respective company brands established. “Many of the small business owners in attendance were looking for insight or advice from panelists on how to navigate risks and pitfalls in the early stages of their company’s growth,” she said.
Among early pitfalls is simply choosing a viable name, and understanding any competition for same down the road. As panelist and author Robyn Griggs Lawrence pointed out, “there were all these people who were trying to call or position themselves as ‘the Martha Stewart of cannabis’, right before she decided to become the Martha Stewart of cannabis. Where does that leave them now? You have to be careful.”
As four attorneys cautioned in a preceding panel titled “Navigating the Legal Business of Cannabis”, start-ups ought best avoid any names having to do with “canna”, “harvest” or “420” due to the multitude of similarly tagged enterprises, and the obvious difficulty in differentiating a brand among the crowd.
Like Google or Starbucks or Lululemon, “Apple didn’t decide to call itself the ‘Apple of Computers’; it became Apple known for its computers” as the brand established itself through the quality and style of its products, reminded Scottie Gordon, vice president of licensing and regulatory affairs for Curaleaf.
While prefacing that she did not mean to discourage any of the attendees, litigation attorney Heidi Urness of Cultivalaw warned that however different legal cannabis may be from other industries, there are nevertheless a host of established laws and procedures to follow. And anyone who thinks that they can go it alone without a lawyer is likely in the greatest need for one.
As Cultivalaw’s website reminds: “Once a company determines through which channels it will advertise or otherwise market a cannabis or cannabis-related product, it is not free to create and publish any content that it wants. There are specific rules imposed at state and federal levels requiring certain content be included, and strictly prohibiting other content. Cannabis companies should be sure to familiarize themselves with all of the additional applicable state and federal rules that apply to such activities.”
The bottom line, the experts agreed, is to be creative, and to be engaging, but to carefully follow the law.