Next Generation Marketing: How to Utilize Brand Ambassadors

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In the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis, market competition is becoming fiercer. To stay ahead of the curve, many companies are turning to marketing tactics such as brand ambassadors. Ranging from loyal customers to event staff and social media influencers, good brand ambassadors not only can help humanize a brand, but with increasing demand for product knowledge and education they also provide a non-threatening way for companies to reach their audiences and share information.

A brand ambassador—or better yet, a team of brand ambassadors—can give cannabis companies a big advantage over competitors.

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Kristine Lyng Headshot Caliva

What kind of brand ambassadors do you use?
At Caliva, we use two types of brand ambassadors. First, we invite social influencers to join the Caliva Circle to become Caliva ambassadors. Anyone is welcome to apply to the Caliva Circle. We select people who really embody the spirit of #GoCaliva, which to us means they’re using cannabis to enrich their everyday lives. Secondly, we work with several people as official brand ambassadors who promote Caliva flower and products within other dispensaries.

One reason I love Caliva brand ambassadors is because they bring so much passion and honesty to the brand. Having such a close, authentic relationship with our ambassadors also gives us a view into our customers’ lifestyles we would never otherwise get. —Kristine Lyng, senior director of marketing, Caliva

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How do you find the right people?
I found the original band of pirates through various job listing sites, and the good ones brought their friends along for the ride. This created a sense of family and community among our team from the get-go, and despite some people moving on, we’ve retained a lot of that original crew and deepened the family spirit. Today, we have a clearer definition of roles, and our more recent brand ambassadors focus on in-store marketing and running PADs [patient appreciation days]. We want them to be free from the rigors of sales and distribution and to focus their time on educating and engaging customers and budtenders.

In the end, you cannot run an effective, impactful consumer-facing brand without ambassadors. You need those boots on the ground. Brand ambassadors are the face, the voice, and perhaps most crucially, the ears of your company. —Ruben Cross, founder and CEO, Kushy Punch

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Why use brand ambassadors?
We decided to have brand ambassadors to connect with cannabis users and cannabis sellers on an individual level. It gives us a chance to get feedback on our product from new users as well as to connect with veteran users in such a concentrated, unmarketable business. Quite simply, their job is education and listening to the marketplace. By hearing these real-world experiences, we’re able to translate our customers’ anecdotes into data that we can apply to our business practices. For example, with our Budtender Loyalty Program, we’re going to create a direct connection to budtenders through brand ambassadors. We’ll be offering them recognition and rewards, like taking them to our farm for the day, in exchange for honest feedback.

Our ambassadors are people who authentically love cannabis; who are passionate about the plant and the impact it has had on their lives. Their appreciation for cannabis is critical, as they’re representing not only Lowell Herb Co. but cannabis workers in general. —Shaun Hurley, head of sales, Lowell Herb Co.

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What’s the best way to deploy ambassadors?
Whenever somebody reaches out to work together, we always want to find a way to establish a relationship. In such a crowded market, a lot of companies forget it’s the consumers who will sell your product for you. When marketing in the cannabis industry, it’s not enough to just take some photos and put them on social media. You need to have the support of real-life people behind your brand.

Our brand ambassadors work with us in a number of different ways—from photo shoots to events, and even to helping us create content for special occasions like our monthly photo contests. One example is a collaboration we did with @Nug.Honey. She suggested we donate a portion of the proceeds for our limited-edition Ocean Blue Dipper to an ocean conservation charity. Her feedback was invaluable in creating the idea, executing it, and ensuring that it got as much attention as possible. —Lili Tran, director of social media, Dip Devices

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