Maximizing Your Success with Digital Marketing with Dan Serard (Cannabis Creative Group)

Episode Description

Welcome to a brand new episode of Kaya Cast Podcast, where we're all about empowering dispensaries to flourish. Today, we're giving budding businesses a deep insight into innovative marketing with Dan Serard from the Cannabis Creative Group. Dan shares how the power of well-segmented and purposeful email and SMS drip campaigns can dramatically boost dispensary success. With invaluable tips on crafting engaging content that captivates and drives conversion, this episode is a gold mine for dispensaries eager to grow.

Our conversation with Dan doesn't stop at content optimization. He stresses the importance of a scalable, performant, and thoughtfully designed website. From converting videos into static images to bringing forth your star products, he elaborates on effective website optimization strategies. In an era where digital footprints are just as crucial, if not more, than physical storefronts, Dan makes a compelling case for SEO investments that leave lasting impressions and boost discoverability.

But fear not if those budgets seem beyond reach. For smaller brands and social fairness applicants, Dan proposes a frugal yet effective solution: optimizing your Google My Business profile. With advice on how to seize and use Google reviews to their fullest potential, even dispensaries on a shoestring budget can cash in on the enormous benefits of superior online reputation management.

And one last tip that Dan leaves us with? Don't bank on the "build it, and they will come" strategy, but instead, invest time and effort in laying a strong brand foundation. Tune into this illuminating conversation to reap the rewards for not just the next six months, but far into your cannabis business's future.

Dan Serard heads business development and strategic partnerships for Cannabis Creative Group. He has been working in the cannabis industry for over four years and has been a part of marketing over 200+ brands. He is a member of many cannabis associations, and holds Co-Chair of Education and Content for the National Cannabis Industry Association‘s Marketing and Advertising Committee.
Dan is also a well respected writer and speaker for various cannabis industry events. With years of experience in the health and wellness industry, Dan’s background as a business development professional complements his interest in the innovating world of cannabis. Dan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management and Policy with a focus in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire. Today, when he’s not in the office, Dan can most likely be found outside – his passions include hiking, snowboarding, fishing, camping, traveling, and playing basketball, to name a few.

Find out more about Cannabis Creative Group at:

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Episode Transcript


Dan Serard: The biggest factor when I talk to companies is don't look at it as if you build it, they will come. Really invest, take the time, effort, and energy. To establish yourself and lay your brand foundation, because that's gonna set you up for the future, not for the next six months.

Tom Mulhern: Welcome back to the Kaya Cast podcast. I'm your host, Tom Mulhern, and today on the show I have a conversation from my time here at MJ Unpacked New York City, heart of Manhattan. And today I'm talking to Dan Serard, who's the head of partnerships and business development at the Cannabis Creative Group.

As a marketing person myself, I was so, so thrilled to talk with a fellow marketing geek about website, SEO strategies for, you know, social media, all of this stuff that cannabis businesses need to be doing. It was really, really great to talk to Dan to hear his insights from working with over 300 brands in the cannabis industry and some of the biggest brands that are out there, and the ways that they have helped them stand out in the market and really ways that they've worked to make their clients better and more profitable. So, I hope you enjoy this conversation with Dan from the Cannabis Creative Group.

Tom Mulhern: Dan Serard heads Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for Cannabis Creative Group. He's been working in the cannabis industry for over four years, has been a part of marketing over 200 plus brands. He's a member of many cannabis associations and holds the co-chair of education and content for the National Cannabis Industry Association's Marketing and Advertising Committee.

So Dan, welcome to the podcast.

Dan Serard: Thanks for having me, Tom. I'm excited to be on.

Tom Mulhern: What really makes what you guys are doing unique? Because there are so many different creative agencies just. Just like there's so many ancillary software technology solutions. So what makes what you guys are doing stand out?

What makes us unique is, you know, a couple things. One, first and foremost we have a very large team, so, you know, 50 plus individuals, we are all in-house, so we don't outsource things.

Dan Serard: Build websites overseas, you are working with the team boots on the ground. So we're one of the larger agencies. We've been at it since 2017, so now that's what six, seven years of experience. And really, you know, what I think is our unique proposition is our team really knows the cannabis industry, right?

So when we work with a company, we've worked with 300 businesses, so we know the do's and don'ts, what you can do, how to work around it, how to best position your brand, brand messaging. A lot of the stuff that we do is custom, but when we say custom, it opens the door for so many ideas. So if we can guide a brand in a creative direction where we know we've seen success before, and spin off that brand on their unique value position, we have a competitive advantage to say, we know what works.

We can help you.

Tom Mulhern: What are some of the services that you provide for cannabis brands? Like you said, you've worked with over 300 brands across the world, so what are some of those services you provide?

Dan Serard: How I like to kind of split up our services is. Laying the foundation, right? So that's branding, brand messaging, packaging design, graphic design, and then website design and development. So that's really helping start brands. And then lead generation and customer retention.

So what that means is we work on paid search, SEO , social media, email marketing, photography and videography, and then SMS messaging.

Tom Mulhern: What are some of the like specific challenges for cannabis businesses when it comes to digital marketing? And we're definitely gonna dial into some of those, aspects that you talked about. But from a high level, like what are the challenges that we're facing?

Dan Serard: There's so many restrictions in terms of what you can and can't say. So, social media is key, right? There are so many businesses, and Instagram is a great platform.

Twitter's a great platform. LinkedIn's a great platform, but what you can say and can't say will have a immense impact on your cannabis business. So looking at Instagram specifically there's hashtags you can't use that'll get you shadow banned or flagged. There's types of content posts that you can and can't do.

So like product promotions and really like selling language is the key point here that you need to avoid. and really, Instead of saying, tell us all about your products and the brands that you carry. Tell us about your business, what you do from a philanthropic standpoint.

You know, tell us about your founders. Tell us what you're doing in the community. That's the type of content that you wanna focus on, because it helps buyers understand who you are and it won't get you flagged and shut down.

What are some innovative marketing strategies that you've seen really work?

One of the main things here for dispensaries is customer acquisition. You need to own the radius around you when someone types in cannabis near me, or dispensary near me.

For the cannabis customer,there's not a lot of loyalty right now in terms of brands or dispensaries.

It's convenient. So if you're sending one message and that's kind of it. You know, you're losing so much opportunity. A lot of people don't convert on, one email or one SMS. Defining, you know, those segmented audiences, what they're interested in, and creating, you know, drip campaigns, nurture campaigns, that's a core pillar of success for dispensaries.

Tom Mulhern: If you're talking about here's what we're doing with the community, here's an event that we're going to, here's a bio on one of our bud tenders, like that's the content that really captures people and people wanna read with strong calls to action, right? Everything has to lead back, you are a retailer, you're selling products, so figuring out that message and that blend of how you can incorporate sales and education is really key.

What do cannabis businesses need to know about their website specifically around like performance and optimization? And then we can talk about SEO as well.

Dan Serard: When you build a website, you wanna make sure that you're in a platform that's scalable. So, looking at, you know, specifically for the cannabis industry, WordPress or Webflow are great options.

If you're building a website and you're like, I want this crazy video and a carousel and all this stuff on your website, you know, that's gonna negatively impact your performance.

So how can we make that video a good static image or, you know, remove that carousel to show your three products on the home screen. So setting up your website for performance with the design aspect in mind is gonna be key.

Tom Mulhern: Now looking at SEO , how important is creating quality content that can really boost your SEO ?

Dan Serard: For any cannabis business, that's the number one investment. I would say for digital marketing. You need to be found in the search engines.

You have one opportunity to make an lasting impression on that person. So if you think about your website as your digital storefront, right? Are, are you gonna pay, you know, $5,000 or $2,000 for your retail storefront? I mean, it's not gonna look great. You're not gonna retain clients. So that investment into your website and SEO to make sure that your website looks great, it captures that person in under three seconds.

And then you are being found in the search engine is the number one digital marketing campaign I would recommend.

And then the biggest piece is content writing. So it's long form pieces of content that are not written by Ai. You can use ChatGPT and I think it's a great starting platform.

So you can use the prompts to start your blog or create content ideas. So one of the things that we useChatGPT for is to create content topics, right? So you're looking at, you know, I am a dispensary in New York City. What is the most search term around dispensaries in cannabis near me? You can create a list of, you know, 10 or 20 content topics and then start writing on that.

My prediction is that Google, especially with them launching their new a p i, is gonna ding people for if they're just, copy and paste. First of all, it's plagiarism. Second of all, they will have an impact on your website. So, although it's a good shortcut make sure to use it as a starting tool and then have content writers build that.

The other thing about, you know, content that works is you have to have a unique voice of your brand ChatGPT they're getting there, but it's not there. So you need to have, you know, your content writer, really know your brand, capitalize on your messaging, know what your content pillars are, know how you're, you know, you're promoting yourself to your customers.

And then write blogs around that.

Tom Mulhern: Dispensaries need to look at their audience and write content specific to their audience.

Dan Serard: What about for smaller brands or even some of the social equity applicants here in New York and other places? If you don't have a huge marketing budget,  what's your advice for them?

Tom Mulhern: We actually created a, it's called a dispensary launch package, where we're looking at the lowest cost with the highest impact. And what that consists of is three core elements. It's branding, so your visual identity, it's your website, and it doesn't have to be a crazy website.

Dan Serard: It's essentially, you need five pages for a dispensary, right? You need your homepage about us, your menu, blog, contact page. So it's not out of this world. It's not crazy.Keep that base foundation and then you can scale it from there.

One of the, you know, I would say budget friendly items to do is always, always, always optimize your Google My business.

Establish that. Take the time to fill it out fully. Make sure your hours are up to date. Make sure you're going and you're looking for review captures. Figure out how you can get as many Google reviews as possible. That's just your b🍃dtenders asking for reviews.

That's client testimonials. There's no cost to that, right? It's, Hey, I'd love a review if you had a good experience.

Those reviews are so crucial in terms of SEO and how Google sees your business as a leader. And the other thing to add to that is don't just leave the reviews, respond to them. So if you're responding to them, Google sees you as an interactive business. You're talking and engaging with your customers, and that's gonna help you tremendously.

Tom Mulhern: You mentioned you were in the health and wellness industry, so how has that kind of impacted what you're doing and how do you see health and wellness fitting in with cannabis?

Dan Serard: Just like cannabis businesses, you need to define your buyer persona and figure out who you want to be, right. Based on who is purchasing your products or who you want to purchase your products.

So, Nootropics are everywhere. Daily multivitamins are everywhere. Packaging design was key. When we were working on this project, what stood off the shelf now even more in the cannabis industry it needs to be what pops off the shelf. So engaging, packaging, design, nice colors establishing your brand.

You know, if I'm going into a dispensary and you can't touch, feel, look at the products, but you can see the packaging.

So, I think that packaging design is key to really get that buyer to purchase your product.

Tom Mulhern: You know, when we look at brand messaging and design, if you're appealing to them and they're turning away, you're probably not doing it right? So we always talk about when looking at your business and starting pick a demographic that you really care about that you can write messaging for that you really, have a background in, and cannabis for everyone is just not gonna win. It doesn't allow you to narrow in that audience and define your messaging where you'll just get lost in the clutter.

Dan Serard: So a lot of the time, you know, if you, if you're not turning away certain buyer personas, like you're probably not doing it right.

Tom Mulhern: I mean, we could just sit here and talk about marketing all this all day, but I, I wanna ask one more question.What is one tip that you would have for a dispensary owner to help them grow their business?

Dan Serard: The biggest factor when I talk to companies is don't look at it as if you build it, they will come. Really invest, take the time, effort, and energy. To establish yourself and lay your brand foundation, because that's gonna set you up for the future, not for the next six months.

Tom Mulhern: So Dan, how can people connect with you and what you're doing and bring you guys on if they need some help with marketing or their website or whatever. What's the best way to kind of connect with what you guys are doing?

Dan Serard: Definitely visit our website We have so much educational content there that's just free, right? So we write so many blogs, we talk about so many different things. We want to give as much advice to people as possible. So definitely visit our website,

Reach out to me, or on LinkedIn. I'm very active on LinkedIn.

Tom Mulhern: Dan, this has been so good and I really appreciate you taking this time.

Dan Serard: Yeah. Thanks Tom. I appreciate it.

Tom Mulhern: I want to thank Dan for giving us a masterclass in cannabis marketing. You know, I think one of the biggest things for me was his tip about really having that long form content that your clients can engage with learn and that's what's gonna make you stand out.

They have a great blog section on their website with great resources, so make sure you go check out cannabis Creative Group will have all of the links in the bio.

As well, check out the website where you can find past episodes of our show including conversations with other marketing professionals that are working to help cannabis operators be more efficient, be better at doing what they love, rather than having to focus on the marketing and figuring out how to do TikTok, how do we do this?

There are people out there that are there to help. So check out the website, check out the past episodes. Make sure that you subscribe to the podcast because you know we're working hard to provide great content for you to help you launch scale and grow your business. So thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next week.

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