28 NOV - 1 DEC 2019

Cannabis Expo

A Little Intro

Hello everybody and welcome to the very first episode of Story Marketing’s videocast! Now, what is that exactly? A video show dealing with marketing and business-related elements within South Africa where we look at businesses and the interesting people who run them to figure out how businesses do what they do as well as helping you avoid certain pitfalls. We also want to give your business the tools needed to get it some traction and the attention that it needs to do well.

My name is Ricardo, and for the last few years I’ve been running a marketing business and agency from Johannesburg. It’s been exciting working
with a range of businesses, and getting a sense of what it takes to succeed or survive because the principles essentially remain the same even though the content within the business has changed. So whether you’re a plumber, electrician, or whether you sell pet food, there are ways to give your business the kind of leverage it needs within the 21st century as there are ways to do it digitally, which can put you in front of the audience that you need.

The Episode

Today’s episode is all about the cannabis industry, and it is no mystery that it is becoming one of the fastest-growing industries around the world. There’s a tremendous amount of interest at the moment. Still, one thing to bear in mind is that that it’s only very recently found legalization in certain countries, and in South Africa, some aspects in the production and selling thereof have found some level of acceptance. This opening of legislation means that there are now several business opportunities open to the world.

I attended the cannabis Expo in Johannesburg because I was really interested in getting a sense of what kind of business opportunities there are and what kind of things people are trying to do. I’m not a futurist that can see into the future, but I do have a gut feeling about this thing, and I have come to find that the more I trust these feelings, especially within a business, leads to some exciting personal and business growth.

The Event And The People

The event itself was very well organized , there was an energetic vibe, and the event was put together very well. Everything seemed to work very well, and there was a cohesive feeling within the venue and the advertising outside. The first thing that took me by surprise was the fact that everybody was of very different backgrounds, ages, as well as had different motivations as to why they were there.

You had very young up-and-coming people who wanted to create businesses and many of them that I spoke to had had a previously been in corporate or some very linear (9-5) style of work. They all seem to want to pursue something a little bit more entrepreneurial, and that for me is exciting.

I spoke to some younger attendees who were busy studying, or they just had finished studying and then changed their direction completely.  One compelling case was that of an aspiring CBD cosmetic creator who stopped pursuing accounting and now does this work full-time with her fiancé, who also gave up his more “dependable” job to go for this full-time.

Young, Fun, Passionate Business People

A couple of young guys whom I bumped into run https://marijuanasa.co.za/, and they completely blew me away with their drive, energy, and enthusiasm with which they are pursuing building their business. They are based in Cape Town, and to have a stand at the event cost upwards of R30,000, which they were very proud of being able to pay for off the backs of their hard work.

One of the reasons I loved listening to them was how they are following a very content-driven approach to getting their business out there. They shoot a podcast, put out material on Instagram, and believe that creating a narrative and bringing value and entertainment to people will ultimately result in sales.

You had very young up-and-coming people who wanted to create businesses and many of them that I spoke to had had a previously been in corporate or some very linear (9-5) style of work. They all seem to want to pursue something a little bit more entrepreneurial, and that for me is exciting.

I spoke to some younger attendees who were busy studying, or they just had finished studying and then changed their direction completely.  One compelling case was that of an aspiring CBD cosmetic creator who stopped pursuing accounting and now does this work full-time with her fiancé, who also gave up his more “dependable” job to go for this full-time.

Is Cannabis A Sustainable Business?

Will everyone I saw at the expo have a business in 5 years’ time? No, obviously not, because unless you’re passionate about it and have a long-term game plan in the way in which you’re going to tackle your business within three or four years, the majority of people that I encountered would probably no longer be in business. That applies to all businesses, but even more so when there is a quick buck to be made. The industry will stabilise, people who were interested because it’s something new will move on to the next thing: people who find what they need from the best providers will remain. Cannabis feels a little of what the discovery of gold in Johannesburg must have been for people who were seeking out their fortunes.

It terms of the longevity of each of these businesses they are all going to have to dig very deep in their grit pockets because every second person is selling the same thing so it’s going to be differentiation that they’re gonna have to think about long term. They will have to get very, very serious about how to stand out in a crowd and the crowd is already fairly big. Even marketing CBD based cannabis products is a very tricky situation with Facebook not allowing even the mere mention of anything to do with Cannabis and the same goes for Google AdWords. What does this mean for a marketing approach? It is going to have to be very direct to consumer with Instagram seems to be working for a few of those in attendance. Still, it is going to come down to content creation, which informs and educates while all the while having a distinct feeling of the brand because there are going to be a bunch of businesses trying to do the same thing.

All Fun And Games?

There was also no lack of what one might classify as “serious businessmen and woman.” The sort of big international companies who do things on an industrial scale who were looking to either help local producers of the plant to export or sell large scale farming equipment or software for significantly large operations.

The legal framework for getting into the business and the legality of much of what was going on still finds itself in a little bit of a grey area in South Africa. That means that if you want to get into this industry, you are going to have to understand that the industry will probably always have some form of legislation.

Right now, it’s a trend or even a fad with every second guy wanting to get a slice of the pie. There was a sense that everybody was looking for a deal, everybody was looking
for connections everyone wanted to, network and that’s that is pretty exciting indeed.

From CBD infused water at R55 a 500ml to some wonderfully tasty CBD droëwors and CBD coffee if you could eat, drink, lick, suck or rub it in, people have put their spin on it to capture a slice of the cannabis market.

One of the reasons I loved listening to them was how they are following a very content-driven approach to getting their business out there. They shoot a podcast, put out material on Instagram, and believe that creating a narrative and bringing value and entertainment to people will ultimately result in sales.

How Will Marketing Work?

They’re going to have to always think out of the box in terms of marketing. Right now, I think that the most important thing is through building relationships, building brand, and awareness through real connections. It’s going take a lot of time and energy, and it’s exciting to see how eager people were to share and how much they wanted to educate. That is going to be the biggest single feature for the next couple of years, namely the education of your the audience that’s simply going to take a while in South Africa. The majority of consumers at the expo want to understand more their products are how to use them safely and unless the businesses are willing to do that education if they simply there to
sell a product they will simply die.

The legal framework for getting into the business and the legality of much of what was going on still finds itself in a little bit of a grey area in South Africa. That means that if you want to get into this industry, you are going to have to understand that the industry will probably always have some form of legislation.

Right now, it’s a trend or even a fad with every second guy wanting to get a slice of the pie. There was a sense that everybody was looking for a deal, everybody was looking
for connections everyone wanted to, network and that’s that is pretty exciting indeed.

From CBD infused water at R55 a 500ml to some wonderfully tasty CBD droëwors and CBD coffee if you could eat, drink, lick, suck or rub it in, people have put their spin on it to capture a slice of the cannabis market.

One of the reasons I loved listening to them was how they are following a very content-driven approach to getting their business out there. They shoot a podcast, put out material on Instagram, and believe that creating a narrative and bringing value and entertainment to people will ultimately result in sales.

What Can You Take Away Here?

The cream will rise to the top as this bubble will
eventually, pop leaving the best products with the most connected relationships between themselves and their
consumers.

I think it was a phenomenally exciting experience and if you get an opportunity to go next year you really really should because, yes there’s a lot of the opportunity out there, but for you to rise above the noise of hundreds, if not thousands, of interested people, you’re going to need a very, very, strong marketing strategy predicated on content. It will involve much grinding, much thinking, and much creating. Having spoken to most of those exhibiting, only two stands told me that they were making unique content. By that, I mean they are either writing,
blogging, vlogging, podcasting, or taking images which they then use to promote their products and educate their audience. It is critical to speak directly to your audience and take into account their experiences, biases, and backgrounds.

This event made me feel very optimistic about the future of this business and the change in the demographics of people wanting to work for themselves. Creating content for your business is one of the most critical ways to differentiate yourself and it’s also one of the hardest things to do because there are a million and one things that you could do and you almost feel paralyzed in doing so so that’s the first piece of advice I can give you is you’ve got to start thinking about yourself as a marketing agency first you are are the story, you are the content, and your story is first, you also happen to sell a product or service, but that comes after you have given value, sell a product they will simply die.

The legal framework for getting into the business and the legality of much of what was going on still finds itself in a little bit of a grey area in South Africa. That means that if you want to get into this industry, you are going to have to understand that the industry will probably always have some form of legislation.

Right now, it’s a trend or even a fad with every second guy wanting to get a slice of the pie. There was a sense that everybody was looking for a deal, everybody was looking
for connections everyone wanted to, network and that’s that is pretty exciting indeed.

From CBD infused water at R55 a 500ml to some wonderfully tasty CBD droëwors and CBD coffee if you could eat, drink, lick, suck or rub it in, people have put their spin on it to capture a slice of the cannabis market.

One of the reasons I loved listening to them was how they are following a very content-driven approach to getting their business out there. They shoot a podcast, put out material on Instagram, and believe that creating a narrative and bringing value and entertainment to people will ultimately result in sales.

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