The phenomenal growth of the cannabis industry offers enormous rewards for those willing to take the risk to set up a business. But with this opportunity comes stiff competition. How can you set yourself apart in this fast-growing market?
Below are four tips that can help you refine your focus and build a successful cannabis business that stands out from the rest.
Find your Focus
The demand for cannabis and cannabis products is seemingly limitless, but you can’t be all things cannabis to every cannabis user. Will your focus be on medicinal use, or recreational? Are your products aimed at consumers, or businesses that supply consumers? Will you sell more product at a lower cost, or a smaller amount of product at a higher cost? Indica, or sativa? Vapor or edibles?
It all sounds deceptively simple, but narrowing your business focus can be one of the most challenging steps towards growing a stable, profitable enterprise. It’s not easy to funnel the creativity necessary to imagine the concept of your business into the laserlike focus needed to carve out a successful plan for maximization and growth. But it’s worth it. Without a clear idea of what your business is, it’s easy to get lost amidst the myriad options and spread the business too thin over too many funnels. Attempting to serve too many markets often translates into serving none of them very well.
Monitor your Customer Base
While it’s important to have an initial idea of who your customer base might be, make sure to implement monitoring strategies that give you the real picture of who wants what you’ve got. It’s imperative to keep track of your customers, and what they are using your product for in order to understand where to channel your marketing strategies and budget. Find where the market is most receptive to your products, and keep honing in on this and expanding your expertise in these areas.
When I founded StickerYou, we didn’t truly have an understanding of the market until we launched. We initially thought our customers would be kids and creative consumers but we soon found that businesses looking to brand themselves were using our products to do so. Business customers dwarfed consumer customers in volume by about a 4-to-1 ratio. Once we discovered this, we were able to evolve our User Experience and modify our marketing strategies to more directly engage with this customer base. This focus allowed us to grow significantly within this sector. In hindsight we could have saved a lot of time and money if we had launched our platform with less features, earlier, and for less cost. We would have learned more quickly what customers (in this case, the business segment) wanted and evolved our technology and user experience from there.
I would suggest to companies who want to define who they are, and what market they serve before launching, to do this lightly. Don’t over-invest until you actually obtain feedback from initial customers that gives you more specific information on what they want.
Improve Service to your Customer Base
Once you have a better understanding of your customer base, start looking for ways to improve their experience with you. If you are an e-commerce-based enterprise, consider using an online survey such as Survey Monkey to get an idea of what your customers think about your service. If you are in a physical retail space, take time to chat with people when the make a purchase to find out why and how they are using your products. For us, integrating a customer service team, which allowed real intercepts with real people, was an essential tool in gleaning this information.
For return customers, try to get a sense of what in particular they like about your product. Be curious. Is it the convenience of it? The product quality? Is it because your store is in their neighborhood? Did they find you by word of mouth? All of this information will help you create an accurate profile of your customer base, and help you discover ways to cater to their needs more effectively.
Experiment and Measure
Don’t be afraid to play around with different ideas that you think will appeal to your customers, but make sure to create metrics to accurately measure whether these efforts are working or not, and to what scale. Gut feelings and hunches can be useful, but it’s surprising how often your assumptions about what works will be off. Search online for marketing tools that can help you experiment affordably with different strategies of branding and building your business. And with any burgeoning business, incremental changes and tweaks are what eventually shape it into a stable, profitable one.
Author: StickerYou Founder & President, Andrew Witkin
As the founder of a global e-commerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products, Andrew Witkin is widely recognized as a leading authority on e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. Witkin has also served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.