Living the Dream: Ted Whitney

Ted Whitney

Sales Director


Oakland, CA

Making your brand stand out in a crowded retail field is easier said than done. And making your brand stand out in the cannabis industry, especially in saturated states like California where legal companies are still struggling to compete with the illicit market, is extremely difficult.

Taking the necessary steps to ensure that budtenders are well-versed on your product so they appropriately and enthusiastically market it to both the inexperienced canna-curious — a growing and important market — and the cannabis connoisseur is one way to boost sales and, eventually, brand reputation. Budtenders are the gatekeepers to your products, so they hold a tremendous amount of power.

Here are some direct actions that can help determine your audience and develop your product’s image:

– Consider your brand’s story: Can you tell it in 30 seconds or less? If not, consider whether budtenders would care to convey it when they may be working only part time, have a minimum of 10 new products enter the store every day or are already comfortable recommending the store’s best-sellers. If budtenders don’t know what sets your product apart and can’t easily explain it, everything else is a moot point. Figure out your important pillars early and then determine a simple yet sophisticated way to explain. For instance, is this cannabis product energizing or better to consume to relax before bed? Is it micro-dosed for new and casual users or does it pack an intense punch for ultra-experienced and more adventurous consumers? Once you have an easily understood concept down pat, communicate often with the budtenders. Remember, budtenders are the unofficial messengers of your company, so if they don’t understand what sets your products apart, the customers won’t either.

– Make the effort to build personal relationships with budtenders: Forming a genuine connection is a great way to set your brand apart. Instead of thinking about budtenders as employees, links in the chain or the middleman between you and your customers, view them as your allies. You are partners in bringing customers the best possible experience. Ultimately, they determine your audience and your product’s image, so get to know them.

– Always follow up: Ask for his or her card and stay in touch for their additional feedback. Budtender turnover is high, so if they are not at the dispensary where you first met, chances are they are at another that might carry your product. Having a regular communication with budtenders is also another way to stay updated and in the loop on what consumers are looking for.

– Provide incentives: if budtenders sample and give feedback on one product, offer them another new product to preview and try.

– Regular visits: Because of the aforementioned high turnover rate, it’s crucial to plan regular visits to dispensaries that already offer your products. Even if you don’t have new items to introduce, drop by for face time with the newest team members to make sure whoever is behind the counter still has your brand top of mind.

Communicating clearly, creatively and consistently with budtenders, while making them feel like an essential part of your brand’s team, can help build your business in today’s fiercely competitive industry. The cannabis space is crowded, but because consumers tend to place a great deal of trust in budtenders’ recommendations, having them in your corner can give your products a necessary leg up.



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