Marijuana Business Magazine - January 2017

You’ve held executive roles at some of the biggest brands in the world. What advice can you give on this front to the marijuana industry, where branding is just starting to professionalize? There has to be some demonstration of credibility. If you’re walking around a neighborhood and you see green flags waving and doctors inviting you to come on in to get marijuana, that is not demonstrating credibility. There’s a professionalism that has to surround it, and you have to communicate without sounding like you have an ulterior motive to sell something. And have a serious way of going about that. It’s really about demonstrating credibility by establish- ing which direction you’re going to go – medical or rec- reational – and then creating messaging around it that suits the particular customer you’re going after. Tesla and Apple stores are known for making technol- ogy a centerpiece of the customer experience. What role do you think technology should or shouldn’t play in a retail cannabis store? Are touchscreens helpful, or is it more important to focus on person-to-person interaction? When we first started opening Tesla stores, most peo- ple didn’t know what a Tesla was. So we used technol- ogy to explain it to them, on a touchscreen to answer those questions. The marijuana business can use it the same way. In order for the marijuana industry to thrive going for- ward, it’s probably going to want to recruit more custom- ers. It’s going to want more customers than it already has. And if you’re going to do that, you’re going to have people coming in who don’t have a lot of information. They’re going to be wanting information. What better way to do that than use technology? It builds that credibility. It tells the same story to everyone coming in. It’s not just Smokin’ Joe over in the corner, and if you come in with this question, he has this answer, and the next guy, there’s a different answer. It’s a standardized set of information that you can also have on a website, so you can go home and look on a website and get that exact same information. That starts to bring you around to having trust and confidence in that store and that brand. There’s a consistent story that looks professional. Once your marijuana brand has established credibil- ity, how do you build a customer relationship? Many marijuana businesses are banned by law from track- ing consumer purchases, or don’t want to alienate customers who may be skittish because marijuana is federally illegal. The key is you don’t have a selling motion. You don’t tell people what you want them to know about a car so that they buy a car. You don’t tell them what you want them to know about technology so they buy a computer. You let them discover what it is they want to know, and that is different than trying to close a sale. They’re getting information and getting to know the company and not feeling out of place. So if you create that kind of environment, where people gain information at their pace, it will work. You don’t need to get their email to put on a mailing list. Customers will seek you out. ◆ January 2018 • Marijuana Business Magazine • 17