Cannabis Brand Ambassadors are a cannabis brand’s secret weapon. They are an internal subteam that has the ability to exponentially influence sales. When a Brand Ambassador reaches, engages, and effectively trains one Budtender that one Budtender will influence dozens of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly new and repeat sales.
What do you want from your Brand Ambassadors?
When we ask cannabis brands what they want from their Brand Ambassadors the answer is always the same “We want Brand Ambassadors to increase sales at dispensaries.”
After the cannabis brand’s sales team has closed a dispensary account it is the responsibility of the Brand Ambassador to visit the dispensary, train dispensary operators (i.e. Budtenders) on the brand and its products, and ensure Budtenders recommend the brand’s products to Patients and Customers.
How do Brand Ambassadors lift cannabis brand sales?
To increase sales cannabis Brand Ambassadors will visit their designated list of monthly dispensaries and set-up product demos and pop-ups. During product demos and pop-ups Brand Ambassadors will focus on selling product to Patients and Customers that visit the dispensary on that day. Essentially on this day Brand Ambassadors function like Budtenders but instead of trying to match the Patient and Customer to the best product for them they are trying to get them to buy one or more of the products they are selling.
Brand Ambassadors will also lift cannabis brand sales by training dispensary operators via shift change trainings or scheduling a time to conduct a class like brand and product training with all Budtenders (these trainings are hard to come by). Armed with food and/or swag Brand Ambassadors will implement “drive by trainings” in which they will catch the attention of a Budtender, make small talk, and pitch the product before the Budtender leaves for the day or starts their shift.
When conducting product demos and pop-ups Brand Ambassadors will report sales made along with Budtenders “trained”. When conducting drive by shift change trainings the Brand Ambassador will log the interaction as a “training” and report the “training” to their manager.
The cannabis industry is growing faster than the software industry during the dot com boom. Developing brand awareness has its place however we believe the method of “training” above is negligent when it comes to what the brand is trying to achieve – lift sales.
We say negligent because in our opinion the “training” metric reported by Brand Ambassadors is a vanity metric. The metric reflects the number of people the Brand Ambassador spoke with on a given day. The Budtender “training metric” of ‘number of people interacted with’ does not reflect the quality of the information shared, the comprehension of the information by the Budtender, or the Budtender’s brand/ product content proficiency. Speaking with Budtenders and other dispensary operators on a daily basis is an activity. It is not a metric to measure a Brand Ambassador’s productivity and success. The Brand Ambassador is reporting on the quantity of people trained not the quality or value of people trained.
A cannabis Brand Ambassador’s training productivity and success can be assessed using the following metrics:
- Sales growth rate/ Dispensary visited by Brand Ambassador
- # Of product units sold by Budtenders (not the Brand Ambassador during pop-ups)/ Dispensary
- # Of Budtenders trained/ # Of Budtenders engaged with the brand
- Market share represented by the dispensaries covered by a Brand Ambassador/ Field force cost of the Brand Ambassador
- ROI on incentives/ sales
- Market share
All of the above are measurable metrics associated with:
- Effectively delivering training messages to Budtenders
- Proficiency of training messages delivered
- Positive Patient/ Customer brand and product perception
Our MJBiz article Cannabis Brand-to-Budtender Training Campaign (Steps + Checklist) dives into the metrics above, how-to measure them, and how-to understand if your Brand Ambassadors are really increasing sales.
I’ll share over and over and over again that it is our opinion that Budtenders should be viewed as offsite extensions of a brand’s team and thoughtfully invested in as such with measurable strategy (not just swag and parties).
Before Brand Ambassadors are hired or a company is hired to contract Brand Ambassadors a cannabis brand needs to know and understand the value of the metrics below to define a measurable strategy and define what success looks like. Understanding the data points below will make a significant difference in a cannabis brand’s success:
- Serviceable Available Market (SAM), the segment of the market the brand is targeting and is within its geographical reach
- Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM), the portion of the SAM that the brand can capture
- # of Budtenders in the SAM
- # of Budtenders in the SOM
- % of Budtenders aware of the brand
- % of Budtenders that have engaged with the brand
- % of Budtenders that will recommend the brand
- % of Budtenders that have recommended the brand
- The average turnover rate of a dispensary
Example Using Made Up Brand
To illustrate the value of knowing the data points above I’m going to make up a random luxury cannabis brand, Puro Tumabo. Puro Tumabo cultivates sun grown organic small batch high THC flower. Price points begin at $90.00.
Puro Tumabo licenses place them in a market where there are 100 dispensaries they are legally allowed to conduct business with. Of the 100 dispensaries 55 are dispensaries where Patients and Customers will not be interested in the product due to price point. The remaining 45 dispensaries, dispensaries with Patients and Customers that could be interested in Puro Tumbao’s products, represent the brand’s SAM. Puro Tumabo is grown with love and care in small batches. At maximum harvest the brand can only provide full orders to 23 dispensaries. These 23 dispensaries represent the brand’s SOM.
Now lets say there are 20 Budtenders that work at each of the 23 dispensaries. This means every week, if well-trained, there are 460 individual Budtenders/ Merch-influencers with active influence at the point of sale that can skyrocket sales and the brand’s success.
Now lets assume that the turnover rate for hourly retail employees, 65%, holds true for the cannabis industry. This means 299 of our 460 Budtenders will turnover resulting in our needing to train 759 Budtenders in 23 locations not 460 Budtenders in 23 locations.
Impact of Budtender Training on Cannabis Brand Revenue
Budtenders have a significant impact on revenue and the success of a cannabis brand. When we look at the numbers they tell us that training Budtenders to be authentic brand ambassadors will have a vastly larger impact on revenue than having Brand Ambassadors stand around in a dispensary waiting to catch a Patient’s/ Customer’s attention during pop-demos. This is one of the many reasons we are passionate about measuring the outcomes of the Brand Ambassador position and the way Brand-to-Budtender training is implemented. When the Brand Ambassador position is strategically empowered to train and support the Budtender a cannabis brand builds an army of influential voices at the point of sale.
Calculate How Many Budtenders Your Brand Ambassadors Can Reach
Do you know how many Budtenders are in your SOM? Here is a calculator to figure out how many Budtenders you can have engaged with your brand and actively recommending your product:
Let us know what you think
Did we miss anything in this article? Any ideas spark? Let us know in the comments below.
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Adriana was inspired to build EpicHint after her friend used cannabis to aide in his recovery from early onset colon cancer and was provided poor product recommendations by Budtenders.
Prior to founding EpicHint she used interdisciplinary principles and agile methodologies to build, and grow, two tech startups; a B2B competitive analytics platform for Internet Retailer 500 e-commerce marketers that protected personal identifying information, and a B2C e-commerce recommendation engine for sustainable and fairly made shopping. She is known for being able to translate a product’s social mission into viable financials.
Her work building tech for social good earned her an invitation to contribute a column to ‘The New York Times’ and features in media such as ‘Entrepreneur Magazine’ as a “Do Good Business Entrepreneur To Watch”, ‘NBC Universal’ as a “Top 10 Latino Innovator”, ‘Forbes’, ‘Fast Company’, ‘TechCrunch’, amongst many other media outlets.
When not working she surfs, loves to cook with fresh locally sourced ingredients, mentors girls in STEAM, advises startups, and hacks on side projects in skills-based learning, artificial intelligence, telemedicine, marketing tech, health and wellness, and cannabis niches.