When Kimberly Dillon first tried cannabis in 2016, it changed her world forever.
As a hard-charging professional, she almost immediately sensed the value cannabis brought to her life as a wellness tool.
Dillon began to take a closer look at any previously held misconceptions and stereotypes around cannabis while further exploring its wellness benefits and taking healthy advantage of her new California medical recommendation.
Early into this process, Dillon observed a jarring gap between her association with cannabis as a wellness product and the actual retail experience. A lot of dispensaries at the time reminded her more of a liquor store setting rather than a wellness-oriented environment.
“As a marketing expert and brand builder, I got really interested in how to re-tell this story around cannabis and wellness. It seemed like the marketer’s ultimate dream,” she says.
Blazing Trails in the Cannabis and CBD Industries
Having pinpointed her ideal niche, Dillon jumped into the industry head-first, bringing with her an immense amount of entrepreneurial energy and more than a decade of high-level marketing and branding experience – Procter & Gamble, Clorox, the NFL, and more.
The first step, Dillon recalls, was to find an opportunity where she could cut her teeth in this new industry and work her way up because she was still so new to the plant.
She joined on as VP of Marketing with a new start up called Papa & Barkley in the cannabis product space. As one of the company’s first employees, Dillon remembers those early days working out of the founder’s master bedroom. She ultimately climbed her way up to become CMO, helping build one of the most well-known cannabis product companies in California today.
“I was able to build the brand using all the traditional practices and telling this amazing story of the founder and the product,” Dillon notes. “It was an amazing experience to be one of the first marketers to tell a different type of cannabis story.”
Building Success in Cannabis and CBD
Dillon helped grow Papa & Barkley into a $30-million business in less than three years. It was an invaluable experience that helped root her in cannabis as well as the culture and community that surrounds it.
“I used all our products, was able to meet all of our farmers, was able to help harvest and trim – and I’d never experienced that in any other industry,” she says. “In cannabis there is a sense of community and collaboration where you really have to trust others in some very significant ways in order to be successful.”
Helping cannabis and CBD businesses become successful is a big part of what Dillon does today through her consulting firm Plant & Prosper, where she builds on her years of experience inside and outside of cannabis.
“Authenticity and community are such a key part of branding in the cannabis space, and I think that’s why we’re seeing some turmoil in the markets now,” she notes, adding that a lot of people are coming into the CBD space, for instance, from a profit perspective without really engaging with the plant.
This is one of the reasons Dillon has joined other seasoned experts, bringing her insights, knowledge, and experience to Green Flower’s new CBD Certificate Program.
CBD: Standing out in a Crowded Market
The number one question for CBD companies today: how to stand out in a saturated market?
From what Dillon has observed, there are a good deal of CBD operators today that could do a better job asking that question.
“One [common mistake] is not having a unique perspective on the product, especially not having a lot of differentiation with other products in your market,” she notes.
Solid distribution strategies are also an important part of the equation here. “You can have a beautiful brand or product, but if you don’t have the right distribution channels in place, you’re probably not going to win in this market,” she advises, encouraging CBD brands to get creative and find unconventional channels for their products.
“I was just at a CBD farmers market and you couldn’t really tell the difference between one table and another table in terms of their product offering, so really standing out and going after new customers that not everyone is competing for is key.”
This same philosophy applies to advertising efforts as well. “Go where you can’t advertise and be willing to fail and learn from it.” Dillon advises. “A lot of marketing is around testing and learning and failing, figure out what works, and when you find what works you keep doing it.”
What it really comes down to, Dillon continues, is how efficiently you’re running your business versus just having a great product. “And in the supply chain, make sure you’re getting quality input that’s being tested and that the whole process is consistent and scalable.”
If scaling is your goal, she says, it’s different to make a DIY formula for a local store versus creating products for national retailers, where there’s a lot of different requirements.
Avoiding One of the Biggest Mistakes in CBD
Any industry will attract good players and bad players. With the CBD industry, however, Dillon senses a lot of people doing things wrong unintentionally by creating products that aren’t helpful or that aren’t grounded in research – missteps that actually do a lot of harm to the industry overall, she says.
“Be careful not to copycat bad information,” she cautions. “There are a lot of great resources, Green Flower among them, which are rooted in at least the baseline science of the product.”
Dillon admits that she is often surprised by the number of people she’s talked to, professionals in the industry who haven’t really done their homework on CBD or cannabis.
“It’s shocking to me when I meet people who have already invested tens of thousands of dollars without knowing what the endocannabinoid system is,” she reveals. “Whether or not that’s part of your message to a consumer is one thing, but I would think as an entrepreneur you would need to be rooted in at least the baseline science. Because at some point you have to tell people why your product is beneficial!”
Filling these knowledge gaps among professionals who are engaging with the CBD industry from any number of angles is a crucial step – and it all circles back to the CBD Certificate Program, where anybody can and enroll and go through the course online.
“You want to know you’re getting vetted information that gets right to the heart of the matter. Invest in your success rather than spending hours in an internet blackhole trying to piece together information where you don’t even know if it’s accurate or not.”
Finding the Opportunity for You
As the CBD, hemp, and cannabis industries continue to grow, opportunities abound for professionals of many backgrounds and disciplines.
“There is an opportunity for everyone, and we just have to figure out what that means,” Dillon says.
A lot of people find appeal around the plant-touching side of the business, however one should not overlook the ancillary opportunities, such as event planning, packaging, legal, marketing, and so many more ways to service the fast-growing industry.
“Like they say about during the gold rush, sometimes it was the people who sold the picks and the axes who made more money than the people searching for the gold.”
Learn more from Kimberly Dillon and other proven experts: The Online CBD Certificate Program
CBD may be a simple molecule, but it holds the potential to change the way that we think about health, business, and agriculture. Don’t miss your chance to learn more. Sign up for the Green Flower CBD Certificate Program and learn how to avoid:
- Losing money in an oversaturated market
- Being passed-up by more qualified job applicants
- Making mistakes with clients due to lack of understanding
After all, saying “no” to education is saying “no” to opportunity.
Get all the details on the program page today.