3 Powerful Differentiators for your Cannabis Business

Whether you’re a cannabis dispensary owner, a processor, or a grower, the question you must constantly ask yourself is “why would somebody purchase my products over my competitors?” Be honest with yourself. If you can’t answer clearly, consumers won’t be able to either. That’s why differentiating your business from competitors is so critical. When a cannabis market develops and becomes saturated, (I’m looking at you Oregon), standing out from the pack is the difference between success and failure. Here’s three powerful differentiators for your cannabis business.

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Cannabis Corporate Social Responsibility

A corporate social responsibility program is an absolute must for all cannabis businesses, and something that we recommend to all of our clients.

Attach your cannabis business to a good cause and institutionalize that cause into your operations. It could be any number of things: animal rescues, veteran support, or cancer research.

The data supporting this is very clear.

Cannabis and various good causies

When given a choice between two similar businesses, consumers will choose one that has provides a societal benefit compared to one that doesn’t 90% of the time.

Social causes build loyalty, can turn casual shoppers into evangelists, and provide a great source of content. It’s not just a fluke that more and more companies are becoming registered B-Corps. Still not convinced? CSR programs also help with employee recruiting and retention.

  • When possible, support a cause that aligns with your brand. For example, if you are a veteran-owned brand, then align yourself with a charity that lobbies for veteran access to cannabis.

  • When launching your CSR program, include your employees in the decision making process. They’ll be more likely to support the program, regardless of whether their charity or cause is ultimately chosen.

  • Think outside the box in terms of how you support your cause. It doesn’t always have to be a simple monetary donation. You could volunteer time, donate products, or hold awareness campaigns.

  • Need help developing a CSR program? Check out Cannabis Doing Good. That’s exactly what they do, they’re the pros!

Cannabis Customer Service

A bad customer experience at a cannabis dispensary assures they’ll never come back. Or worse, they’ll leave a rough review Google or Yelp. That’s why good customer service is crucial. Great customer service, on the other hand, can act as a key differentiator for your business.

Good cannabis business customer service

In a previous position one of my responsibilities was overseeing a support team. When we’d get a call about a problematic order or product, I’d get excited. Seriously! That’s because every time somebody contacts support it is an opportunity to create a brand evangelist. Most customers understand that mistakes happen. It’s how you solve the problem that the person will remember.

Most of your competitors won’t invest resources, time, and money into exceptional customer service training. That’s their mistake and your gain. Check out our 5 customer service “B’s” below.

  • Be friendly – Smiling and asking how somebody’s day is going costs nothing but can have a big impact. Make sure your employees are friendly and want to help customers.

  • Be teachers – Nobody should know more about your products or services than your staff. They’re also in a unique position where as our industry develops, newcomers need to be educated. Your company can be a part of that teaching, building loyalty in the process.

  • Be patient – Whether it’s a problem, question, or just a customer telling a story, train you staff to be patient and listen. When a customer feels like they’ve been heard they’ll feel empowered and engaged.
  • Be proactive – Don’t wait for a customer to ask for a solution to their problem. Offer it BEFORE they ask.

  • Be creative – Think up unique (and sharable) ways to interact with customers. Example: in my previous position, there was an incident where a customer’s order was lost and didn’t get processed. After refunding his payment, we had a celebrity influencers hand-deliver the order to his door. We filmed the whole thing, including an apology, and created a video for our social media platforms. The customer was thrilled and we received very public praise for how we handled the problem. We turned a disappointed customer into a loyal, brand evangelist!

In the early days of our industry, pot leaves or green crosses were standard-issue for cannabis businesses. Every brand looked similar. Thankfully, we’re moving beyond the staleness, including logos, name, color palette, typography, iconography, language, and Unique Value Proposition. If everybody uses green as their primary color, the best thing you can do is avoid it. (That being said, once you know the rules, there’s always room to break them.)

  • When developing your brand, use a thoughtful, organized process. These assets will be with your business for a long time.

  • Build your brand assets to appeal to the customers you want to attract. And remember, your ideal customer may not be attracted to the same things you are!

  • Don’t go cheap! Your brand assets should have a story and reasoning behind them. It’s not just the result that counts when building a brand, it’s how and why you ended up with that result.

  • A re-brand can be expensive and time consuming, but sticking with a brand that doesn’t resonate or appeal to the right customers will be worse. The hardest part about a re-brand is starting the process!
Close up view of creative worktable with Botani mock-up laptop, stationery, cup and decorations on white table with yellow wall

Get introspective!

Ask yourself regularly “why would somebody patronize my business over my competitors?” If you can’t answer that question, you should seriously consider implementing our suggestions above. Remember: almost anything you can do to make your cannabis business different is a good thing. In a saturated market, blending in can mean failure.


“Hands, touching hands Reaching out, touching me, touching you…”