Under the influence:

Why cannabis influencers are the answer to your marketing question

Mike Tyson is a heavy-hitter.

The former heavyweight champion revealed in August that he smokes $40,000 of weed every month at his future cannabis resort, Tyson Ranch.

The story came up in an episode of Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, a podcast where “Iron” Mike sits down for a “performance-enhanced” conversation with celebrities, athletes and luminaries. Details on Tyson’s colossal cannabis consumption scored him a ton of earned media, with multiple news outlets and social media channels covering the story.

So what does this story teach us? 

Mike Tyson smokes a lot of weed. 

But what else?

Mike Tyson is an influencer at the top of his game.

He generated massive awareness for his resort, and he did it organically. He brought up his monumental weed consumption in conversation, tied it in to his new venture, and let the message spread digitally. Besides production costs, it cost him nothing. 

As an influencer in the weed game, Mike hits hard.

BACK TRACK A SECOND. “INFLUENCER”. I KNOW THAT WORD, BUT COULD YOU GIVE ME A REFRESHER?

Relax. Despite all the hype, “influencer” is a relatively new word. Before 2016, it lacked a definition on Dictionary.com.

 

An influencer is someone who can change the way people think and behave.

Whether they’re writing an impassioned defense of universal basic income on their personal blog, or posting Instagram Stories of their Maldivian overwater villa, influencers create new thoughts, new desires, and new perspectives. 

And they’re persuasive. Influencers develop a unique bond with their followers, sharing regular, engaging content. They’re always on hand. They’re your five minutes at the bus stop. Your after-work wind-down.

Plus, they follow back. While traditional media is mostly limited to one-way conversation, social media allows influencers to communicate directly with their followers, sharing likes, posting comments, and responding to direct messages.

Sounds groovy. But what makes Mike such a “heavy hitter” in the weed business?

He’s a problem solver.

Federal legislation makes it tough to promote your cannabis business, with social media companies like Twitter and Facebook banning weed advertisements.

By partnering with influencers, you can knock down these obstacles and get your brand off the canvas. Whether you’re sponsoring digital content, developing co-branded merchandise, or offering free bud for a review, influencers like Tyson can connect you to a new, engaged audience.

"ALRIGHT, I’M IN. BUT HOW DO I FIND AN INFLUENCER TO WORK WITH?"

Work with an agency, like us

We’ll match you with influencers who are perfectly suited to promoting your business. We’ll manage the partnership and help you build the relationship. And we’ll take care of the paperwork.

Whether you work with an agency or go solo, start by asking yourself: who is my ideal influencer?

VALUES

VALUES

What do you believe in? What’s important to you? Perhaps you’ve installed LED lighting, solar power and water reclamation systems to reduce your carbon footprint. Pick an influencer who shares your commitment to the environment. This is known as brand alignment.

DEMOGRAPHICS

DEMOGRAPHICS

Who buys your weed? Who orders your lighting systems? Your customers probably have some things in common. Do they tend to be old or young, male or female, professional or self-employed? If you want to hit your target market, you’ll want to find an influencer with an audience that shares key characteristics with your customer base.

Once you’ve established the requirements, it’s time to find the candidate. This is the fun bit. Watch YouTube. Search Google for cannabis bloggers based in Denver. Scan Twitter with relevant hashtags. Make a note of the influencers who stand out and resonate with you and your business. 

Next, delve a little deeper into your influencer shortlist.

  • Is their content entertaining?
  • Could you get on with them?
  • Do they have a large following?
  • Is their audience engaged? Do they have a lot of likes and comments on their posts?
  • Are there any red flags? Could anything they’ve said cause negative controversy?
"OK, I’VE FOUND MY MATCH. NOW HOW DO I REACH OUT?"

For the time being, e-mail reigns king, particularly if you’re reaching out to an influencer with a large following. Popular influencers are flooded with partnership requests every day, so it’s easy for yours to get lost in the pile of DMs and comments.

If it’s a popular influencer, chances are they’ll have their own agent and/or publicist too, and that’s who you’ll be writing to. Influencers often note their representation in their social media bio, or you can do a quick Google search to find who you should be emailing. Tools like hunter.io can help you scan websites to find the right email address.

Write a personal email that communicates what you like about your would-be influencer and why you think you should work together. Be specific. “I feel our brands align and I believe we share many similar values” becomes “We share two loves. Weed, and the environment.”

Consider floating an idea for a partnership in your opening message. Your pitch for co-branded edibles might come to nothing, but it could give your influencer something to nibble on while you build out a partnership together.

Keep in mind what kind of partnership you want to establish. Free or paid? Cash, contra (free products or services exchanged in place of cash), or both? You’ll need to iron out these details eventually, including your expectations, and it’s best to write up a contract to make everything legal and concrete.

Let me guess. You can help with that too, right?

Indeed we can. We’ll take care of the legalities and make sure your business and your brand are protected.

That means you can focus on the fun part: building fun relationships with people who share your passions, your values, and your audience.

Influencers can connect you to new people and help you overcome bans on cannabis advertising. They promote your products or services by showing how your bud, bong or baked goods fit in with their lifestyle. They help you build your brand and they embody the values your business stands for.

That’s a combo “Iron” Mike would be proud of.

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