SWM International is a large, publicly-traded company with offices and employees spread globally. Papermaking has been a significant part of its core business since its founding in 1545.
They’ve manufactured and supplied paper to the tobacco industry for many years. And today, SWM is exploring ways to diversify its business.
SWM develops and manufactures products for the tobacco industry they can transfer to cannabis, including technologies that solve cannabis industry problems and solutions that give brand owners tools for unique, differentiated products.
So it’s no surprise the growing legal cannabis industry has been on their radar for some time.
As the premier cannabis-specialized marketing agency, SWM came to Hybrid for help in taking the next step.
We needed to determine how to facilitate SWM’s entry into the cannabis industry. There were three essential considerations:
- We couldn’t impact their core business.
- We had to consider the cannabis industry’s response to a large, tobacco-adjacent business entering the space.
- The language SWM uses to describe their tobacco-centric products doesn’t translate directly to cannabis industry veterans.
We know through market research conducted for a previous project that the cannabis industry prefers working with specialists.
Cannabis businesses will seek specialists inside the industry nine out of ten times before looking for a similar or transferable product, service, or solution outside the industry.
Why? Our industry is unique, with nuances, language, challenges, and values all its own. People in cannabis want to work with others that are all-in like they are.
Almost immediately, the path forward was clear: we needed to create a distinct, cannabis-forward brand to act as SWM’s vehicle into the industry. So we developed five brand “windows” to steer our overall strategy.
The windows helped our team develop clarity and focus as we kicked off the brand development phase. Decisions regarding strategy, tactics, and execution were guided by “looking through” the brand windows.
Botani's Brand Windows
- Acknowledge the industry
- Support innovation and innovative producers
- Lean on legacy
- Earn trust
- Build for the middle
We divided the engagement with SWM into three phases: Foundation, Launch, and Amplification.
Phase 1: Foundation
- Persona development
- Visual identity
- Website design
- Sales assets (business cards, one-pagers, brochures)
- Hubspot platform setup and integration
- Apparel design
Phase 1 included everything imaginable for a successful brand launch. Still, we needed to conduct in-depth persona research before we could design a logo or write a single line of copy.
Hybrid always conducts intense research to develop customer personas. However, this time, we took things to another level.
We constructed detailed profiles of four key personas for SWMs’ new entity to target. Hybrid based the personas on interviews with industry contacts and at least 20 individual LinkedIn profiles.
With an understanding of our target personas, the creative work started.
After several weeks of brainstorming, researching, and testing, we landed on a name that accurately represents the new brand and its direction: BOTANI (pronounced Beau-tawn-ee).
We took this fresh identity and developed the assets necessary to launch a brand successfully. But unfortunately, many people still believe branding isn’t essential for B2B businesses, and we couldn’t disagree more.
An exceptional brand that stands out and speaks to its ideal customers is critical, no matter where the business may sit in the industry ecosystem.
TELLING BOTANI'S STORY
With a brand solidified, our copywriting team began crafting Botani’s story, website, and additional content pieces.
It’s challenging to tell the story of a fresh brand built atop a 400+ year history. Still, we rarely get the opportunity to make our mark on a legacy business, so our teams embraced the challenge with enthusiasm and vigor.
Understanding that video content is as essential–if not more so–than written content, we produced a brand film that explores Botani’s legacy, giving a behind-the-scenes look at their historic Ancram, New York manufacturing facility and introducing consumers to the people behind Botani’s’ business.
The film communicates key messages explicitly crafted to resonate with cannabis industry operators.
Phase 2: Launch
- Paid media (print and digital)
- Email marketing
- Programmatic advertising
- Public Relations
Phase 2 had a singular purpose: to develop awareness.
We needed to ensure every relevant cannabis industry player knew Botani and understood its offerings and value.
To do that quickly, paid media would be the cornerstone of the launch.
We spread Botani’s paid media plan across three months, including various digital placements like newsletters, banner ads, site takeovers, and sponsored stories with various notable industry publishers.
To ensure we achieved industry-wide saturation, we augmented paid media with a programmatic campaign, email marketing (using a custom list), and a strong PR effort with our partner MaverickPR.
Phase 3: Amplification
- Paid media
- Blog content
- Long-form content
- Remarketing (programmatic)
- Email marketing
During Phase 3, we focused on sustained trust-building and lead generation activities.
Our team modified the paid media budget to keep Botani top-of-mind while also giving us the flexibility to invest in higher-performing channels. We also dialed back programmatic advertising, using it exclusively for remarketing campaigns.
Understanding organic traffic is ultimately Botani’s best traffic source, we started writing and publishing SEO-driven blogs to the brand’s website.
We also distribute blogs to Botani’s opted-in email ist. We’ve established a consistent (but unobtrusive) email cadence designed to nurture leads throughout an often lengthy sales cycle.
To take advantage of Botani’s increased website traffic, converting visitors into leads, we attached long-form lead magnets to email and programmatic campaigns.
We’ve explicitly designed each piece of published content and email to provide cannabis brand owners with valuable information that helps them create high-value, differentiated pre-roll products.
Here’s a glimpse at KPIs from the first 3 months post-launch:
- Our work generated over 263k impressions within the B2B cannabis industry audience.
- Site traffic went from 0 to 800 sessions per month NOT including paid media traffic.
- Produced 5-10 qualified leads per week.
We are thrilled with what we have achieved for SWM with Botani, and are excited to continue to build on the success of the branding, foundation, and launch phases.
If your business has solutions that are transferable to the cannabis industry but you aren’t sure about next steps, let’s set up a call to discuss. Hybrid is the industry-entrant specialists; there are no other agencies with more experience successfully ushering businesses into the cannabis industry.