Creating Memorable CBD Consumer Learning Experiences 1/13/2020
CBD is debatably one of the hottest developments within the consumer goods industry right now, and with the proliferation of brands within the space, it’s becoming an uphill battle for CBD suppliers to differentiate themselves from one another.
At the same time, there is a tremendous need for consumer education on CBD, everything from the basics of what CBD is, to the different types of CBD (such as isolate vs. full spectrum), to the various delivery methods such as tinctures, gummies and supplments.
Since the major digital advertising platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Google and Amazon still don’t allow retailers or CBD brands to run paid ads, the only way to reach consumers is through employing strategic organic content marketing strategies wherever you can, including online, social media and in-store or other face-to-face platforms.
And it’s this in-person arena where both retailers and their CBD supplier-partners have a great opportunity to tie all of this together with educational events that provide consumers with the information they need to make smart decisions regarding CBD products, in a format that is fun and memorable and that positions them and their supplier partners as thought leaders in the space.
The ‘High School Party’ Concept
Gary Vaynerchuk refers to this as the “High School Party” strategy. What this strategy refers to is how the less popular kids at high school who were able to host parties at their house (when their parents went away for the weekend) became elevated in status by providing a place for the popular kids to hang out.
So, in terms of CBD education, retailers can leverage this tactic and work with their CBD suppliers to host educational events that provide a platform for learning and discussion – with a little fun tied in, as well – that will ultimately drive traffic to their CBD offerings.
Following are some suggested steps in how to get the most out of these events.
Step 1: Find a Strategic Supplier Partner
Reach out to your suppliers to find one or more who are interested in helping you provide the needed resources as well as promote and fund the event. They will be responsible for providing educational materials that the participants can take home, as well as product samples and coupons for their products that can be redeemed at your store. Swag like t-shirts, hats, or coffee mugs is always a plus!
Step 2: Find the Ideal Location
Scout out a location that’s either in the store (if you have a nice conference room or in-store dining area), or else a nearby restaurant that has enough space to accommodate the group.
Step 3: Promote Your Event
You’ll then create a promotion (videos work great for this) for your website and social media announcing that you and your supplier partner will be hosting an event to provide an overview of CBD and the different types of CBD products, followed by a Q&A and a dinner during which participants can have casual discussion and share their experiences with CBD.
Link this invite to a survey with questions that will help you to gauge each respondent's level of knowledge and interest about CBD; you’ll use this to select the participants and build the education program. This will also get you started on building an email database. Your selection criteria for the event can depend on a variety of factors – whether it’s just “first come, first serve,” (which opens up the opportunity for a follow-up event), or maybe you match them up against your frequent shopper list and select your best current customers. The goal is to select those people for the event who you think you’ll be able to convert to purchasers of your CBD products.
Step 4: Execute Your Event
As I mentioned above, the event should consist of a formal presentation, followed by a Q&A and then a casual dinner. As the event should be educational and entertaining, be sure that you don’t overwhelm participants with too much technical details or sales talk during the presentation component. The survey information gathered in Step 3 should provide you with guidance for what content should make up the educational program. Keep the presentation short – no longer than an hour, and provide ample time for Q&A. During the dinner, make sure you have knowledgeable staff mixed among the participants to guide the conversations and to answer any additional questions that might come up.
This is also where you can leverage social media to extend your reach during and after the event. Encourage participants to snap and share photos from the event (perhaps using a custom hashtag) and create “Instagramable” moments – maybe with a step-and-repeat, or a supplier mascot – something customers will want to share on social media to promote both you and the supplier. (See Joseph Tarnowski’s column on creating Instagramable moments.) This will also help generate interest for future events. You should also take plenty of photos as well, and make sure you tag the participants when you post them, so they can share them, too.
Step 5: Post Event Follow Up
Following the event, reach out to participants to gather their feedback, and send them a recap of the presentation. You might also include additional offers/coupons to help drive additional traffic to your CBD section. Create a post on your webste and social media recapping the event with a photo gallery and key takeaways from the presentations, and use this page to sign up and survey customers for participation in future events. As your email list grows, you can use it as the basis of a CBD newsletter.
The goal is to try and host these events on a regular basis for the consumers in your area, so that when it comes to CBD, your stores are the place that everyone will want to visit!