There are so many technology bases businesses in the cannabis industry, each addressing a unique need. In this partner series, CUE Cannabis is speaking to Founders and owners within our network of partners. 

There are so many technology bases businesses in the cannabis industry, each addressing a unique need. In this partner series, CUE Cannabis is speaking to Founders and owners within our network of partners.

Today we’re highlighting one of our favorite digital marketing specialists Hybrid Marketing. We’ve worked with these guys for a few years now, and they’re based here in Colorado. Today we’ve got their founder and CEO Greg Peters with us to discuss comprehensive strategies when it comes to digital marketing. Check out the full written interview below.

Sean Glynn: Welcome, Greg, thanks for joining.

Greg Peters: Thanks for having me, Sean. I appreciate it.

Sean Glynn: Can you give us a quick overview of Hybrid and history and what you are working on right now.

Greg Peters: Absolutely. Hybrid Marketing was founded in 2015, located in Santa Fe Arts District in Denver, Colorado. We focus on branding strategy marketing, and that can encompass all forms of digital, traditional marketing. It is a little bit more challenging these days. Still, with analytics and automation, we just put our client’s business growth objectives at the center of our universe and build a comprehensive discovery process to extract that winning combination of tactics, in the end, to drive growth objectives. We have been in the cannabis marketing space since the beginning in 2011, which has allowed us to gain a very competitive edge and give us visibility and learning into what works, how to stay compliant, how to keep our clients safe, and how to help them win.

Sean Glynn: Colorado is an excellent ecosystem with the relatively mature set of operators here and many technology companies and folks pushing the envelope with some of the stuff that you need to run a business here in the space. Happy to have you guys here right in our backyard and be able to work closely with you.

One of the things I wanted to ask you is with the current COVID situation, and what are some of the items that clients are thinking about and spending their dollars on right now?

Greg Peters: I’ll start with one of our local clients. Obviously, with everything shifting digital, it is more important than ever, so mostly, when some of those mandates came out, we had to implement, communicate, and measure quickly. What we implemented was making sure that we had compliant processes for the curbside. Making sure that safety and sanitation procedures were top of mind, and of course, we had all of these procedures and communications via multiple outlets through social, email, signage. I’ll tell you some of our clients have had some of their most record-breaking months in the last three months. Everybody’s glued to their digital devices, that’s really what it is, and we had a large number of physical events that we use to manage and execute, and we’ve moved those to digital.

We’ve created a virtual 420 platform that happens now every month for one of our clients. We’re focused on music, DJs, diversity, and connection. I’ll tell you one thing that surprised us is that in the general market sectors, influencer marketing may be dead, but we’ve found a renewed interest in it in the last few months. I would say moving your events to a digital platform like twitch and producing through all sorts of social, email if you believe that it’s still a relevant platform probably more than ever. It helps you own your list and own your market set. Social also helps us quickly communicate the dynamically changing environment and keeping customers up to date.

All this is mostly on the Colorado front; looking across the US, we’ve seen aggressive growth in the build phases. We’re working with an operation out of Michigan that expects to expand to 14+ retail locations over the next 12 months. They’re fully vertically integrated. While they get stood up, they’re selling other organizations’ products, but they have an aggressive growth strategy. They see the opportunity that cannabis can provide in the current climate.

In addition to what we are doing to maintain the client success other than our standard suite of services, I would say virtualizing the events, influencer marketing brand strategy, really tightening up their brand, and putting the psychology behind it. I’ll call it value perception out of your brand. PR is HUGE. Another differentiator is the corporate social responsibility program, which our organizations are doing to help and extend beyond that I’d say interviews and podcasts. When you’re leveraging these pieces of content, you want to make sure that everybody trying to make the most out-there dollar is leveraging what they are putting out to the nth degree. One of the tips that we’ve been doing is either video producing videos interviews, podcasts and we’re transcribing and adding that kind of invisibly to the site for SEO value. We’ve taken that one piece of content, and being able to stretch it to have a dramatic impact on findability and in search.

Sean Glynn: You touched on a myriad of different topics here, and I just wanted to point out that a lot of this can feel daunting, especially as you’re just starting your business/brand – don’t try to go it alone, get some help. It’s well worth the investment, and that’s why we wanted to feature you guys today because we know Hyrbid can handle a lot of those things and do it well. Setting the foundation for these brands or maybe they’re already established, but if brands are looking at becoming more efficient or how to get the most bang out of the investment.

Greg Peters: That’s a good point. I would always say never skimp on brand. We tend to spend some time doing what’s already out there for established companies and again building that psychology behind it. If it’s one thing that you do invest in, it’s your brand – it is your face and persona that you’re creating out with your clients and adding the value perception. There are rooms we talked to folks in Oklahoma and Alaska; there’s room to be about the low-cost player like if you want to be the Bud Light of Cannabis. There’s absolutely space but own it and move in that direction with full confidence. There is also the more value-based craft beer type of approach where we want to paint you as special unique and start to put those unique differentiators out into the marketplace via your brand.

Sean Glynn: I also want to talk more on some of that corporate social responsibility again because it’s something I enjoy about being in the cannabis industry is that sense of community that we create here and giving back to the community for various causes. I think it is ultra-important right now and type of guidance to help a brand steer in the right direction there is valuable too. Brands can do a lot of damage in case of some missteps. No one’s going to remember all the good stuff you did; it’s just the bad stuff, and it’s crucial to have a defined strategy and outcome and to work with someone that knows what they’re doing. It’s also essential when you’re just trying to get licensed in multiple states. They require quite a significant corporate social responsibility aspect to your application, and states are going to be awarding licenses based on that particular piece.

What’s one thing that may be an operation, whether they are established or just starting that maybe they’re not thinking about when it comes to the marketing strategy?

Greg Peters: You keyed in on it. It is corporate social responsibility, and applications are being won or lost with that sort of plan in place. Cannabis is such a young industry with an opportunity above and beyond other market segments where you can find your company. You know, being a part of a marketplace trying to do good and trying to generate equity and equality out there with all individuals. CSR is a unique differentiator during the application process. We’ve seen a lot of that in st. Louis and of course we tend to send those or bring in our friends that are doing good and then they’re a huge differentiator there.

We then start to build the brand and some of the execution components that we put out there now if you’re established, or you’re wondering what to do that’s pretty cost-effective with marketing. I would say two things: socially being mindful of some of the platform regulations on social and second is blogging. In the interest of getting the biggest bang for your buck, we want to make sure that if you have the means to do SEO guided blogs or thought leadership articles to close the loop on your brand in a positive light and have a dramatic impact on SEO. Google is always looking for new pages; they want to serve up the correct answer to a searchers query, and we want to make sure if it’s SEO guided that your site comes up and does that. Those are relatively cost-effective when you can write them internally, you can grab the reports from us and write them yourself, we can get them for you, but that’s a perfect place to start.

Sean Glynn: Content marketing is one of those things where it’s just so important to drive inbound traffic. Everything starts from the content marketing piece, and it can get relentless sometimes too. It’s terrific to have some expertise and to be able to optimize those for search right, so there’s a lot of aspects. And that’s where you guys are really helpful. Well

What’s top of mind for you? What does Hybrid want to accomplish in 2020, and what’s been exciting for you?

Greg Peters: I want to say for us in 2020 it’s just like everybody else is being extremely cognizant of our client’s success, so we are fully sensitive to the fact that we cannot be successful unless our clients are successful. With everything we’ve been staying incredibly close more than ever becoming partners and strategists inside of their business, whether we deliver it or not. I have a background in 20 years of P&L consulting for some of the Fortune 500 companies; what we look to do is a partner with a company above and beyond marketing in the end. Making sure that our clients stay healthy is priority number one. Making sure all of our people have a place to keep on coming to work and treating them is first and being very sensitive to the fact that everybody is a human being with families and that they need to be supported in this time in different ways. We are making sure that one we stay close to clients – we put in our people first and three continuing to spread the good word on cannabis and making sure that we are a change agent for the perception of cannabis. We want to make sure that everybody understands that it’s part of an overarching health and wellness story that can benefit many.

Sean Glynn: You hit on a number of really crucial points close to my heart as well. I know you’re a man of your word because I can tell how many different reductions you brought in to us. It’s just been great working with you guys, and it’s great to hear you’re ramping back up, keeping busy and taking care of your employees.

I really appreciate your time. is there anything outside you wanted to cover?

Greg Peters: I’d love to shout out to CUE. I mean, you guys have been an excellent partner. As new operations open up, you guys are the first stop, or we send them your website and the marketplace to understand what they need in the software stack and the professional services and managed services that they need to kind of get started. We absolutely appreciate that partnership in the camp of resources when we talk to different organizations.

Sean Glynn: Greg, I truly appreciate it. It is very catching up and stay healthy and safe.

Greg Peters: Thank You, Sean!

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