As the cannabis industry grows and changes, the businesses occupying the space must evolve as well.

Since the beginning of legal marijuana in Missouri, Douglas Hall, Jack Heffner, and the team at The Cannabis Agency have been helping businesses and organizations succeed. Whether it was behind the scenes producing events or by being the customer-engaging arm of brands at events, the team has been actively making a mark on Missourians since legal marijuana hit retail.

Originally branded Cannvocate, a more mature market called for a rebrand and a realignment.

Jack Heffner, Director of Activation, spoke with Greenway about what a rebrand means for the company, and what stays the same.

“Doug always refers to iterations in everything we do. This is our next iteration as we learn what the market needs, what works – and what doesn’t – and how to utilize that knowledge to provide better experiences for the consumer and more impactful results for our clients and their brands.”

“Cannvocate still is, and will continue to be, the event side, the human experience, the direct point of engagement with the consumer wherever they are in their cannabis journey,” Heffner explained.

“The Cannabis Agency is the strategic and the creative team that designs the experience, Cannvocate is the field team that executes the experience.”

While the Cannvocate brand will remain, the market necessitated a reevaluation of position. In reevaluating, the delineation of duty made a separation of brand the clearest way to convey that the services and offerings had grown with the needs of the market.

“If you look at the events and experiences that we produced leading up to Rec, cannabis was the brand. Education and de-stigmatization were at the forefront of our goals. Once Rec passed, cannabis quickly worked its way into the fabric of society and became more normalized as a product, opening the door for brands to come of their own. Keeping par with that trend, we shifted strategy on consumer engagement and made it more about brand differentiation and consumption experience.”

Heffner emphasizes that The Cannabis Agency brand better represents a wider array of offerings and capabilities for clients. “It’s a much better representation of what goes into the services that get our partners traction at the point of purchase. Event engagement and pop-ups are only one part of a customer journey workflow. And ours are incredibly successful because of all the other parts we put in place. Now that the public moved the needle from needing education on category to needing education on brands and points of differentiation, we shifted our focus on ways to give our brand partners a leg up on the consumer experience. This focus requires us to lean more heavily on digital engagement and content development, as well as brokering collaborations within and adjacent to the market. These are agency services,” he explained. “We can be specific if we want to with what type of customer experience we want to create, and where, around a brand’s goals in specific segments of the community and create a direct-to-retail approach that will provide results they can measure.”

The focus on integrating digital engagement and content development meets the growing demands of the market while providing tailored experiences that are directly aligned with the goals of individual brands.

This expansion allows the company to create a more integrated and effective marketing and sales funnel, enhancing the overall customer experience and providing measurable impacts for clients.

“Our strategic approach puts the customer experience at the forefront, ensuring every brand we nurture resonates powerfully within the cannabis community and beyond. The entire goal is enhancement. By being a single-stream source of strategy, activation and creativity on both the marketing and sales side creates a culture of accountability and action. We can pivot, adjust all at the same time. Much like a switchboard operator all those switches can be flipped at the same time impacting immediate change in a constantly changing ecosystem. Hyperconnectivity allows for a better response time in market to new brands coming online to competitors trying to do exclusive agreements in the market. We can identify those ‘threats’ and create positive solutions to elevate the brands we work with while taking a higher road in the marketplace and exemplifying our client’s brands’ points of differentiation. Field Marketing, which is at our core, is an amazing place to reside in the industry. As opposed to traditional marketing initiatives, we have the flexibility to change, influence purchase behavior and drive to retail. Field Marketing is literally the one place in the flow of things where Sales and Marketing intersect. We live at that intersection providing actual results that impact the sales and marketing goals of our clients.”

With The Cannabis Agency brand, the team finally brings all of its experience and brand building into alignment under one roof.

“In addition to the existing field operations, media production, development, and digital marketing services we were already offering, we are now implementing sales services such as brokering, coaching, and consulting. These are services we’ve offered outside of the cannabis industry via D. Advocate and Associates but didn’t feel the market would be ready for until now.”

“We’ve also focussed on making RUN THC our consumer brand,” he explained. “This was necessary as our consumer field efforts have generated an active and engaged consumer audience. That audience often crosses over to the business side. Our intent is that when someone receives communication from the agency, it is business-related; when it is from RUN THC it is consumption-related, and when it’s from Cannvocate, it’s about event details.”

By positioning itself as a pivotal entity capable of driving significant market change, The Cannabis Agency is set to not only anticipate but also create trends, paving the way for a future where its influence extends nationally and beyond as the regulatory landscape continues to evolve. With an eye on long-term growth and sustainability, the agency focuses on strategic adaptability, ensuring it remains at the forefront of the industry’s developments.

“The industry landscape is ever-changing and volatile,” Heffner said. “Every day there’s another buyout, merger, ownership change, DHSS decision, firing, hiring, licensee change, Delta 9 variant, freeze, unfreeze, refreeze, not to mention the high turnover in leadership and middle management jumping from one organization to the next, often leaving a huge mess in their wake.”

“Having a reliable and trusted partner to execute and maintain strategies throughout these turbulent times is certainly a light in the storm.”

With the change and expansion of the scope of services of The Cannabis Agency, changes are necessary. While change is sometimes seen as a negative, Heffner relays that the biggest driver of change is growth. “We are always looking for fresh talent and fresh ideas to help us grow. Sales and Marketing has changed more in the last 6 months than the last 6 years with the development of AI and we need to make sure some of us who have experience in the way things have been done can be open and trained on what’s to come.”

For Heffner and the team at The Cannabis Agency, one of the most relevant parts of their sustained success and growth is the culture of the company and its leadership.

“Our core values have never changed and overlap all of our brands and service divisions. We take our work seriously without taking ourselves seriously. We will not take on projects that we do not believe we can deliver a sustainable impact and return. We never do the same thing twice with a constant focus on iterating and evolving. And, we don’t work with assholes. Our clients aren’t assholes and they love results.”

So where does The Cannabis Agency go from here?

Obviously, world domination,” he joked. “But that will start with taking these learnings and implementing and improving them for other states and ultimately, nationally once the feds get their shit together. We plan to use our ever-growing industry and market influence to not only spot trends but to create them. Ideally, we’d like a portfolio of the very best brands in cannabis and a role in ensuring consumers get to experience their products.”

The Cannabis Agency takes an approach aimed at setting a standard in the cannabis marketing space, driving the industry forward through both creative and strategic excellence, while building bonds and delivering results.

“We’re in a competitive marketplace. May the best products, and strategies, win.”

 

To learn more about Heffner and the team at The Cannabis Agency or to inquire about services, visit thecanna.agency.

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