Key Takeaways from CWCBExpo 2018

By Matter

The excitement was palpable at last week’s Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo) in Boston. For three days, I had the chance to connect with the people and businesses pushing this emerging market forward. Everyone was informed and passionate about the industry. There was a real sense of community: businesses helping each other navigate this growing and complex space. The keynotes from New Frontier Data CEO, Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, Former Mass. Governor William (Bill) Weld and former TV personality and now founder of Lenitiv, and Montel Williams were all enlightening and inspiring. Each having their own unique take and reason for being in the cannabis space.

While the news of the legalization of marijuana in the Canadian market almost stole the show, there was also much speculation around what will happen in Michigan come November. Those were the two regions with the most chatter, beyond our own state of Massachusetts. The evolution of the Cannabis industry will certainly be one to watch and we’re happy to help our clients and prospects navigate it successfully.

Here are a few key takeaways worth sharing from a PR, creative and marketing perspective:

The cannabis story will be a healthcare one at its core.

According to those speaking at the show, as well as those attending, there’s a healthcare story within the cannabis industry. From helping to alleviate the opioid crisis and certain illnesses and conditions, among other applications, there’s a lot hope associated. This brings together the intersection of two markets – healthcare and cannabis – both that take an understanding of compliance and regulatory issues – but also require the right market message to differentiate and clearly position a business’ value.

It’s already becoming a crowded market, especially CBD.

There is a huge opportunity for companies just entering into cannabis, as well as for those who are more established, to build a strong foundation for their brand – both aesthetically and in their core messaging. In a sea of green and black, brands can still find ways to stand out. Many who approached us also expressed the need to understand their core audience – whether it’s B2B, consumer or both, and establish the right message for each. Additionally, many companies hadn’t yet established a PR strategy, approach or campaign which mean those who do first will have a head start on the competition.

The restrictions in paid search and social are forcing content creation.

While restrictions widely remain across SEM, as well as advertising, brands can build a strong organic strategy and plan. As keyword phrases and terminology usage evolves, it opens so many more doors organically to optimize websites, pages and content to rank organically. But you’ll have to tune into our next blog post to find out more around that.

These represent just a few of the many learnings that I took away from the event. I look forward to attending another event, perhaps MJBizCon, given all the recommendations I received, and hope that it will continue to grow in popularity across the country. For anyone in the cannabis industry, I’d definitely recommend getting out there and talking with your peers. We can all help each other grow. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a note if you’d like to discuss any of these topics or if you’d like to connect soon.