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The Budtender Diaries- Empower Through Education


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by Anna Ervin

“Hi there! I just read your article in the newest edition of Herbage and it really made a lot of sense! We were wondering if you might have some insight for us as a producer/cultivator on how to better reach and connect with budtenders. We have had some ideas like giving out swag, but does something like that really work? Or it is more of a personal connection that will seal the interest. Thanks a bunch, also congrats on the new column, really love your work!” 

 

Hello friends! Thank you for the feedback, I am so grateful to hear that my words were received well. I am also thankful you brought up such a great question. The relationship between cannabis brands and budtenders is a topic I’ve been eager to explore. I’ve seen many different sides of the industry, from production to sales, and finally, retail. I understand the dedication and time that it takes to cultivate medicinal cannabis, both the tenacity and psychology that go into sales and marketing, as well as the social awareness and constant industry research that fuel successful retail storefronts. 

Retail is where I’ve found myself most comfortable recently, so I don’t pretend to understand the exact sciences that go into the process of cultivating or processing cannabis products. At the same time, I wouldn’t expect the average cultivator to fully comprehend the processes of marketing or moving products off the shelf. Each field requires its own set of skills and confronts a unique combination of challenges. That’s why I wanted to start this series; to bridge the gap and invite empowering and educational conversations to take up space in the industry. 

From a budtender’s perspective, I see three essential tools that every vendor and cannabis broker can utilitze to help dispensaries move their products off the shelves… Because that’s the ultimate goal, right? The faster your products move, the sooner you’ll receive another order from inventory. I know that seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of brands I hear about that reportedly believe delivering their products is the final step in solidifying a spot on the sales floor. The problem is, this method isn’t sustainable. Sooner or later, orders stop flowing in because products that lack the necessary marketing tools and information sit stagnant on dispensary shelves. 

So what are those tools, and how can they benefit vendors?

 

Budtenders Are Patients Too

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the majority of people that make up the cannabis industry are also patients. If they aren’t, they probably have someone close to them who relies on cannabis for some sort of relief. In my opinion, this basic understanding is the key to empathizing with anyone you work with regarding cannabis. 

Get to know the people selling your medicine. I carry a lot more confidence in the products I  have been able to try firsthand. Samples are a great way to get into the dispensary, but once you are on the shelves, challenge yourself to actually sell those products to the budtenders first. If you can convince us to buy, you’re also empowering us to understand how to recommend that medicine to patients. 

 

Empower through Education

Nobody wants to be bad at their job. A budtender’s responsibility is to understand the products they are selling, and for the most part, that entails a lot of industry and market research. When I am selling products that boast words like “organic” or “full-spectrum” but neglect to elaborate on what exactly those processes look like, I am forced to rely on a broader definition of those terms. Anyone reading this with an inkling of knowledge about cultivation or extraction likely knows that organic and full-spectrum can both look like a lot of different things. 

I’m not implying that budtenders shouldn’t also actively seek out this knowledge, and the appropriate questions that we should ask vendors about their products is a topic I would love to explore further later on. The point I’m trying to drive home is that information and education go a long way on the sales floor. Give your partners in retail a reason to talk about your brand. 

 

Visual Representation

So what is the best way to get all of this information across to the sales floor? You could walk into the store and simply vocalize it, but if you’ve ever played a game of telephone as a kid you probably understand how spoken words often get lost in translation. Budtenders are often tasked with the daunting (but not impossible) task of remembering valuable information about each item they retail. In some cases, this can mean dozens of different brands or hundreds of unique products. 

I often find myself looking for visual cues that help me relay information to the customer. So, when vendors bring in infographics, product flyers, and merchandise, I’m much more likely to spend a little more time talking about their brand. When I’m trying to move items that don’t boast as much information, I will typically look online for more resources, and I’ve been disappointed at times to find that some really great brands provide very little marketing material on their website or social media. 

Visual representation is everything. Sure, swag and merchandise fall into that category, customers are more likely to ask about a brand if I’m wearing their t-shirt to work once a week, but I feel like the priority should once again lean toward the spread of information and education. 

When you go the extra mile to understand your market (budtenders making up a good chunk of that), and provide valuable tools to educate and empower the sales floor, you are ensuring dispensary staff that this is a team effort, and that you understand your responsibility to help move the product beyond the point of delivery. I hope these thoughts have been helpful and have answered your question! As always, these are just my opinions, and I certainly don’t speak for budtenders, or the industry, as a whole. If you have any questions, stories, or comments about the Budtender Diries, please submit those to anna@herbagemag.com