WHY MARIJUANA-RELATED BUSINESSES NEED TO INVEST IN MARKETING IN 2018

Effective marketing and advertising are indispensable to the success of any new business, and if you’re starting a marijuana-related business, investing in your marketing this year is a particularly smart idea.

1 WEED IS NOW LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA

The nation’s most populous state, California, finally legalized marijuana this year, after two decades of waiting after the state first allowed marijuana for medical use. Weed is now legal for adults 21 and older, and individuals are allowed to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of the drug tops. People are thrilled with the new recreational marijuana laws and if you’re one of the entrepreneurs thinking about starting a marijuana-related business (or have already started with one), you have to be aware that by just a little bit of marketing you can attract a lot of new customers that are already out there, keeping their eyes out for new offers.  

 

  1. THE NUMBER OF DISPENSARIES IS INCREASING

Dispensaries are, due to the fact that the possibility of running a pot business has only recently become an opportunity, still pretty scarce, but they are increasing with each passing day, so this is your time to strike – set the foundations of your business and be one of the first good ones. Because the legal pot business is still in development, you have numerous options when it comes to your marketing. All you need is a budget, a little bit of time, and a little bit of creativity.

 

  1. NOT MANY BUSINESSES INVEST IN THEIR MARKETING

Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, laws regulating marijuana marketing can get tricky, which is one of the reasons why businesses shy away from investing in their marketing. Another issue is that marijuana users are still pretty stigmatized in the modern society (although the fact is there are many of them). But don’t let this stop you. Rather, consider it your advantage. Not many businesses do it, leaving a greater portion of the new customers to you. Take a more sophisticated approach to your marketing and be among the first ones who will reshape the public’s perception of marijuana and marijuana users.

  1. SPEND LESS ON ADS BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF COMPETITION

Because you will be among the first marijuana-related businesses, you won’t have to spend as much on ads and marketing because you won’t have to try as hard as some of the future businesses to establish your place in the industry. This is exactly why it’s important to start investing in your marketing now and create a brand for yourself when the competition is still rather meek.  

 

  1. ORGANIC SEO

When it comes to marketing your business, Internet marketing is a must. So be aggressive with organic search engine optimization methods. Organic SEO refers to the methods used to obtain a high ranking on a search engine results in unpaid, algorithm-driven results. These methods include boosting keywords, writing high-quality content, backlinking, etc. By using these methods, you can help spread the word about your business – organic SEO will make your site grow as a living organism, and it will adapt over time to your readers’ desires and needs, making it more attractive to new readers/future customers.

CREATE A WEBSITE: TO DO LIST OF WHAT YOU NEED

If you’re starting a business and are planning on creating a website that will help you promote it, there are a few things you should know. First off, in order to create a good website, you should understand what you want. That means you should know who your online customers will be, what they are interested in, and what they will expect from your website. Second, you should be aware that this process will take some time and money, and in order to make it really good, you should never cut corners. Third, be aware that your site will need constant attention and maintenance, and in order for it to be really successful, you will need a team of web designers. And last but not least, you get what you pay for – so you’ll want to treat your web team as professionals and pay them accordingly.

Now, after you have all of this in place, you can start thinking about the actual website. Below are a few guidelines that will help you do that.

To start a website, you need 9 of these things:

  1. Domain Name

It’s a first thing you will need. It’s your digital address that customers will use to get connected to your website. Prices will vary depending on the provider. Choose the one which will work best for you.

  1. Business Email Address

To build trust and gain credibility on the Internet, having a business email address is definitely among the most important things. When people see businesses using free email accounts for their business website, it makes them question their trustworthiness.

  1. Website Building Software

Depending on your skills level and what features you wish to have on your website, there is a variety of website builder software available on the Internet. Some of the more popular web builders include WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, and Wix.

  1. Website Hosting

A host is the storage unit where your website content is kept online. The type of hosting depends on the number of your visitors. The price of hosting will change accordingly.

  1. Website Template Design

A website template is a pre-made website design that will allow you to have a website that will look professional without you having to hire a website designer. If you’re starting your first website, this is an easier, quicker and more economical way to create your website design.

  1. Logo Design

Having a logo is a great way for you to create a brand for your website. You can either hire a graphic designer or use a logo generator and create your logo in a minute.

  1. High-Quality Images for Website

If you want your website to look professional, avoid using images of low quality or those you find on Google Images. You need unique and high-quality graphics.

  1. Image Editors

If you can’t afford to hire a good graphic designer, an image editor will be very useful – so you can crop, rotate or resize your images in a blink of an eye.

  1. Google Analytics

If you’re serious about your website and want to grow the number of your visitors, you need Google Analytics. It’s a tool that will help you understand how visitors are interacting with your website and what they visit the most. The data will help you understand what you need to fix in order to gain more popularity.

We can also do it for you =)

 

WHAT TO CHOOSE FOR YOUR E-COMMERCE BETWEEN WORDPRESS, SQUARESPACE, AND SHOPIFY?

Creating a website for your e-commerce nowadays is much easier than it used to be. You no longer have to make your site from the scratch, because there are quite a few website builders available on the market today that will have laid the foundations for you. In this article, we will present you with the three that are, in our opinion, the best ones out there. It’s on you, however, to try them out, and see which one works best for you.

WORDPRESS

Speaking of popularity, WordPress is by far the most popular one, which is the main reason why you’d want to use it for your e-commerce. However, it’s the hardest website builder to learn out of these three. But, when you do learn how to use it, you will realize that your possibilities and options are numerous. The cost of using WordPress is rather minimal, though it will increase as more traffic comes your way.  

SQUARESPACE

Squarespace is not the most popular right now, but that’s only because it’s the newest of the three so it hasn’t taken off just yet – but it’s slowly gaining popularity. Squarespace, unlike WordPress and Shopify, offers no app store. This was actually done intentionally because the company wanted to give you all features you need in the backend. However, as you might gather, this can limit your flexibility and the ability to expand. As for the fee, Squarespace is a little bit more expensive, but it comes with great tools and amazing themes for all businesses.

SHOPIFY

Shopify is the best solution for those who’re looking to make an online shop and need pre-made e-commerce tools. The backend is very friendly and you’ll easily get the most basic elements of the shop configured. The builder will walk you through adding and importing products, customizing the design of the site and setting up your domain. If you’re a beginner, you have nothing to fear about with Shopify. Even if you need a feature that isn’t included with Shopify, you can choose from many third party plugins that integrate with the website builder. Maybe it is somewhat expensive, but considering the features you get, it’s worth it.

IN ALL…

All these website builders are pretty great, but in order to find out which one works best for your business, first, you need to define your needs and goals. Since all of them have different user markets, make sure you know which one is yours before you jump into setting your new site up.

So, in a nutshell: If it’s important for you that your e-commerce page has an awesome template, Squarespace is the one for you. What’s great about it is that its backend is really simple to understand if you’re a web-design beginner. If you’re an intermediate user who wants to have many different tools and customization options at your hand, go for WordPress. Its main benefit is definitely the plugin library. However, if you want to make a great online shop, fast and quick, Shopify is the site to go.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR?

Succeeding as an entrepreneur is a lot of work, and before you start working on your business, you will have to work on yourself. There are certain traits that will set the successful entrepreneurs apart, so before jumping into the world of entrepreneurship, take some time to build a strong foundation.

First and foremost, work on developing a firmer and more active mindset with a stronger sense of self – because as an entrepreneur, you will be the one who will decide how and in which direction your business will grow. You’ll have to be on your toes all the time.

And while this dynamic environment can bring more challenges and stress, it can also bring greater fulfillment. But, do you want a comfortable and secure job, or do you want to build something bigger?

BE READY TO TAKE RISKS

One of the most important things you will learn as an entrepreneur is that taking risks is one of the essential parts of entrepreneurial life. In order to achieve something big, you have to be ready to do something big in return. Take Elon Musk for example. After selling PayPal for $165 million dollars, he took almost his entire fortune and invested it in SpaceX and Tesla. These two projects could have failed and left him penniless – but this move made him richer than he was before. So, be ready to invest, but of course, calculate your investments well.

DON’T HESITATE TO DO THE HARD JOBS AND DON’T FEAR FAILURE

If you want to be successful, be ready to roll up your sleeves and do the job others are not willing to do. Make others notice you. You’ll never turn heads if you just sit there and wait for the success to come to you. You have to try, even if it means you’re going to fail sometime. Besides, you know how they say: The faster you fail, the more things you’re able to try.

BE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO, BUT BE FLEXIBLE

We all know that doing something without motivation can easily in disaster. So if you’re aiming for success, make sure you have chosen an idea that you’re absolutely committed to. Passion is everything in entrepreneurship. Let your idea become your mission.

However, sometimes, no matter how brilliant the idea is, in reality, it just isn’t effective. Therefore, be prepared to adapt to changes and challenges to make your business and your idea more feasible.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Self-confidence is one of the most crucial entrepreneurial traits. You can’t think your idea is good – you have to know it’s good. You have to exude confidence about what you’re offering in order to convince the customers your idea is worth their time and money.

Of course, being self-confident doesn’t mean you have to rely only on yourself – accepting you can’t do everything on your own is another step to becoming a great entrepreneur – but you do have to realize that you are the only one who can make your idea a reality.

At the French Keys we know what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and know how stressful it can be. We help entrepreneurs in different steps of their project, from consulting to launching your project. Contact us for more info. Contact us for more info.

MARKETING AGENCY VS MARKETING CONTRACTOR VS MARKETING TEAM IN HOUSE

Marketing, specifically digital marketing, plays a crucial role in a business success.  

Most of the time, businesses that are growing fast can’t keep up with daily Facebook and other social media postings, or they are so far behind that they might not even know what Facebook is.  Either way, businesses today needs online marketing to stay busy and competitive.

Some companies choose to hire marketing employees in-house while others opt for freelance or part-time help, while others, still, choose to retain a marketing agency to own the entire marketing process, including website development, social media, search engine optimization, graphic design, branding, and more..

Here are the pros and cons of Marketing Agency VS Marketing contractor VS Marketing team in House.

Marketing Agency:

Pros:

  • Experience Creating and Executing Marketing Strategies.  How are your marketing efforts contributing to website traffic, leads and customers? If you can’t answer that question, let a marketing agency answer it for you.
  • Cost Savings: Hiring a Marketing Agency Saves Costs. Average monthly marketing spends on agency work typically start at $2000 to $5,000 a month, depending on the scope of services. If you take those numbers over 12 months and you’re looking at a $24,000 to $60,000 yearly. Just ONE mid-career graphic designer can cost $53,000 a year. A marketing manager averages a $70,000 salary (before benefits). So, would you rather spend $126,000 for two people or $60,000 for an entire company? Hiring an agency makes pretty clear sense if you ask me.
  • Agencies Help Your Company Grow to Scale. When the economy tightens, companies tend to cut costs. Marketing is often the first to go because they are seen as a “discretionary” expense. And when times are good, marketing often gets more funding. It’s contractarian to the objective of the CEO responsibilities. But reducing and expanding the marketing budget is expensive. In the short-term, reducing or canceling marketing activities incurs a cost. In the long-term, costs associated with attrition, staffing and erosion of knowledge base are more expensive. Under a traditional in-house operation, the only way you can increase the output of your marketing team is to hire more employees. Agencies already have cross-functional professionals on the core team that has been senior management with some of the top agencies, design firms or companies in the world.
  • Outside Help Means an Outside Perspective. One of the scariest things a business can say is, “We’ve always done it that way.” That phrase leads to surefire stagnation if not complete decay. Whether it’s adopting social media as a viable strategy or rewriting website copy, having someone not so ingrained in your day-to-day can provide a fresh perspective.
  • Marketing Agencies Know the Latest Technologies. The agencies’ jobs are to stay abreast of the next big things, be they mobile apps, social networks, or distribution channels. Just two years ago, who would have thought that a disappearing photo-sharing network would be the next big thing in business (Snapchat, obviously). How will you know about the greatest app since sliced bread if you’re knee deep in payroll, taxes, human resources, and distribution activities? Hire a marketing agency.
  • Agencies Provide You a Dedicated Team. Most agencies will provide you a specialized, dedicated team of two or three whose sole job is to manage your project. Having a “go-to” helps ensure timelines, expectations, and the like.

The question, then, isn’t if you can afford an experienced marketing agency, but rather how much are you costing yourself in time, money and lost opportunity by trying to do this in-house. So why should you hire a marketing agency?

Cons:

  • It’s typically harder to get out of an agency agreement opposed to an agreement with an independent contractor. Many agencies like to lock you in for a 12-month agreement since that’s when they typically start producing inbound marketing results. Many agencies I know also like to front-load the work (setup, development, content creation) and spread the payments out over 12-months, therefore, they really won’t let you cancel your agreement.  At The French Keys we offer flexible contracts of 3 months, 6 months or 12 months
  • For an agency to be successful, the company still has to have someone that dedicates part of their time working with them to ensure alignment to the organization’s goals, especially in the beginning of the relationship during a very common discovery and audit period. As the relationship with the agency matures, they’ll still need 10 hours or so of your week. This could be said for working with an independent marketing contractor and internal marketing team as well. At The French Keys we send you a weekly listing of things needed from you, to save you time.
  • A common complaint of agencies is that they can be slow to respond and get things done, a client will request a website change, a revision, or for an email to be sent and have to wait a week for a response. At The French Keys we answer our email within 12 hours on a weekday and 24 hours on weekends. We also can execute any request within 24 hours. We want to be available and responsive for our client’s satisfaction.

Marketing Contractor

Pros:

  • Independent contractors have a wealth of knowledge. Many of them have left successful careers to start their own one-person operation and have a lot of talent.
  • Really good independent contractors provide a very personal level of service that many of their clients value. They become their trusted advisor that provides them with unique perspectives, challenges them, helps them avoid missed opportunities or potential disasters, and educated them. Great independent contractors get invited to help their clients make significant business decisions.
  • Independent contractors are not treated as employees, therefore, they are not subject to payroll taxes and state and federal employment laws, which is a benefit over hiring an internal team but not over hiring an agency.
  • It’s typically easy to get out of an independent contractor agreement if need be.

Cons:

  • An independent contractor can be limited in their ability to provide a full array of service offerings. For example, they may have great ideas and a vision for how to help you reach your marketing objectives, but they may lack the technical expertise to execute it. This may cause you to need multiple independent contractors (strategists, content creators, designers, developers) to really get the job done.
  • Independent contractors are limited by their own capacities. Should they be unable to work for a period of time or other agreements they’ve made demand their time, it may slow down the progress of reaching your marketing objectives.
  • You may think that hiring an independent contractor is your least expensive option, but that’s often not the case. Someone that has a high-level of expertise that you need could run you around $100 / hour. If they’re providing you with 15 hours of service a week, that’s around $6000 / month which is more than a typical agency would cost you. And unfortunately, some of that time will go to activities that probably don’t warrant $100 / hour.

 

Internal Marketing Teams

Pros:

  • Mindshare. You would assume that your own employees are 100% focused on helping you achieve your organizational goals, you know, when they’re not texting, on Instagram, on vacation, building their portfolio or freelancing.
  • Speed of getting things done. When you have a team of marketing employees 100% dedicated to working on your company’s marketing, things will get done faster, or at least, you assume that it will. This obviously depends on you having the right hires that are focused on your success.

Cons:

  • Like the independent contractor, you typically have to make several hires to have all of the skills needed to run a complete marketing program. One director-level hire that has the knowledge and experience to strategically lead your internal marketing team will cost you at least $80,000 / year (depending on your market), plus taxes and benefits. And it’s likely they will need an assistant to perform the activities that they either don’t specialize in or want to do, like social media and content creation. That’ll run you at least another $35,000 / year,  plus taxes and benefits. And even with two people, it’s still not likely that you’ll have all the skills you need to run the entire program and may still look to outsource design and development work to an independent contractor or an agency. All in, this is clearly your most expensive option.
  • You take on the responsibility of having employees which mean employee issues. These typically include employees going on leave (or quitting), maintaining accurate job descriptions, performance reviews, requests for promotions and time off, HR resource costs, benefit planning, workspace and equipment costs and need for space, reimbursements, and so on and so on and so on, adding costs to your already most expensive option.
  • It takes much longer to find and hire the right people than it does to startup with an independent marketing contractor or marketing agency. Recruiting may take 2 weeks. Then running interviews will take another two weeks. Then you have to make a job offer and hope they accept, if they do, they need to give notice to their other job which takes 2-4 weeks. Then they need to get acclimated to your organization which takes another 2-4 weeks, and here you are 8 weeks (conservatively) into the process and you haven’t even done anything yet. An agency or an independent contractor can get started within a week or two. By week 8, they’ll probably already have your plan for the year completed and will have started executing on that plan.
  • Of the three options, having to make a change is the hardest when dealing with an internal team. If there are performance issues, this means that instead of requesting that work stop for a period of time or stating that “the project has ended,” you actually have to fire people. And if you make hiring mistakes, it takes a lot more time, effort, and resources to make a change.

The Approach in our Agency:

By actively seeking feedback from our clients and listening to what prospects want and value during the sales process, we’ve made some fundamental decisions about how we want to position our agency into something that makes us truly unique for our clients. I share these with you below.

Ensuring that our clients don’t feel locked into long-term agreements.To ensure that we retain our clients, we simply have to do a good job. That means setting and agreeing on clear expectations in no uncertain terms before the work starts, and consistently delivering on those expectations month after month. We believe if we do a good job, our clients will want to continue with their program, spend more money with us, and refer their peers to us because they’re seeing the value. If we’re not doing a good job helping our clients, it’s against everything we stand for and we should get fired. Being a buyer of services myself, that’s what I want for my company.

Implementing a collaborative approach. Unlike many other inbound marketing agencies that really want to run your program for you with minimum involvement from the client (and there is definitely a place for this), we strive to be a lot more consultative and collaborative. We set up regular communication with clients and spend the time to educate them on what they should and COULD be doing based on our understanding. We want our clients to see us and indispensable and as one of their most trusted advisors.

Providing a high-level of knowledge and expertise in our service offering. To provide the benefits that you would receive with an independent contractor, we made a conscious effort to add that level of knowledge and expertise to our service offering.

Maintaining speed of response and getting things done. One of the things I can say IMPACT has always done right was our remarkable responsiveness and speed of completing activities. Responsiveness is one of the things our clients value the most about us. I’m not completely sure why agencies have this bad reputation or haven’t been able to make this a priority.

Providing tactical skills, capabilities, and expertise. Our clients have always valued our tactical expertise. This includes, but is not limited to, our content creation abilities, our strong grasp of social media and marketing software platforms, our creative and design skills, our front-end development capabilities. This is an area we’ve always been strong in and continue to improve.

 

Trust Us to let your brand Shine

 

  • The French Keys team  xoxo