Samuel Fisher

Navigating Cannabis Marketing Challenges with Samuel Fisher the Co-Founder of Green Dispensary Marketing

In this episode of Roots to Risk, hosts Eric Schneider and Isaac Bock dive into the intricacies of cannabis marketing with Samuel Fisher from Green Dispensary Marketing.

Samuel shares his journey from the education sector to becoming a key player in the cannabis SEO space, offering insights on overcoming industry-specific marketing restrictions. They discuss effective strategies for organic search optimization, pitfalls to avoid, and the importance of branding in saturated markets.

Whether you’re an established dispensary or new to the industry, this episode provides valuable guidance on enhancing your marketing efforts and driving customer engagement. Tune in for an informative conversation tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities within the cannabis community.


00:00 Eric Schneider:
This is the Roots to Risk Podcast hosted by Eric Schneider, alongside Isaac Bach. Roots To Risk brings you insights, the latest stories, and long form discussions about the cannabis industry. You’ll hear interviews with industry leaders and their perspective on current and future trends, how they’ve built success and what challenges they have faced. Our goal is to facilitate candid conversations and provide informative content for the cannabis community at large. Let’s go. Hey. Hey, Isaac. How are we doing today?

00:31 Isaac Bock:
Moving a little slow still. How are you doing <laugh>?

00:35 Eric Schneider:
Doing well, man. Doing well. It was great to see you in person this past weekend. I miss

00:40 Isaac Bock:
You was It was a good time. Yeah. <laugh>, gotta work off the <inaudible> a little

00:44 Eric Schneider:
Bit. Well back. Absolutely. Well back to business as usual. We got another route to risk on deck with Samuel Fisher from Green Dispensary Marketing, which is a cannabis dispensary marketing agency, and they specifically focus on the retail side. Really interested to speak with ’em. I know marketing has been this consistent challenge for a lot of operators, right? We’ve heard about Instagram accounts getting shut down, websites having challenges, right?

01:15 Eric Schneider:
Because of all the restrictions and different platforms with cannabis word types. So I’m interested to hear, you know, how he navigates and it helps out retailers to, to market themselves effectively, right? Just as any business would try to. Yeah,

01:32 Isaac Bock:
Absolutely. I mean, we’ve talked to a number of, you know, operators themselves on how they kind of handle the marketing aspect, but having someone whose entire business is figuring that out for people, I think he’ll provide some great insights on that front.

01:47 Eric Schneider:
Yeah, absolutely. And, and as you know too, like even us, you know, being an insurance brokerage focused in the cannabis space, we’ve, we’ve also had our fair share of issues as well, which is ironic, so I’m definitely eager to, to hear more from Sam. So let’s just bring him in. Hey Sam, how you doing today? Thanks for joining us on the Roots to Risk podcast. It’s

02:07 Samuel Fisher:
Great to be here. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. Talk with you pals.

02:12 Eric Schneider:
Absolutely. So Green dispensary marketing, would love to just learn a little bit more about your guys’ role in the industry, kind of where you came from, your background and, and what you all are doing for cannabis operators. Yeah,

02:25 Samuel Fisher:
So I think really just as any sort of entrepreneur, I think one of the main things, one of your main goals should be trying to solve solutions as opposed to just coming in asking for money. And so one of the things, we have a big background in SEO and we’ve noticed in this cannabis industry, specifically with dispensaries, the many people’s marketing plan is essentially just a pay for play on platforms like we Weedmaps or Leafly. And so we found it was a lot easier to just kind of help them make their own assets, their own website and get them organically ranked for the same terms that people are finding them on Weedmaps.

02:59 Samuel Fisher:
And so we also implement on the side to kind of stabilize their income during this process. Some other strategies, specifically SMS, email marketing and retargeting campaigns, and those who have the bigger budgets, the, the, the skyrocketing budgets, the ones that are really just looking to invest and get the fastest results possible. We also offer a sponsored post deal where we can help them get some short term revenue.

03:23 Isaac Bock:
Nice. Yeah. And I guess how you,

03:25 Samuel Fisher:
That’s who we’re, yeah,

03:26 Isaac Bock:
How did you, how did you give into this? Do you have a background in working in the SEO space previously? You know, what was, what was your background specifically?

03:35 Samuel Fisher:
Yeah, so I actually started my entrepreneur journey back in 2016. I had previously been in the education world and I actually got fired. And I think I really, really, a lot of people who jump into entrepreneurship kind of realize that they don’t want to put their destiny into the hands of other people. And so I had a really, a fallout experience in education, kind of decided that I wanted to enter into the world of entrepreneurship. And so back in 2016, that’s when I also decided to kind of go location independent, really got into SEO headfirst specifically a lot with writing, then jumped into content management.

04:12 Samuel Fisher:
And eventually being the SEO content manager for a cannabis vertical that was generating at the time over $1 million a year, kind of opened my eyes to the possibilities that I can do on my own if I were to jump out of my own. And so I kind of established my own niche doing local SEO for cannabis dispensaries.

04:32 Eric Schneider:
Got it. And on the marketing side, I, I think we, you know, all know just the, the restrictions and challenges that, you know, retailers, but really any operator in the cannabis space. I mean, even us like being an ancillary business to the industry, we still have challenges from a marketing perspective and what we can and can’t put, you know, on Google ads and things of that nature. So like how do you, you know, I, I guess like how do you help operators navigate around those restrictions and challenges, you know, that are, that are very specific to the cannabis industry?

05:07 Eric Schneider:

05:07 Samuel Fisher:
So that’s a pretty broad question. So there’s a lot of things that we could discuss on that specifically, but I think one of the, the pain points that I would like to, like to bring up right away is that, you know, as you’re mentioning, Google does not like cannabis dispensaries, cannabis in general, it’s still kind of seen as a bad thing. It’s put into the same category as guns, for example. And so we’ve noticed that instead of going to Google, people go to essentially what is an alternative to Google, which is weed maps, Google Maps, essentially they can pay for play to be on this platform when instead they could be using the systems that are already there, building their own assets and getting ranked for keywords that their customers are finding them on weed maps organically, specifically.

05:50 Samuel Fisher:
I think another part of the question that we should touch upon are the restrictions for messaging.

05:56 Samuel Fisher:
And so I actually have some great partners, I just got off a call yesterday with a man named Ryan Stewart of Dispo Joy. We were talking about this quite extensively, the restrictions with the cannabis industry. And so really the, the big thing is that it’s not that these text messages can’t get sent, it’s not, they can’t deliver and get ROIs. It’s really that the dispensaries themselves oftentimes don’t know how, don’t have the know-how, or the means or the willingness to really work with these platforms to ensure that they’re able to get the results that they want to bring.

06:28 Samuel Fisher:
And so, to kind of answer your question, it’s not that these restrictions are stopping us from getting the results that we’re trying to get. It’s not that they’re stopping us from getting the visibility, the deliverability specifically for text messages. It’s really that we just don’t know how specifically cannabis dispensary owners don’t really generally have the knowhow or the means to kind of handle these issues. And so where I come in is really just, I have the experience and the background and the know-how to do these sorts of things to kind of take the work off of their hands. That way dispensary owners can be doing more of what they’re wanting to do, whether that be going to the beach, having some time with their family as opposed to worrying about small marketing things that really shouldn’t be a problem for them.

07:09 Isaac Bock:
No, that makes a ton of sense. Yeah. I guess from, you know, your experience, what are kind of the most effective ways of ranking higher, you know, for many of your clients? Is it, you know, specific keywords? And obviously you just touched on some of the restrictions on that, but I guess how do making your own assets within a company, you know, kind of help benefit you and what’s been the most successful strategies you guys have implemented for your clients?

07:33 Samuel Fisher:
Yeah, so really there’s two parts to this question. ’cause one, one on one end you wanna bring people to your website, but the people that you’re bringing to your website, you also want to ensure that they’re there to buy and not just read an article on some how to grow marijuana seeds, for example. And so really there’s two parts to this. And so one of the, on one hand there’s SEO, and so on the other hand there’s a conversion rate optimization. And so specifically, for example, one thing, one strategy that we like implementing or something called service pages. And so essentially what that means is, so imagine that you have a dispensary in Denver, Colorado.

08:08 Samuel Fisher:
And so your website might be really great, just awesome, but it likely doesn’t have inherently any sort of identifying information, whether it be your address, your phone number, your cities, your service areas optimized on the website itself. And so one of the things we’ll do is we’ll jump right in there, make sure that they have pages that are targeting keywords that have the search intent to buy and also buy in their area. That way, you know, if they’re searching, whether it’s be dispensary, Denver, maybe they also have some customers that are coming in from Lakewood.

08:40 Samuel Fisher:
For example, I don’t know if you’re from the area of Denver called, I live in

08:43 Isaac Bock:
Kerry Creek,

08:44 Samuel Fisher:
Really close to

08:44 Isaac Bock:
Denver <laugh>.

08:46 Samuel Fisher:
Yeah, yeah. So, so you, you would understand many of the people living in Lakewood might also have an interest in a Denver dispensary, whether it be where, where they’re searching from, whatever. And so really if you optimize for more than just your immediate service area, and so you’re also targeting service areas outside of your immediate area, we found that it’s generating a lot of traffic and also sales. I think also another big thing, this is a couple years ago is kind of a, it’s kind of a nitpicky thing, but technical, SEO, making sure that your website loads in less than three seconds, making sure that you have an online menu, I think is really also important.

09:22 Samuel Fisher:
An online deals page, you wanna make sure that people are visiting your website also immediately, not only immediately know where you are, but also what kind of deals, what kind of offerings you give them.

09:33 Samuel Fisher:
And also being able to, ideally, you know, it’s, it really doesn’t happen with a lot of stores, but being able to check out online, a lot of data has shown that if you are able to place an order online, that they’ll pay a little bit more money. And so there’s a lot of nitpicky stuff like medi tags, each ones keyword density, making sure that we’re keeping up with the Google algorithm. As you guys know, Google algorithm’s changing every three or four months, lots of things are getting changed. And so I think that’s one of the areas that we have a lot of values. We are hawkish and we are following the Google algorithm specifically the late one that’s rolled out in March, kind of fighting a lot of spam, really been keeping up to date with that.

10:12 Samuel Fisher:
I’m excited to kind of roll out some changes to make sure that we’re still unique, relevant, and generating results for our clients. I think I answered your question, or starting to get off on a tangent too. No,

10:23 Eric Schneider:
No, that’s great. I think, I think it’s always helpful to just get a sense of like where the value can be added, right? From a marketing perspective and like just getting an understanding of what, you know, some, I’m sure there’s a lot of different components and every business is different, right? I’m sure every dispensary, although it’s, you know, similar, but everybody has their own unique challenges. Right. And, and in speaking of challenges, like what, what do you think are some of the biggest pitfalls that dispensary that, that you see when you come into an organization and, and what maybe, you know, for the viewers and and retailers that are listening to this, what are some pitfalls that they could try to avoid or, you know, aside from, you know, looking at hiring folks yourself, Sam, like just certain things that they should be on the lookout for certain pitfalls that you, or common made mistakes that you see fairly often in the space.

11:18 Samuel Fisher:
Yeah, so the two biggest pain points that I hear from dispensary owners, I talk to a lot of them. One would be this Weedmaps thing where I was mentioning where they’ll just be investing 5,000 bucks a month. And I’ve heard one person say that they’re investing $20,000 a month previously, and then they often don’t get an ROI on these. And so they, they’ll often find that Weedmaps will even position other people ahead of them. And on the other end, another one that’s really bothers a lot of dispensary owners is just these overhead costs that kind of add up, whether it be taxes, workers, so on and so forth, to the point where they’re stressing more about paying their monthly bills than they are making sure that they’re collecting the checks.

12:00 Samuel Fisher:
And so I think really one of the solutions I’ve, I’ve kind of found talking with other people in the industry really focuses on branding.

12:08 Samuel Fisher:
And so, for example, if you’re a dispensary and you wanna market to people who are in a particular niche, I think is a really great way to kind of compete and stand out in a saturated market. And so, for example, whether you wanna reach out to the moms who are having an edible every single Friday night with their buddies or something like that, or if you want to go after the kids or just after the cheapest weed possible, that’s when I would recommend maybe looking at Weedmaps. It’s a, it is a good way to get the people who are just looking for the cheapest deals possible. Does that answer your question or am I missing a part?

12:40 Eric Schneider:
No, I, I think that’s great. I think, you know, obviously everybody’s situation is, is slightly, slightly different, but just some main pitfalls that a lot of dispensaries, you know, have challenges with is, is definitely good to touch on. And I guess, you know, now that we’re at the end of the week through Q1 in 2024, what are some, you know, trends in your area that you’re seeing for the remainder of the year and kind of in the future?

13:05 Samuel Fisher:
Well, I think that we’re gonna see more and more, I think legalization is the word, more and more opening up doors for the industry. And so I think also on the back end of that, this could mean more saturation, more people coming into the market. And so in my personal opinion, I think this really is just a sign that we should be branding ourselves and reaching out to a particular niche as opposed to just everybody in the cannabis industry. On the other end, I think Google eventually, whether it be this year or the next year, they’re gonna start to become more and more friendly with us as we start to get more and more legally accepted.

13:41 Samuel Fisher:
And I think this also eventually translate into the SMS email marketing, which has had some problems in the past.

13:49 Isaac Bock:
Yeah, I mean that kinda leads into, you know, one of the things I wanted to ask you about is with, you know, potential legislation coming in, whether it’s rescheduling descheduling legalization, how is that gonna change your strategy for your clients? Obviously being able to utilize things like Google more efficiently is gonna, is gonna be a big benefit, but what else are you guys thinking about and talking with your clients about as it relates to those potential legislative changes?

14:15 Samuel Fisher:
Yeah, it’s, so I think we all can kind of predict where we’re going, but we really need to kind of wait until it’s here before we actually make some real moves. But on the same end, be planning for this to happen and at least have a plan in the back of our minds. And so really in the back of my mind when I’m, if I were to see legalization as the reality, I would just be adding more products, making sure that I stand out, making sure that our service reaches out to new people, whether it be making our own software for a POS or something.

14:46 Samuel Fisher:
Definitely be looking for unique ways to stand out, even if the pain points that I’m talking about, whether it be weed maps or whatever, kind of go away. I think really the problem of the know-how with the marketing of SEO ideas really aren’t gonna go away. I think this is something that’s really going to stick around whether, whether we have legalization or not. If we were to suddenly be able to do Google ads, for example, awesome, let’s do it, let’s start doing Google ads, let’s, let’s start going on Facebook, let’s do some Instagram ads.

15:17 Samuel Fisher:
And so I think really it’ll open up opportunities for us more so than take them away.

15:23 Isaac Bock:
Definitely. And I think, you know, you kind of mentioned earlier about branding, you know, the company’s branding themselves, this specific niches. Have you found any of the specific branding language or you know, types of branding that has been more successful, like more on the holistic wellness side of things rather than, you know, pure recreational use? Like what’s been the most successful kind of branding messaging that’s you guys have found?

15:49 Samuel Fisher:
I think one that stands out to me right away, I hope they’ll listen to this and is CBD American Shaman, I don’t know if you guys have heard of them or seen them around, but they have all these stores all over and it’s because they’re hitting at this specific health niche. You know, they’re not looking for the people who are just trying to get high of marijuana, for example. They’re looking for the people who are trying to have a healthy lifestyle. And so obviously we all know of the health benefits that can come with CBD. And so I think they’re a great example of a cannabis company that’s really just nailed their branding and just really started to reach out to the correct audience, specifically people who are looking for a more holistic means of handling their health and taking health into their own hands.

16:31 Samuel Fisher:
And so that, I think they’re a great example to kind of answer your question, is it really just to find somebody, find a target audience that you wanna reach out to and really just maximize it and just really market to a particular audience as opposed to the whole cannabis industry as a whole?

16:48 Isaac Bock:
No, for sure. And I think, you know, one thing we’ve talked to almost everyone who we’ve had on the podcast is from like an educational standpoint that’s been kind of a consistent issue in the cannabis space, educating consumers and customers on what you know, they should actually be looking to buy. So how do you balance that between, you know, you mentioned earlier like not just having someone click on a, an article based off of growing or everything. How do you balance the getting people to actually buy the products versus those who are also looking for some additional information and educational aspects on the industry?

17:26 Samuel Fisher:
So really I think educational aspects, if you’re, if you’re talking about a dispensary website, really just based on what I can say from my background experiences it when we’re doing informational articles, informational pages, the 99% of the time don’t translate into a sale. And so it really generates overhead costs that really could add up to the point where it’s just not worth it, it’s just not worth it to have this educational content. So that’s really why I would focus more so on the search intent of the keywords. If we’re hitting a, a service page for a money keyword, it, it, it would imply that the person searching it is coming to the site with the intention to buy.

18:05 Samuel Fisher:
And so really, yes, it’s important to inform our audiences, but I really think for a dispensary website in particular, their main goal should be optimizing for customers looking to come to their websites and buy as opposed to get information.

18:20 Samuel Fisher:
And so if they wanna give out information, I think really a great way to do that is kind of give it in the backend, you know, after they sign up for a loyalty program, for example, if they’re signing up for an email list, then we can sprinkle in some informational content once they raise their hand, otherwise maybe an in-store pamphlet, something like that. But as far as far as the marketing backend, the, the work that we’re doing for marketing, I I see little value in informational content when it comes to generating an ROI and making sales for the dispensary, if that answers your question.

18:55 Eric Schneider:
Absolutely. I guess my fi my my final question here, and, and this has been like really helpful, Sam, and, and yeah, hopefully some, some folks listening can reach out and get some guidance as it relates to, you know, marketing their own retail shop, but like in highly competitive markets, and you know, I’m based in New York, right? More and more dispensaries are coming online in a very saturated area. You know, Isaac is based in Denver, which has, you know, it’s the, the oldest recreational market, like in highly saturated areas.

19:27 Eric Schneider:
Like how can they differentiate themselves so that they, you know, when when somebody does look up dispensary, Denver dispensary in New York City, you know, when it’s very concentrated, like, it just seems like it’s really challenging in, in those instances and in those markets, I guess like any guidance or advice, you know, for operators that are, you know, either launching in a new emerging market or already in an existing and saturated market.

20:00 Samuel Fisher:
Yeah, this is actually a great question. This is one that I like to ask my clients and the people that I interview as well, is how, how can you stand out in a saturated market? And I think really based on the, the research that I’ve done, the answers that I’ve gotten from others, really to focus on your customers themselves and really to take into account the feedback and the things that they have to say, really take into account what you are as in your position in the industry. For example, if you have a medical cannabis dispensary, you might approach things a little bit differently than somebody who has a recreational dispensary.

20:34 Samuel Fisher:
I had a great chat recently with somebody named Joseph Friedman. He’s a dis, he was a, he was, excuse me, a medical cannabis dispensary owner in Illinois for five years. Had some success before eventually selling and moving out of the industry.

20:48 Samuel Fisher:
One of the things he recommended for other people entering the medical cannabis space is to kind of treat their patients really as patients and not just customers. To have them come in, discuss what their condition is, and then look at the different, I forget the word he used molecules. He is the expert on all these different molecules in the cannabis plant. Figure out the molecules that for each strain that would work best for that patient themself on, on the, on the other end, if you’re a recreational dispensary owner, really is something just as small as asking where your customers are coming from, how they found you, why they buy from you.

21:27 Samuel Fisher:
I think if you start to really focus more on your customers, ask them questions, be more upfront with them, that’s when you’ll really find the ways to stand out in your local area, if that makes sense.

21:40 Eric Schneider:
Yeah, no, it does. And, and this has been a, a great one. You know, I, I think, and, and we’ve said this time and time again, but part of our goal in, in starting this podcast is to bring people of different expertise onto the ca like in the cannabis industry on and just learn about their experience, you know, the best practices that they have, but also the pitfalls to look out for so that, you know, for our listeners, they can get additional content and education. And, and so, you know, Sam, we haven’t had somebody on here, you know, related to marketing specifically with dispensaries and, and primarily focusing on SEO and, and how to, to leverage your brand to create more organic traffic.

22:26 Eric Schneider:
So this has been a great one and really appreciate your time and, you know, all the best of luck in 2024 and look forward to seeing what you guys accomplished this year. Yeah,

22:37 Samuel Fisher:
Thank you gentlemen for having me. Definitely appreciate the content that we do here at the Roots to Risk podcast. I love the work that you guys do. Looking forward to hearing more from you guys as well. Awesome.

22:47 Eric Schneider:
Thanks Sam. Thanks Sam. Have a great rest of your day. Awesome. One really appreciated Sam’s insight. You know, specifically just some pitfalls that he’s seen, you know, people kind of fall into and, and, and also just some, you know, key core strategies that can be helpful. Obviously, you know, I’m sure he, he, he takes a much deeper dive into everybody’s individual circumstance, and I’m sure every market is slightly different, but I think he just provided some good, you know, key pillars that that retail operators can, can definitely leverage to help enhance their marketing strategy internally.

23:28 Eric Schneider:
It sounds like a lot of like what he was focusing on, right, is like how can they bring this in-house and not just rely purely on like third parties and, and help increase like organic search, right? Which is the ultimate goal for everybody is just a little bit more challenging when there’s a lot of restrictions. So definitely if you wanna learn more, you know, reaching out directly to Sam I think would be, would be really helpful and beneficial. But I thought it was definitely insightful. What about you ib? Yeah,

23:56 Isaac Bock:
I agree. Yeah, no, I think it, he provided a lot of insights. I thought the interesting thing was just, you know, how you’re branding yourself specifically to the types of customers you’re looking to get in front of is helpful. I mean, that’s been our entire marketing strategy and how we picked ourselves. So it can definitely relate to that aspect. And it makes a lot of sense on the consumer side as well.

24:17 Eric Schneider:
A thousand percent, I think, you know, the old, the old saying, like, if you’re a master of everything, you’re a master of nothing, right? And so if you try to please everybody and brand towards everyone, it’s gonna be really hard to build a client base, which is, you know, one of the main key takeaways. And you know, like I said, it was a great, a great different perspective to have on here that we haven’t had previously. And, and we’re gonna continue to do that, just get different folks within the cannabis space and try to spread their knowledge across our platform.

24:48 Eric Schneider:
So another great one in the books, Isaac, and thank you as always, bro.

24:53 Isaac Bock:
Of course, man. Thank you too. And looking forward to the next one.


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