Cannabis & Hemp Marketing: Q & A with PufCreativ CEO, John Shute

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In this blog, Chief Editor Andrey Krymchanskiy sits down with PufCreativ’s CEO John Shute as they discuss John’s experience in the cannabis marketing world at large. Keep reading as they touch on various topics such as new products/companies, the future of cannabis, and advice for ‘budding’ entrepreneurs. Be sure to listen to the corresponding podcast!

First things first – tell us a bit about your background and what really made you get into cannabis/CBD marketing?

With a Masters in Project Management, I first got my start as the operational manager down in Florida working for one of my father’s companies. My role was essentially to garner more interest in their nightclub brand, which I did and realized I was quite good at it. I really grew to like the “Creative Vibe” role. At the same time I realized there were new and exciting things happening in the cannabis world, and I wanted to be a part of it so I moved back to New Jersey and immediately started applying for jobs. Sadly, the same year I lost many friends to opiates, which motivated me even more to get into the cannabis sphere.

My first job in cannabis was admittedly a bad experience, but out of it I got two amazing partners, Katie and Shamus, who have helped turn PufCreativ from a passion project into a fully functional marketing brand. Our goal is to make a difference and our clients/partnerships reflect that; we’re proud of starting social programs like Cannabis Doing Good that raises awareness to eliminate the stigma of cannabis.

Successful marketing campaigns in any field can be quite the task – do you feel that working in legal cannabis/hemp is more or less difficult than in your previous endeavors?

I would say it’s definitely trickier. With all the hoops needed to be jumped and the various rules, regulations, and licenses associated with cannabis businesses, we definitely need to work that much harder to get the desired result. With that said, though, it has made our entire team that much better at marketing as a result of having to navigate so many different obstacles.

With so many states (& more coming) legalizing cannabis use, from a business standpoint do you think it’s necessary to legalize on a federal level?

The way I see it, I would love it to be federally legalized but only in the right way. It seems like the “McDonalds-ization” of the cannabis industry is already starting, and I’d really hate this industry to end up like many corporate sectors do. To me, cannabis is sacred, and the last thing I would want it to turn into is something as wrongly controlled (and abused) as alcohol or opiates.

It’s 2020 – the beginning of an exciting new decade. Where do you see the legal cannabis marketing field heading in the near future?

Unfortunately, this follows my answer to the previous question. As we move further and further into legalization, the cannabis industry will undoubtedly become more and more corporate. It is then up to individual groups and companies with moral responsibility (such as the ones we work with) that hold themselves accountable when it comes to sustainability, transparency, and a social commitment to foster good in their communities.

PufCreativ and their esteemed partners are involved in putting together many exciting and educational events throughout the country. Which one stood out to you the most from the past year?

This is definitely a tough one because as you mentioned we’re involved with so many awesome events that it’s hard to keep track. I would have to say, though, my favorite from last year would have to be the one we put on in New Orleans – the uniqueness of the location, coordinating the marketing with several nonprofits, flying in and being a part of the event was just such a magical experience that it sticks in my head as super special. There was live music, excellent food and drinks, and so much more. And, we’re doing it again this year!

Another one that was memorable for me was the Cannabis Awards Gala. Everyone dressed to impress, we experienced some amazing entertainment and most importantly we got to recognize members of the community that are really making a difference.

You’ve got many years in the game now  – what do you think has been the biggest challenge for you/PufCreativ?

With so much craziness happening in the industry, I’d say the biggest challenge is navigating all the different relationships amidst the constantly changing rules and regulations. It’s also quite challenging to always be versatile in dealing with any given situation, all of which are different.

What advice can you give to anyone thinking about getting into legal cannabis/hemp entrepreneurship?

In general, unfortunately it seems that the businesses with the most investment capital are the ones that succeed. On the other hand, there are businesses that are fueled by passion and social responsibility such as ours that are successful because they make a difference. I’d say that if you don’t have capital and aren’t passionate about the causes, be sure that you consider the difficulties involved before getting into the cannabis industry. With that said, I believe it is one of the most rewarding industries out there.

In your eyes, is the stigma of cannabis gone or do we still have a long way to go?

No. I don’t think it’s gone at all. People are still getting arrested in nonlegal states and put in prison, however I do think that in the next 5 years we will see major changes with more states legalizing. My only hope is that we can keep fueling the fire of providing education to the masses.

What were your favorite products/innovations of 2019?

Oh man, there’s so much going on it’s impossible to keep track of all of it. I do have to shoutout two of our clients, Pot Zero and WaxNax. Pot Zero in my opinion is the best outdoor organic cannabis in the country — their “zero carbon footprint and zero chemical” philosophy is directly aligned with what we want to be associated with and what we want to promote. WaxNax’s glass inserts are another one of my favorite dab products on the market. Their precise dosage and minimal waste make WaxNax a great choice for consuming concentrates, like my personal favorite, CBDiamonds!

Favorite strain of all time?

Huckleberry by Pot Zero, hands down!

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