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Community Responsibility in Cannabis Marketing: The Importance of Giving Back

Community Responsibility in Cannabis Marketing

If you’ve been following along with our blog, you’ve most likely noticed a common theme: Community. At PufCreativ, we proudly practice and encourage giving back to local communities and causes that resonate with our hearts. We work with our clients, partners and network to strategically infuse Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into their marketing platforms, as well as to champion fundraisers and educational campaigns for different nonprofits and organizations all over the country.

The cannabis community is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse communities on the planet. Due to the stigma against cannabis and the impact of prohibition that stems from racist origins — we feel the cannabis community has an obligation to change hearts and minds about the cannabis plant — through education, community outreach, and ongoing advocacy for those harmed by the War on Drugs.

Keep reading along as we talk about cannabis industry CSR in 2021: what it is, some examples of giveback programs, and some important questions to ask before marketing your CSR efforts.

What is CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be defined as a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable – to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility (also called corporate citizenship) companies can be conscious of the kind of effect they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental impacts.

Organizations have been infusing CSR into their business models for over a century. It’s been really exciting to see cannabis and hemp organizations infusing CSR into both their business model and marketing efforts. We feel it’s important the cannabis industry represents itself positively and also leads by example when it comes to CSR.

6 Examples of Marketing Cannabis Business Giveback Programs

We’re proud to work and collaborate with esteemed cannabis organizations working towards building brands that infuse CSR into their business model. Below are 6 examples of clients and friends in cannabis who all give back:

  1. Lazy River Products – Recreational Cannabis Dispensary located in Dracut, Massachusetts.
    1. In addition to having a dedicated “Community” page on their website, you’ll notice they have a number of community partners. This business constantly gives back and executes campaigns with their local partners and other community and/or nonprofit initiatives.
    2. They get their staff and other members of the community involved through compliant local cannabis advertising, their social media pages and email marketing channels.
  2. National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) – Ethical and responsible cannabis association dedicated to shaping the future of the cannabis industry, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    1. The NACB has done plenty of giveback programs on top of their dedication to the future of the cannabis space. One amazing campaign we helped with was the launch of their Social Equity Model and Social Equity Conference. The conference itself pushed folks to donate to a non-profit dedicated to social justice, The Cannabis Impact Fund, that’ll we’ll come back to later in the blog.
    2. The NACB was able to push folks to the conference while bringing awareness to the Impact Fund through their partners’ channels, social media, email marketing and membership program.
  3. Toastyy – CBD and Wellness Brand located in Los Angeles, California.
    1. Toastyy is a recently launched minority female-owned CBD brand. They’ve partnered with Last Prisoner Project (LPP) to push their website traffic to donate – as you can see on the footer of their website.
    2. They also have done social media and other marketing campaigns to raise awareness for LPP. It’s always great to see even our start-up clients putting efforts into giving back.
  4. Mellow Fellow – Delta-8 & CBD Brand located in Miami, Florida.
    1. Mellow Fellow is an LGBTQ-operated cannabinoid brand that launched in early 2021. They’re active with their ongoing CSR and we wanted to highlight their “Pride Month” campaign. They gave back a portion of sales for the entire month to the Trevor Project.
    2. We were able to inform consumers and businesses of this campaign on their website, social media and newsletter. This campaign raised both funds and awareness towards a nonprofit who is doing amazing work.
  5. Pot Zero – Organic Zero Carbon Footprint Cannabis Farm & Brand located in Gypsum, Colorado.
    1. Pot Zero has taken a different approach to their community efforts that we still encourage: a focus on sustainability. Their mission is to produce the most environmentally-friendly cannabis products in Colorado, and beyond.
    2. Grown at an altitude of 8,200ft with zero chemicals and zero carbon footprint, Pot Zero specializes in rare cannabinoids and high terpene levels. We’ve infused their approach throughout their entire marketing platform because the products are truly extraordinary.
  6. Lightshade – Medical & Recreational Cannabis Dispensary located in Denver, Colorado.
    1. Our friends at female-owned Lightshade have not only infused CSR into their business model, but also have a formal CSR program formulated by our partners over at Cannabis Doing Good, who we’ll talk about later on. It’s great to see all of the community work Lightshade participates in and how they market it across all their entire cannabis marketing platform.

As you can see, there are many different ways to approach your community responsibility efforts as a cannabis company, especially when it comes to marketing.

Keep reading as we help navigate kicking off your cannabis community responsibility marketing efforts.

3 Questions to Ask Before Marketing Your CSR Efforts

It’s important that you don’t just dive right into your community responsibility efforts and rush the marketing. We always suggest taking a long-term approach and making sure to strategize exactly how you can successfully integrate into your local community. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before you get started, and why:

  1. What are we passionate about?
    1. Incorporating something you’re passionate about into your CSR program is way more effective than something that you may have no connection to or of which you have no prior knowledge. As you can see from the 6 examples in the previous section of this blog, each organization chose a path that they were passionate about and also fit their business model.
    2. In some cases, there’s more than one CSR effort taking place at the same time. If you start supporting a cause that you lose interest in and can’t follow-up on, you then put yourself at risk of brand judgement.
  2. Who is going to manage our CSR work?
    1. A formal CSR effort has a lot of moving parts and can be a ton of work. Depending on the business, we typically see the following CSR management efforts take place on projects:
      1. Full-time CSR Coordinator
      2. Part-time CSR Consultant
      3. Small Effort with the Intention to Grow the Program
    2. If you plan to host your own events, you may want to consider an Event Coordinator as well.
  3. How are we going to get our staff and community involved?
    1. Your staff is also a part of the community, so it’s great to see organizations get their staff and community both participating in CSR efforts whether they be in-person or digital.
      1. In-Person Example: River Clean-Up
      2. Digital Example: Social Media Fundraiser though Instagram
    2. It’s important to know which marketing channels will work well for your particular business. Every location is different, especially when it comes to demographics. Some clients find most success through paid channels, others through organic and others through both.

Checkout Some of Our Community Programs and Partners!

In addition to encouraging and assisting with our cannabis marketing clients CSR marketing programs, we’ve been able to execute some amazing CSR initiatives and partner with some amazing community organizations. The following are just a few we’d like to highlight, but please be sure to checkout the Community Partners section of our partners page on our website to learn more:

  1. Cannabis Creative Movement – This is our most recent community project. We’ve partnered with different nonprofits we’ve worked with over the years to produce an educational guidebook series informing about the key issues on which the nonprofits are focused.
  2. Cannabis Doing Good – We co-founded this purpose-driven and community focused program 3 years ago alongside our partners at KindColorado. We’ve raised around $300k for nonprofits all over the country through this program and it will be starting it’s standard and membership programs very soon.
  3. Cannabis Impact Fund – We co-founded this nonprofit, currently focused on social justice, during 2020 in the heart of COVID. This nonprofit has also raised a significant amount of funds and has big plans ahead for social justice, sustainability and community campaigns in the future.
  4. The Cannabis Conservancy (TCC)  – A new client and partner of ours, TCC provides an internationally recognizable certification platform for cannabis producers that meet a specific number of standards. We’ve had the pleasure of working with them on the Boulder County Carbon Conscious Certification campaign and are currently working on their new website.
  5. Leaf 411 – A free cannabis nurse hotline nonprofit who is our most recent community partner and participant in our Cannabis Creative Movement project’s Opiate Awareness Guide.

As you can see: we love supporting a number of different causes and giving back because that’s the type of future we’d like for the cannabis industry. If you’ve read this blog, please comment below so we can work towards building a brighter future together.

If you’re interested in becoming a community partner of ours or learning more about community responsibility in cannabis marketing, please email hello@pufcreativ.com 

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