Andy Hille posted an articleTexting and message best practices, with a focus on 10DLC and how cannabis companies can use them. see more
By Emily Tuttle | Springbig (The Cannabis Marketing Platform)
Text message marketing has become a staple in almost every cannabis dispensary marketing strategy, and for good reason: It’s fast, it’s easy, and it actually works. Traditionally, businesses use short codes (6-digit numbers) to send mass text messages. But, carriers have banned cannabis companies from using these. That’s where 10DLC (10-digit long codes) comes in.
In this article, we’ll be talking about the main kinds of text messages, with a specific focus on 10DLC and how cannabis companies can use them.
The Main Types of Text Messages
Generally speaking, there are three main types of text messages that are used today: Short codes, toll-free long codes, and long local codes. On top of this, there are two main types of text message traffic: A2P and P2P.
A2P vs. P2P:
A2P messaging stands for application-to-person messaging, which in normal terms just means business to customer. P2P (person-to-person) is traditional texting and is exactly what it sounds like, person to person messaging. Traditionally, A2P messages go through short codes (which we will discuss below), but unfortunately, these require the campaigns to be vetted and thus bar cannabis businesses from using them.
Short codes are 5- or 6-digit numbers made for businesses looking to send out mass text message campaigns. These kinds of messages are made for sending millions of messages a day but come with drawbacks like a long process for campaign approval, cost, and low deliverability.
Toll-free long codes:
These are a good alternative to short codes. They’re cheap and appear as a 10-digit phone number, but can appear foreign to those receiving them. On top of this, they’re only capable of a few thousand messages per day.
Long local codes:
These are the typical phone numbers that you’re used to seeing. 10-digits, and designed for P2P texting. This means they’re only meant to support a couple hundred messages per day. On top of that, using them for A2P texting is against CTIA guidelines.
Each of these methods of texting present issues when it comes to A2P texting in the cannabis industry, which is where 10DLC come in.
In short, 10DLC are local 10-digit numbers that can support the high volume of text messages that A2P messaging requires. Like we said before though, these numbers weren’t originally meant for mass messaging, that was until third-party companies came in and started developing APIs that can send mass messages from 10-digit long codes. That means better delivery and fewer restrictions which is perfect for the cannabis industry.
The US long codes widely used by businesses up until now were only meant for P2P messaging. Because of this, carriers have always considered the current sending method used by businesses to text consumers to be an unsanctioned SMS route. That being said, things have begun to change as carriers have begun to realize the superiority of 10DLC, and they want a piece of the pie.
The new 10DLC text messaging process that has recently been announced has been specially designed and permitted for business messaging. It offers delivery reliability and security for business senders. It will also support the volume of messaging that is required for mass text messaging. For this very reason, your messages have been subject to some level of filtering.
Starting February 1, 2021, long code text messages sent to T-Mobile and AT&T customers have started the move to its new 10 DLC A2P service. Long codes are now being given official designation to be sent en masse by a business application like Springbig.
There is a grace period that expires sometime around June 1, 2021, when all messaging traffic for AT&T will need to be fully vetted and approved for 10DLC. Sprint and T-Mobile will follow shortly thereafter. Verizon launched its version of
of 10DLC in early 2020 but did not require a vetting process - just an increase in filtering for spam, scams, and unauthorized content related to SHAFT (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco).
Cannabis falls under Tobacco which is why over the last 12 months if your text message copy contained cannabis content you may have seen a gradual drop in Verizon deliverability. That being said, using 10DLC effectively is still very much possible for cannabis businesses. All that you need to do is make a couple of changes to the content of your text message marketing campaigns.
Andy Hille posted an articleThe complexity and cost of obtaining cannabis licenses has many brands turning to white-label brands see more
White-label Branding Might Be Marijuana Industry’s Next Hot Trend
Originally appeared in Marijuana Business Daily by Margaret Jackson
The complexity and cost of obtaining cannabis licenses has many brands turning to white-label branding.
White labeling, a practice common among mainstream businesses, is when a product is produced by one company but packaged and branded to make it appear as if another company made it.
For example, many products sold at Whole Foods Market under the 365 brand were not made by Whole Foods at all. Instead, the national grocery chain has various companies that produce the items for Whole Foods to sell under its 365 label.
The same is true for Costco’s Kirkland brand and Walmart’s Great Value brand.
‘Areas of expertise’
Daniel Yi, managing partner and chief strategy officer of Bellflower, California-based product maker Inanna Manufacturing, said opportunities for white-labeling in the cannabis space are great because few companies are doing it.
Many entrepreneurs have ideas for brands and would like to get into the cannabis industry, but they are unable to do so because they can’t get a license, according to Yi, who got his start in the cannabis industry four years ago with Los Angeles-based multistate operator MedMen Enterprises.
“There are a lot of product ideas,” he told Marijuana Business Magazine.
Inanna holds one of California’s Type 6 cannabis-manufacturing licenses, which allows the company to make everything from gummies and topicals to baked goods. The company does not provide extraction services, nor does it grow cannabis.
“There are a ton of people who are super good at cultivating cannabis efficiently,” Yi said. “Why spend a lot on that if you have a great retail concept? It’s more about segmenting into areas of expertise. Coca-Cola doesn’t bottle its own soda. The same thing will happen with cannabis.”
Uptick in demand
Boulder, Colorado-based WHT LBL takes a different approach. The company handles everything from making distillate for edibles products to brand management and manufacturing at its 15,000-square-foot facility, said Jill Lamoureux, WHT LBL’s co-founder and chief creative officer.
WHT LBL has a small indoor cultivation facility and one large outdoor grow. The company buys most of the trim it uses for extraction from Los Sueños Farms, a 36-acre outdoor cultivation facility in Pueblo County, Colorado.
WHT LBL plans to expand its cultivation facility to keep up with growing demand for its mini joints, Lamoureux said. She had been considering enlarging the company’s outdoor grow, but after an early freeze and snowfall in September, she’s now leaning toward greenhouses.
“We were barely able to meet demand on our own this year, and we don’t see it stopping,” she said. “I’m a little nervous about supply for the coming year.”
WHT LBL prefers to work with cannabis businesses that already are in the market and looking for a new manufacturing partner. They should have provable sales, packaging and labeling as well as an understanding of the unique universal stamp and warning language.
Next, the company likes to work with clients who want to expand to Colorado from other markets and enlist WHT LBL to produce their brands. Those clients should have packaging, even if it does need a little tweaking.
“Even if they don’t understand Colorado specifics, they understand the ideas around the regulations,” Lamoureux said of the type of businesses that employ white labelers.
If you’re considering going the white-label route to get into the marijuana industry, make sure you have the idea for your brand and product fleshed out and that your packaging and label design is finalized. It’s also important to select a product category where there’s room for growth, Lamoureux said.
“Vape is the most saturated category,” she said. “Unless you’re coming in as a super-low-cost producer, that product is on the market 10 times over.”
Avoiding licensing pitfalls
California-based Old Pal has avoided licensing challenges by going the white-label route.
Old Pal contracts with about 100 cultivators licensed to grow or manufacture marijuana in the markets where the company operates. Old Pal gives its producers packaging for flower and vape cartridges and then promotes its brands through marijuana retailers. The company’s products are available in about 350 cannabis stores.
Because the company doesn’t handle marijuana, it doesn’t need to have a license. That enables Old Pal to keep overhead low; it has just 29 employees and one office.
“If we had gone vertically integrated, we’d need a team of 20 drivers, 40 cultivators and a compliance department,” said Rusty Wilenkin, chief executive of Old Pal.
In the company’s early days, it took a more hands-on approach with its partners. Now that trust has been built, Old Pal gives its partners product specifications for them to follow. Old Pal’s distributor is responsible for quality assurance and control.
Old Pal teamed up with Austin, Texas-based creative agency Land to develop the brand. In turn, Land has an ownership stake in the company. “That really helped us think about brand and marketing from the get-go,” Wilenkin said.
Focusing on core business
Another company that uses white-label manufacturers is Boulder, Colorado-based edibles maker Wana Brands. While Wana manufactures its own gummies, it contracts out for extracting the distillate used in its infused products, which saves on the cost of equipment, the workers to operate that machinery and the space it takes up in the company’s 19,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.
“We used to do our own extraction, but as we’ve grown, we realized it’s more efficient to focus on the actual edibles manufacturing and become more specialized there,” said Logan Craven, Wana’s chief financial officer. “What we decided was, if we were to move away from extraction, we’d have additional edibles manufacturing capacity in our facility. We wanted to keep all the manufacturing within our control and not white label and outsource the actual edibles manufacturing. Extraction is a relatively easier process to standardize.”
Wana encourages its extractors to use multiple cultivators so that if one crop fails, there are still others that can be relied upon.
“We want to make sure it’s a grow source we’ve vetted and that we feel comfortable with their practices and procedures,” Craven said. “It makes us less dependent on an individual crop or production runs. We’re able to mitigate risk and work off of what the industry as a whole is doing as opposed to what we have in our own grow.”
Another measure Wana takes to ensure continuous production is keeping three to four months worth of THC distillate on hand.
“Our growers or the extractor would have to have long-term supply issues in order for it to impact us,” Craven said. “Luckily, we haven’t seen that.”
Because Colorado requires a certificate of analysis before cannabis products can be legally transferred to another business or consumer, quality control is built into the regulatory process. Wana takes it a step further by retesting the distillate it receives to ensure the vendors are sending what they say they’re sending.
“A big part of the brand has always been quality and consistency and trying to innovate in terms of the product itself,” said Craven, who has been with the company since January 2019. “We’ve always tried to present ourselves as very professional and clean. The product has always been the focus here.”
ArticleA member guest post from Springfield MO | Supper Co see more
Investing in your Medical Cannabis brand
Let’s get one thing straight, off the bat: Legalized Marijuana is here to stay. If it’s not in your state now, you’re in the minority. There’s too much money and too much opportunity, and those not taking advantage of it now will be too late. With money and opportunity comes competition. In the legal weed market, competition is fierce.
Just ask one of the some 1,900 applications who were denied medical marijuana business licenses in the State of Missouri. Or perhaps one of the 800 who are appealing their loss, after already losing tens of thousands of dollars in application fees and in many cases, outside consultancy fees as well. It’s hard out here for the budding weed entrepreneur. Pun intended.
An interesting note, and one I’ve found most people outside of the industry aren’t aware of, is that all of the marijuana bought and sold by these businesses in your individual states must be sourced in your state. Due to marijuana still being ruled as a Schedule 1 drug by Uncle Sam means if you transport marijauna across state lines, it's a federal crime.
So for the time being, mid-level brands have been able to be built somewhat in silos. California brands largely remain California brands, Colorado brands are Colorado brands. Some very large and early adopters use new manufacturing partnerships to branch out and expand their product lines into new states, but generally at great cost and a lack of executional and quality control that one might have from a central manufacturing facility and consistent supply chain. Well known dispensary brands cross into new states, taking advantage early of the laws and regulations, but still have to jump through many, many hoops and at great investment.
Where does this leave the emergent weed entrepreneur? One would think with endless possibility. And this is perhaps the case. However, I would pose this question: What happens when marijuana becomes federally legal and brands are able to enter new markets with vastly slimmed down regulation. My call: the little guys are gonna get smoked. A tale of business as old as time.
When the walls come down, and the playing fields are leveled - and they will be soon enough - large, heavily funded and in some cases near decade old cannabis companies will come into your state. They will have seemingly unending reserves of marketing dollars. They will have brand awareness. They will have fantastic product, beautiful packaging, and have a story to tell with it.
They will know their target market. They will have previously defined who they are, and how they are going to speak to their consumers. They will have e-commerce platforms developed, customized to harness customer data and perform suggested selling.
They will have supply chain synergies. They will have sales teams. They will have retail and online promotions. They’ll send you an email for your birthday and offer 10% off your favorite edibles.
They will have a plan. Then they will execute it.
If new marjuana entrepreneurs want to compete in the long term, they must invest in their brands early and often. New weed businesses have the great blessing of being able to build brands with a narrowed state-wide focus and must take advantage of being able to build customer loyalty, with focused marketing dollars, and competition that more or less starts on even ground and at the same state-wide starting line. What a rare opportunity.
I urge you, new weed startup, to define your target market. Define your voice. Define how you’re going to speak to your customers - and more importantly - how you aren’t. Invest in your graphics packages, in your merchandising, in your building and in your packaging. Invest in your sales processes. Invest in your outbound marketing and customer retention programs.
Invest in communication with your consumers at such a high level that when the big boys are finally allowed to come into your state and play, you’ve already built your loyal following, and you can play the game with them.
Invest in making a plan for your brand. Then execute it.
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