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Kate Biggs, Sr. Director of Ads at LeafLink – Interview Series

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“As a whole over the last 12 months we’ve worked with 655 brands nationally and secured $1.9m in GMV of net new retail orders for them so our ads prove to be an effective strategy for securing net new retail partners.”

Kate Biggs

B2B advertising in the cannabis industry poses unique challenges due to platform restrictions and the need for education among multifaceted customers. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the market dynamics and a strategic approach to effectively reach target audiences. In this interview, we delve into the challenges and opportunities of B2B advertising in cannabis, exploring innovative strategies and insights from industry experts.

LeafLink serves as a unified platform for managing wholesale ordering, financial services, and logistics in the cannabis industry. With a focus on streamlining operations and connecting businesses, LeafLink's B2B advertising platform offers brands the opportunity to enhance visibility and sales on a national scale. We sit down with LeafLink's Sr. Director of Ads, Kate Biggs,  to uncover insights into their advertising strategies, the effectiveness of B2B ads in reaching purchase managers, and real-life success stories.

Can you share with us how your career path led you to the cannabis industry and eventually to your role as the Sr. Director of Ads at LeafLink?

After starting my career with Irish Distillers and gaining 8 years of sales leadership experience with Pernod Ricard USA, I transitioned to the cannabis industry driven by a desire to apply my knowledge and collaborate with entrepreneurial spirits. Working with Acreage Holdings and Curaleaf, I recognized the challenges facing cannabis brands in California and saw an opportunity to leverage my experience to help them with their go-to-market and distribution strategies. Joining LeafLink in 2021, I've been managing our GTM Sales team and leading our Ads sales team for the past year. LeafLink's platform addresses key challenges in the cannabis wholesale supply chain, making it a rewarding experience as we work to streamline operations and develop innovative advertising products.

LeafLink is a prominent player in the cannabis industry. Could you provide an overview of what LeafLink does and its significance within the cannabis market?

Our whole mission is to streamline and power cannabis commerce. We have accomplished this across numerous states, providing a unified platform that offers the distinctive capability to oversee the entire lifecycle of wholesale ordering, financial services, and logistics – all consolidated into a single location. It’s really about making the day to day operations of managing and selling cannabis brands easier while connecting the cannabis industry to each other.

B2B advertising in the cannabis industry is still a relatively novel concept. Can you elaborate on how LeafLink's B2B advertising platform functions and its impact on the industry?

Advertising in the cannabis industry presents unique challenges due to platform restrictions. However, our team at LeafLink has developed a strategic solution to boost brand recognition and sales on our marketplace. With a daily audience of purchasing managers, our advertising packages serve as an extension of brands' sales and marketing efforts. Brands that advertise on LeafLink experience a 30% higher average order value, indicating increased sales from both new and existing retail partners. Our Ads Account Executives work closely with brands to tailor advertising goals and recommend the most effective ad formats, including static time-based ads and CPC options. We've recently expanded our advertising opportunities to include ancillary companies supporting the cannabis industry, yielding impressive results.

What are some of the unique challenges that you've encountered when developing and implementing B2B ads specifically tailored for the cannabis sector?

Educating our customers is crucial, especially considering their multifaceted roles. We emphasize the importance of optimizing marketing budgets by balancing field and digital marketing efforts, with a focus on measurable ROI. While our B2B advertising may have a higher CPC, the resulting higher average order value justifies the investment. Campaign longevity is key for building trust and familiarity with purchasing managers, with a minimum recommendation of 3 months. Evergreen strategies are essential to maintain top-of-mind awareness, as seen with global brands like Coca-Cola investing consistently in advertising despite their market dominance.

While our B2B advertising may have a higher CPC than B2C advertising, the resulting higher average order value justifies the investment and we often need to educate customers on that.

On the flip side, could you share some of the notable victories or successes that LeafLink has achieved through its B2B advertising initiatives?

We just exited March with our highest ever customer count using our ads solution and record monthly ads revenue, both over 40% compared to February. As a sales leader that is pretty satisfying but the real win, and the driver for this success, comes down to the improvement and effectiveness of our ads. Our product and engineering team have been building more performant ads inventory, driven by customer feedback and data insights. This has resulted in over 20% MoM increase in ads attributed GMV and 30% MoM increase in Ads attributed BGMV, this essentially translates into “the amount of product we are moving through the marketplace driven by ads.” The ad offerings we have available today are exponentially more performant than what we offered 1-2 years ago and we have some exciting things on the product roadmap for 2024 such as targeting and category management that will further enhance the performance of our ads.

You mentioned increased adoption of B2B ads on LeafLink's platform. Can you discuss some trends or insights you've observed regarding the effectiveness of B2B ads in reaching purchase managers and building brand awareness within the cannabis market?

As a whole over the last 12 months we’ve worked with 655 brands nationally and secured $1.9m in GMV of net new retail orders for them so our ads prove to be an effective strategy for securing net new retail partners. Similarly we’ve secured $2m in GMV of 1st orders within 90 days, so our ads are proving effective in terms of staying top of mind with existing retailers. We recently surveyed our retail network and got feedback that providing data driven product recommendations is high on their list of priorities. I’m super excited by this as later this year we will have the ability to serve targeted ads based on category management insights i.e. “similar to an out of stock product” or “more performant in terms of margin.”

Lastly, could you provide a specific example or case study, like the success story with Bud & Marys, that illustrates the impact and potential of B2B advertising on LeafLink's platform?

Tribe Collective in Oklahoma leveraged LeafLink’s Marketplace for initial success but sought further growth. They devised a strategy to attract new customers and re-engage dormant ones, focusing on brand ads and a retail dashboard initiative. This approach successfully re-engaged 36 clients, attracted 11 new ones, and secured a 6-month agreement with LeafLink. Tribe's innovative marketing strategies have enhanced brand visibility and customer engagement, establishing them as a leader in the cannabis industry.

Our case study with Bud & Mary’s is live here for a look at how we helped them boost sales in just 3 months.

It was a great pleasure to have this conversation with Kate Biggs. Readers are encouraged to check out Leaf Link’s website to learn more.

 

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.