Client: California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD)
Project Summary: JumpStartNOW to create a first strategic marketing plan for the Growing Responsible and Socially Sustainable Cannabis (GRASS-C) program that focuses on intended audiences: cultivators, consumers, industry allies, associations, consultants, state regulatory agencies, and distributors.
Background: GRASS-C stands for Growing Responsible and Socially Sustainable Cannabis. GRASS-C is a tiered market-incentive certification program for environmentally responsible cannabis production in California. Cannabis growers, together with Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), are taking the lead. GRASS-C is spearheaded by Upper Salinas Las Tablas, Coastal San Luis, Trinity, Cachuma, and Mendocino RCDs. GRASS-C recognizes the high bar of land stewardship requirements woven into regulatory requirements. GRASS-C aligns with those regulations, and it raises the bar for stewardship and social sustainability a little further. It is useful as a self-assessment tool and takes on more value when a grower decides to get certified by a Resource Conservation District.
Challenges: GRASS-C was not yet a well-known certification process and needed to communicate its benefits and value to the cannabis industry in California. The goal was to increase awareness and create an influx of requests for further information on the program from specific target groups. A marketing outreach campaign was to be developed to improve communication with specific Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs). Social media marketing and advertising campaigns were to increase awareness of the program through engagement, impressions, and reach. By cross-marketing with government agencies, stakeholders would see increased interest and participation in GRASS-C by all target groups. Content marketing campaigns would increase traffic and awareness of the program on the official website by interested parties linking to and sharing pages.
Solutions: JumpStartNOW developed a strategic marketing plan which included the following components: detailed marketing objectives; business initiatives to include each initiative, its individual goal, and metrics to measure the success of the campaign; SWOT analysis to include internal and external forces, strength, and weaknesses, opportunities and threats; target market/groups to include for each target group a detailed description and demographic information; complex target group persona to include personal insights, top three problems, top goals, additional discoveries, and common objectives; understanding all stakeholders and their motivations; a brand strategy to include brand strength and brand voice: how we talk about the brand and brand guide. JumpStartNOW also developed strategic marketing initiatives for implementation to include: a marketing strategy for each target group; a strategic approach to each marketing vehicle; a proposed KPI for each marketing vehicle; design examples for each marketing initiative; analytics to include keyword and key phrase strategy; social listening results; priority list of events based on established goals. JumpStartNOW also utilized social listening as a modern focus group tool to capture sentiments on social around stakeholder pain points, positive and negative conversations, consumer sentiments, and real-time industry conversations.
Results: The highly strategic marketing plan for the GRASS-C program informed a direction for a trusted relationship between associations, RCDs, and government agencies. It offered a solution to establish RCDs as authorities to improve approval processes for farmers with county governments and regulatory agencies, allowing for the normalization of cannabis farming and industry in California and establishing quality social and ecological sustainability standards for adoption statewide. It outlined a marketing strategy for the certification and assessment platforms for California cannabis farmers and a retail market advantage for participating cannabis farmers. It offered a strategy for a buy-in of RCDs across the state of California and their stakeholders; consumer awareness of the GRASS-C standard and adoption as the highest quality standard; and value-add for cannabis farmers to seek consistent certification and licensing.