Cannabis Creative recently connected with Katherine Wolf of Malek’s Premium Cannabis for a Q&A in cannabis marketing. As Chief Marketing & Operations Officer, she handles Malek’s marketing, creative strategy, HR, financials, and business operations.
We’ve spoken to countless professionals about how they handle their brand, and there are some notable things we like about Malek’s approach to cannabis marketing.
Read on to discover what’s made Malek’s successful as a craft cultivator, tips for overcoming the trickiness of the cannabis industry, and Katherine’s advice for women in cannabis.
CCG: How did you end up at Malek’s? Did you have a background in cannabis?
Katherine Wolf: I was living and working in marketing in Tampa, Florida but it was always my goal to work in the cannabis industry. I really wanted to be in a legal market, so I moved to Denver, Colorado and got a job on the marketing team for a national grow supply company. It was a great way to get my foot in the door, learn about the industry, and start making connections.
During this time, I found Malek’s and became a huge fan of their products and branding. I knew I eventually wanted to work on the cultivation side of things. So, I reached out to Malek, told him about my experience, and offered to help out with social media and marketing in my free time just so I could get more involved in the industry.
We started talking, the timing was right, and it was such a great fit that I ended up joining the team full-time as the Chief Marketing & Operations Officer. I feel very fortunate to work in such an exciting, growing industry and to wake up every day feeling like I truly have my dream job for my dream company.
What separates Malek’s from other cannabis cultivators? What makes your flower the finest?
Each and every step of our process is designed with quality and flavor in mind. Attention to detail is something that really sets us apart from other cannabis cultivators who prioritize volume.
Malek, our Owner & Operator, has won 20+ international awards with his own seeds, and we have numerous in-house crosses with phenotypes chosen for taste over yield. All our flower is grown indoors in small batches of 8-10 lights per strain, slow cured for 12-14 days, then hand trimmed and packaged. Our motto is “Flavor First” and that’s really what makes our flower the finest.
Let’s talk marketing. What cannabis marketing tactics have you found success with in reaching consumers?
I’ve seen success in marketing by focusing on education, being transparent and authentic, and putting quality content out consistently. When it comes to education, teaching consumers about the flavor profiles and effects of our strains is a huge part of our cannabis marketing strategy.
Cannabis shoppers have so many choices that it can quickly become overwhelming, so I love helping someone pick the perfect strain or product tailored to the experience they want to have. This creates a memorable, positive experience with our brand that will keep them coming back to get their favorite strains and try new ones.
I’ve also found success with capturing more behind-the-scenes content. We showcase our grow process, team members, the supplies we use, and the collaborations we do on social media and our website. That really makes people feel connected to what we’re doing and know the story behind what they’re smoking. Providing that education and sharing these kinds of content creates a shift. Rather than just purchasing a product from us, using it, and then moving on to something else, customers can have a much deeper connection with our brand.
What’s one overlooked thing that cannabis brands can address to improve their marketing presence?
One thing I hear a lot is that “cannabis sells itself,” so marketing in this industry isn’t necessary or important. That couldn’t be further from the truth, especially as more brands enter the market and competition gets tougher. Plus, as compliance standards evolve, you have to think outside the traditional marketing box to build a brand presence.
Think about it this way. When you’re shopping at a retail or grocery store, for example, you can pick items up, smell them, touch them, feel the packaging, etc. At a dispensary, and increasingly so since the start of the pandemic, you can’t have those same interactions with cannabis products because they’re behind a glass wall.
So, consumers are turning to word-of-mouth recommendations, packaging design, and advice from budtenders to make choices. That’s why it’s so important to have a strong, recognizable, unique brand that feels authentic and cohesive across channels!
We’re super active on Instagram and post a lot of information to our website. We get involved in the local cannabis community by doing pop ups at dispensaries, hosting and sponsoring events, and partnering with other industry brands. These things have all helped us build a brand name that people know, trust, and can actually interact with.
Our industry can be tricky. What challenges have you faced in cannabis marketing?
From getting banned on Instagram to having to put age restrictions on your content, it can for sure be tricky trying to reach cannabis consumers. I think it requires us as marketers to think outside the box, experiment with new things, and be able to adapt to changing regulations and industry standards.
Imagine you only have one channel to market the Malek’s brand. Which would you choose and why?
I’d have to choose Instagram. Even though it can be a tough platform for cannabis brands to take full advantage of, it’s really where our target audience is most active. Instagram is also an easy, fun, and free way to interact directly with our customers. We get so many messages, and whether it’s praise, feedback, or questions, it’s great to talk to people one-on-one.
As a small company, it’s super rewarding to see people repping our brand or trying our products for the first time. We love resharing!
You’ve said that you empower female leadership. What advice do you have for women who are starting a cannabis business?
Find a strong mentor who’s already in the industry, join industry groups (my personal favorite women-led ones are the Cannabis Marketing Association and Women Employed in Cannabis), attend networking events, and be willing to put yourself out there.
This industry is very communal and there’s always help, insights, and inspiration available if you look for it!
Cannabis is one of the most exciting, fast-growing industries right now. As a female leader, I know I have a unique opportunity to build and shape the industry for the next generation of female professionals. It can be a challenge, but that’s also part of the excitement of working in a relatively new industry that’s been traditionally male-dominated. You get to blaze a new trail!
Any plans to expand to the east coast? One of the strains you grow, Piña Grande, is a High Times Cannabis Cup winner in Massachusetts.
We’re focused on crushing the Colorado market for the time being, but shoutout to the team at Bountiful Farms for their win with Piña Grande!