What did you do before the industry, as far as work, education?
Greg: Well, I went to Loyola Marymount University. I came out to Los Angeles from Chicago, in the first place, to get more involved with entertainment and the music industry. So while I was in college, I was taking on various internship programs and opportunities within entertainment and music with MTV and Disney. After I graduated, my experience helped me secure a job at CBS Radio. From there, I began working for a marketing company by the name of Grace Entertainment Marketing where they were basically in-charge of all the entertainment and music culture integration for the Red Bull brand. So whether that was product placement on TV shows, movies, music videos, or actual events themselves, such as private listening parties or big large-scale Grammy parties. Most of what we did was more geared towards influencer supports, whether they were the actual talents themselves or people who simply work in the industry.
I was basically overseeing a lot of the music integration through Red Bull and obviously music culture shares a lot of interest with the Cannabis consumer and it is just as widespread as Cannabis consumers go. It is all sorts of cultures and walks of life and interests when it comes to music and I think the exact same thing can be said for Cannabis consumers. There is not one type of consumer. There are many different types of consumers. So I think the background and history I had with incorporating a specific brand into such a diverse interest which is music really helped with a lot of the marketing and advertising opportunities that I have uncovered for Vapor Nation in regards to targeting a Cannabis consumer. It has just as wide as the variety of cultures and people and types of consumers as music. So I think that really relates itself well to what I’m doing now.
The real lure, if you will, of the Cannabis industry and the Cannabis consumer was more based on being able to create and grow and build a specific brand within a specific industry as opposed to just kind of managing and creating opportunities for something that is already very much established.
How did you get involved in the industry?
Greg: I wish I had a lot cooler of a story … I was kind of exploring various opportunities in and out of the Cannabis industry. I understood there was a fantastic opportunity for me in working as a marketing director with VaporNation, not just in the sense of the industry itself, but the position itself. Before, I was a lot more focused on artist integrations and events. VaporNation really gave me the opportunity to cast a wider net as far as what my responsibilities were. Being able to build our entire marketing department based on what I know and my experiences in marketing and advertising was really the main appeal. The fact it was in such a booming industry was also a huge appeal.
I was sending out resumes and connecting with various people in the industry, in really all industries, and VaporNation reached out to me. They must have found me somehow online and approached me to oversee all their marketing efforts. In all honesty, I don’t want to use the term it fell on my lap, but at the same time, I was just at the right spot at the right time and took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself.
I did take a pay cut in moving to Vapor Nation. For me, it wasn’t about the monetary value. It’s about the long-term ability to not only further myself as a marketing professional but also to integrate myself as a marketing professional into an industry and company that are ready to explode.
You’ll find in the Cannabis industry that a lot of these emerging companies don’t have the type of marketing and advertising focus that what more well-established companies like Red Bull have. It is kind of like there is a certain aspect of the startup approach that is very much still there within the Cannabis industry. I certainly think that you’re going to see that changing soon but right now, it is very rare that you encounter a company or business that’s really just throwing marketing and advertising dollars at professionals and opportunities.
When did you start with Vapor Nation?
Greg: Over three years ago. I think it was the beginning of January, 2014. So I’ve been the marketing director for Vapor Nation for over three years now.
What does an average work day look like for you?
Greg: Right now, it’s totally different because we’re gearing up for 420, which is basically like our Christmas, so obviously we’re a lot busier. But I would say there are a few different aspects that I touch on every week, almost every day. Number one would be managing and evaluating the current advertising and marketing campaigns we have going. Whether that’s looking at analytics as far as what type of digital aspects are bringing us traffic or what type of traffic it’s bringing us, what’s worked, what hasn’t. Basically overseeing all the current efforts that we have on the table whether they are event driven, whether it’s print advertising, or our email blast marketing, whether it is digital marketing, content development, social media, etc. So everyday I’m diving into the analytics, making sure that they are performing as best as they can, and adjusting our campaigns to optimize. Beyond that, when our campaigns are finished, it is about evaluating the value of that campaign. What type of ROI did we receive? What type of ROI can we expect if we are to move forward with another? And really evaluating whether the opportunities that we are currently involved in once they end are worth renewing. On top of that, every single day I’m encountering new opportunities for advertising and marketing Vapor Nation and our line of products. Whether it’s a new event that pops up, whether it’s a new media company that’s starting, whether it’s a one-off artist integration that has come across my desk, whether it’s media research on my own about what is out there as far as marketing and advertising a Cannabis Vaporizer retailer or wholesaler. And again, everything I do is double-headed too, because you have the whole sale aspect of Vapor Nation and the retail aspect.
So I would say, optimizing what we currently have going on, deciding whether to move forward or not with campaigns that have concluded, finding and seeking out new opportunities. Beyond that is managing the internal aspects that we have as far as personnel go. Making sure that our SEO team is staying on top of what they are doing and that we’re still ranking. Making sure that the content team is creating relevant and original content for the brand and for the line of products that we carry. Making sure that our social media manager is taking advantage of the best practices he can. Really just staying on top of our internal teams and keeping that channel of communication open between all of us to create synergies are very important. So I would say, in a typical week or typical day, those are the main focuses of what I do. And again, a lot of that is internal too. It is working with the people we have as a part Vapor Nation, not just our marketing aspect, but even the sales aspect as well. Communication is definitely key in not only survival, but our success in this industry.
Do you have any advice for job seekers that are looking to enter the industry?
Greg: The most valuable asset that I have is just pure knowledge of who the major players are in each given area, whether it’s media companies, vaporizer brand, and understanding of the industry itself. So if you’re going to try and get involved in or be a part of the Cannabis industry, whether it’s for a media company, an online retail store like Vapor Nation, or a dispensary… Whatever it is, you need to be as knowledgeable as humanly possible for that specific area of the industry and even beyond that. For example, if we had someone who could be an amazing social media manager, they don’t necessarily need to have ton of experience working within the Cannabis industry but they also need to know who these major players are, who do they need to align themselves with –– whether they’re influencers, media companies, or specific brands. So I would say being extremely knowledgeable about this field or the area of the Cannabis industry that you’re trying to get involved with is going to give you that much more of an advantage over anyone else who comes across their desk as a potential candidate. I mean, if you have product or knowledge in that industry or that specific product, you’re going to be that much more valuable. I’ll take somebody who knows the industry a little bit better over somebody who’s, maybe, come from an irrelevant industry background but perhaps has more skills and experience. If I’m hiring people for our marketing department, I would want them to have an understanding of who’s who.
So just basically doing your research. You don’t necessarily have to have the experience growing unless you want to grow. With the the internet, you can do all this research and you can learn about what’s out there, what’s working, what’s not working, and you can become pretty knowledgeable on what you should be doing specific to this industry.
Greg: Absolutely. There are so many people that have great experience with working in various fields and probably have a solid resume as far as marketing and advertising or any related position for that matter but you don’t necessarily need to have worked at a WeedMaps or a Vapor Nation to get a job at within the Cannabis Industry. As long as you can apply the knowledge you have as a professional to the Cannabis Industry and you are able to voice that in an interview or cover letter or even within your resume itself, that’s going to give you the biggest leg up in my opinion. And it also goes without saying, as with any industry, it’s all about the people that you know, and that just falls under the same category as being knowledgeable. Connecting with people on LinkedIn who are executives within the industry, I think, goes hand in hand with knowledge. It is doing what you would do in any other industry that you would want to get involved with. But I think the knowledge aspect of Cannabis is even more valuable than it has been because that’s really going to set you apart from anyone else who is coming in and maybe competing with you to pull a position. As simplistic as it sounds, that’s the truth. A lot of people don’t realize that. Like, “Oh, I like to get high so I should work in the Cannabis Industry.” Well, no. There’s a lot more you need to know than just getting high. If you like to watch TV, you can’t just go up to CBS or NBC and say,”Give me a job. I like TV.” You know?
Very true. I remember back when I met you at the conference, you guys were hiring. Are you still hiring at this time?
Greg: Yes, in the Los Angeles area we’re still hiring wholesale reps.