The Indispensable Guide to Dispensary Marketing  – Read More

Budtenders are Dispensary Gods

If you’re a dispensary owner and you think you’re just selling weed, consider this:

People can buy weed just about anywhere. That’s not the only reason they come to a dispensary. They also come for the vibe, the culture, and the community. They come to learn. They come for an experience.

So, who delivers all that for them?

If you guessed the Budtender, you nailed it.

The Budentender is much more than just a cog in the dispensary machine:

  1. The Budtender delivers your brand experience.
  2. Your dispensary’s fate depends on that experience.

Call your accountant to check the math but 1 + 2 = The Budtender is a dispensary God.

Budtenders are Brand Ambassadors

Dispensary branding is vital. The cannabis retail landscape is highly competitive and you need to give people some compelling reasons to buy weed from your dispensary. Your reasons are your brand, and the Budtender is the face of your brand:

  • The Budtender is the human connection between the dispensary and the customer.
  • The Budtender communicates your brand story, values, and ethos.
  • The Budtender creates your customer service experience.

Every interaction between a Budtender and a customer defines your brand for that customer. You can chop brand experience up a hundred ways, but let’s keep it simple. The customer should always feel like they’re the most important person in the room. Your Budtender can make your customer feel that way, or they can make your customer walk away.

Train your Bustenders well, pay them fairly, and treat them with the dignity they deserve. Untrained and unhappy happy Budentenders will cause serious problems with your brand experience and a poor brand experience kills customer loyalty on contact.

I could go on but the bottom line is that no one wants to shop at a dispensary that sucks. So, don’t suck. Finding new customers is much more expensive than retaining the ones you have.

Budtenders are Cannabis Experts

Cannabis is new, complex, and often overwhelming for the average customer. Much more so than wine, yet sommeliers receive formal training and can earn six-figure salaries. Meanwhile, most dispensaries pay Budtenders close to minimum wage and expect them to master a knowledge base that includes:

  • Terpenes and cannabinoids
  • The entourage effect
  • The endocannabinoid system
  • Hundreds of cultivars that change constantly
  • Hundreds of concentrate flavors and consistencies including rosin, resin, live resin, live rosin, sugar, and more.
  • Thousands of SKUs and different delivery systems from flower to vapes to extracts to edibles to tinctures and drinks.
  • How cannabis may treat everything from seizures to insomnia

Yikes. This is a very deep pool. I’m not advocating that Budtenders should make $150k a year. Not everyone that serves wine is a sommelier. That said, we undervalue the knowledge a Budtender needs to make the best recommendations, and the ability to make these recommendations is essential to your brand experience.

If you want your Budtenders to provide this level of service and expertise, don’t expect them to learn it all on their own. Yes, they should study the menu. It’s also a good idea to test menu knowledge before you put them on the floor. But don’t stop there:

A robust and dynamic Budtender training program is essential. This is an investment in your people, your brand, and your customers.

Further, every brand you carry should provide supplemental training and samples of their products for your Budtenders. It’s always best when your budtender can make recommendations based on experience.

Budtenders Build Community

How do Budtenders build community?

  1. Budtenders build community when they create a brand experience that makes your customers feel seen, heard, and a part of something.
  2. Budtenders build community when they show your customers they care by providing education and recommendations that improve their quality of life.
  3. Budtenders build community when they remember your customers’ names, birthdays, and preferences.
  4. Budtenders build community around a shared love for cannabis.

The community Budtenders build is a bond that keeps your customers coming back to see them like the would an old and trusted friend.

Budtenders Make Your Sales

Call me the master of the obvious, but there are levels to this game.

As a founding partner at Tropicanna, one of the things I’d do at the end of most days was review the sales report from our POS. This report included Budtender sales numbers. Over time, I saw that we always had a few superstars with gross sales that were 30% higher than average. Curious, I ran the numbers.

Over the course of a year, that can add up to as much as an additional $400,000.00 in gross sales for one Budtender. Now, imagine what that would look like if you could teach and motivate every Budtender on your staff to elevate their game to that level. I did more than imagine. I ran those numbers as well.

At Tropicanna we averaged four Budtenders per shift over three shifts, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If every Budtender on the team performed at the superstar level, it could generate an additional $4.4M in gross sales.

$4.4 MILLION. Gulp.

If that’s not enough to make you appreciate what an impact the Butender has on your business, I don’t know what is.

Budtenders Impact Engagement

The best marketing is word of mouth. You want your customers to talk about how amazing your dispensary is to anyone that will listen. A close second is customer engagement, and nothing motivates engagement more than a Budtender that delivers an extraordinary brand experience and recommends a product the customer loves.

Three types of customer engagement that increase your dispensary’s visibility are social media interaction, website visits, and customer reviews.

Social Media Engagement

Customers can engage with your brand by following your social media accounts, liking and sharing your posts, and leaving comments. Your interaction with them will strengthen and grow this community.

Website Engagement

Customers can engage with your band by visiting your website and engaging with your content. Your website should also provide a platform where your customers can ask questions and provide feedback to encourage this engagement.

Customer Reviews

Customers can engage with your brand by leaving reviews on platforms like Googe, Yelp, and Weedmaps. Respond to reviews, address concerns, and show appreciation for positive feedback.

Engagement is a great thing in and of itself, but another way engagement is important for your dispensary is how it affects SEO.

Engagement Improves SEO

Engagement improves SEO (“Search Engine Optimization”) by improving performance metrics that search engines use to rank websites. Some of these metrics include:

  1. Increased Organic Traffic: When users engage with your website, search engines read this as a sign that your website has valuable and relevant content. This makes search engines rank your website higher which increases organic traffic.
  2. Social Signals: When your content is shared on social media, it increases its visibility and may attract more traffic and backlinks. These social signals tell search engines that your content is valuable and may result in higher search engine rankings.
  3. Backlinks: Engaged customers may refer your website to others by sharing links which can further increase your website’s visibility and SEO potential.
  4. Increased Search Result Visibility: Reviews can contribute to the generation of review snippets in search engine results. These snippets showcase star ratings, review counts, and review excerpts. This attracts attention and can lead to higher click-through rates and improve your website’s ranking.
  5. Fresh User-Generated Content: Search engines value fresh and relevant content. When customers leave reviews, search engines can crawl and index them which may improve your website’s ranking.
  6. Keyword-Generated Content: Reviews often contain keywords used in search queries from potential customers. This user-generated content may boost your rankings for those relevant keywords.
  7. Increased Click-Through Rates (CTR): When people see positive reviews or star ratings in search results, they are more likely to click on your website. A higher CTR tells search engines that your website is relevant and trustworthy, improving rankings over time.
  8. Improved User Trust and Credibility: Reviews contribute to the overall trust and credibility of your business. This can result in more traffic, longer dwell times, and improved user signals, which search engines read as indicators of a quality website.
  9. Social Proof and Backlink Potential: When satisfied customers share positive experiences, it can generate buzz. This can lead to increased brand exposure, more website visits, and potentially more backlinks from reputable sources.

Ok. So that’s a ton of technical SEO stuff but I hope you can see the tree through the forest:

Budtenders create your brand experience, your brand experience improves engagement, and engagement improves your SEO.

If you’d like to know more about how to improve your SEO rankings, you can hit up deep roots partners anytime. We’re always here to help you rank…and spank your competition!

JP Donahue

JP Donahue

JP Donahue is a former corporate litigator turned successful writer, with over 25 works produced for major film and TV studios. He’s also a founding partner of Tropicanna, one of Orange County’s top cannabis retail brands. Leveraging his experience in both Hollywood and cannabis, JP advises dispensaries on branding, marketing, and operations. He’s a Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, certified Yogi, meditator, dog father, and a member of the New York State Bar and Writers Guild of America West.