Digital marketing and cannabis: Q&A with Adam Schlett, CEO and founder of Safe-Reach, new LMA R&D member


Get to know new LMA R&D member Safe-Reach, specializing in cannabis digital marketing at local and national levels.

Can you tell us a little bit about Safe-Reach, the history and the mission of the company?

I was fortunate enough to fall into the local media space with a focus on data-driven advertising. Cannabis has been a part of my adult life since I was 18 and tore the ligaments in my shoulder playing sports. Before starting Safe-Reach, I was working to support local media companies as a digital vendor. Occasionally, the question came up, “Can we run cannabis ads?” This is where I started to look at the law for cannabis advertising to figure out if and how we could compliantly navigate this space.

Where are your clients seeing the most success in cannabis marketing?

Dispensaries and delivery services are the key to consumers. While direct-to-consumer isn’t prevalent like it is in other industries, we find the most success in helping retail or delivery operations turn into localized e-commerce businesses.

What are the biggest myths you see in this space that your company needs to debunk on a daily basis?

  • You can’t advertise cannabis.
  • Programmatic advertising doesn’t work.

Yes, you can, and yes, it does, when it is configured correctly. A lot of folks across verticals have been burned by sales pitches. We spend a good amount of time re-educating people into how campaigns are configured for successful sales.

What are the top five things a company needs to think about before approaching clients about cannabis marketing?

  1. Know the space and know the tools used across these businesses. Cannabis has its own inventory, compliance, and e-commerce toolsets not used outside of cannabis; all of these are crucial to the digital advertising process.
  1. Know the competitive landscape within your local market. Who’s seemingly winning the retail game, and why?
  1. Know creative laws at the state and local level. It’s not hard to find the most recent state-level advertising laws for cannabis
  1. Grow into scale. The best partnerships we’ve had started with a small proof-of-concept that scaled once we could validate success through sales. Marketing budgets aren’t comparable to other spaces yet, be aware of that, and be aware that a healthy skepticism exists around digital ad products along with a healthy appetite to have the best tools in a competitive landscape.
  1. Understand where in the market this partner fits. Are they a value player? A high-end player? We work with a wide array of stores that can appeal to all or some of these consumer types. Who is the retailer or brand trying to reach, and who are they actually engaging with across their digital properties?

What are some trends you are seeing in this space with local media companies?

Cannabis is a key target in everyone’s prospect list – whether you have a designated rep or a whole team. Understanding that the green rush isn’t necessarily applicable to ad dollars yet means you need to want to be in the space as an advertising partner.

I would encourage everyone who sells into this space to take time building trust with your local players and proving concept as technical thought leaders. Cannabis needs fewer salespeople and more innovators when it comes to digital advertising.

What resources can Safe-Reach provide to local media companies? 

We manage every facet of digital media buying strategy, compliance, delivery, and attribution. Know that you are going to be asked for an average return on investment and know that your clients are going to expect more than a click-thru rate to determine a successful digital investment. We can help manage that landscape, execute against those parameters, and grow your client’s businesses while helping you get more cannabis clients through best-in-class ad products that service mom and pops to enterprise players.