Alex Collins is the principal and partner of Sapling, a brand strategy and marketing consultancy which is uniquely positioned in the cannabis and hemp industry. Since 2017, Sapling has been relentless and wildly obsessive about reducing the stigma surrounding cannabis use. They believe that the world deserves to have open and unrestricted access to such a fantastic plant, similar to our belief system. Its mission is to grow and scale cannabis companies around the world in one unifying mission.
They focus their efforts on creating brands that win the hearts and minds of both cannabis users and skeptics. Alex has a background in marketing luxury consumer goods and retail operations. He has exited multiple successful ventures and the jewelry industry, and the reason behind what he does is to change the stigma surrounding cannabis.
This episode is incredibly worth your time as Alex shares how this amazing plant has shaped his view of the world, as well as his takeaways on creating brands for the cannabis industry. He believes that cannabis has the right properties to change the world we live in and bring hope for a better future for humankind.
The approach I’ve been taking in the last few years is helping brands position themselves in the industry and creating products and strategies around that positioning. – Alex Collins
Some Topics We Discussed Include
3:21 – Entering the cannabis industry
14:34 – Pressing the brand to its niche market
21:52 – Starting your brand from scratch
27:48 – Overcoming the hurdle of people not wanting to create content
31:47 – Roadblocks to success
40:08 – Words of wisdom
49:05 – Connect with Alex Collins
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Alex Collins
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: What’s up guys? Sonia Gomez coming to you from Denver, Colorado on another rock your socks episode of Hemp Revolution podcast where we are sharing and telling the real story of the cannabis and hemp industry from the eyes and perspective of the entrepreneurs and change makers pushing this incredible space forward. If you’re someone looking for products that you can trust, deliver the results you’re looking for. Check us out at medicalsecrets.com. And if you are a business owner or a new entrepreneur in this space and you need real solutions for your business like marketing, stable supply chain compliance, or merchant processing, go ahead and check us out at theemeraldcircle.com, we are happy to help.
Today’s episode is probably going to be one of my favorites in a long time. Not only is that my resurrection episode because I have been on my deathbed one foot in the grave for the last three weeks. But we’re going to be talking about one of my absolute favorite subjects, marketing, and brand positioning. Alex Collins, who is our guest for the day, is the principal and partner of Sapling a brand strategy and marketing consultancy which is uniquely positioned in the cannabis and hemp industry. Since 2017, Sapling has been relentless and wildly obsessive about reducing the stigma surrounding cannabis use. They believe that the world deserves to have open and unrestricted access to such an amazing plant, similar to our belief system, and their mission is to grow and scale cannabis companies around the world in one unifying mission.
They focus their efforts on creating brands that win the hearts and minds of both cannabis users and skeptics. Alex has a background in marketing luxury consumer goods and retail operations. He has exited multiple successful ventures and the jewelry industry bawling, and the reason behind what he does is to change the stigma surrounding cannabis. Growing up around the plant has shaped his view of the world, as well as so many others for the better. He believes that cannabis has the right properties to change the world we live in and bring hope for a better future for mankind. Super inspiring and excited because he is a young buck entrepreneur. Put your hands together and welcome my good friend, Alex Collins. What’s going on, Alex?
Alex Collins: All right, awesome. Thanks Sonia for having me. So happy to be here and talk with your audience.
Entering the Cannabis Industry
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I’m really excited to have you on too this is going to be a good combo as you know one of our, certainly one of our ninja tactics and superpowers is compliant and effective marketing for cannabis and hemp. Not everybody has been able to pull this off. So I’m really excited to see how you have bridged the gap from what you were doing to what you are doing. For folks who do not know you. Why don’t you just take a second and introduce yourself and share a little bit about who you are, what you were doing and how you ended up in the cannabis boom.
Alex Collins: Yeah, so I would say my first exposure and our with cannabis started when I was really young, so I grew up in rural Arkansas and my dad actually grew a lot of cannabis. And really that kind of shaped just how I saw the plant and how it kind of affected my life today. So over time I mean he was growing and and using and selling a lot of cannabis and got into some legal trouble also along the way and so it was kind of a rough start my childhood growing up just in that aspect but really now growing up and starting to use cannabis myself and really seeing the reasoning behind what he did. And now what I do has really just shaped what I what I do in business and how I help others.
Sonia Gomez: Very interesting. So pioneer papa. So you had early exposure to the plant. And I mean, use. I hope you don’t take offense to this, but you look like you just graduated high school. How old are you?
Alex Collins: I’m 25.
Sonia Gomez: Okay, let’s say you did almost just graduated high school. And how old were you when all of this stuff was happening?
Alex Collins: I mean, this was this was probably when I was around six or seven years old is when he started cultivating himself. He himself was a user of cannabis just at an early age as well. So he started cultivating and growing cannabis kind of on a small scale moving into a larger scale growing up just throughout my young childhood. So when I was really young, up until about 12, when my parents got divorced, that’s when my exposure, I guess kind of dropped off after that. And then pick back up later on in my later teens.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, makes sense. And it’s so interesting that now you’re serving the cannabis industry, a lot of kids who would have had that type of experience. You know, I noticed that, like, the pioneers of the industry are like, yeah, I’ve been in this for a long time. And they’re, you know, just getting comfortable to voice their real experiences with this, where others are like, you know, sometimes the kids of the people and the pioneers of this industry, especially if they’ve suffered some sort of legal challenge that shifted the dynamic in their family. They’re not always so receptive there. As a matter of fact, that’s usually a contributor to the negative stigma. For you, what made you come into this industry and what keeps your mindset so positive, around the subject of cannabis?
Alex Collins: So yeah, I agree with you on the trauma surrounding that is a big, big factor in the negative stigma. So for example, I mean growing up, it kind of affected my siblings differently too, whereas they viewed it as and my mother they kind of they viewed it as a big negative thing and it was something we didn’t really ever talk about or when it was talked about was in a negative light. So and really, it was the same for me for a long time, because it was like, Okay, look, this is cannabis it’s gonna hurt you because it’s gonna get you into all this kind of trouble and really, it didn’t start changing for me until I actually started using it myself just to kind of work through my own problems. Really, it started as more of just a recreational thing but slowly I kind of used it more as a medicinal healing plant just to help through my own depression and anxiety.
It started as more of just a recreational thing, but slowly I used it more as a medicinal healing plant to help through my depression and anxiety. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
And I noticed just it helped me start to be more extroverted, started to help me kind of work through my own [inaudible]. I was going through at the time and as I started to learn more about the plant itself and other people that were using it and connected more with just the cannabis community where I grew up with, that’s when my view of everything started to change. So I didn’t get into the cannabis business for a while. In the last few years, I kind of started to take a more open approach into saying, Okay, this can be a viable business model. I see through this stigma starting to change, starting to be legalized state by state, more and more people are starting to be open about using it. And then when the farm bill passed, and the CBD explosion happened, that’s really when I realized Okay, this the landscape of everything is starting to really change now. Now it’s time to really hit this head on.
Sonia Gomez: So that I mean that makes perfect sense. And as a young entrepreneur, good for you that you’re recognizing a trend and then developing the specific skill sets necessary to capitalize on that. But I have to be honest with you when I hear it and when I see it and I see this a lot, a lot of folks making that jump from, you know, whatever they’re doing in the traditional marketplace into the cannabis industry and there’s quite a few folks who claim to be able to do a ton but aren’t able to put their money where their mouth is. Now when I was doing my research and getting to know you I recognize that similar to some close friends of mine who are young bucks and they’re badass online, I mean, killing it with e commerce with marketing with all different types of stuff. I recognized that you had made some successful exits and that you’ve done really well marketing luxury consumer brands. Talk to me a little bit about your previous work, what kinds of stuff were you marketing, what kinds of stuff were you selling? And then what was it? What was your real aha moment that moved you to, you know, sort of abandon that and come into the cannabis space?
Alex Collins: Yeah, so initially, how I got started just in marketing. So I was kind of always just the entrepreneur type. I always had some kind of hustle going on. And really my favorite part of all of the different business ventures I had throughout my teens and kind of growing up was, I just liked being able to get people to buy whatever it was that I was selling. And I ended up, I went to college for a little bit for marketing. And my family at the time, they had just started a jewelry store and in Arkansas and so I slowly kind of just started working for them a little bit, just doing sales and then eventually kind of took what I had learned throughout starting a few of my own ventures and experimenting with marketing and kind of the foundations of what I learned and really put that into practice and applied those into their retail store. And we eventually help grow that from doing just a few 100,000 a month into doing a few million per year and eventually expanding into a second store. And they’re on track now to doing a third store.
I just liked being able to get people to buy whatever it was that I was selling. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
So, I kind of moved up progressively just from doing sales to them to pretty much taking over the entire marketing aspect of their business. And after that, I kind of built myself a community in the jewelry industry. And so I got to know a lot of other small business owners in the industry and took the principles and practices that I learned with growing my family’s retail store into helping other business owners kind of grow theirs through digital marketing. And after that, I kind of just started just from a freelance thing into starting up a small agency.
And so we had helped in 2016 and 2017, around 150 to 200 stores total just through consulting and through just running ads like running Facebook and Instagram ads and building social media accounts eventually started a couple SAS projects as well that we were able to grow and have a nice monthly recurring revenue through that eventually exited that. That venture and then in late 2017 is when we kind of started to take the position that while the jewelry industry was great, it wasn’t really where I want it to be, necessarily. It’s where it kind of got my background in and built the foundation, but my passion really is always for the last several years been in cannabis. So I thought you know, why not kind of take the plunge and just start to see what we can do in cannabis. What principles can we take that we’ve done with jewelry and apply that towards cannabis and so with the legal market starting to expand and grow, I saw a big gap in the marketplace as well. So a lot of brands were coming on and really creating products or trying to sell products and not necessarily knowing who to sell those products to.
So, I’ve kind of figured out that we can take this approach of figuring out who needs what type of product and then creating brands around that. So that’s really the approach that I’ve been taking the last few years is helping brands position themselves in the industry and creating products and strategies around that positioning.
Sonia Gomez: Very, very interesting. I know one of the, first of all, congratulations so badass, nothing like trying your hand out of– My mom was running a business and in Southern California for a while, and so I think I cut my teeth. I cut my marketing teeth on mommy’s business, and I was nothing like unconditional love from your mom as a practice ground for you know, getting all your skillsets in order and then like really finding something that you love from there. My mom has been my guinea pig a few different times and my family’s been my guinea pigs a few different times I was in the beauty industry. So everyone got bad haircuts for a couple months. You know, it’s just like the cycle. And so that i think that that’s a really, really cool story and good for you that you have the support from them to launch and how much you have accomplished just for being 25. Like, that’s major.
Pressing the Brand to its Niche Market
One of the things I recognized about your business and your approach, and you were just talking about this, and this is such a huge thing that I think most businesses missed is you know, brand positioning, and getting that niche market—being hyper-focused on who you want to serve and how you create your brand story and you know, really creating that authentic connection with them through the image and story of the brand. I noticed that you guys build that into the philosophy of your company. And when I watch what you guys are doing, this is a huge part of your approach to success with your clients.
Talk to me a little bit about why that’s so important and what kind of experience you have and like, what are some of the stories that stand out to you that can compare a successful company versus a not successful company, where getting this brand to a niche market, which is like step one is identifying your niche and then developing your brand. Show me a compare and contrast of a company that did that well and a company that did not do that so well.
Alex Collins: Yes. So one example that I like to give a lot is kind of a similar market with the alcohol market and Tito’s vodka. So essentially how Tito’s started was the market at the time the vodka market was all just cheap spirits, it wasn’t a market that was growing very well at all at the time. And any liquor stores that had stocked vodka, they couldn’t move those products very well at all. So the founder of Tito’s actually had started with just distilling his own spirits a few times and tried to put his brand into liquor stores, but they wouldn’t take them just because they couldn’t move their own products. So, I said when we think of analysis, it’s such a huge brand that you know, you think that it’s always been that way, but it was a market that really didn’t exist at the time.
So what basically Tito’s did is essentially create a craft vodka brand and focus it on people that really want to craft spirits, or kind of the homemade feel of vodka kind of taking spirits back to its roots. So that’s essentially what they did to grow their brand is focus on that aspect of kind of that niche consumerism that wants more of a handmade or homemade focus approach. And through that and building up a story around Tito’s, they were able to expand it to now it’s a multi-million dollar enterprise and they have, you know, 10% of the market share on vodka as a whole. So that’s one great example I like to have people look at. Probably a one company that maybe hasn’t done it so well. I mean, we can look at the cannabis industry in general.
We can look at MedMen as an example to as a company that tried to market cannabis towards everybody and in doing so, they’re really marketing towards nobody. And so when you try and become the loudest person in the room before even having your base set of fans or your tribe, you could call it by trying to be bigger than you are, you really aren’t marketing towards anybody. And the people that have consumed those products for a while or starting just to come on and our new consumers start to see kind of through that those tactics and essentially, it’s kind of a recipe for disaster when you try and be a little bigger than you are and don’t really niche down, especially in the early stages of your business.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I would have to agree with that. I’ll use a little bit of a different analogy or an industry specific analogy. You know, I think even the biggest brands right now are going, are having to reevaluate who they’re serving because the ones who started three years ago didn’t have to think about it. The ones are in the market you know, three, four years ago we’re just like, I can slap a label on that mentioned seller out. The dock commodity you could get, I mean you could literally could charge whatever you wanted for it and people would buy it because it was a such like a disruptor. Now that the marketplace is maturing, it’s quite a landscape is quite a bit different where you really have to consider the micro niche that you want to serve and how you’re building and your whole brand to capture the attention of the market that you want to serve connect with them authentically through storytelling and then ultimately turning them into a customer through nurture and that comes with continuous value that you add beyond the product people aren’t buying products anymore. They’re buying people so they want to know who is behind the brand and product.
So a really good example of another company that’s done it well I think is Prime My Body or HempWorx. They did the like the doTERRA sort of Blitz and put a specific business model in place, which I mean, eight out of 10 people will tell you network marketing or MLM is a bullshit business model. However, there’s I mean countless companies who have become multi-billion-dollar organizations using that business model. And when Prime My Body and HempWorx came out, it wasn’t so much about the product. It wasn’t so much about, you know, the story of people’s lives being transformed. That was the benefits the bonuses, but the real features of it was how you can build a life that will give you financial freedom, that will give you choice and give you opportunity like you’ve never had before.
So they went after the niche market of the stay at home moms and the MLM ORS and did such an incredible job. I mean, they’re literally, I mean, in my opinion, there are subpar product with a fantastic community. And so they’re the fastest growing companies, the mentioned on, you know, the pre and post games for Super Bowl and all this huge, huge stuff. They have huge notoriety because they went after a specific marketplace and a specific niche market with the MLM-ers and the fanatics of network marketing. Companies that did not do it so well, there’s I mean a thousand examples, but you have to look at the likes the deceased list of companies, the ones that have gone out of business, you want to know the ones who are not doing well? 99% of the companies because you don’t hear about them anymore. You bought a product once, and you can never find them again because they didn’t do the right thing and didn’t mark it in the right way.
Starting your Brand from Scratch
So the ones, the companies that you don’t hear about are the ones that failed and there’s more of those than there are success stories. So for me that the number one thing is really understanding who you want to serve and why, and then building a brand story around that continues to capture the attention of the consumer. How do you advise people in your business, because I know that you’re doing a lot of consulting? How do you advise people on getting started, like, walk me through the three steps to success when you’re starting your brand from scratch?
Alex Collins: Yeah, so before even thinking about your brand, or thinking about your products, you have to understand there’s so much more behind the brand than just creating a logo and slapping it on, slapping on a box and calling that a product and calling that a business. And I think that’s, you know, when you talk about all the thousands of companies that are coming on and failing to excel in the marketplace doing that, it’s because that they’re pretty much essentially just taking the same model that everybody else is doing or that they’re winners in the marketplace have done and thinking that they can replicate that just through through a product alone. And so essentially what we do and starting out with a company is first deciding what the brand is going to be and who the brand is going to be talking to.
What we do and starting with a company is first deciding what the brand is going to be and who the brand is going to be talking to. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
So you have to think of a brand as a person, essentially. And the person has its own personality, and they have their own group of people that they hang out with and talk to, they have their own style of doing things. And so your brand doesn’t have to necessarily reflect who you are. But it has to be somebody that you can also maybe relate to so that you can more identify with your own customer base. And so kind of what I mean by that is, Charlotte’s Web actually did a very good job of doing this and they were one of the first in the CBD space to quickly grow and capture a lot of market share. And so they tell a story of just how CBD essentially healed a girl named Charlotte who has sad seizures and how they created a strain-specific to treating epilepsy. And they really took that story and ran with it and created products specifically around the medicinal side of cannabis and really started to change the overall stigma of cannabis through this showing that it’s not just a product that can use to get high. It’s a product that can be used to heal. And so that’s kind of the same approach that we take when starting new brands. It’s deciding who your target audience is going to be, are you targeting maybe athletes who want an edge in their competition or an edge in recovering from workouts? Are you targeting veterans who need therapy for PTSD? Are you targeting more seniors or people that have ailments like arthritis or things like that may be a [inaudible] can help.
So once you figure out who the type of person that you’re going to target is, then we can kind of come up with the products that can then be pushed to that demographic, and then you can build the brand around that—so figuring out what type of content you can deliver to these people, what mediums they are, where these people are, where they hang out, where they are actually going to see these products. So typically, e-commerce might be a good model; it’s sometimes might be a cheaper model than just opening up a retail store. But if your customers don’t do a lot of shopping online, then it’s not going to make sense to create an e-commerce store, for example. And then it’s also just where you need to push those products as well, whether it be you know, just putting them into retail stores or being more of a boutique company. So that’s really what we do just starting out. And then we do more strategy. So how, how are you going to position your brand and what type of content like said that you’re going to create, whether that’s podcasts, video, blog posts, etc.
Sonia Gomez: When you’re working with a brand and they’re asking you, like, you know, what, if you’re working with a brand who maybe isn’t, like there’s a couple of different kinds of, there’s, for me, there’s a handful of different types of business owners. There’s the ones who are like me who love to create content and can talk their face off and will talk your face off and, you know, have no problem doing videos and podcasts and all of this stuff. And then there’s the type like my husband who’s pretty introverted. He’s like, he’ll type out this long post, but you’re not really gonna see the guy get on video much. You know, he’s, he’s much more introverted and quiet. He’s more systems based. There’s folks who are super creative, so they’re always starting but never finishing anything. And it’s tough to sort of figure out it’s how to stick a square peg in a round hole, right? So if you’re talking to an introverted systems based entrepreneur, how do you get them to create content? Because we both know as marketers to market in the cannabis and hemp niche, you have to be creating a massive amount of content and then distributing it across multiple channels to become relevant and recognized and respected and trusted so that people will start to buy your stuff. But what if people just want to, you know, throw $10,000 or $5,000 at an ad campaign and don’t want to create content? How do you deal with those types of customers? And how do you overcome the hurdle of people being shy or not wanting to create content?
Overcoming the Hurdle of People not Wanting to Create content
Alex Collins: Yeah, so I think that that’s another big problem. Just people are coming into the industry as well. And so it’s not so much that you have to completely change your personality to create this content or to build your brand, so I’m kind of an introverted person myself, but I still create a lot of content. And my medium of choice to push content is through blogs and written content. And I generate a lot of traffic and hype doing that. So I don’t do a lot of video content. But my written content does pretty well. And so I think what business owners have to do is recognize what they’re good at, and what they aren’t good at.
Alex Collins: So maybe they are good at creating video content, maybe they are a really good writer, maybe they are really good graphic designer, or maybe they’re not good at any of those. Maybe they’re just more of the they don’t want to be the face of anything. They just want to create the systems, the SOPs and really just sit back. So I think it’s essential that if they aren’t willing to do those to find the people that are and to bring on a team that is cohesive and is great at working together to build this brand up in lieu of the brand owner. So for brand owners that don’t want to create this content themselves or just want to throw money at an ad campaign, you know, maybe that’s not the best course of action to take. And I think that’s part of my job and and Sapling is to advise them on what a good and bad strategy is. So just spending $10,000 on an ad campaign may not be the best course of action.
So it’s better to start small and build up a community that can advocate for your product rather than just like I said earlier, trying to be bigger than you actually are and pushing it out to the masses before you actually have your own set of brand advocates. And so if they are willing to be the face of that brand product like I said, It’s essential for them to maybe bring somebody on who is because that’s really what at the end of the day people want to do business. Like you said with other people, they don’t want to be sold a product or be pushed a product, they want to interact with a person, they want to believe in a story and believe in a vision. And that’s what it comes down to is the brand owner can realize that vision, but if they aren’t equipped to execute on it, it’s essential that they build the team that is able to.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I’m going to get into the segment of words of wisdom here. Because I think that it’s really important for us to be able to share through our own experience, you know, how to avoid some of the inevitable pitfalls that are just fucking waiting for us around every corner in this industry, but first, I’d love to hear from you two things. Number one, what are some of the major challenges that you’ve been up against as a marketing agency serving clients in this industry? What are some of the like big roadblocks and challenges that you’ve come across? And the reason why I’m asking this is because I have people from all different walks of life who, you know, want to leverage their current skill sets and apply it to this new industry, whether it’s marketing, legal accounting, you know, plumbing, it doesn’t matter what it is. They’re always asking, you know, how to make that transition. And not everybody understands that no matter what your skill sets are, you’re still going to come up against roadblocks and challenges here. So for you, I’d love to hear since you started a successful marketing agency, what have been some of the really big roadblocks or challenges that you guys are having to overcome as a company?
Roadblocks to Success
Alex Collins: Oh, man. Every step of the way has been a challenge. Honestly, everything that we’ve done has we’ve had push back and everything that has been successful in the jewelry industry in the same fashion You know, haven’t essentially worked just transitioning into cannabis. So we’ve almost just had to relearn everything from the ground up and kind of change the way we’re doing things. So for example, I mean we built a business around running Facebook and Instagram ads and that’s proven to be a huge challenge just in posting cannabis or hemp related content on Facebook, I mean, even to run ads, it’s a huge hurdle and just a big hurdle you just have to jump over and big restrictions and challenges that are in place so and that’s what a lot of people have to recognize is that federally and you know, for most of the US and really most of the world of cannabis is still illegal. And it’s the stigma is still there with so many people and so many older generations that and so many larger corporations and companies that don’t have a want to put their face on anything that has to do with cannabis.
So, you know, most social media sites don’t want anything to do with cannabis. They don’t want that content on their websites. And we’ve had that, or we’ve had several accounts be shut down just from posting that type of content. So it’s continuously been just having to restart and figure out, you know, what can we do? What can’t we do? And so I think that coming into the business, you have to realize that there are going to be restrictions and we’re all everybody in the industry. Nobody has it figured out. You know, we might find tweaks that work here and there. But it’s imperative that we kind of share those with everybody else along the way so that we can really build this industry together. But yeah, there are many people that come in from different industries or trades that can enter the cannabis industry with their own skill sets. Another big problem is with banking and processing that so many people are entering an industry, I think that’s the first roadblock that people hit is they don’t know how to actually collect the money from people, or where to put that money. And so, really, it comes down to it’s a political thing.
Coming into the business, you have to realize that there are going to be restrictions. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
So as the political landscape changes, then we’ll start to see more shifts in the industry into more of a positive note and with less restrictions, but until that happens, it’s just really bearing through the challenges. And I mean, realizing that it’s not always going to be this way if we really just stick together as an industry and every one of us becomes advocates for something bigger than we can really move through these roadblocks. But that’s just what business owners have to understand is that not everybody’s gonna have all the answers, but some of us might have an answer to something else. So it’s, it’s finding those people that have experience those own hurdles and figuring out how they’ve overcome them and taking that and scaling it in the industry as a whole.
Sonia Gomez: What is one thing, and then we’re going to get into words of wisdom. What is one thing that you’re most proud of like something that sticks out with you with a particular client that you were able to get great results with? Or maybe something personal that you’ve accomplished? What is one thing that you’re super, super proud of that perhaps you haven’t bragged about? This is your opportunity to sort of be like, man, I have fucking killed it with this thing. And I know I did–
Alex Collins: I mean, honestly coming in, I wasn’t sure you know that this was gonna work out just starting a business in the cannabis industry. And really, over the last few years, just just seeing it play out. I mean, it’s, I can look back, you know, and it seems like we’d have so– Such a huge distance left to cover. And I mean, there are more, there are other businesses more successful and less successful than us. But really, at the end of the day, I can look back and see where we first started with this and look and see okay, now we’ve worked with two dozen clients and help them maybe overcome some of their their own hurdles and their own small challenges. So, for me, I guess my proudest accomplishment is just is really in just the little wins and helping people figure out how to move past those that one challenge they might be facing, whether it’s through maybe developing a content strategy or maybe making a piece of content that really, really wins over a lot of a lot of their clients.
My proudest accomplishment is really in the little wins and helping people figure out how to move past those that one challenge they might be facing. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
One of my or one of our biggest wins recently was a new grower that had come on to the market in Oklahoma. So that’s a booming market right now is the Oklahoma medical market and they’re doing they’re doing so many great things. And I’m, you know, I’m looking at Arkansas and where I’m at in Utah right now, and Arkansas had a medical program for almost four years now. We voted it in in late 2016, I believe, or 2017. And just now a few months ago, the first dispensaries were able to open, so it was just such a long stride just to get to that point. Oklahoma’s doing great things, but we started working with a new grower in Oklahoma, and they were having trouble just figuring out how to really push their products in the market. And because it was kind of becoming saturated with so many growers starting to have so much product initially and they were kind of late into the game they didn’t start until probably six or seven months later when everybody else started, you know, how already have their first or second harvest and dispensary.
So, wasn’t there was a lack of product, but we helped create a lot of content for them. We did a lot of product pictures, and it was through that just showing everybody that okay, maybe. And let me go back a little bit, and most of the growers in Oklahoma aren’t doing a big content strategy. And so and their quality is kind of subpar. And so the pictures may be on their social media aren’t really that great either. So they might be taking pictures just with their iPhone and a poorly lit room, which you know doesn’t really sell. So we had all that great.
Sonia Gomez: It doesn’t sell the high grade.
Alex Collins: So we were able to take that Really banger pictures for them and do some videos and really kind of help establish their story and what got them started, and they all came from, you know, a lot of them were growing illegally for a few years before that and just had sort of small scale operations. So we were able to help them develop some content, some video. And through that, we were able to help them get their product in the marketplace. They were able to totally sell out before they even finished harvesting. And through that, they were able to move into a bigger facility through selling off their home, their first harvest, and through these last few months, they’ve been able to grow tremendously, and just build a lot of hype on their products, and now they’re sold out before they even harvest. So, we still keep in contact with them all the time and, and go and see their facility all the time, and it’s awesome. So it’s just creating friends in the industry has really been my biggest achievement, just building my own community in the industry.
Creating friends in the industry has been my biggest achievement, just building my own community in the industry. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
Words of Wisdom
Sonia Gomez: So sweet. Love that. Okay, in our final segment here, we are going to talk about some words of wisdom and knowing what we have come through, you know, and where we are going. And more importantly, knowing what we know about the industry, knowing what we know now had we if we were able to reverse the clock and go back that is knowing that there are entrepreneurs out there, and even established businesses who are struggling with this exact thing. What would be two pieces of advice that you could offer a budding entrepreneur that would have helped to help them sort of make that quantum leap from where they are to where they want to be, and help grow, start, grow or scale a business?
Alex Collins: So I think it’s, to really get started into how to build a business and a six successful business in this industry. Like I said earlier, start small and start to build your own community. And figure out you know, where you want to build that community at whether it’s a local community or whether it’s an online community. Figure out where those people are and where your biggest supporters are going to be, and really allow them to uplift you and become your own advocates. Also make connections with as many people in the industry as possible because that’s what’s really key is the relationships you build. You’re not going to make any friends or have a successful business by alienating people or just being a total dick to everybody. So it’s that’s really quintessential and building a successful business and find people that know more than you because I feel like a lot of people coming into the industry from outside industries feel like they have it all figured out. When they’ve never sold cannabis before. It has never been involved in industry in any way.
So figure out who those people are. And just learn from them as you can but also give back as much as possible because there have been so many people that have given everything they have to this industry and have been left with nothing people that have been incarcerated for giving everything they have to this industry. So it’s essential that we give back and understand that there have been so many other people before us that have allowed it to get to this point. And so whether it’s through finding a non-profit organization dedicated to helping these people, the last prisoner project is a great one that I highly recommend that advocates for prisoners that have been incarcerated for cannabis-related charges. Or whether it’s, you know, maybe having your own [inaudible] through where you help those that have been affected by this as well. Those would be my biggest takeaways from being successful in this industry. And really, it’s finding your own story and creating your own story, because that’s what builds successful brands. We’re all in this for the long run at the end of the day, and it’s a community and an industry that’s only going to grow when we all work together. So it’s just finding those people that will help you advance your own mission and that you can help advance theirs as well.
Find and create your own story, because that's what builds successful brands. - Alex Collins Click To Tweet
Sonia Gomez: Love it. Love it, I’m going to piggyback off of what you said, because I thought you gave some really solid advice and you know, the social economic contribution that people are making in their communities is so super important and one of the key differentiators and how you can use that to position your story to set you apart. One of the things that we had talked about a little bit is, you know, how do you play to your strengths as an entrepreneur so you don’t get into the overwhelm of trying to be everything to everyone and do everything for everyone. And so I have to always bring it back to building your team, the right team and some of you might say, well, Sonia, I don’t have the money to build a team. Well, Sonia, I don’t have, you know, how do I even build the team. And here’s, here’s a couple of key things that you guys have to know.
Number one, and the current landscape of this industry, knowing where we are on our way to being as deeply connected as I am to this space, I can tell you that if you are not well capitalized, don’t even bother. There are ways for you to apply your skill sets to an existing brand to have, you know, a solid paycheck, and to be a part of building an incredible legacy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be ego-driven, and yours, all yours, your position, and somebody else’s brand is just as valuable as you start a brand yourself. So if you’re not well-capitalized if you don’t have a minimum of 100,000 dollars to put into this industry right now, don’t even fucking bother, spare yourself the embarrassment of failure and don’t do it.
Get involved with somebody else’s business and play your big game there because there’s plenty of room for you to bring your inevitable value. Secondarily to that. If you are a well-capitalized organization, you can build and should build a team, find out what your direct strengths are there’s a book called The Millionaire Master Plan by Roger James Hamilton, and something called Wealth Dynamics, which will show you exactly what kind of entrepreneur you are and what kind of tasks you should be doing every single day that leverages your natural talents to build the most amount of value with your community with the most amount of leverage. So, for instance, Warren Buffett is somebody who watches timing, and he makes all of his decisions based on the right timing, whereas somebody like Richard Branson is creative, he’s always thinking about the next biggest best thing. But he has an incredible team around him to help bring those things to fruition. There’s folks like my husband who have built system based businesses. Those are the Jeff Bezos of the industry who can see like, Okay, great. If I can make this system work, then I can scale it to be global. And then there’s folks like Oprah or Beyonce or myself, who have built their entire business off of creating connection and leveraging their star power to have that unique positioning in the marketplace.
So I recommend that you check out Wealth Dynamics, I recommend that you check out The Millionaire Master Plan and Roger James Hamilton, who’s an incredible resource to help you really identify your natural strengths and talents and how you can use them inside of the team and build the strength of your team around your talents. There are two different types of leaders. There are a leading learner and a teaching teacher. The leading learner is always looking for the information that they can consume so that they can share it with the world. These are the ones who are going out and trying to find that information that up levels, their games so that they can up level the game that they’re trying to play with their team. And then the teaching teacher is the one who’s always preaching and teaching telling you what they know and how to do this and how to do that, but are generally not the ones investing a ton of time or energy into developing themselves as a person or as an entrepreneur.
You cannot limit yourself to what you don't have. Push yourself to get the things that you want. - Sonia Gomez Click To Tweet
So I always say, lean for the leading-learners, those are mentors. Those are, you know, people that you can trust to give you that advice and direction when you don’t know which way to turn. Be that leading learner and invest in yourself so that your company is a reflection of the investment you are making in your body, your mind, your body, your spirit, and if those things are strong, it’ll reflect in your business. And then finally is outsource. I think It was one of the sharks, I can’t remember his name right off the top of my head. But he said, hire your weaknesses. And do that first. It’s not about being able to duplicate yourself. But you want to be able to get compliments to the things that you’re not good at. So if you don’t want to talk, you don’t want to create content, guess what, it’ll cost you 600 bucks a month to have a full time writer who’s doing it for you. You can hire somebody for three grand a month to make daily videos for you. You can hire a marketing agency like Alex’s to, you know, bring in influencers who will talk about your brand all day long. You cannot limit yourself to what you don’t have, you have to push yourself to get the things that you want. Don’t pity party yourselves on what you don’t have, but always strive for the things that you want and they will happen. Those are the things that I have to contribute to my words of wisdom, Alex, where can folks find you if they’re interested in finding out more about working with you?
Connect with Alex Collins
Alex Collins: Yeah, so they can visit our website at sapling.cc. We also have a Facebook group called Hempire Builders and have a good community of budding hemp and cannabis entrepreneurs there as well.
Sonia Gomez: Amazing. Well, I’m definitely going to continue to follow you and the work that you’re doing. Thank you so much for being on the show with me today. I can’t wait to continue to follow your success. And by the way, if you have folks who are looking for merchant processing or anything like that, I have very, very close friends who literally own the financial solutions, like they own the bank. So if you need help with any of that stuff, let me know and I’m happy to be an ace in your pocket to help solve some of those bigger problems.
All right, my dear friend, that concludes our interview for today. For those of you guys who are tuning in, thank you so much for being a part of this incredible community. I am so proud and so honored to serve you every day with the truth about cannabis and hemp so that you can make educated, empowered decisions about how you want to care for yourself and the people that you love, but also how you want to participate in the fastest-growing most exciting and challenging industry in the world right now. So if you’re a person looking for products, check us out at medicalsecrets.com and if you’re someone looking for real solutions that you can trust when it comes to building growing, scaling your business or breaking through the glass ceilings and brick walls. Check us out at theemeraldcircle.com. We are happy to help. I’m your hostess with the mostess, Sonia Gomez, and this is The Hemp Revolution. We’ll see you at our next show, guys.
James Brinkerhoff: Thanks for listening to this episode. We took notes on this episode for you along with all the links and resources mentioned in the episode. Get them free in the show notes page here at www.medicalsecrets.com. If you love this show and our content please subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you really want to help us get the message out there, please rate review and tell all your friends with your help. We can continue to reach the world with our message. And until next time, we hope you join The Hemp Revolution and we challenge you to dream big and love the life you live.
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