Welcome you back to a new featured interview!!! Today we have Mr. Oren Todoros, who is the CEO & Co-Founder of Cannaimpact which deals with content marketing, branding, social and PR activities in the cannabis industry. Oren (aka the Digital Entrepreneur) has vast experience in Digital Marketing and had been associated with companies, such as BIGINTRO as CEO and with Viggo Smart Hotel as Director of Digital Marketing. He has helped both new entrepreneurs and global brands to increase their digital visibility.
First of all Congrats for your new position as CEO and Co-founder of Cannaimpact. Allow me to ask you to share a little more about yourself and about Cannaimpact.
Absolutely, so to quickly backup, I’ve been involved in the digital marketing space for about 16 years now. Going back to when Google search was just rolling out, and then Google Adwords soon after. So I got in early on the importance of website content and search rank.
Fast forward to today, I’m the CEO and founder of BIGINTRO, a leading content strategy agency. We work with top B2B and B2C brands to help them define and execute content marketing strategies that resonate with their audiences.
A few months ago, my business partner and I decided to launch a sub-brand focused on the emerging medical and recreational cannabis industry. We felt that there was a growing need for a service provider that offers creative solutions for ventures in the field of cannabis. That’s when BIGINTRO and Shape Design brought together the best of our solutions under the Cannaimpact brand.
Now, Oren – as an entrepreneur you started your first agency in 2009, which was more into social media and search consulting. What difference do you see in these 8-9 years in terms of brand positioning or strategies for digital branding? How has the digital landscape evolved throughout the years?
On one hand things have certainly changed over the past few years. There are more social channels than ever before, and audience patience level has also gone down significantly. Everyone today is consuming content from their mobile phones, making bite sized content so much more important. But the one thing that has remained consistent over the years, regardless of the platforms or industries, is valuable content. Giving people content that delivers value has always made them want to pay attention and share with others.
Back in 2009, social media and content marketing weren’t yet taken as serious marketing channels. It wasn’t something that most businesses invested in. The vast majority were still stuck on the traditional marketing methods of print, TV, billboard. Over the years that’s all changed. Content marketing methodologies have proven themselves as one of the most effective sales tactics that today’s brands can’t afford to neglect.
We’re now seeing the evolution of content with the visual medium (Instagram, YouTube) where there’s more content being created at a faster pace than ever, and the connection is no longer just about the content that’s being shared, but also about the creator themselves. In a sense, we’re seeing a new form of celebrity status or ‘micro-influencers’ rising from social media channels. That’s something that really interests me.
Starting an agency – What were challenges and opportunities did you find? What did you see in the market that motivated you? If you were to mentor an aspiring entrepreneur (who is very passionate about Digital Marketing), what advice would you give?
One of the things I always try to tell people and also keep in mind myself is that anyone who’s going to have patience to go the distance will win. Anyone who’s willing to be the authority in their niche will win. That’s much easier to stay than to practice, but the fact is, results take time. It’s easy to get blinded by millions of ideas and opportunities, especially online when the cost of trying new things is very minimal, but the sooner you focus in on exactly what your long-term goal is, you will come out on top.
Anyone who’s starting a digital agency today needs to understand that competition is fierce. They’re not only competing with other agencies; they’re competing with freelancers at home, with solutions like Fiverr, and dozens of other ‘quick fixes.’ I decided that BIGINTRO; our content strategy won’t play that game. Clients who choose to work with us understand that they’re getting a detailed, goal oriented strategy and execution process.
So while there may be endless challenges from alternative solutions and ridiculous prices, entrepreneurs need to quickly understand the value of their work and learn how to convey that message.
Cannaimpact is a service based company and there are zillions of service-based companies in different verticals. As the founder of a service company, how appealing do you find the startup ecosystem around you?
Correct, Cannaimpact is a service based business, but we’re not focusing on the business aspect right now. We’re much more interested in the industry and medical cannabis community than promoting our services right now.
CannaImpact was established to bring together today’s leading ventures and entrepreneurs in the field Cannabis tech and medical, to share insights about our rapidly emerging industry.
We are a team of content marketing, branding, social & PR specialist, heavily engaged and connected in the cannabis industry. In fact, we run one of the most successful cannabis tech groups and meetups.
10-15 years back websites were the center of attention & SEO was the cool kid. Then social media & apps took over. Now, Artificial Intelligence and bots have made their way into the digital space. How do you think this will affect the current digital landscape and how should companies prepare to adapt to this?
It’s funny really, as a kid growing up in Montreal; I used to spend a lot of time on BBS (bulletin board systems). I would have to call up someone else’s computer where they had a web chat service set up. So while it may seem like social channels are all the rage, the truth is, they’ve always been there. The connections we make on them now however, are much more personal.
So while it may seem like things are constantly changing from the web to search, to social, to chat-bots and VR. But the reality is, good content will always come out on top. It’s important to understand how each of these channels work, and how they can best help businesses reach their audience, but the best way to adapt is by really focusing on ‘how’ you can help your customers and audience, and not where. Figure out what’s really missing in your industry and solve that.
Do you feel there is a gap between digital branding and traditional branding? If yes, then where and are there any chances how they will converge?
Personally I feel that one needs the other at this point. As much as we’ve become consumers of digital content, offline content such as print and TV still feel like a stamp of approval. The best brands are the ones who know how to launch traditional offline campaigns and optimize them for the digital medium.
On the flip side we’re now seeing campaigns start from the digital side and go offline. Perfect examples of this are music artists who launch new tracks on Snapchat filters to reach the younger demographics early on, and then launch their album via traditional methods. So there’s definitely more of an opportunity than a gap.
A usual saying from marketers is – marketing is a segment where we always need to do more with the less. How do you tackle this while working with your customers?
I can’t deny the fact that money is definitely an issue, especially with early stage startups. Every dollar needs to be stretched as far as possible. We feel that too as a fairly young agency, we’re extra careful about how we spend our time and resources. I’ll give you an example of how we apply this, and the readers can use it as a takeaway.
Meetups – We decided that it’s far more valuable of our time to host monthly meetups in our areas of interest than it is to attend dozens of events per month. We do this for two main reasons. First because it helps us build up a network of contacts and potential leads. Second because it introduces them to our services and solutions, as opposed to randomly walking conference room floors.
As the CEO and Co-founder of Cannaimpact, certainly you will have significant level of involvement into the marketing process. So, when you are building the next level internal marketing team, what do you actually look for in those members?
One of the best qualities I look for in the people I work with is creativity. They don’t necessarily have to know all the social platforms out there, or how to use the best editing tools, but I do want them to bring fresh ideas and creativity to the game.
Can you share an example of any recent work, where you worked with startups to provide a boost to their brand or product?
A few of the CannaImpact related projects I’m particularly proud of are – Canabizu, a wholesale distributor of CBD product, who we worked with to define the brand story, visual identity, and site content. Additionally, we’ve worked with HiGrade which offer cultivators instant analysis of their harvest.