The author of this article, Doreen Sullivan, pitches her company before the creators of The Marijuana Show, a "Shark Tank"-esque program for cannabis companies.

Liz Fierro

Cannabis Trade Shows: What to Know Before You Go

Last week I was fortunate enough to join fellow entrepreneurs, educators, exhibitors, and enthusiasts for the 4th Annual Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition (CWCB Expo) in New York City. As I walked among the contributors showcasing the newest products and developments in the country’s hottest developing industry, I was eager to share my experience and help others “smoke out” their greatest opportunities at trade show events.

The author of this article, Doreen Sullivan, checking in at the CWCB Expo in New York.

How can a business owner choose which event is right for them? Event price tags can add up, so being selective and intentional is critical to your success here as a business owner. Time is money, after all, and when building a business, you probably don’t have much of either.

Tradeshows are an invaluable resource for you and your business if you know what to look for and more importantly, how to find it. As business owners in the space, being informed about the ever-changing cannabis industry is essential to our success. As you plot out your event calendar, consider these reasons why I specifically chose to attend the CWCB Expo.

Cannabis Talk 101 in a live discussion at the CWCB Expo in New York.

1. The event took place in a large multicultural metropolitan venue with an abundance of key players in attendance. New York City and similar places drive change in this industry. From legislators to business owners, to investors, to legal experts — the CWCB Expo was packed with leaders in this industry. Review both the B2B and B2C attendees for each event you are looking to attend and look for potential partnerships. Make sure the attendees align with the audience you are seeking to capture.

2. The event was rich in resources. Being educated about the cannabis industry and the latest trends, complications, and opportunities allow you to effectively anticipate what your audience and customer base will need in the future. Learn your market, their needs, and develop creative solutions.

3. The event was also an opportunity to learn from and about my competition. Where can you improve? How can you effectively evolve your marketing techniques? How can you stand out from the clutter? These questions are essential to answer when becoming an authority in your market and promoting your business. One of the most visited booths at the CWCB Expo was the Edibles Magazine display. The emerging market fascination with all things edible was an incredible opportunity for the magazine to reach their audience and educate cannabis consumers about their publication. Bravo!

Sample covers for Edibles Magazine on display in New York.

4. The event was an opportunity to connect and expand my own boundaries. Who can you meet that can provide constructive feedback for your business? What can you learn that will drive your business forward? Nothing will help you discover where your brand fits in the market like immersing yourself with hundreds of experts in the space. I had the unique opportunity of meeting the hosts of The Marijuana Show, the “Shark Tank” of the cannabis world, where I auditioned and received essential feedback from investors in this market. Talk about having to sell yourself! It was an incredible experience and the best time to just “go for it.”

It’s critical to remember moving forward is the key to success in this business. Be intentional in your choices concerning your brand. Make a point to connect with people who can elevate your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses.

As a business owner, the vulnerability can be difficult as you introduce your business to the world. Learning from others and assessing how your brand “feels” will help you evaluate your position in this arena. Take advantage of the knowledge of those who are paving the way. Accept support from fellow entrepreneurs who like you, are focused on moving the industry forward.

As J.P. Morgan said, “Go as far as you can see, and when you get there you’ll see further.”

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