Long before the current cannabis resurgence, Josh Thornton had supported medical cannabis and was passionate about the plant and its potential to become a viable industry. After full cannabis legalization unfolded in some West Coast states and in neighboring states including Illinois, Thornton became intrigued by how cannabis industries experienced a “boom” or “green rush.”
Thornton had also noticed how Wisconsin’s industrial hemp industry took root, specifically with cannabidiol (CBD). He saw a unique opportunity to combine his passion for the plant with his background and expertise in graphic design, e-commerce and the printing industry. Thus, Creative Cannamarketing was born this past October. Through Creative Cannamarketing, Thornton offers full creative and print services that cater specifically to businesses in the cannabis industry.
He provides agency-level creative services like packaging, logo design and trade show marketing materials to help cannabis entrepreneurs develop a brand. He has partnerships with a local printer to offer full-service conventional, digital and large format printing. By offering these services under one roof, as opposed to businesses having to pay separately for a la carte marketing and printing services, Thornton feels small cannabis entrepreneurs will get a better bang for their buck.
“The reality out there is that a lot of these hemp businesses are young, small upstart businesses that don’t have access to a Downtown design agency,” Thornton says. “I offer these services all under one roof.”
Because he offers large format digital printing, which is more cost effective, companies can do smaller product runs. Rather than investing in 10,000 boxes, Thornton can print smaller quantities of 50 or 1,000. He sources environmentally sound packaging; his own business cards are printed on 110# Hemp Heritage Card Stock. He also sources hemp plastic tubes for packaging.
Thornton also offers direct mail service. “I try to steer people away from social media,” he says. “The under-40 crowd prides themselves on social media, having a presence and being influencers, but this is really not where they should be focusing their marketing efforts and marketing dollars.” He adds that while social media may be an effective networking tool, it’s not an effective marketing strategy, particularly for the cannabis industry. “Social media sites discriminate against cannabis businesses, whether businesses have the word ‘cannabis’ in the name, or ‘CBD’ or ‘hemp.’ As soon as social media companies catch those words, they’re shutting down pages.”
He notes that consumers make purchasing decisions based on quality packaging as well as a good product. Thornton’s direct mail services include high-end postcards, interactive print, pop-ups and high-end sales boxes.
Because laws and regulation in the cannabis industry are rapidly changing on municipal and state levels, Thornton keeps abreast of legal packaging verbiage. “I’m not providing any legal advice, but I have a contact to help with legal issues. I look at laws and regulations regarding packaging and keep on top of those laws for clients. All of these laws and regulations are ongoing and changing. Even city by city, there are different laws and regulations. For printed boxes, laws change, and now they have to add some type of warning, so we reach out and tell them to change their packaging. I’d hate for somebody to get into trouble because they’re missing a disclaimer.”
Thornton participated in the February Shepherd Express-sponsored Cannabis Expo, and he felt camaraderie among other businesses and attendees. “Wisconsin’s cannabis community is a tight-knit family. I want us to grow. Wisconsin has a rich history in hemp that’s been forced underground for the past 75 years, but it is now emerging. People are embracing that, and I’m eager to see where the cannabis businesses will be in the future, even by the end of this summer. It’s progressing very quickly, and I’m proud to be a part of everything going on in the state.”
For more information, visit creativecannamarketing.com.