On August 6th, I attended KushCon Tampa with Will Crabtree – aka #WillThePrinter, co-host of the PrinterChat series on Podcasts from the Printerverse and owner of Tampa Printer, Gorilla Gurus and Sign Parrot, and Jim Cox, General Manager of Tampa Printer.
KushCon is billed as a Hemp & Wellness Expo. There were tons of CBD and Delta 8 (legal amount of THC ) products in multiple states of being for usage such as eating, drinking, smoking, and topical applications.
We decided to tackle the show floor starting at one end and working our way up and down to the other since we were there to explore and see everything. Well, let me make a little correction to that. I was there to explore, Will and Jim joined me to make new business connections and see a few of their customers who had booths
In the FIRST row we explored, at the first booth, Jim introduced himself and the exhibitors needed print help. The SECOND booth, same. The THIRD, same. We weren’t at the show for more than 20 minutes before Tampa Printer had qualified customers to follow up with.
And it continued like that, in every row.
Jim had a gentle approach and asked questions about the business and the products displayed before he mentioned anything about print services. And when he did, their eyes lit up. They were so grateful to have a local connection, and/or a human connection. A LOT of these businesses are ordering online in a vacuum. At least 2 exhibitors pulled Jim and Will in their Tampa Printer shirts from the aisle as we were walking by to talk about getting print help.
The exhibitors were chatty, and I listened to many of the need conversations Tim was having. I also spent time talking to exhibitors about their marketing, branding, and communication endeavors. Here are some takeaways I think you will find valuable for new business development in this Hemp and Wellness space.
The current need here is driven by speed to market. Nothing else. Many of the exhibitors order their packaging from China and it’s not working out for them. If you have in-house folding carton capabilities in the United States, that is what they are looking for. Develop packaging new business on speed, the rest will follow.
They also use a TON of pouches, jars, and canisters. If you can do this domestically, get in this Hemp & Wellness space. Even though I am sure there are food-based and other regulations, getting involved is nothing close to entering the cannabis space.
This was the biggest printing need at this show. “Can you print labels or stickers,” combined with “and do you print them in-house?” was the first question Jim was asked in too many booths to count. The range of labels and stickers required by exhibitors, and the level of design and printing techniques used to create them are so vast that I dare to say any PSP could help with something.
Any PSP could certainly elevate materials that were handwritten or output from a desktop printer with minimal effort and cost. Start there. A little improvement can go a long way in showing a business owner that an investment in their materials is worth it.
There were 150 or so vendor booths. Some were blown out; most were minimal effort pop-up banner situations that could use improvement, and many were in desperate need of signage and other printed materials. The biggest obstacle? They don’t know their signage options, AND most went to random ‘buy a banner’ sites and the costs of hardware were prohibitive. SOFT SIGNAGE is a perfect solution for them.
Just be mindful when you present the costs for framing and give them lots of options starting with grommets through to backlit signage. Let them choose. Keep them educated and informed when anything new comes out. It may take a minute before they invest in this, make sure they invest in you when they do.
Not sure if it’s the Hemp & Wellness space or the price tag, but embellished print and packaging beyond the use of varnish were not predominant at this show. It was a rare find. One exhibitor had foiled business cards that look like they came from Moo, I saw holographic stickers on jars at one booth, and here and there I would see some foil used on packaging.
If you can offer embellishments, don’t lead with it. Lead with speed, you have the equipment in-house, and BONUS, you also have bling capabilities to help them stand out. If you send out for embellishments make sure that is clear, and if there are any speed implications share them upfront.
There is a high-end market in the Hemp & Wellness space, and I am currently obsessed with it thanks to an exhibiting company named Jaxon. Their booth stood out on all fronts as an elevated experience. I spoke with them, and the black and gold colors and clean logo design were chosen to represent luxury. It was a stark contrast to the uber colorful and cartoonish-skewed icons used most commonly within the branding in the cannabis space.
Their products were the same smoke, eat, topical applications as the rest, but looked like they belonged in a Ritz-Carton spa. It made me realize that there could be a very lucrative opportunity to help some of the other companies elevate their materials, even create a high-end line to market to higher-end customers. Think homeopathic vs CBD. That spin could be a win/win for everyone.
There were several booths dedicated to cannabis community causes. The Florida Justice Center offers aid and services for those in need. Whether incarcerated for a minimal cannabis violation or failure to pay traffic tickets, for example, getting your life back and getting back into society is not an easy task. We spent some time at the booth speaking with their Executive Director. I think Will is going to help them… YAY!
I also found Brook Morgan Westlake from Legally Blond and Blunt who was promoting the Women in Cannabis Expo. There are still events this year in Sept in Las Vegas and October in San Francisco per the site, and the schedule for 2023 will be announced per Brook, so connect with them on social to stay informed. Needless to say, if you are part of a woman-owned business that can help the women in this space – they need you for all the things above and more, and you will have a huge advantage with these entrepreneurs.
And there is an ‘and more’ to this. I didn’t cover SWAG, digital marketing needs (HUGE), collateral materials which they all had, and displays. Everything we know how to do can help these businesses transform their booth space from a 6-foot table with draping into branded, national Hemp & Wellness Exhibitor, in no time.
PRINT LONG AND PROSPER!
See Deborah’s featured post: https://printmediacentr.com/building-the-future-with-print/
Deborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist, international industry speaker and blogger, and the cultivator of Print Production Professionals, the #1 print group on LinkedIn. She provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through education, events, Podcasts From The Printerverse, and an array of community-lifting initiatives such as Girls Who Print, Project Peacock, Elevate Print, #PrintChat, #PrintLife and International Print day.
Deborah also helps companies create more meaningful and profitable customer relationships by utilizing more than 25 years of experience as an agency, brand, and corporate print buyer who has assessed, hired, and worked with a plethora of printers and service providers.
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