Andrew Tychsen 0:00
The most frustrating thing about it is that everyone has a different rule. And there’s no straight answer. And it’s all this weird gray area. We have been shut down by Shopify before and it was devastating. It’s just that right now, our demand is such that we haven’t had to go down that road of really being too specific in our content. Eventually we’ll be forced to be a lot more specific. Right. So how do you market to your target audience without communicating to them what they want to hear? It’s again, incredibly frustrating. These platforms don’t care right? Tick Tock is Chinese on switch super conservative, and thus we have more issues there. Facebook, Google, it’s not worth it to them. So if they see anything that raises a flag, they’re going to shut it down.
You’re listening to two B one B podcast for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here’s your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:19
Hey, what’s up, everybody? I’m Shayda Torabi. I’m the host of the TV blog podcast. And I’m so glad you guys are joining me today. I’m a little bit on cloud nine just to you know, keep things real. It is going to be for 20 soon, which if you’re in the cannabis industry, and you’re not planning on something to celebrate cannabis on for 20 you might be a little behind. But we have about a month to go before that holiday kicks off. And let me tell you as a fan of cannabis as a business owner and a cannabis brand and just you know, consumer. I’m looking forward to this call today. I’ve got some fun things up my sleeve that I cannot wait to share with y’all. But that will be you know more to come later. We’re all here because there’s a new episode. And you may or may not be familiar with this brand. You may or may not even own this product. I own this product. I have this product in my home and kitchen. Yes, I said kitchen essentially for you know you old school folks. It’s a cannabis butter machine. But for you new school folks. leivo oil is the Keurig of cannabis butter machines. I mean, it’s beautiful. They have amazing color palettes, they have done a tremendous job marketing the brand, the brand is just a couple years old, and it’s very easy to use. So it’s obviously you know, something that not only is aesthetically pleasing functions well, but it’s a great tool, whether you are someone who wants to dabble in creating your own cannabutter I think it should also be mentioned, it’s not just for cannabis, you can put your other favorite herbs and oils in and create you know from there. But most people, we like cannabis, we want to be able to incorporate it into other things. And so a lever oil machine is one of the latest greatest tools that have hit the market that allows consumers to create their own cannabis products by making their own cannabutter. So when I had the opportunity to connect with Andrew Tyson, who is the Director of Marketing for libo oil, I jumped at the opportunity because Hello, I love talking about marketing. But this brand to me has done a really great job activating influencers, they create a lot of content, they curate a lot of content that their influencers are creating. And also they’ve just got a really great brand narrative. And so I’m really excited to have Andrew on the show, to help walk through some of how leivo oil has developed their brand and how they’ve created so much success. And so without further ado, I’m gonna let Andrew welcome himself to the show and dive right in.
Andrew Tychsen 4:01
My name is Andrew Tyson. I’m the Director of Marketing at leivo. I have a background in building and scaling brands. I was previously working in the toy industry where I built a billion dollar brand called Zuzu pets, and eventually made the transition over to leivo to help grow and scale this business.
Shayda Torabi 4:20
How old is leivo? How did leivo come about? I mean, the punch line is it’s a it’s a cannabis butter machine right and I think most people who are tuning into the episode have googled the name or have maybe even owned one or seen one or heard about it themselves. But cannabis butter is not a new concept. It’s certainly a messy concept for anybody who’s attempted it without a lever oil machine. So I personally know the value of what leivo provides. But I guess help us understand you know, where did the idea for it come from and why leivo oil.
Andrew Tychsen 4:54
So our founder Chrissy started the company about two and a half years ago, she witnessed Some friends trying to make cannabutter. And she’s decided there’s got to be a better way. So yeah, she took it upon herself, patented it, launched it took it to market, it’s actually a really cool inspiring story. She also was suffering from some health ailments. So she was already kind of dabbling in that herbal remedy world. This was something that she was super passionate about. And she’s launched it. In 2019, she had more of a wholesaler distribution model. But we took everything in house to control of our supply chain, thankfully, at the beginning of 2020, and things have just absolutely skyrocketed.
Shayda Torabi 5:40
Yeah, I think that’s my observation. When I first got introduced to the brand, I was kind of sharing with you. I feel like I’ve known lever oil since she founded the company, I was very fortunate to be the recipient of one of the first lever oil machines just through a family friend, it seems like who knew her? And it was something that was like, wait, what is this? And yeah, I’ll try to use it. But it wasn’t as accessible. Obviously, the brand had just started. And so I didn’t see as much of the consumer adoption, as I see now. So two and a half years later, the brand to me seems like it’s exploded, I feel like I mentioned, you know, making cannabutter or suggesting to someone to, you know, look at different types of devices. And when I mentioned lever oil, people are already very familiar with the brand. And so, for me, I feel like y’all have done a really good job of bringing it to the consumers and also activating on it from a marketing perspective. What are some of those channels that you’ve leaned into in terms of marketing?
Andrew Tychsen 6:37
Yes, so surprisingly, the biggest one has been Tick Tock. I think we’re a little bit fascinating and what differentiates us to your listeners will be that we’ve really found a way to leverage tik tok can be a challenging platform. It’s new, right? They’ve just launched their performance marketing back end service, which we’re dabbling in now. But back in June of 2020, we had a video go viral on tik tok. And it drove so much traffic to our website, it was pretty insane. So I got in touch with the gal who created the video and made her an affiliate. She’s now in house. But really, things are just kind of taken off.
Shayda Torabi 7:19
I guess for me to understand to tick tock is challenging, I think for anybody creating content, but I especially find when you’re creating cannabis content, obviously, certain platforms flag certain things, I think, smart for y’all to not necessarily have cannabis as part of your brand name. I think that that’s obviously already like, maybe we can pass through this level. But you are producing cannabis butter. And so at some point, I imagine these videos are featuring flour going into the machine, do you find that that’s troublesome or that really hasn’t been any kind of like roadblock or hurdle, your hurdles are more just figuring out how to go viral on these platforms, like so many brands are cannabis aside, I feel like brands are just trying to go viral on these social media platforms.
Andrew Tychsen 8:08
Yeah, no. So that has been a big challenge for us. We’ve actually had multiple, one of our biggest viral videos that had nearly 5 million views was removed after about 24 hours. So it was certainly frustrating. But still, the benefits that we reaped from it were enough to keep us moving forward. And we do have videos flagged on our own account. But it’s really about not being so specific about cannabis. Right. So we’re, as our founder would say, Herb agnostic. So you can be infusing anything. It’s just kind of using that wink and a nod language and tone to communicate to the people that would already know what it is.
Shayda Torabi 8:52
I guess that’s a fair point to highlight. I remember getting the my first label oil so it would have been about two and a half years ago. And the packaging was not very cannabis specific. It was very herb specific. But obviously like you said, People knew kind of what to use it for. I feel like in the span of last two and a half years y’all have definitely leaned a little bit more into the cannabis industry. Is there any type of demographics that you’re aware of? of like, would you say like 99.9% of your customers are buying into make cannabutter? Are there people out there who are like, I’d like to make a sage butter today?
Andrew Tychsen 9:29
Yeah, it’s about 98%
Shayda Torabi 9:31
Yeah, I imagine just because of how I think the industry has kind of trended and especially the accessibility for people to have access to putting this machine in their house and wanting to be able to be in control of creating their own. I mean, I’ve just heard so many stories. People are obviously making edibles with it, but people who are making topicals with it, they’re making their own extractions their own sublingual oils. I think the traditional mindset of using this process is really I think for edibles, but there’s so many other apples I think it’s really opened up for the consumer to play around with. And so kind of looping back around knowing that I’ve, you know, observed some of your content. You’ll create your own content, and you’re also activating on content creators. So how does that dynamic work? Are you sourcing people? I mean, you just kind of highlighted this person who had created this, you know, really high traffic piece of content, you were able to create an affiliate relationship. Maybe that’s a pause moment, because I’m sure a lot of people are not familiar with affiliate marketing is so kind of what I know, affiliate marketing is really big for y’all. I’m actually an affiliate of yours, too. But knowing that there’s some of these marketing tactics that you’re using to go help drive that brand awareness.
Andrew Tychsen 10:45
Yeah. So it’s all been very deliberate on our own channels versus influencer channels or offline channels, we really push the messaging and rely heavily on affiliates influencers, to communicate what we can’t. We’ve walked that line in order to avoid things like Shopify, you know, not not handling our transactions anymore, or Google Ads punishing us, or Facebook punishing us. So we’ve definitely gone in the direction of for instance, sure, you can make weed brownies, but we’re not going to say that let’s have dope is YOLO. Say it. And he can say much better than weekend. So we’ll just activate him by the way, dope is YOLO? You don’t know him? Amazing.
Shayda Torabi 11:29
I’m familiar, very cool content. on that subject, though, that is really interesting to me, because I think what I’ve observed from being in the industry is like, there’s a there’s like tears, right? The closer you are to touching the plant, so meaning selling like an actual edible, like you’re not selling an edible, you’re selling a device for people to, in your words, kind of a wink and a nod, do whatever you want with the machine, put whatever herbs you want inside the machine. And your name doesn’t even really say anything cannabis. How are these platforms? flagging you Is it just because by nature, it’s like the extension of it, you they know, it’s cannabis related. And so they’re kind of slapping you on the wrist. But I guess my observation, again, is just that the farther away you can be from touching the plant, the safer you are not that you’re completely safe. But it sounds like even in your case, you still are experiencing some of the same challenges that businesses who touched the plant are experiencing?
Andrew Tychsen 12:26
Yes, it’s bizarre, in the most frustrating thing about it is that everyone has a different rule. And there’s no straight answer. And it’s all this weird gray area. But we have been shut down by Shopify before and it was devastating. It’s just that right now, our demand is such that we haven’t had to go down that road of really being too specific in our content. So we’ll get there eventually. But as of right now, the risk outweighs the benefit, right? There’s too much of a downside. We avoid it for the most part, even an email,
Shayda Torabi 13:03
you mean like email marketing, or just
Andrew Tychsen 13:05
Yes. So not using certain terms, not showing flour, just being very generic. It’s just the word blessed with where our demand is right now. Eventually, we’ll be forced to be a lot more specific. Right. So how do you market to your target audience without communicating what they want to hear? Right.
Shayda Torabi 13:26
I think that’s the challenge in the industry right now is you’re being told this is this plant, it’s stigmatized, it’s a weed, it’s a drug. But then on the flip side, so like, I’d be curious if there’s any differentiation for y’all on this front, hemp is federally legal. hemp looks like weed, but hemp is legal for all intensive purposes. So where does that line get drawn of? Hey, look weird. We’re just using legal herbs. We’re not using federally illegal herbs.
Andrew Tychsen 13:57
It’s again, incredibly frustrating. These platforms don’t care, right? Tick Tock is Chinese own. So it’s super conservative, and thus we have more issues there. Facebook, Google, it’s not worth it to them. So if they see anything that raises a flag, they’re gonna shut it down. It’s very frustrating.
Shayda Torabi 14:17
Did you have the same experience when you were working in the toy industry? Are there as many kind of like hurdles because I don’t want to think that cannabis is the only challenging industry you know, all industries have their setbacks. But I can’t imagine that selling toys has as many restrictions as cannabis does.
Andrew Tychsen 14:34
No way you would actually be very upset to learn how few restrictions are around toys. I mean, obviously, you have to do your safety testing. When it comes to materials. You have a choke test, you have these other things, but no, this is very different in many ways.
Shayda Torabi 14:52
So were you like, yeah, I’ll come and be director of marketing of this machine that is associated to cannabis but not outright. Lisa. Cannabis, it should be easy. We’ll do these marketing tactics that I’ve, you know, proven over here in this other world and try to apply it to cannabis. And it’s like, hey, red doorstop can’t go past go like you’re just completely inundated with roadblocks. Oh, absolutely.
Andrew Tychsen 15:15
Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing. I was I could not imagine the restrictions. It was frustrating, discouraging, embarrassing. But we’ve come a long way. And we’re figuring it out. And, you know, we’re in a blessed position to where we don’t have to be that overt right now.
Shayda Torabi 15:34
Yeah, I guess going back to to a point that you were making around some of these like influencers, it’s something that I talk a lot about on the platform, and I find myself in a position of influence creating content as well. And for better or worse, brands can get around some of this red tape, it’s not that it automatically goes away, it just puts that ownership of potential flagging, or, you know, calling out the content on someone else. And it kind of, in my eyes, it distributes the responsibility instead of it solely following on following on the brand. But it’s also something that is, in my opinion, also probably been extremely rewarding for y’all because you are able to activate on all these other people creating content for you. And I think that’s something to highlight, too. Because there’s a lot of people out there who have a lot of great experiences with a brand or creating content. But how do you maybe they’re not even creating content, they’re having great experiences, let’s use your product, they’re using lever oil, they’re having a great experience. How many people own a lever oil to how many people are actually going and tagging you guys in something? Do you have any sort of understanding of the amount of people who own a product versus are actually like voices for the brand? Hmm,
Andrew Tychsen 16:52
yeah, I think we would be surprised that it’s very little, the amount of people that are out there shouting and telling others about libo is a lot smaller than we might think. But again, we have a very diehard group of people that are just very loud, right? So it’s like, the 20% 80% rule. So the 20% are just very loud. You know, for instance, our lever love club, Facebook group has just been gangbusters. It’s growing rapidly. And we have a refer friend program that’s continuing to grow as well. So there’s proof in the the word of mouth, MLM strategy?
Shayda Torabi 17:31
Well, I think as a marketer, too, you always want to try to figure out, at least I shouldn’t say, all marketers care about this, some marketers, you know, they just want to scale and become a huge brand. But I think there’s something to say about brands that take the approach of trying to create brand loyalty, right? Like there’s brands out there who just want to make a quick buck, they don’t care if they if you come back and be a customer, but I observe your brand, as a brand that you want this referral, you want this affiliation, you want people to kind of have this positive sentiment. And so it seems like you’re putting in place marketing tools to help activate on that, that decision of wanting people to feel empowered to spread the word. And so I like that you highlighted kind of the 2080. Because I don’t think that you have to have 80% of your customers shouting from the rooftops, you need the 20%, who’s super loyal, who’s going to go out of their way to create content. Like for us, again, we were talking kind of before we were recording, but my sister used the lever oil machine to make a video on her channel that benefited her to some extent because it gave her views. It also gave our CBD brand some you know, views and recognition because we attribute it to our store. But then believe oil is getting, you know, 100,000 views and people are talking about and people are sending it around, it was so remarkable to me, anytime I would kind of bring it up, I would find certain people who would say, Oh, I actually saw your video on leivo oil. And that was kind of what helped educate them on the product. And so us having no real connection, aside from potentially being an affiliate at the time, and still, you know, being an affiliate. But that was the only hook for us other than Hey, we just had a really great experience with this. We wanted to highlight this product and this tool, because we know that it will help our channels grow. Obviously, then the brand is able to take advantage of that and then leverage it for their own marketing. So
Andrew Tychsen 19:23
yeah, so let me say thank you, first of all, and tell your sister thank you because great video, we appreciate it. Hi, Well, yeah, but the other thing we have to remember is that leivo the nature of the product requires a lot of education, right? So it’s it’s very different in that we’re not just selling a bond, we’re not just selling a gummy. We’re selling a product that requires time, energy, education, and experience. So again, just educational material, having people walk others through how it works. That’s going to be our bread and butter and that’s another one Reason why Tick Tock works for us. It’s kind of like a tutorial type of platform, right? Watch me dance, watch me nae na, and people try to replicate that. So this is, you know, this fits very well into that Tiktok mold.
Shayda Torabi 20:16
Guy appreciate that observation because I do think that there is something about watching someone else do it that gives you the confidence or the interest to want to go make the purchase. And I’ll also mention the price point for the machine is really reasonable. Like, we get
Andrew Tychsen 20:34
the opposite. Really, too expensive. Yeah.
Shayda Torabi 20:37
For what it does, though, I mean, you set it and as someone who’s been like a cannabis consumer myself for like, 15 years, I haven’t dabbled in making cannabis or the other. I mean, I’ve dabbled in it, because I had friends who wanted to do the messy, you know, decarboxylated thing, and then they’re stinking up the house. And now that the lever doesn’t, you know, it’s the herb is still creates a sense to it, but it’s certainly a much more contained, clean, processed way of going about it. And so I I just observe how, how difficult it would be for someone to just kind of get it out of the box and kind of want to navigate it. And so of course, the first thing you would do is like, I want to look up a YouTube video, I want to go to these channels that they have social platforms and yeah, like you mentioned, like y’all are on tik tok, you’re on Instagram, you’re creating a channel for all the voices who are speaking in the market about your product to kind of be available for someone who’s searching for information. Y’all do a good job of curating. I think that’s the word I would like to use you curate content created about yourself very well.
Andrew Tychsen 21:40
Thank you. Yeah, it’s taken a lot of effort. And we have a lot of people helping us do that. We have a great team. I have somebody managing all of our influencer outreach, somebody managing just the entire tik tok platform and all those influencers. It’s it’s a lot of work. But thank you for saying,
Shayda Torabi 21:57
Yeah, in terms of managing influencers, I guess helped me understand a little bit more of your calls, I guess, you know, way that you’re going about it. When I’m looking at your Tick tock, for example, are those videos that someone else has created and sent you? Are those videos that someone else has created on their platform? And you’re repurposing? Or is that unique content that whether it was created by your team or an extension of your team through an influencer? Who was hired? It’s all unique content that you own? Right versus pulling someone else’s?
Andrew Tychsen 22:30
Yes, correct. For the most part, I mean, we do have some UGC. Right, but most of what you see is our influencers. And we do a trade based agreement, because of our high ABV. You know, it’s not like we’re gonna send them, you know, another flower, for instance, and ask them to post No, you would, that would require some financial compensation. So we do a trade based agreement because of the price point.
Shayda Torabi 22:55
And so they’re just for people who are listening, when you’re working with influencers, there’s like financial compensation that can be done. There’s also trade based, so I’m assuming you’re trading a product, which is the machine for them to create content on your behalf about how many influencers Do you work with in that capacity? Aside from just the organic content creation that’s happening on your behalf?
Andrew Tychsen 23:17
I would say at least 40 a month?
Shayda Torabi 23:21
Damn. That’s a lot of influencers to kind of keep track of and manage.
Andrew Tychsen 23:25
I know, it’s, like I said, it’s a lot of work.
Shayda Torabi 23:27
Is there some type of rule or, you know, flow that you aren’t like telling these influencers to create content around,
Andrew Tychsen 23:35
we have, like a multi pronged approach with different strategies for each type of outreach. We’ll have very specific asks to certain content creators, for instance, if they’re a chef, and they’re going to create recipes for us, we’ll be specific about our asks, sometimes, if they’re more just entertainment, there’s no leash, they can go and do whatever they want. So it’s a combination of both.
Shayda Torabi 23:58
That’s a really interesting point that you bring up too, though. It’s interesting that you kind of see value on both ends of the spectrum. And you’re trying to connect the dots. Because I guess that makes sense. Because really, anybody could own a leave. Oh, it’s not like Oh, just for people who are professional chefs are just for people who are like at home bakers. It’s like if you have the money and you want to put olive oil in your kitchen, you can how do you I guess market to that particular segment of people who are using it more for the medicinal application? Because Do you find that it competes with? I guess because Texas we don’t really have a medicinal market, if that’s fair to kind of highlight in the discernment of like people who are wanting to use cannabis for medicine for weekenders, the recreationalists they’re just going to dispensaries and buying whatever because they want to get quote unquote, let’s say hi versus someone who’s really looking at it from a medicinal perspective. Maybe they’re looking at I need this cannabinoid mixed with that canal and I need this ratio. I need this oil for better absorption. That’s just it’s a different conversation. And so how do you kind of activate those people to help educate them on their medicine?
Andrew Tychsen 25:06
The strategy that we’ve implemented is to really find those those people in forums and in private groups. That’s really where we get that the traction. And back to your point, you know, if you’re trying to get off of opioids or painkillers, they don’t sell potent enough gummies for you. It’s a big audience of ours and we believe and have found that within forums, private groups is our best bet.
Shayda Torabi 25:38
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast. Restart. CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas, we operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm. Again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt. I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode. I want to kind of go back to something you mentioned Shopify, just because e commerce is such a interesting subject for this industry. My background is e commerce actually professionally, I come from the platform and hosting world. And so when I launched my CBD brand, we were ecommerce first. So this was in 2018. similar kind of time for y’all to be founded and launched. I didn’t think I knew just how difficult being online and selling cannabis products was going to be, which is what led us to ultimately opening a brick and mortar. We still operated in e commerce and we still operate in e commerce today. But it’s much more nuanced. And it’s a bit more challenging for even myself with an e commerce background to navigate. I’ll Break That down. It’s one thing to have a website, it’s another thing to take people’s money. Right. And then on top of that I find depending on the platform that you’re using, you mentioned you’re all were on Shopify, I don’t know if you’re currently still on Shopify, we use WordPress WordPress is open source, Shopify is a closed platform. Depending on the platform you’re on, there could be potential further limitations. So again, reflecting leivo oil versus my CBD brand. I sell flour, I sell edibles, I sell topicals. You’re selling a device that is not, again, like directly touching the plants. You’re kind of removed from the plant. So I was interested when you said that Shopify was giving y’all some challenges, because as we’ve been navigating the industry, people have been saying, Oh, go to Shopify, Shopify is great. Shopify will totally support cannabis. They’ve gotten into the industry. And I have friends at Shopify, who were telling me that saying Shayda can bring over to Shopify, because Shopify, and I would say, these are the products I have, and this is what I want to sell, can I do it? And they couldn’t answer my questions. And then they gave me the roll around. And then finally I got ahold of their legal department and their legal department said, Actually, no, you can’t sell flour, and you can’t sell certain types of products. So yes, maybe Shopify is open to cannabis, but it depends what you’re selling. And in my opinion, it depends what type of product you’re selling on top of that. So it’s just one of those things. I don’t think enough people in the industry are talking about the e commerce side of things. So you mentioned Shopify being a bit of a challenge, knowing that you’re selling predominantly online. I know you’re used to have a wholesale model. Are you doing more direct to consumer? Are you exclusively doing direct to consumer? And what is the platform? Like, are you on a on an open platform? Are you still trying to navigate Shopify and kind of help us peel back Why Shopify was such a bitch to work with?
Andrew Tychsen 28:57
Well, Shopify has been good to us since then, you know, Shopify is just the biggest and the best. So it’s kind of where we’ve, we’ve wound up as far as being penalised, you know, again, even if you’re an ancillary business, and we have partnerships with other companies that are very similar to us, and they have absolute horror stories about getting shut down and their payments. It’s almost it’s put companies nearly out of business. And I agree, nobody’s talking about this. But these companies, you know, they’re us owned, or Shopify might be even Canadian owned. So that makes sense. But
Shayda Torabi 29:34
they’re Canadian owned,
Andrew Tychsen 29:36
you know, going back to the whole, Google’s a US based company, if it’s not federally legal, they’re not going to touch it. And none of them have a clear plan of action or a set guideline. I mean, even when you’re talking to Google, about AdWords, they don’t give you any information. They don’t tell you what you can and can’t say or what you can and can’t Show because it’s such a gray area, which makes makes it super challenging, but also very rewarding. To be able to be successful. You have to you have to be super creative.
Shayda Torabi 30:10
Yeah, to overcome some of those challenges. Do you mind kind of, I guess helping explain a little bit more. What were some of the challenges of Shopify? Like why was Shopify giving y’all a hard time in the beginning, especially considering you are super ancillary? I can’t imagine why they’re like, because they say they’re supporting cannabis businesses.
Andrew Tychsen 30:29
Yeah, I mean, once you get down to it, and you really get a hold of somebody, Shopify, it’s Oh, hold on one sec. You know, they don’t give you a clear answer. It’s, oh, this was a mistake, or this is why we did it. We saw that transaction and thought that it was connected to this. And so I don’t really have any great insight for you there. But it is what,
Shayda Torabi 30:47
you know, misery loves company, I just think I’ve been isolated and having the conversation around e commerce by myself, just because not a lot of cannabis brands, I think have touched it. And it’s such a big opportunity, I think, for the industry, because when you look at the marijuana industry, you obviously can’t sell weed online. Like maybe now with COVID, you’re seeing these businesses being pushed to doing curbside pickup or order online. But you’re actually you know, you’re not shipping those products. But from a CBD brand perspective, or these ancillary businesses that aren’t directly touching the plant. It’s like, I sell a federally legal product. These are my co ways this is you know, the integrity of my product. This is what it is, I totally hear you on the and that’s a fair point to highlight for people listening, you kind of need to follow some of where these businesses are based. And that’s kind of what’s instigating some of their decisions. But yeah, Shopify is one of those ones that to me, I’m like, you’re based in Canada, weed is legal in Canada, I don’t understand why you’re, you know, being such a difficult platform for people who want to get on and legally sell CBD or cannabis related products. My experience was like what you just kind of described, I was never fully on the Shopify platform, but I was exploring it. And so I was like, Okay, let me talk to a Shopify specialists. Then they pushed me to the CBD team, the CBD teams essentially couldn’t answer my questions. I’m like, you’re the CBD team? How can you not answer my questions if this is the team? Meanwhile, everybody in my connection, from my previous experience working in tech in e commerce is like, oh, Shopify will just take care of you. Shopify is gonna be a great partner. I’m like, have you guys start your Shopify? Because I talk to Shopify, and they cannot support my business and what I’m trying to sell on there. And so I’m not saying that Shopify is a bad platform for CBD or cannabis related businesses. I’m saying it’s a challenge. Like you said, if you can overcome it, that’s a win for you. But as a business, who’s looking to go online, you need to do your homework to understand what these platforms expectations are, because nothing is set in stone. I mean, I’ve just heard so many horror stories from all aspects of it.
Andrew Tychsen 32:56
I caution people, and you know, and that’s why we play it safe. You know, today, I was telling you about our Tic Tac video from one of our creators is blowing up. And you know, the sales and traffic coming from that video for the next few days will be very significant. Can you imagine if Shopify said, hey, guess what, we’re not going to handle any of your transactions right now. And you can’t get ahold of them. And you’re ringing people, and for a week, you can’t sell anything. That’s a lot of money.
Shayda Torabi 33:25
It’s a nightmare. But that’s the reality for so many businesses and brands in the space who are navigating. And I don’t think that it’s excluded from anybody, like I see big brands who struggle with it just as much as small brands.
Andrew Tychsen 33:38
Nobody wants to touch it, everyone’s scared of it, you know, there’s a huge stigma, that’s but it all comes back to the stigma of cannabis. And the, you know, obviously, the laws and everything, but it’s, you know, we have to change the perception. Hopefully, this administration can do something. But you know, it’s it kind of feels like the way it felt like, like cannabis has felt over the last 40 years, right. It’s been stigmatized, and it’s the devil. So almost like these companies are reacting in the same manner.
Shayda Torabi 34:08
It just is so volatile, and I love the direction this conversation is taking. Because what I love to do is kind of, I never want to turn people off from getting into cannabis. But I want to talk about like, the real ugly truth of the industry of like, you better be prepared to like, have your shit shut down. Like I’ve had people who call me out and they’re like, how did you get away with posting that video of you smoking a joint. When I do that my content gets flagged, I go, my content also gets flagged, I’m taking that risk as the content creator or as the brand that I want to lean into that uncomfortability knowing that it may or may not, you know, shut me down. It’s just kind of the nature of the game and unfortunately, I just think we’re not addressing it enough. People aren’t aware of all the nuances. I think the Facebook kind of Instagram gets talked about a lot but the payment side The e commerce scaling a brand. It’s very, very difficult. There’s so much like even if you can transact like, with our payment merchant, we have a limit of how much I can even process per month. So I even if I wanted to go viral and get, you know, a influx of sales I can only grow so much before my payment processors like it, you know, actually not today you made too much are
Andrew Tychsen 35:21
you paying a premium for for this payment processor? Because you’re in CBD? Yes. Right. So that’s another thing that we want to avoid.
Shayda Torabi 35:28
Yeah, the percentages to even transact people again, don’t realize when you swipe your card at your local coffee shop, there’s a rate that those payment merchants are agreeing to for that business to process usually in the one to 3% cannabis I’ve seen as high as 9% transaction fees, and it’s just the price of doing business. And then you kind of reflect on states like Colorado where where cannabis is legalized and you know more all intensive purposes. And then you see these these dispensaries their cash only, because they one want to be able to, yeah, make more than what these processors are going to allow them to do. But to most of these processors don’t want to touch cannabis. So it’s a very finicky industry to get in. That is like, the bane of my existence is navigating it.
Andrew Tychsen 36:19
Right? It’s, it’s a headache for the dispensary, right to deal with all the payment processing. So they’re going to take that headache because they can they have a leverage and put that on the consumer to have to go and get cash out of the ATM.
Shayda Torabi 36:29
Exactly. I want to circle back around to something that you were talking about, though, with this like viral video, because I was just on your Tick tock, you have like a discount code kind of front and center on your profile page. as a marketer, you obviously always want to be able to attribute sales to your channels to your campaigns to your marketing efforts. Do you see using Tick Tock as the example people are actually typing that code in? Or are people just you see an influx of sales? You know, it came from Tick Tock like how much are you actually able to attribute? And how much are those codes working for driving traffic to your website?
Andrew Tychsen 37:07
Yeah, there’s always that chance that the code is gets out, right, and it gets into a honey or another one of those affiliate services and people are just plugging it in, we would say with about 80% accuracy, we know the traffic coming from tik tok and the transactions. And we’re also monitoring those coupon codes, changing them switching them out using shareasale to track actual traffic. So it’s not just the code, right? It’s also the link within certain BIOS and on different channels. So
Shayda Torabi 37:38
that’s fair point, I guess. Some brands don’t like to use codes, and it seems like your brand willingly wants to activate on them.
Andrew Tychsen 37:46
Yeah, we’ve done a bit of research around our conversion. And our consumers are very compelled when there’s any type of promotion
Shayda Torabi 37:57
or discount involved. Y’all did a pretty big black Friday sale, and I feel like it was all over the internet,
Andrew Tychsen 38:03
it was a little too big. We did not anticipate the amount of volume. So now we’re backordered and will remain backordered for some time.
Shayda Torabi 38:12
Oh, really? You’re still backorder from Black Friday?
Andrew Tychsen 38:15
Hmm. It’s challenging. It comes with its own set of challenges. It’s it’s a great problem to have, but really had to invest in our customer service really exposed where our weakness was at that time. And so we’ve dumped a bunch of resources and into customers or service and support and being more active on social and communicating with our customers.
Shayda Torabi 38:36
Yeah, I guess to be a little honest with you, I feel like y’all have grown really fast. And I I observed just like you know what, it’s a good problem to have, like you said, like, you know, you want the business to grow. That’s the whole reason most people get in businesses like you want it to be successful. You want to be able to continue employing your employees, you want to see your product reach out in the world. But on that you’re driving people from Tick tock, you’re having these viral videos, you’re creating content, you’re not stopping creating content in Black Friday was like four months ago, five months ago. So if there’s no product for you to actually put in people’s hands, what is that dynamic? Like?
Andrew Tychsen 39:17
I guess it’s a challenge, we have to communicate upfront on our pdps and in our Checkout, and an email flows, that your shipping is going to be delayed. Here’s when we’re expecting the container to land and when we’re expecting to fulfill this order, just being more upfront about it. I think people are more understanding than we would expect. It is a pandemic, right. There’s lots of other manufacturers in the same position. Yeah, so just as long as you’re upfront and honest, people tend to be pretty receptive to that and we’ve had to work, you know, to get there and we’re not even fully there yet. We still have improvements to do is frustrating for everyone. We’re all on the same boat. The most part,
Shayda Torabi 40:01
but like you said, a good problem to have when you figured out a product that people like it’s accessible, it’s easy for them. It’s a really fun product. I mean, I just was watching some of the content that y’all have created. There’s so many, like well known people in the industry, who are content creators who you’ve activated on, do you find that people are coming to you and saying, hey, I want to work with you? Or do you have like a list of like, hey, these are people who are content creators, and we want them to have our products in their hands and create content, a
Andrew Tychsen 40:33
little bit of both. We have an influx of people coming to us wanting to create content for us. And then we’re always on the lookout for a great brand ambassador, we’re actually still trying to hunt for a more recognizable if you will figure to kind of help libo get to that next level.
Shayda Torabi 40:52
Okay, listeners, if you’ve got some shops, you can reach out to Andrew, he might invite you into the leivo oil family.
Andrew Tychsen 41:01
Yeah, where if you know somebody, I kind of need a handout. I got
Shayda Torabi 41:04
a lot of cool listeners. So maybe there’s some fun fun stuff in there for you. What comes to mind in terms of like the content that’s performing the best like when this video went viral? Or when videos go viral? Does it shock you? Are you like, why did that video of someone making edibles go viral? And not that video?
Andrew Tychsen 41:21
Yeah, especially at first, we had a tough time understanding why but for instance, on Tick tock, it comes down to the manicure. No, we found seriously that if you have a nice manicure, and you’re using the leivo and pushing the buttons on the screen, that video tends to do pretty well.
Shayda Torabi 41:41
That’s a cool little tip. I think that’s something that I kind of want to highlight for the listeners, like when you’re creating content again, I think so many people observe brands like yours, and they’re like, oh, how do they go viral? I want to go viral. And it’s kind of exactly what you just described. It’s like being observant of Hey, what is and dissecting like, Hey, what did this video have that this other video didn’t have? So on one hand, I think it’s being observed. On the other hand, it’s creating volume. I mean, y’all have so many videos out there, that by nature, surely something would go viral? And obviously they are but it’s just like by volume, you’ve kind of mastered that distribution of content creation.
Andrew Tychsen 42:21
Yeah, you you left out the luck factor.
Shayda Torabi 42:25
There’s a little bit of luck.
Andrew Tychsen 42:26
And I’m half joking when I talk about the manicure thing. Because there’s obviously a lot more to it and kind of circling back to how I described Tick Tock earlier about being kind of as a DIY tutorial type of platform leivo you know, needs people people need to have their, their handheld to figure out what leivo is and what it can do and how to use it and it just kind of a perfect, perfect storm.
Shayda Torabi 42:55
Do you find tik tok is more performant than Instagram? Absolutely, certainly more performant than Facebook? Absolutely.
Andrew Tychsen 43:02
And that’s the thing. We’re just now dabbling in tic tocs ad platform. So we haven’t even started running any paid media on Tick tock,
Shayda Torabi 43:11
it sounds like you do paid media. So you are doing paid media on platforms like Facebook?
Andrew Tychsen 43:16
Yes. And that’s, you know why we keep our messaging, very get clean cut generic, because we have to be on those platforms in order to scale at the rate that we want to
Shayda Torabi 43:28
Yeah, I think that’s such a pain point is people realizing like, and you said it earlier. Not these platforms, don’t tell you how to play on them. I do believe that you can be on every platform and find success. Like obviously, y’all are finding success, despite the limitations. But I do think it is trial and error. It’s listening, observing to what other people are doing, but also really just testing it with your own product and messaging, and just tweaking and seeing and knowing sometimes your content may or may not get flagged. It really is unfortunate, because there’s I mean, I don’t know the size of lever oil in terms of team members, like sometimes I’m shocked to hear from people like like High Times actually has a relatively small team, you know, who’s operating. And so I think sometimes people think, Oh, well, only they can only get away with that, because they’re this big company, and they’ve got all these different people who are helping, but it’s like, small businesses to you kind of need to figure out how you want to navigate and it’s almost like if you don’t, if you don’t lean in and try to figure it out, you’re gonna get left behind because people are figuring it out.
Andrew Tychsen 44:36
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, we get the same thing from our customers even, you know, you guys are a big corporation trying to take advantage of us. It’s, you know, we have 10 full time staff members now. And eight of them were hired in the last three months, you know, so no, we’re a small business,
Shayda Torabi 44:55
just trying to navigate. I wanted to bring up to y’all have done a really good job of getting recognition and I’m going to call it traditional media. So there’s obviously like, I always talk about to there’s media that’s like earned and owned. And you’re featured in USA Today Rolling Stone, Bon appetit Forbes, like, are you finding that that’s organic, where you going out and pitching the brand? The magazine to include you because a lot of it’s more like Gift Guide type placements. But still, you’re being featured in these major platforms and media companies, that certainly is helping establish your brand as the brand when it comes to this. But knowing that a lot of my listeners like they want placement in those magazines like how does that kind of come about from your brand’s perspective?
Andrew Tychsen 45:44
Yes, so we have a fantastic PR gal, generally Scott shout out. And she helps us get coverage in those in those publications. And earlier talking about Shopify and transactions and being penalised there, but we haven’t even touched on retail, or press and people shying away from cannabis in those channels as well. So you deal with it across the board?
Shayda Torabi 46:10
Let’s let’s talk about it impress is your publicist in house, or Is she an external agency? external agency? Okay, so I’ve had a couple of publicists on the show. And just for people to reference again, small business, big business, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong structure to it. It’s just getting people familiar with, you could go after and try to pitch like you are the director of marketing, you could go pitch these magazines, but the chances of you maybe getting picked up in the magazines is not as likely as a publicist. Maybe has those relationships already planted?
Andrew Tychsen 46:41
Absolutely. And the beauty of us toeing that line between cannabis and culinary and everything else is that we, you know, Jenna can tailor her pitch towards these publication. So if she can take a culinary route, and go to food and wine and get in good coverage there, it opens up for us,
Shayda Torabi 47:02
kind of I’m curious because I have a background in like food and hospitality, knowing they all work with chefs like what’s kind of the coolest activation or chef experience that you’ve seen the brand achieve, like, has Gordon Ramsay gotten his hands on a you know, like, Is there any type of it showing up backstage at like, you know, Aspen Food and Wine Festival or a famous chef is using it in making it and taking this dish to this popular restaurant or something?
Andrew Tychsen 47:33
Yeah, I wish I had a cool answer for you. But I don’t. Um, we were almost featured in that Netflix cooking with cannabis show. Oh, but we didn’t make the cut for some reason. However, I did just send a couple of units to a production assistant for a big Food Network show. So we’ll see if it if it gets on there.
Shayda Torabi 47:58
Yeah, knock on fingers crossed for y’all. What’s uh, you brought up retail? What’s your position with retail? How does that work?
Andrew Tychsen 48:06
We do a little bit of retail. And it’s generally for brand equity reasons. Especially because of where our demand and inventory is right now. But nordstroms for instance, you know, we did a pop up shop with them in November of last year, and sold out in three weeks. So that worked out well. We’re in conversations with some other more prestigious retail chains. But, you know, for instance, in the past, we’ve been in conversations with target and their hang up was the whole cannabis thing was a ginormous gatekeeper, if you will,
Shayda Torabi 48:47
when you’re going into these target meetings, are you? I guess I’m just trying to understand Do you or do you kind of downplay the cannabis you’re like, no, this is an herb extractor target. This is not for cannabis. Ignore the content. You don’t see anything this is for you know, time and sage like this is not for cannabis. And then target I’m assuming comes to their own conclusion like, Well, we know what you guys are up to. And we don’t want to enable that.
Andrew Tychsen 49:14
Yeah, we went on Tick Tock and so are getting, but that’s totally it. We highlight the different use cases, right? What use case is relevant to this particular person? Okay, well, that might be clean beauty and making your own makeup. It might be the culinary thing. It might be making topicals and skincare because you can do those things with lemo
Shayda Torabi 49:35
it’s interesting that Nordstrom saw an opportunity to incorporate it but target is still like, you know, not for us, but so cool that Nordstrom incorporated you guys was it like a holiday pop up or it was a
Andrew Tychsen 49:48
curated by this famous designer and personal shopper. She puts she just chose a bunch of products that were new and relevant and that she really They did a pop up shop.
Shayda Torabi 50:01
That’s really cool. So did you know I wasn’t necessarily that y’all pitch Nordstrom someone was incorporating you from their own connection to the opportunity, right? Like, they’re just like this one of my favorite things, and I want to put it in Nordstrom pop up.
Andrew Tychsen 50:13
Yes, that’s actually the exact same thing that’s happening right now with one of nordstroms biggest competitors.
Shayda Torabi 50:19
Well, I think it does start with, you know, what so many of us in the industry are trying to do its toe that line, right, you’re trying to like lean in, but you also don’t want to be the one who has the target on their back. But at the same time, you also benefit by being someone who leans into those maybe murky waters, because as you identified, hey, you know, it went really well with Nordstrom. And now this is able to turn into this next opportunity for us. And I’m just such a big believer, you know, it just takes one person to see it one person to change their mind one person to, you know, take you to the top. And so I think as a brand, just trying to navigate, this is the space that I can play in, these are the tools that I have access to, this is our strategy. Like Another thing I always like to highlight with my podcast too. For the listeners who maybe haven’t listened to some previous episodes, I always like to highlight, you can listen to everything that we’re talking about, and still not find the same success. If they did everything that we’re doing. Word for word, you have to kind of listen to these stories and and learn on your own accord, like you have to lean in and do what’s best for your brand. Because someone who’s selling topicals is going to have a much different experience trying to, let’s say, get into Forbes magazine than someone who’s trying to sell pre rolls, you know, and I think we’re seeing that as the industry, for better or worse is pushing into more normalization. Because obviously y’all are doing it, you’re a brand that is very much steeped in the cannabis industry, but you get in or you’re you’ve gotten all this, you know, recognition, kind of at a national level with some of these leading brands and publications and, and it just is like leaning into what you’re offering is leaning into your why and trying to, you know, make headway from that approach versus this is exactly how I did it. And this is exactly how it’s going to be done. Because there’s no recipe to success in anything but especially in cannabis.
Andrew Tychsen 52:22
Yeah. And I also feel like that’s marketing is just testing and iterating. And finding out what works. I mean, there was a huge, ginormous, there was a big internal struggle. I guess I’m being a little bit dramatic. But you know, tick tock isn’t necessarily aligned with leivo as a brand. It’s a little out there, but it was working. So I you know, I let my let my gal just take it and run with it and try to stay out of her way. You know, at the same time, we don’t necessarily know what we’re doing every step of the way. But we’re testing and iterating and trying to find out what works and you know, sticking to some rules that we’ve kind of made for ourselves internally,
Shayda Torabi 53:01
I think that’s the best approach that anybody in this industry can observe is just trying to again, kind of figure out what the unique value proposition is of your brand and trying to navigate it accordingly. Because I just I’m honestly really shocked just to hear the challenges that your brand has experienced, especially on the platform side, because I was just really thinking it was solely for people who were like directly touching the plants. You’re not when you go to your website, you’re not selling flour, or you’re not selling pre made edibles, you’re not selling topicals you’re selling literally a device that can be used to do an array of things with and if you want to put wheat in it, that’s good for you. You know, thumbs up but yet here all these challenges that you’re experiencing, and I just I was a little taken aback by it because I just don’t think that one the industry obviously isn’t talking about it but to there’s just so many corners to this industry that are just you got to navigate it yourself. You got to feel it out, you got to kind of see where the boundaries are and what you can get get pushed through. So
Andrew Tychsen 54:05
yeah, and we’re spoiled to leave Oh, we’re able to, to kind of have that plausible deniability of you can infuse anything. So there’s lots of brands and lots of people like yourself that are dealing with much harsher restrictions and having to jump through bigger hoops. So when I talk about LIFO struggles, it’s sometimes pales in comparison to what other true cannabis companies have to go through. I want
Shayda Torabi 54:30
to kind of end this on a positive note. Perhaps if there is some positivity like you’re the director of marketing for lever oil, like it’s a really fun brand. You create a lot of fun content, what are some of the highlights that you’ve seen the brand achieve in your time being there?
Andrew Tychsen 54:45
Wow. Where to start? I mean, these viral videos are so entertaining and it’s such a rush when they go off and you watch the traffic pour in and then you know customers are very passionate. There’s Stories of us helping you know, people with addiction and people with health ailments. And just being able to kind of give back in that way has been, has been fantastic. And we have a great team, you know, by the way, we have a CMO. So I’m not the only guy in charge of marketing. Louis, who was previously with Roma luggage company has come on board. And he’s been fantastic. I mean, really, I think we’ve created a really great culture and environment at leivo to share and be open and, and be positive and all work together in a really healthy manner. So I mean, that’s, that’s probably, if I had to say, What’s, what’s the biggest thing that I’m proud of, or that I love about libo? It’s, it’s the people.
Shayda Torabi 55:45
I think that’s a really cool place to come from. I think that’s what we’re all trying to navigate is just like finding our purpose and trying to give back to the world and especially with a plant like cannabis that is so stigmatized. I mean, I appreciate you highlighting, you know, some of the stories that your customers have shared with you. I mean, again, yeah, it’s fun to be on Tick Tock and to go viral. But it’s like actually making a product that helps people feel better and have control over what they’re putting in their bodies. I think it’s really powerful
Andrew Tychsen 56:15
it is. And you know, we’re in this kind of out of stock situation right now, it’s kind of been a blessing in disguise, because we’ve been able to step back and formulate a CSR program that we’re passionate about in order to give back and help those people that have been incarcerated and suffered for years, you know, because of the loss. So we’re really making some headway there and just trying to become a better people and a better company. That’s what I’m most proud of.
Unknown Speaker 56:45
Cool. Well, I
Shayda Torabi 56:46
hope you guys learned how to potentially go viral on Tick tock, no, I’m glad that we were able to have that conversation. I know that there are so many, so many times that we’re told, you know, we can’t do something in this industry. And again, I just want to kind of remind you all that, yes, there are a lot of closed doors. But there are more doors opening and a ton of windows that are opening and a few back doors that are opening too. So don’t get discouraged. This industry is growing constantly. But again, I really want to direct you to the takeaway that I hope that you have, which is trying to figure out how you want to navigate the industry. Like I mentioned in the episode, like I talked about all the time, you can listen to what we’re talking about, but applying it for your own brand. And business is going to be a completely other story. And so that’s what I hope to leave you with is just some encouragement to really sit down and figure out what it is that you’re trying to do what is in your way and how you’re going to go attack that. So that’s it. That’s the tea for this week. Hope you guys are having a good one. You’re taking care. We’re kicking off into spring Hot damn, there’s about to be a lot of fun cannabis stuff coming up. Obviously a lot more great episodes, new episodes every Monday, but I appreciate y’all I really truly do. This is a labor of love that I do for my my little home office in Austin, Texas. So if you ever wonder where I’m having these podcast interviews, it’s usually from from my desk in my office, but I appreciate y’all. Like I said, this is something that I want to be a resource for us to all get stronger, get smarter, get better together. So with that, I’ll catch you guys in the next episode. Thanks so much again. Bye.
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda torabi.com slash To be blunt. For more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi
Transcribed by https://otter.ai