So You Wanna Be A Cannabis Brand AmbassadorBen Mervis / May 18, 2021
In the world of cannabis careers, it’s always important to ask ourselves what we want to do, why we want to do it, what type of impact we wish to make, and how we think we’ll succeed. Novices and experts alike can be drawn to the Brand Ambassador role because of its immersion in customer-facing spaces and path to success for those blessed with the gift of the gab.
Candidates taking jobs as a Brand Ambassador, sometimes shortened to “BA,” can have a lengthy stay in the position or use the role as a stepping stone into other positions within the company.
My name is Ben Mervis, and I’ve had the great fortune of working as a Director of Marketing for cannabis retailers and product manufacturers in California and the greater New England area. These positions made me a hiring manager several times over for Brand Ambassadors and — because I believe it made me a better manager — I worked the responsibilities of this position with each company.
Suppose you’re eyeing a career in cannabis — particularly in the product manufacturing and brand space — but haven’t spent much time in the retail environment or with cannabis consumers. In that case, the Brand Ambassador position is a great place to start. Whether you’re considering a job as a first-time brand ambassador or are looking to advance in this career, we hope you’ll find this blog helpful in navigating the decision-making, interview, and self-evaluation processes that come with it.
What Does a BA Do?
Brand Ambassadors are often responsible for customer-facing tasks at both the B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer). Because of this critical visibility, entry-level candidates will sometimes (but not always) start part-time as a way for brands to minimize any potential problems while also offering room for growth.
To learn more about the specific responsibilities for a Brand Ambassador, check out these current postings from Vangst!
Top BA Skills
Reliability & Organization: I think of Brand Ambassadors as the face of the company and the front line for customer service. Nothing sends shivers down a marketing or account manager’s spine like hearing from a dispensary manager “where’s your brand ambassador?” This is why it’s of the utmost importance for a Brand Ambassador to be reliable and organized.
We all know the meme/pop-culture reference of “showing up late with coffee.” Cute, relatable, and totally unacceptable for this role.
Confidence: Brand Ambassadors might be responsible for training retail dispensary staff on the brand’s products and almost always for educating customers during in-store demos and events. It’s important that the BA come across as confident, knowing not just their talking points but the facts, research, and meaning behind them. More on this in the next section.
Adaptability: Scheduled events get changed, retail staff come and go, and product lines evolve with the times. If you’re looking for a job that stays the same, a BA position is most likely not for you. Brand Ambassadors need to be some of the most adaptable and agile workers on the team, so try highlighting your ability to roll with the punches!
Expertise vs. Authority
This is my number one tip for most people entering the cannabis industry, but definitely for brand ambassadors. We’re all constantly learning, so it’s endearing and engaging to bring people along on that journey with you.
Introducing yourself as an “expert” can be off-putting in a brand ambassador for many reasons:
- It sets a high standard so people will notice if you fall short.
- It can make you unapproachable because the audience is either immediately intimidated by the knowledge gap or immediately doubtful in your qualifications, and what makes you an “expert.”
- In the grand scheme of things, cannabis has barely been researched, and certainly not definitively. If Clubhouse and networking, in general, have taught us anything, it’s that even the longest-term professionals are always learning something new about cannabis.
Instead, I always encourage my Brand Ambassadors to think of themselves as an authority, definition three at least.
*“The power to influence others, especially because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognized knowledge about something.” * -- Oxford Languages
If you’re starting in the cannabis industry, your first step is always going to be education. Beginning with the basics of the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids and terpenes. Then move on to the human endocannabinoid system, which regulates how our bodies work with the plant material once consumed.
Even if you’re an experienced cannabis professional or consumer, there are many unique differentiators to learn about, sometimes on the product side or in the brand identity and ethos. Do your best to find brand-owned educational resources on a prospective employer’s website, social media, or news coverage. If you’re able to identify and communicate what sets their brand apart from others, it shows you have a critical eye and gives you a significant leg-up on your average applicant.
When hiring a BA, I ask myself if this person is prepared to be THE face of our brand out in the world. This is one of the most trusted positions when it comes to building a customer base. Brand Ambassadors often get a reputation as an entry-level position and one stop on your way to another role within a company or the industry. While sometimes true, I believe it to be a generalized misconception.
Some Brand Ambassadors move on from working with a single brand to working for a distributor where they can represent multiple brands. I’ve also seen Brand Ambassadors thrive within a company, taking on more responsibilities in their roles, such as training for new staff and event staff management or even becoming a lead/manager for a team of brand ambassadors.
Sometimes the role truly is a stepping stone that can open doors for advancement that include positions on the sales or marketing teams, where you can leverage the intimate insights gained as a set of boots on the ground.
You’ve Got the Tools
Brand Ambassadors are one of my favorite groups to work with because of the enthusiasm and evangelism that they bring to our industry.
If you’re confident that this is the job for you, start looking into the existing brands in the area you want to work. Find a company that’s the right culture fit for you and has products that you can stand behind.
Then get out there and spread some smiles!
BEN MERVIS is the Principal Consultant at Hey, Mervis! and Guest Contributor for Vangst. Connect with Ben on Vangst and join the How to Make Your Cannabis Brand Stand Out topic in the Vangst Community to ask Ben about his top tips and tricks.
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