Planning A Cannabis-Normal Future One Website At A Time
Ed Note: This profile is presented as part of a paid business partnership.
Vermont’s cannabis market is growing rapidly, with new businesses joining the industry all the time. In true local form, Will Read of CannaPlanners is creating a unique opportunity for these businesses to connect with their customers – sparked by a 2014 trip to Colorado, where he found that despite all the booming businesses out there, most had a lackluster customer interface.
While he’d been planning to opening his own dispensary, after visiting over 20 stores in Colorado, Read came home to Vermont with a vision for connecting customers in a way that is comfortable for everyone involved. In particular, he felt it was important focus on branding, online interface, advertising, and payment options.
Read saw that numerous barriers to customer interface created a negative impact not only on the cannabis industry, but also on Colorado at large. He also noticed Colorado companies making a good profit, without investing much of it into building their brand for the long term, and was determined to avoid this in Vermont, as we moved from medical cannabis, hemp, and CBD products to full legalization.
Not being a designer or a web developer, Read, and his partner Kory Mathis assembled a web design team and a group of creative professionals, and in the last year, they’ve grown about 90%, developing brands for a few other Heady Vermont Business Partners including Northeast Kingdom Hemp, Northeast Processing, and Vermont Hempicurean. They’re also about to launch Heady Vermont’s new website.
Read says Vermont Hempicurean in Brattleboro is “a perfect example of what can happen in this industry in terms of a small business.” He met owner Scott Sparks at the very first Vermont Hempfest in 2017, when he was just formulating his plan. Within a few months, they sat down and planned his brand, his store, his vibe, and a unique online presence. Vermont Hempicurean is already thinking about opening new stores.
Read says “It’s nice to get involved locally in the industry and then take that knowledge, because welive in a bubble here, a nice cannabis bubble, and expand globally.”
They’ve recently created brands for a couple international companies, taking Vermont’s culture, knowledge base, and aesthetic worldwide.
Along with expanding the businesses physical reach, CannaPlanners has also been redesigning soft services for their clientele to address issues with companies like Paypal and Square not accepting cannabis purchases, and has built relationships with merchants and banks to solve the payment issues.
Additionally, since Google and Facebook don’t allow advertising space to be used for cannabis businesses, CannaPlanners is developing new ways to build visibility for their clients and their brands.
While CannaPlanners has taken on a few clients from the craft brewery industry, they intend to keep their primary focus on cannabis. “We are 100% cannabis based from the beginning,” says Read, “and we are the only ones with that focus around here.”
Read says they are also growing their digital marketing services, which is a big challenge in the cannabis industry. Part of CannaPlanners’ business model is to “listen to the client, and not only make things beautiful, but also functional.”
One of the primary questions Read asks clients is, “How can we put everything in one place easily for you, that can help you run your business?” He’s also committed to building the CannaPlanners brand using the same techniques he promotes with his clients. “CannaPlanners,” Read says, “needs to be a cool tech company and a cool brand company as well.”
Fundamentally, Read’s primary goal is to normalize both cannabis products and the industry itself. “There’s still a lot of stigma around cannabis as a medicine,” he says, “and there’s going to be for a long time. There’s a lot of stigma around the ways in which brands are presenting themselves to consumers, they still look shady. So there’s a lot to be done to push cannabis to the normal mainstream.”
In working to destigmatize cannabis, Read often imagines his mother, who has “never seen or smoked cannabis before.” HIs hope is that “if she were to walk into a store and walk to the cannabis aisle, that she wouldn’t be offended and that she would understand it.”
That sense of ease and normalcy is, ultimately, what CannaPlanners is for.
Heady Vermont members looking to work with CannaPlanners can get a few discounts including:
- $200 off basic website
- $400 off personalized website
- 15% off annual hosting fees