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Pay for the Marketing You Need

Cannabis retail isn’t a black box anymore. We now have granular customer data to help craft targeted marketing programs—and companies need to build the marketing teams to do it.




In a vertically integrated cannabis company, the demands put on the marketing department are vast. This team has to market for both retail on a day-to-day basis and for the brand as a long-term project. This can result in tension within the department—such as competition for deliverables as well as different visions for messaging.

In the first years of legal cannabis, vertically integrated companies often put more focus on marketing the brand side of the house. That made sense as legal markets were just taking shape and there was little granular customer data to work with yet.

But over the past 12 to 18 months, there’s been a shift towards retail marketing because companies have more data available on their customers.

As a result, the desired skill set for marketing employees has also shifted.

Cannabis companies from the biggest multi-state operators (MSOs) down need to present customers with the right merchandising and messaging blend at the shopping floor level. Having a great logo, lots of social media buzz and a recognizable brand name is terrific but they can’t sell product on their own—we still need to tell customers where, when, how and why they should buy our products.


Shoring Up Weaknesses

Even with the shift towards nuts-and-bolts marketing, there’s still plenty of big picture branding work for a typical marketing department. As you assess your own marketing team, determine which side you are strongest in and seek to build up the area you are weaker in.

For example, if your chief marketing officer has a strong skill set in retail marketing, consider bringing on a VP of brand marketing to round out your team.

This may be an uphill battle and that’s okay. Many companies’ marketing departments are understaffed. Often senior-level marketing employees are responsible for a wide range of company strategies and deliverables.

Your company may not be able to immediately hire for all the positions listed in the cannabis marketing personnel and salary guide below. But hopefully we’ll still help you picture what a core senior-level marketing team can look like. For the purposes of this guide, we are thinking of vertically integrated, flower-touching cannabis companies operating in the United States—but of course, many of these rules apply to organizations outside of those boundaries as well.

Building Your Team

Brand marketing and retail marketing typically operate as their own divisions within a marketing department. Digital marketing supports both brand and retail marketing. Public relations (PR) usually sits within the marketing department as well, though at publicly traded companies, PR may also work closely with investor relations, which operates under the chief financial officer (CFO).

A company with a chief marketing officer (CMO) is likely among the largest organizations operating in cannabis today—true MSOs that are often publicly traded, employ up to 5,000 people, own several brands and pull in annual revenue of $50 million or more.

Mid-sized companies—vertically integrated, single-state operators with 500 or fewer employees and as few as one brand—may have a vice president of marketing in place of a CMO. But like a CMO at a bigger company, the VP of marketing oversees all personnel involved in brand marketing, retail marketing and digital marketing.

Here’s a breakdown of the personnel at a fully staffed cannabis marketing department:

Chief Marketing Officer

related titles: Head of marketing
base salary: $200-$300K

BONUS STRUCTURE: Up to 30-50%; usually an equity option is offered


JOB DESCRIPTION: A CMO in cannabis oversees brand marketing, retail marketing and digital marketing. This highly strategic role is responsible for everything involved in marketing, including budgeting, new customer acquisition, e-commerce, point-of-sale, curbside pickup, delivery, brands, logo, brand strategy, PR and creative. A CMO must be an expert in compliance to be sure their marketing aligns with regulations.

VP of Brand Marketing

RELATED TITLES: VP of product marketing, head of brand marketing, head of product marketing, director of brand marketing, director of product marketing, senior brand manager, head of brands

BASE SALARY: $150-$220K

JOB DESCRIPTION: The VP of brand marketing is responsible for the visual representations of the brand, identifying and engaging the target brand customer, insights and innovation, and brand narrative. They analyze what customers are buying now and what products should be launched next. Brand marketing connects closely with product management. The brand marketing team drives the release of new products as well as maintaining consistency and continuity in how the brand is presented outside the walls of the company.

VP of Retail Marketing

BASE SALARY: $125-$175K

JOB DESCRIPTION: The VP of retail marketing develops and leads the execution of retail marketing strategy enterprise-wide. This includes the development, communication and tactical execution of marketing plans. This role strategizes how to improve brand awareness, build guest experience and drive customer engagement. Areas of responsibility include customer loyalty programs, customer segmentation, promotions, as well as analyzing inventory, sales and profit margin to inform planning.

Head of Digital Marketing

BASE SALARY: $100-$140K/$140-$180K if managing a team

JOB DESCRIPTION: Digital marketing is its own category of marketing and often requires a team in and of itself. But this team also supports both the retail and brand marketing teams. Digital marketers typically work with people in all different tiers of the company. They support retail marketing through e-commerce and website development and management. The head of digital marketing also frequently collaborate with the brand side of marketing.

Brand Manager

BASE SALARY: $120-$150K

JOB DESCRIPTION: A brand manager drives the brand strategy across all marketing initiatives and ensures a consistent consumer experience. This role stays abreast of all digital marketing mediums and manages the team executing the strategy set in place by the VP of brand marketing.

Field Marketing Manager

BASE SALARY: $100-$150K

JOB DESCRIPTION: The field marketing manager oversees field marketing reps and brand ambassadors and is responsible for such programs as educating dispensary employees about the brand. In addition to guiding branch or outlet retail teams, this manager should gather local marketing input to bring back to the head office to help shape company-wide marketing strategy.

Retail Marketing Manager

BASE SALARY: $90-$120K

JOB DESCRIPTION: The retail marketing manager focuses on the shopper experience and driving new customer acquisition at the local level. They oversee localized campaigns, including community partnership events, store-specific social media and regional promotions. This role may work with inventory/supply chain staff to line up product stock to projected sell-through.

Brand Ambassador


JOB DESCRIPTION: Brand ambassadors are typically responsible for training retail dispensary staff on the brand’s products. They also educate customers during in-store demos and events.

Build to Order

Whether some or all of these positions should be filled depends on how big a cannabis company is, how much branding plays a part in the business, what its distribution model looks like and the scope of its product portfolio. For more tips, check out

David Belsky is the CEO of FlowerHire. For cannabis staffing, check out FlowerHire X – the only smart, virtual hourly cannabis staffing platform. FlowerHire X helps identify a fit early in the recruitment process. A good fit leads to longer, more engaged, and happier work relationships.



Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified

Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.

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