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Trade Show & Events Mania 2016: Which events are CBE readers investing their marketing dollars in?

The New Year is well underway, and CBE is already getting requests from our readers and business leaders regarding which of the gazillion cannabis trade shows planned for 2016 they should consider attending, accepting speaking opportunities for, or spending their marketing budgets to exhibit at.

If Trade Show Mania was occurring in 2015, the over saturation of last year has been replaced by an over the top mentality by those trying to get rich on the “Green Rush”.

Here’s the bottom line: There are way too many trade shows or local events scheduled for 2016 (by CBE’s count way north of 40!), and it has become a crap shoot for CBE or any marketer trying to sell their products and services to the legally licensed PPR’s, to raise investment capital to just learn about the industry in order to honestly know which events to schedule.

Forbes recently jumped on the over saturation conference bandwagon (Cannabis Conferences Are Growing Like Weeds) and quoted some well-known conference promoters like ArcView’s Troy Dayton, regular ArcView presenter Leslie Bocskor, as well as industry attendees and exhibitors like Chris Driessen of O.penVAPE and Kyle Sherman of Flowhub, for their thoughts about the future success of events and their return on investment.

From a marketing or PR perspective, I would separate shows into several categories in 2016:

  • Generalist events attended by the licensee, regulator, investor crowd and wannabe cannapreneur crowd. This would include The MJ Business Daily May and November events, The NCIA Annual Conference, the Woman’s Grow Leadership Summit, and MJ Conferences events.
  • Advocacy events like the ones put on by NORML, DPA (Drug Policy Alliance) SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policies), etc.
  • Targeted events individually appealing to a variety of attendee groups/categories such as investors, growers, extraction, patients, technologies, and business leaders.
  • Hybrid events like CannaCon and Indo Expo that seem to combine a business and consumer audience mix and agenda; and,
  • Consumer events like the High Times Cannabis Cups and the Emerald Cup (celebrating the fall harvest in Califormia).

There were some “dog” events in 2015 that didn’t attract much of an attendee or exhibitor base that CBE would avoid spending dollars on until they have proven their ability to deliver a real ROI other than press coverage or artificial buzz.

I’m talking about some of the smaller cannabis chapter/market Women’s Grow events (we are a fan of WG, the local chapter events are uneven but  at $35 to attend, a small financial exposure), the NY Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo at the Javits Center last July (reliable sources told us their September LA event was an improvement), or the disastrously timed High Times Business Summit in Washington, D.C. in December (that’s the kiss of death time to have an event) that couldn’t have had more than 200 attendees and relied on the promise of issuing awards to several well-known industry players to generate limited attendance, panelists and exhibitors, as well as unstructured and poorly run and attended sessions.

But, there were also a few home run events in 2015 like:

  • ArcView San Francisco in January;
  • Marijuana Business Daily‘s Las Vegas Conference and Expo last November
  • The Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo Event in Phoenix last October (even though it did get raided!)
  • Women’s Grow Leadership Conference, and several of their larger market chapter events.

With all of this in mind, CBE would like to reach out to our diverse readership of 25,000 plus licensed operators, regulators, ancillary business leaders, investors and folks looking to join the industry to share their plans for getting the biggest bang for their buck.

In the spirit of good clean competition, please have the guts to let our readers and your peers know where you are placing your bets by visiting the 2016 CBE Events Calendar page and commenting on your “must attend” events, as well as any others that we should have listed that merit consideration.

Let your peers know who you are targeting so that the crowds and attendee and exhibitor revenues flow to the businesses that truly deliver an ROI instead of lining the pockets of those that aren’t worthy of your marketing dollars. And as usual, if you don’t know, I suggest walking the event before committing $10,000, $15,000 or even as much as $20,000 of your precious capital.

We look forward to your comments and opinions, and to helping our marketplace of Cannabis Industry buyers and sellers make the best decisions to profit in 2016.


Rob Meagher

Rob Meagher

Rob Meagher, CBE’s Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief is a 30 year veteran of the media world. His career has spanned from stints representing the Washington Post, USA Weekend, Reader’s Digest, Financial World & Corporate Finance to the technology world where he worked at International Data Group and Ziff Davis where he was part of the launch team for The Web Magazine, Yahoo Internet Life, Smart Business and Expedia Travels before starting his own marketing and Publisher’s Representative Firm. He also ran all print and online media sales and marketing for the Society for Human Resource Management before partnering with Forbes and then Fortune to create Special Sections covering a variety of topics. Rob, who started CBE Press in 2014, can be contacted at [email protected]

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