DankStop’s Ads Are Banned On Social Media, But Its Audience Is Still Growing Like Crazy
Louis Coniglio and Feliks Khaykin, are filling a 23,000 square foot warehouse with bongs, pipes, vaporizers and dab rigs. As entrepreneurs whose business is barred from mainstream advertising (no TV or radio ads, no FaceBook or Google ad words) they have become experts in grass roots and guerilla social media marketing to sell their wares. The pair has turned $4,000 of their own money into the online headshop DankStop.com, on track to bring in over $7 million of annual sales after just two years.
The co-founders started the business two years ago, when they bought cannabis-related glassware at a Las Vegas tradeshow to sell online. Soon after, they brought on two more partners, Gabe Aronovich who manages business development, and Andre Bulatov, their full stack developer. The team scoured the internet to study pot-related photos, hashtags and forums to learn about their potential customers. Anonymous postings and online communities are important to cannabis users because they allow them to connect on the topic while staying out of the public eye and avoid scrutiny. “There is an enormous cannabis community that is very involved on social media,” said Khaykin.
“We thought if we post pictures of awesome glass art, marijuana enthusiasts will love the pictures and share them with their friends,” he said.
One photo became an especially big hit. “We saw ‘The Cosmic Pipe’ was one of the top Reddit R/Trees post of all times,” said Coniglio. “So we found the producer, posted the photo on social media and sold it through our website. We sold thousands of them!”’
To build their online following, the team created different social media accounts to appeal to different audience segments. @420pieces appeals to cannabis users who love photographs of interesting glass pipes and has almost 120,000 Twitter followers. The hashtag #DankDivas shows beautiful women posing with marijuana paraphernalia or smoking marijuana.
Aronovich says the company now has one of the largest social media footprints in the industry with over 500k followers split between Instagram and Twitter.
Finding non-traditional marketing channels has been important to the business. To spread the word on the interesting products they carry, the DankStop team sends free samples to about 70 YouTube personalities involved in cannabis who then may review the apparatuses online in short videos. The team also discovered a “huge audience” on Reddit’s R/Trees according to Aronovich.
To raise their internet search result rankings and website’s SEO the team had to go beyond basic information, and create unique content, articles, and robust product descriptions. “We make short how-to videos, we have demonstrations, we make everything sharable,” said Khaykin. The products on the site range from a simple $8 pipe to a one-of-a-kind hand-blown art piece selling for $4500.
Affiliate marketing, where other company or personal web pages link to DankStop and earn a commission on any sale is another way the company sells its products using SnapChat, Tumblr, Pinterest and other platforms.
Because national companies generally eschew anything related to marijuana while it remains federally illegal, DankStop has run into typical financial growing pains of the industry. “PayPal shut down our business account and personal accounts,” said Coniglio.
Currently employing 30 full and part-time workers, the founders hope to sponsor more tradeshows and co-brand with other companies as they grow. “Right now we need more time and more employees,” said Coniglio.
“Head shops” still have the incense-burning no-windows reputation in people’s minds said Aronovich. DankStop he said, lets customers know that buying online is easy and aims to remove the headshop stigma.
But spreading the message in this industry is challenging because mainstream marketing vehicles aren’t available said Coniglio “You need to find forms of marketing that the big companies aren’t using.”
Cosmic Pipe (Source: Dankstop.com) Louis Coniglio and Feliks Khaykin, are filling a 23,000 square foot warehouse with bongs, pipes, vaporizers and dab rigs. As entrepreneurs whose business is barred from mainstream advertising (no TV or radio ads, no FaceBook or Google ad words) they have become experts in grass roots and guerilla social media […]
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1. Comscore qSearch, Explicit Core Search (custom), March 2020, United States, desktop traffic only.
2. Comscore qSearch (custom), March 2020, Worldwide, desktop traffic only.
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