Building Brand In The Wild, Wild West - It Starts At Home

Certain industries are more challenging than others to grow as a small, independent startup. Perhaps one of the most challenging emerging (yet booming) industries at the moment may be the cannabis and hemp industry. It has become increasingly difficult for CBD companies, especially those in the health & wellness space looking to distribute nationally. An extremely saturated market, ever-evolving (and sometimes confusing) federal regulations, varying laws state by state, and corporate restrictions are just a few of the many obstacles CBD & hemp brands face. Metolius Hemp Company has decided to take a creative and honest approach towards building brand awareness and growing the company within the first year of launch. How exactly? The story starts right here in Bend, Oregon...

As an organic hemp company focused on products that enhance consumer wellness and provide a much healthier alternative to tobacco, Metolius first aimed at building their brand awareness & loyalty locally. Metolius Hemp Company derives its name from the famed Metolius River located in Central Oregon. The brand represents a lifetime of family history spent enjoying the serene beauty of the river, and promotes a healthy, active, adventurous lifestyle. Elements of the Pacific Northwest’s natural world and outdoor recreation are a core part of Metolius Hemp’s. The company states “Medicine is the Mission,” promoting non-psychoactive hemp as a medicine to enhance people’s wellbeing and help them take a “healthier hit,” with premium smokable and ingestible CBD & CBG products. They also take pride in being an educational leader in the consumable hemp industry. To start growing the brand’s reputation, the team at Metolius launched a grassroots marketing campaign that focused on the community right where they are headquartered in Bend, Oregon. 

Currently, the CBD market is quite limited in terms of e-commerce capabilities, digital advertising options, and restricts a fair amount of content across all social media platforms. This impedes greatly on a CBD brand’s ability to reach a large audience and leverage digital marketing as a major channel for promoting products. Feeling this quite heavily in the first year, Metolius Hemp took to the streets to promote their brand and CBD/CBG wellness products in other ways. The startup focuses heavily on word of mouth promotion in the greater Bend community. This kind of “localized” brand activation is carried out in a number of ways, including collaborating and partnering with other local small businesses, product giveaways, local events like farmers markets and craft shows etc. Metolius also makes a sincere effort to acquire loyal and passionate customers who naturally become ambassadors for the brand and their unique hemp products. This grassroots movement that once began with the team hanging out at local fire pits, breweries and food cart pods in Bend handing out samples in return for product reviews, has now spread across the Pacific Northwest as well as other parts of the country, as Metolius now distributes all across the US. 

“Many customers are hooked once they try our products, literally after their first hit of Metolius,” says Metolius Hemp Marketing Manager Jesse Rubendall. “They love that it’s a ‘healthier hit.’ Maybe they’re an ex-pot smoker that no longer enjoys the intoxicating effects of THC, but they want the medicinal benefits like calming or pain-relief from CBD and other cannabinoids. Or they’re a tobacco user looking to kick their nicotine addictions with another form of smoking that actually benefits them. We’re also seeing a ton of traction with our products becoming popular with older generations. My parents both enjoy using Metolius. My mom loves our sleep powder, River Dreams, as she struggles to get good sleep. My dad loves our Cannagars (hemp cigars) as he used to smoke both cigars and cannabis. Once these customers experience the benefits of our products and see how great they fit into their daily lifestyle, they become huge advocates of our stuff. They start recommending our product line to all their friends and family, it just starts to grow from there.” - Jesse R. 

While this may be a much slower method of growing a new company and product line, perhaps even a bit “old school,” it works! Slowly but surely, Metolius Hemp is finding its way into more consumers’ hands.

The company has also taken this grassroots approach on their social media platforms, as they currently create, produce and grow their social media presence completely organicall, and in-house. Instagram, Facebook and TikTok all regulate their platforms heavily on the advertisement and content shared around any kind of hemp or cannabis product, whether it’s actual marijuana or not. CBD brands like Metolius Hemp are completely federally-compliant, meaning products are made with non-psychoactive hemp, rather than cannabis, and contain nothing but trace amounts of THC. In other words, these products don’t get you “high.” However, Google and Facebook alike don’t think twice about differentiating hemp and cannabis. CBD brands are restricted from any kind of paid advertisement, boosted posts or promotion on all platforms. Social media is limited purely to organic creation and promotion for companies selling smokable hemp, and that presents a challenge when looking to achieve large brand exposure. However, Metolius takes this challenge in stride and loves to share educational content about hemp as a sustainable wellness solution, with a fun and comedic style. 

“Metolius Hemp has seen great success throughout 2021 with our grassroots efforts focused on event & field marketing. Events have been, perhaps, our best outlet for growing the brand and one of our biggest successes for creating lifetime customers,” says President & Co-founder John Friess. “We made it a point to get to as many local farmers and artisan craft markets around Bend and Northern Oregon as we could this year.”

“People are really loving coming up to learn about our products in person, it’s a much more personalized experience and they gain way better knowledge that way,” adds Rion Friess, Operations Manager. “They’re really our bread & butter.” 

The team at Metolius focused heavily on local events throughout the summer & fall, culminating in one particularly unique event at the end of the season. Taking another creative route, John and his team at Metolius held the company’s first annual Metolius Magic Show at Summer Lake Hot Springs in Summer Lake, Oregon. A brand activation event for the company, this 3-day festival was also Metolius Hemp’s way of saying “thank you” to many of the startup’s partners, investors, supporters and friends. The event featured live music by local Oregon musicians, craft food & drink, glamping cabins, hot springs, beautiful nature, an abundance of laughter, and of course, plenty of hemp products. They even had a CBD-infused kombucha on tap from a local brand they’ve collaborated with out of Bend!

“We’ve had to get creative with starting our company this year due to all the limitations around CBD / hemp policy. The Metolius Magic Show was a great way to gather and celebrate everything and everyone who’s made launching the brand possible. It was an epic event, in an epic location. We’re already planning it for three days next year in 2022. We’ll be back at Summer Lake every year with the same great people, and hopefully many others” John Friess said as he celebrated the success of the first annual event. 

Metolius hopes to continue their genuine momentum in the field through the Holiday season. They’ll be at a number of holiday events around Central Oregon and Portland, handing out product samples and selling their discounted Holiday Hemp Wellness Bundles. Keep an eye out for the Metolius tent at an event near you. If you’d like to support the organic growth of the brand, give them a follow on all social media platforms @Metoliushemp. 

To shop the full Metolius Hemp CBD, CBG & CBN product line, check it out HERE:

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