hero image

The Difficulties of Marketing Vice Products with Charles McElroy - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 160

Charles McElroy is founder of Goldleaf, a science-forward printing company specializing in guided notebooks and elegant prints for cannabis patients, growers, and enthusiasts. 

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Goldleaf sells to 5 continents and custom designs for like-minded organizations around the world. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:12] Quick background for Gold Leaf
  • [01:53] Where the idea of Gold Leaf came from
  • [05:49] Working to gain experience
  • [07:52] Novel ideas vs niches
  • [10:51] Marketing vice products
  • [12:44] The challenges and benefits of SEO
  • [14:30] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
  • [14:50] Sponsor: Mesa apps.shopify.com/mesa
  • [15:34] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [17:00] Sponsor: Rewind rewind.io/honest
  • [17:33] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [18:20] SEO capabilities of Shopify
  • [19:20] The iterative process of SEO
  • [19:47] On-page and off-page SEO
  • [23:41] The Shopify link structure
  • [24:56] Goldleaf’s tech stack
  • [27:51] Native vs third-party integrations
  • [28:57] Customizing Shopify notifications
  • [29:06] Integrating orders from multiple sources
  • [31:27] Go where your customers are
  • [34:08] The difficulty of being shadow banned
  • [36:30] The Farm Bill actually made the industry worse
  • [37:51] Where to find Goldleaf


If you’re enjoying the show, we’d love it if you left Honest Ecommerce a review on Apple Podcasts. It makes a huge impact on the success of the podcast, and we love reading every one of your reviews!


Chase Clymer  

Before we get started, if you're enjoying this content, you can do us a favor by subscribing to our YouTube channel and ringing the bell.

That will let the algorithm know that you like this content and it will help us produce more.

Honing in on what matters to you and your company and maybe what makes sense for you. I [have] a small team. I have to do things differently than other people.

Charles McElroy  

I think it's a great idea to just start getting experience with something somewhere, even if it's not your favorite thing.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host Chase Clymer today and welcome to the show another Ohioan --that's fantastic-- Charles McElroy. 

Charles is coming to us from a Goldleaf. He is the founder and chief creative over there. And it's a printing and design company focused on botanical science. How are you doing today?

Charles McElroy  

Doing great, Chase. Thanks for having me on.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, absolutely. So for the uninitiated, could just give us a quick background on what the products are over at Goldleaf?

Charles McElroy  

Yeah. Yeah. So Goldleaf does require a little bit of explanation, indeed. We're simply a printing company but more specifically, we focus on making the complex science behind different botanicals. 

Beautiful and approachable. So we do a lot of education, infographics, guided journals, that kind of thing.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. You guys create some really beautiful products. So definitely anyone listening, go check it out. 

Obviously, we'll give you some more information about the products at the end of the episode. But let's... Take me back, I guess, to what was going on in your life before you started the business? Where did this idea come from?

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, good question. So I cut my teeth in the E... In the... Well, yeah. Ecommerce space but entrepreneur space with another brand called Noble, which was a bespoke denim company. It wasn't necessarily my passion. 

My business partner, it was his brainchild, and I was there to lend operational support and help bring it to life. 

And, yeah, it was a really fun and educational journey. But he suffered from a lot of burnout, which I think a lot of entrepreneurs do and I wanted to change it up, do something else. So we opted to sell the company. 

And from the bones of that I started Goldleaf which is more in line with my passion. So, I was able to utilize a lot of the learnings that I had with my time at the denim company. 

And since it was sort of in the, I guess, high fashion world, we knew a lot of creatives, a lot of great photographers. 

I learned about product development and had a whole bunch of designers in my digital Rolodex. And that was my jumping off point for starting Goldleaf, which I had been batting around in my mind for four years before pulling the trigger. 

And, you know, Goldleaf is a perfect mix for what I like to do, which is to marry the creative side with the analytical side. So you have a subject like cannabis or coffee. I always loved nerding out on the science behind things. 

And after doing some research there, there wasn't really anything that was approaching the cannabis space and doing it right. This was back in about 2015 and  the legal cannabis industry was very different than... There was no tasteful design. 

There were very few brands who weren't what I would call just "stoner culture". And that's unfortunate. I'm aware of the different benefits that cannabis has as medicine, as a food, as many things. 

And painting it with that mature clinical brush was something that just wasn't done. And so I was excited to use my design prowess and connecting it with the information and focusing on the UX for each of our pieces.

And that's kind of where the idea came from. Goldleaf is a botanical science company, but we started in the cannabis space intentionally because nobody was doing it right.

And so we were able to stick our flag in the ground and garner a glowing reputation for, I guess, like the normalization that we contributed to basically bringing the torch for education in the cannabis space. 

And that translates to education for bud tenders and people who are getting into that side of business themselves, like B2B, as well as anybody who just likes to nerd out on cannabis, or potentially cultivators, or medical patients, cooks, and culinary experts even. 

So, Goldleaf really, really, really loves the niche. So we're super niche. And thanks to the glories of the internet, we're able to connect with all the folks out there who share that affinity for all of those very specific interests within the plant science world.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, you guys are doing some really cool stuff. And I got 2 things that I really, I wanted to bring back up that you just spoke to. 

And the first one being that your history with the previous experience at the previous brand really helped catapult you into taking this leap and doing this on your own. 

For those out there listening. I don't want to put words in your mouth, it's hard to ask this question without doing some of that. But it's like, would you say that... 

If you don't have the idea yet, but you still feel you want to be an entrepreneur, you want to get into the Ecommerce space, would you say go work at an agency or go work at another Ecommerce brand to kind of cut your teeth and learn what you like and don't like? Is that a good path to take?

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, I really think it is. You nailed it with "You don't know what you don't know." 

And I don't think I would have had the ambition to take on a company that focuses on a product without my experience at that denim company, learning about product design, and what it takes to iterate on something, improve something, connect with the supply chain... 

All of that stuff would have made my eyes glaze over, years back. But they're just words. None of it... No single thing is too difficult. But you just have to be able to wrap your mind around all of it. 

So if somebody is trying to land on a new product, and they have the ambition and the interest to have the business, I think it's a great idea to just start getting experience with something somewhere, even if it's not your favorite thing. 

Chances are, it'll be a stepping stone to something that you do enjoy or unveil things about yourself that you maybe didn't know, before that can lead to something promising.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I think just with entrepreneurship in general, like you, I think when you realize you don't like something, you just learned that you don't want to do that anymore. 

And I think that that's a learning experience in and of itself.

Charles McElroy  

Sure. Yeah. The best teacher.

Chase Clymer  

The next thing I wanted to bring up is the products themselves that you're doing now, they're amazing, they're beautiful, but you're not really reinventing the wheel as far as  what you're making, it's printing... It's paper products, journals, things of that nature. 

But where you made that differentiation was the subject matter that you are bringing and the specifics of the niche of it. 

And what I wanted to highlight there is you don't need to like inventing a new product, you just need to niche it and market it in an appropriate way. So I thought that was fascinating.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah. Yeah, I think people have said that to me from day one, about just being a printing company, which is something very traditional and simple. 

But yeah, we basically made it our own by focusing so heavily on design, and information, and authority. 

We connect with top experts in the world for virtually every subject we talk about. So it's not just me or my design assistants working on these things in a bubble. 

We spend tons of time researching, interviewing, and iterating before we come out with any new journal or any new infographic. 

And like I said, virtually every one of them is validated by experts. So that was the differentiator there. Again, in the cannabis space that was non-existent originally. Now, it's become the rite of passage or the standard which is really great. 

And Goldleaf is now branching out into other botanical subjects and we're following the same methodology. 

So with coffee, we connected with  expert importers, cuppers or  the people who will do the cupping when they're importing beans, different roasters and stuff and just validated everything. 

And that is what we put in the journals that makes it different and interesting, along with the design aesthetic, which I always champion as very, very important. I want people to be drawn to like one of the, the posters or infographics, aesthetically. 

And then when they get close and they look at it, they're like, "Oh, wow, it's really... Look at all this information." But if you don't grab somebody visually first, then the rest of it is a waste of time. 

So we might not lie on that every time. But that's our approach. And that's what we tried to do. And I think that's what has made Goldleaf withstand the test of time, in a way and continues to do well for us when we come out with new stuff.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So let's talk about... You've got these fantastic products and you're getting things off the ground. How did you find your first couple of customers? What did that look like? What was the go-to-market strategy?

Charles McElroy  

So I'm trying to think back... We've really leaned hard on SEO. Now that's a long game, like the long view. 

But we started in the cannabis space, which I mentioned, and you couldn't have more red tape on it, a subject... Maybe there are subjects. Of course there is. 

Chase Clymer  

All the vice products are just so hard to market in the traditional sense, which mostly... 

Charles McElroy  


Chase Clymer  

Facebook and Instagram ads, you can't do it with any of the vice products.

Charles McElroy  

You can't. You can't. And when I started, you could with some, which was fun. But they've brought the hammer down and have kneecapped us. 

And it's annoying, because we don't technically violate any terms that anybody publishes. Not even close. But these rules are enforced by bots that can't tell the difference between a book and  a bud. 

Chase Clymer  


Charles McElroy  

Yeah. So we learned quickly that we had to rely on organic methods. So we did, like I said, SEO, which I think paid off maybe a year or 2 and passed in a big way. But initially, it was influencer marketing and collaborations. Collaborations were huge. 

So we'd connect with another brand that we liked, resonated with us in some way, that was doing something that we weren't. 

We would use them as an expert and develop an infographic or art print or journal, alongside them, and then we'd release it, and then we could all share it with our audiences and piggyback marketing from there. 

And that's been our bread and butter since 2016. And it still works better than other marketing activities we do.

Chase Clymer  

Can ask you a very direct question about SEO. What would you tell someone that was considering SEO the minimum time they need to trust the process before [they can] start freaking out?

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, the minimum time... 6 months. A year is even better. 2 years is the best. 

Chase Clymer  


Charles McElroy  

It really does take a long time. And you have to be super intentional all along the way. So step 1 is get your technical SEO fixed up. Cross all those T's, dot the I's, so that you're not getting penalized. 

And then step 2 is focusing more on the on-page and off-page stuff. But it takes a while to pay off but when it pays off the --insert derogatory term-- folks at Google and Amazon and Facebook cannot take it from you just because they don't like what you're doing.

So unlike any other social media channel or marketplace like Amazon, SEO is a little bit more in your control and is a little bit more evergreen than than anything else. 

Obviously, Google is changing algorithms regularly. There's another 2022 update that's going to be pretty significant. 

So it takes effort, ongoing effort. It really helps if you like getting your hands dirty and are maybe proficient with whatever platform you're using Shopify or Magento or something and know how to pull the right levers to fix those problems and stay ahead of the curve with those those changes that either the platform makes or that Google decides to make.

Sponsor: Electric Eye

If you're struggling with scaling your sales, maybe Electric Eye can help. 

Our team has helped our clients generate millions of dollars in additional revenue through our unique brand scaling framework. You can learn more about our agency at electriceye.io. That's E-L-E-C-T-R-I-C-E-Y-E.io. 

Sponsor: Mesa

Mesa is the Shopify expansion pack to level up your brand. 

By turning all your internet connected apps into your business epicenter, Mesa can lighten your workload and tame the day-to-day chaos of running your store. 

Join the other successful brands that have learned how to balance clever workflows with a solid infrastructure to get more done without additional overhead. 

Whether you need to order data in Google Sheets, add products on Etsy, or get customers added to HubSpot, Mesa has you covered. 

Peace of mind is right around the corner when all your apps are working seamlessly together. 

To put it quite simply, mesa is a better way to work. 

Search Mesa --that's M-E-S-A-- in the Shopify App Store and download it today. 

Sponsor: Gorgias

Is your store holiday ready? Now is the time to make sure you and your team are prepared for the busy season ahead. 

Gorgias, an omnichannel help desk built for Ecommerce has machine learning functionality that takes the pressure off small support teams and gives them the tools to manage a large number of inquiries at scale, especially during the holiday season. 

Gorgias combines all your different communication channels like email, SMS, social media, live chat, and even phone into 1 platform and gives you an organized view of all of your customer inquiries. 

Their powerful functionality can save your support team hours per day and makes managing customer orders a breeze. 

They have allowed online merchants to close tickets faster than ever with the help of pre-written responses integrated with customer data to increase the overall efficiency of customer support.

Their built-in automations also free up time for support agents to give better answers to complex product-related questions, providing next level support, which helps increase sales, brand loyalty, and recognition. 

Eric Bandholz, the founder of Beardbrand says "We're a 7-figure business and we have, essentially, 1 person on customer support and experience. It's impossible to do it without tools like Gorgias to help us innovate." 

Learn how to level up your customer support by speaking to their team here. Visit gorgias.grsm.io/honest. That's G-O-R-G-I-A-S.G-R-S-M.I-O/H-O-N-E-S-T

Sponsor: Rewind

Our partner, Rewind, can protect your Shopify store with automated backups of your most important data. 

Rewind should be the first app you install to protect your store against human error, misbehaving apps, or collaborators gone bad. 

It's like having your very own magic “undo” button. 

Trusted by over 100,000 businesses from side hustles to the biggest online retailers like Knix, Gatorade, and MVMT Watches

Best of all respond to any of their welcome emails and mention this podcast, Honest Ecommerce, to get your first month absolutely free. 

Sponsor: Klaviyo

Getting an online business off the ground isn't easy. 

So if you find yourself working late, tackling the to-do list that's a mile long with your 5th cup of coffee by your side, remember, great email doesn't have to be complicated. That's what Klaviyo is for. 

It's the email and SMS platform built to help Ecommerce brands earn more money by creating genuine customer relationships. 

Once you set up a free Klaviyo account, you can start sending beautiful branded messages in minutes thanks to drag and drop design templates and built-in guidance. 

And with Ecommerce specific recommendations and insights, you can keep growing your business as you go. 

Get started with a free account at klaviyo.com/honest. that's K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.COM/HONEST. 

Chase Clymer  

I'm going to ask you a few questions about SEO because I don't think I've actually had someone on the podcast or at least not recently that puts invested heavily into it. 

So first, I know you're on Shopify. There are some naysayers out there about the SEO capabilities of Shopify. So what is your opinion? 

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, I'm going to guess they're going to be complaining about... Their [is a] certain rigidity with Shopify. And there... 

For one, you shouldn't be using Google Lighthouse to test your PageSpeed if you're on Shopify because that's not really built for CMS's like Shopify, so it's never going to give you a good score. 

And it's weird that Shopify uses that as a metric to show their viewers. I think that that is an effort to get people to hire folks to improve their sites. Anyway, there have not been very many things in Shopify that you can't fix.

Chase Clymer  

You mentioned your... It was almost like a 3-step thing of like, "This is the action plan for SEO. It was A, fix technical SEO, which is more than likely a one and done project, correct.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, it kind of is. Once you do it, it's not going to change that fast.

Chase Clymer  

Unless you screw up adding alt tags to all of your images, everybody. 

Charles McElroy  

Right. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

You gotta keep doing that. That's the thing. We always tell people, it's like "We can fix all this stuff. But now you need to keep doing it as you keep adding content." 

Charles McElroy  


Chase Clymer  

So you got to learn that process from them. So once that's done, you mentioned that then then there's the on-page stuff and the off-page stuff. 

I'm gonna throw out some guesses here on what those are. 

On-page stuff is content. Producing quality content that resonates with your audience. And obviously, you're investing a lot in long-form blog content. 

There's other ways to do content. But the crux of that piece of the puzzle is content. 

And then the off-page stuff is basically backlinks that are driven by authority. I oversimplified SEO. But is that the...

Charles McElroy  

Yeah. Those are definitely the big buckets that you named there. There are some really great strategies for the backlink stuff. I do think it's a really good investment. 

If you have a product that can support it, to work with a PR team to help you get those backlinks. They're super valuable. 

And while you may be paying a good bit for a bit, for a while, for the PR and effort, those are going to stack up and they're going to stay with you for a while. So I think that that's a really, really good thing to do. Yeah. And for the on-page, you'll probably have to invest in some sort of keyword tool like SpyFu, or SEMrush if you really want to spend some money. But keeping an eye on the search trends. 

You need to be writing content for what people type into Google, not what you think it would be. So it's a balancing act, I found, with SEO. 

There's nothing that's really a hill to die on or a very few things but it's going to be a sum of all the parts. So if there's something you just can't fix. Maybe it's something with Shopify, that's slightly limiting like the link structures, and you're like, "Geez, I can't get around this." 

It's probably not going to sink your ship. Just do good with everything else. And in terms of the other on-page stuff, publishing regularly... 

And then if you can connect with other media outlets who might want to aggregate your content. That's been really great for Goldleaf. We're a store. It's a Shopify site. 

But our blog gets us a lot of traffic because we spend a lot of intentional time making pieces that are intellectual, they speak to our audience, and they're valuable to people. 

So it's not like we don't have posts that are like "We're having a huge sale. This is a sale. Come check out the sale." Or whatever. Nobody wants to read that. Instead, we'll do different roundups on maybe changes in the legal cannabis space, maybe interviews with different artists or creatives. 

And then things that... Honestly, our best blog posts are ones that are like these... "Here's 20 quotes about cannabis from famous creative people." Like... Not your Willie Nelson so much. 

It's like your Barack Obama's or something. People you wouldn't really think. And people love quotes and I think that has really helped with SEO. 

But yeah, I think that's the cadence you'd want to approach it. First, fix the technical problems, then make sure there's content regularly being published, and then do your outreach. 

Chase Clymer  


Charles McElroy  

Social media is fine but that's not going to move the needle all that much.

Chase Clymer  

Those aren't backlinks. (laughs)

Charles McElroy  

No. No, they're not. So yeah, you summed it up. Well, to go back to your other question about the weaknesses of Shopify...

Chase Clymer  

The link structure is something that people bitch and moan about all the time, which is like... Get over it.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, it's not a huge deal. From my experience, working with Goldleaf, and then helping out other brands in the cannabis space because they all face similar prohibition and are interested in ways to organically punch through. That's not the leak that is sinking your ship.

Everything is fixable with a Shopify site. And the things that aren't, aren't really going to be that big of a limiter so I wouldn't let that steer you away from the platform. If you're selling a product... 

I'm not endorsed by Shopify or anything but I've not seen anything that comes close to the functionality that they bring. There are ones that I like more from a development standpoint but they're lacking in the integrations. 

And something like Goldleaf,we've got so many really important, helpful integrations that straight up save us from having to hire additional contractors or something like that.

Chase Clymer  

I have to ask you. There's nerds out there and they... This is a question that people want. They're like, "What's your tech stack? Blah, Blah." 

I just want to get out ahead of this like, just because you have the same tech stack as Charlie and his team doesn't mean your business is gonna change overnight. 

You gotta have a strategy behind all this stuff. With that caveat, let the nerds know what you guys got plugged into your store.

Charles McElroy  

(laughs) Alright. I'll pull it up right now. So

Chase Clymer  

What do you guys use for email?

Charles McElroy  


Chase Clymer  

I knew it. 

Charles McElroy  

It's great. We were on Mailchimp. Actually, we converted to Klaviyo in the last 6 months, I was a long hold out with MailChimp. 

But we did leave right before they got sold into it. And I'm glad because I don't... I think that that's gonna slowly sink that product.

Chase Clymer  

There's some weirdness going on. Very weird stuff is happening.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, indeed. So here are some of my favorites: Shopify specific. There's this plugin called JSON-LD for SEO. It's a $300 plugin, one-time fee for life. So the highest price tag I've seen, but it's one time. So pretty good honestly. 

And what that does is it adds the Schema markup to your whole site. It's managed by a really great husband and wife team in California and they just regularly update it. 

So every Google change is absorbed into this plugin immediately. And the support is great. Fantastic for fixing all the schema problems that Shopify is terrible at. So there's one example of something of a challenge that you can fix.

I also really like Crush.pics, which is great for image  optimization if you're not doing it on the front-end. Sometimes we forget so that's nice. 

We do a lot of bundles that are great for upsells. So we've got a bundle app that basically will take a bundle and strip it out to its child products and do inventory control for those child products. Very simple, super cheap. So that's great. Let's see… 

We use Flexify now for Facebook product feeds. I know there's very deep integration with Facebook in Shopify. 

However, they freakin hate us because of our subject matter. And just man the amount of of support calls and stuff we've had to do to fix stupid problems that are their fault is just crazy. 

So using a third party for the product feeds lets us send only what we tell them. We want to send them stuff about coffee or not cannabis related at all. 

And then it shields them from bringing the hammer down pointlessly for transgressions they think that we did, which we didn't. So...

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. That's having a feed tool that isn't the native integration for any of the marketing things is something we highly recommend to anybody. 

So this includes Facebook, your Facebook feed, and your Google feed, Pinterest or whatever. Use it. 

Build it the "the hard way" Don't use the native Shopify integration, because they make a lot of choices for you. And if you want to have a more performant marketing effort, you need to do it the more traditional way.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, agreed. The other ones I'll call out: OrderlyEmails, I've never seen another plugin that does this. And it's… I can't believe it. 

But basically, it makes you able to edit all of your Shopify notifications in a drag and drop way. It pulls in even your custom fonts, custom colors. And it's really easy to build. 

You can add calls to action. So it's a way to finesse all of your notifications without any code needed. So that one's awesome. And then I realized that...

Chase Clymer  

That one is so cool, because there is so much opportunity for upsells and cross-sells within those notifications that the stock ones just don't have.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, the stock ones are hilariously underpowered. The other one, I'll suggest is Order Desk. I'm not sure if you've heard of that one. But it's another super tool that we really rely on heavily. 

And so basically what that does is it takes all of our orders from Order Desk or from Shopify as well as Amazon or Etsy or Quickbooks or wherever. 

And it all brings them in there and then it's like a IFTTT or Zapier type thing where we can build a whole litany of rules to split things up to, I guess, sanitize the orders in a way that we want. And that's great for us, again, a small team trying to automate things we want to... 

We utilize different print partners. Some stuff we stock ourselves and fulfill, some stuff is going to be an FBA, some stuff might be at a print-on-demand spot if it's like a custom piece or project. So this basically automates all of that. 

Again, it does a few things that I've never seen any other plugin do, plugin or standalone software, I've got a background in operations so I love to geek out on that kind of stuff. 

We utilize ShipStation at our workshop, but the Order Desk is still the brains behind everything. 

So if you have any shipping, weird shipping stuff, or  needing to break up products, break up orders into different sub orders or anything like that, I'd highly recommend Order Desk. They integrate with damn near everybody on the planet. 

So even if you're using some boutique dropshipper or printer, chances are Order Desk either natively integrates, or has some sort of custom piece that you can build your own. 

I highly recommend that one. We probably have about 20 other plugins, but those are the those are definitely the highlights.

Chase Clymer  

Those are the winners. 


Charles McElroy  

Yeah, the winners. 

Chase Clymer  

Thanks for running through that. And just hopping into the back of your store and doing that. That's fantastic. 

Oh man, we've talked about a whole bunch of stuff. Is there anything that I didn't ask you that you think would resonate with our audience?

Charles McElroy  

Let's see. I'm always kind of curious about what we miss on social media. We really only focus on Instagram because it's so visual and we're a visual brand. And we dabble in Pinterest

I would say those two were where we spend our time and where most of our audience is. But we were totally lackluster in the Facebook ecosystem. 

Besides Instagram, I guess. Twitter is kind of a shit show, at least for us, where I don't want to be glued to my phone, commenting on people, or whatever. So yeah. I guess that's me posing a question. 

But I would just be curious to hear your expertise on what you say to aspiring entrepreneurs and stuff in terms of the investment in social. Because to my eye, it only serves one purpose, which is the optics of are you bigger.. 

Chase Clymer  

Or alive. (laughs) 

Charles McElroy  

...And once you. Yeah. And once you check that box... It's not a huge referral source for us. We'll do giveaways and stuff and it's a way to connect with other people in the space. 

But it's, it's pretty much just like dead weight. And I guess that's unfortunate, but I don't know.

Chase Clymer  

So I think for your brand. You know what works in your 80/20'd your marketing and you know where the efficiencies are, and you know what levers to pull that are actually going to get you results. 

So I actually think that you're being cognizant of things like, "We don't need to be there because that's where the audience is." is actually a smart and tactical business decision. 

And when I'm talking to younger entrepreneurs on their journey, I always say things like, "Focus on one channel, maybe two channels, and make those things work for you before you even begin to explore other kinds of marketing avenues." So... 

Charles McElroy  


Chase Clymer  

...again, it goes back to "Where is my audience?" If I was going to make like a vintage Harley t-shirt brand, I'm not going to go and find those customers on Twitter. Right? 

They're not going to be there. I gotta go where the customers are. Maybe Pinterest, if I'm going more for a younger woman vibe. 

That would probably crush it for me. Um, but you know, you just got to know where your audience is. 

And then obviously, if everything is important, nothing is important. So the shotgun spray approach of "We have to be everywhere. On every channel, on every type of social and every marketing avenue." 

You're gonna be spread so thin that it's all gonna be garbage and nothing's gonna work.

Charles McElroy  

Yeah. Well put. I totally agree on that. And that's kind of the path that we traversed without necessarily knowing it. When we started down the social rabbit hole, I wanted to do it from a visual standpoint, like I said, and to try and grow that original audience. 

And we got up to like 40,000 whatever's on Instagram pretty quick. But the past few years it's been stagnant. On the theory that... 

Because I do have somebody who does our social media for us and she does a great job. But we suffer from being sort of shadow banned off and on. And that is a tough nut to crack. Again, stupidly. We haven't done anything wrong. 

In fact, most of our material comes from the scientific or medical angle. We never endorse anything. We've never touched the product, the cannabis itself. 

So I mean, we've walked this perfect line of being good stewards of the subject. But we just get hit with these shadow bans. We're shadow banned on Amazon and it's still a problem with Instagram. It's really annoying. 

And that's, that's why I give the advice that like, if you're in any sort any sort of vice, don't put too much investment into these channels that you don't own because they can be... they can change immediately and totally ruin your business or be taken from you without warning or even by some stupid accident. 

I've talked to lots of brands in the cannabis space, mostly in the CBD world or whatever, that have had something like that happen. 

They go through these huge expensive agencies, built this following on social media and then they maybe did one thing that they shouldn't have, and their accounts get taken down or whatnot. 

And they're just left with nothing to show for their efforts. So that's the horror story. I don't expect that to be the case with most folks. But definitely in the current CBD climate... 

And it's funny that the hammer came down on all this stuff, after the Farm Bill in... was that 2018? When Trump passed the Farm Bill, legalizing hemp, CBD, or whatever, that actually made the, I guess, prohibitions or whatever, way worse. 

Everybody got way more diligent with snuffing out anything and probably because there are tons of bad actors in the CBD space. And...

Chase Clymer  

I remember when that passed, every other applicant to work with us was trying to jump in and do a CBD startup. 

Charles McElroy  


Chase Clymer  

More cash grab than actual, correct business plans. But...

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, I saw that too. And that's certainly what sank the ship because there were so many people. 

And some of them would talk to us because we do a lot of B2B custom work for other cannabis brands, creating education and graphic design and stuff. 

And they would ask us to like, "Hey, could you tweak the truthfulness of this statement or something?" Yeah. And we're just like, "Well, not gonna be working with you guys."

Chase Clymer  

That's it. That's a pretty easy litmus test to be like, "Yeah, we're actually busy."

Charles McElroy  

Yeah. Yeah. It's like, "Why did you ask us about this?"

Chase Clymer  

Charlie, this was a fantastic interview. Hopefully, I'll have you on again next year and  see what's changed and what's going on. For the people that are curious about the products and they want to check them out. Where should they go?

Charles McElroy  

Yeah, shopgoldleaf.com. All one word. That's the best place. It's our Shopify site. You can see the front-end of all those lovely plugins I talked about. And that's going to... 

If anybody is looking for stuff for Christmas, that's going to be the place that will probably get it to you before Christmas. The other avenues are going to be jammed up.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Charlie, thank you so much for coming on today.

Charles McElroy  

Thank you, Chase. Good talking to you.

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. Make sure you subscribe, leave a review.
And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.