Everscore's Tom Daly on Improving Consumer Experience in Cannabis

Plus, the formation and value of the Native American Cannabis Alliance

A conventional start at an exceptional advertising agency put in motion a series of events that positioned Tom Daly to quietly shape not one but two industries and in the process impact millions of businesses and billions of people on a global basis. In his role as chief marketing officer at Everscore, he's working to add cannabis to the list of industries he's help build.

As a digital marketing leader with over two decades of experience across a variety of industry sectors (UPS, ING, Coca-Cola), he has harnessed emerging technology to create brand value by positively impacting experiences, facilitating more efficient value exchanges and driving deeper engagement.

We spoke with Tom for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Tom, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in Manhattan, but grew up in Brooklyn and the surrounding suburbs of New York and Connecticut, which is where I graduated high school. I started my career in Manhattan, moved to D.C. for a couple of years, and now live in Atlanta, where I've been for more than 25 years.

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am currently chief marketing officer for Everscore. In that role, I work to connect millions of curious consumers to innovative cannabis brands. Marketing at Everscore is about building brand love, creating experiences that inspire consumers and executing the most efficient and effective conversion capability in the industry. I am based in Atlanta and plan to relocate to Everscore's headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, once my youngest graduates from high school in May.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

I've been working with Everscore for a little over a year, so I'm clearly not the first to join this movement. But that short period of time has forced an awakening and reckoning with a range of social issues that I was aware of, but not very knowledgeable about. I am grateful to those—including, of course, the team at Everscore—for helping me evolve from that arm's length awareness to a hands-on opportunity to contribute to individual and societal well-being.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

As the person leading marketing efforts for a marketplace that connects consumers to a wealth of different cannabis brands, I do not dare claim a favorite! That being said, I really admire the work TJ Stouder, a previous P&G marketer, is doing with his brand MyHi out of California. He is setting innovation standards for the cannabis industry with the MyHi Stir Stiks, which are a simple, convenient and discreet way to elevate any drink. TJ has an unparalleled commitment to consistency and quality in his products with a focus on the beverage industry, which has huge growth potential.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

It's tempting to answer this from the "business" perspective, but let's start with the consumer. If you follow their journey, the challenges reveal themselves beginning with the simple, fundamental question of access. Can I buy cannabis? The next challenges are around providing consumers choice, convenience and confidence. The current model actually provides limited choice, with inconvenient purchase options and way too many reasons for consumers to be unsure about what they are consuming. As an industry, we need to do better.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

The creative destruction of decades of demonizing a plant is exciting. Any act of branding, partnering or marketing is an attempt to unlock a $100 billion future. Every swing of the hammer weakens the rock until eventually it crumbles. (This is a metaphor. I have nothing against rocks.) In that sense, it doesn't matter if any one program is successful and it's not about right now. Short-term wins for small numbers of people is pretty boring.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

This answer is self-serving because we at Everscore are actually co-founders of the Native American Cannabis Alliance. Through NACA, we are helping to activate indigenous farmers to create the largest source of cannabis cultivation in the world. Simply put, the purpose of NACA is to ensure that an equitable, sustainable and direct pathway exists between Native Americans and the cannabis industry.

A recent project you're proud of.

It's too early to feel "proud," but the formation of NACA is something I'd hold up as an achievement. This initiative begins with indigenous farmers across multiple states. The farmers represent approximately 500,000 acres of land that could be allocated to cannabis cultivation. Compare that to a total "under glass" of less than 800 acres for the top 20 brands. In addition to cultivation, NACA has the potential to create campuses for education and ancillary cannabis processing services. This might be routine for some, but it was a new world for me.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

Inspiration can certainly be found from within the industry. However, I'd like to import a project from outside: Wholechain, from a company called (En)Visible. Wholechain is a blockchain-based traceability solution built to enable trust, coordination and transparency in fragmented supply chains. It's been named a winner in the FDA's "Low- or No-Cost Food Traceability Challenge." Its technology has been used to help smaller farmers tell their stories while also bringing transparency to supply chains. The COA in cannabis doesn't come close to providing farmers or consumers the information they need. Our industry needs solutions like this to answer the simple questions people have about the products we want them to consume.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Personally, it is not interesting or useful to identify a "someone." If this industry wants people to admire, look to the First Nations and indigenous farmers who are finding ways to use their traditions and skills to cultivate cannabis. It's self-evident that nothing is more important to the industry than the plant itself. When you witness their respect for the plant, where it comes from and all that it represents, admiration is just one of the many emotions you'll feel.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

My thing is "turning big ships in small spaces." I've helped very large brands (UPS, ING, Coca-Cola) navigate currents to unlock the opportunities before they become obvious, or at least before they become widely accepted and routine. I know where the rocks are and how to avoid them. I've done that for over 25 years. I'm doing that today. I would be doing that tomorrow wherever there are new worlds to explore.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

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