Nat Shaul of springbig on Helping Cannabis Brands With Marketing

The company's narrower focus reaps rewards

Natalie "Nat" Shaul graduated from Stony Brook University in 2014 and began working in finance in Manhattan. Soon after, she realized finance wasn't her passion so she decided to follow her heart and studied digital marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Afterward, she began working at a marketing and advertising company creating digital advertisements for the auto industry. From there, Nat moved to South Florida and started with springbig. At the time, springbig was offering loyalty and text message marketing to small businesses. In the fall of 2016, Nat made the push for springbig to pivot to cannabis.

Since then, Nat has been the co-founder/head of marketing for springbig. Nat is also passionate about giving back to her community by running toy and canned food drives every holiday season. 

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


Natalie, tell us...

Where you grew up.

I was born and raised in New York, New York. 

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

Currently, I am co-founder and vice president of marketing at springbig, the leading marketing platform for cannabis retailers and dispensaries in the United States and Canada. In 2013, I moved to the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area to begin my journey with the springbig team.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

A cannabis meeting in Arizona and speaking with cannabis lobbyists and advocates, and got blown away by the soon-to-be-booming industry. 

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

When we launched springbig, our team was servicing mainly mom-and-pops and the wider small-business community, such as pizza shops, coffee shops, yogurt shops, nail salons, hair salons, etc. After some time, we dove into our platform's data and looked at our customer base. We felt that we would have more success and traction if we narrowed our focus to just one market. So, after years of experience servicing traditional small businesses, we saw tremendous opportunity in the underserved cannabis industry and decided to bring advanced loyalty programs and an essential marketing tool to cannabis dispensaries and brands. Based on the performance of our business over the last few years, it was the best choice we ever made. So it's easy to say, springbig would not be what it is today without cannabis. And without springbig, my life would be very different. Being able to grow springbig, and grow with springbig, has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Starting with three employees to nearly 150 now has been so incredible.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

Hands down Coda Signature's hand-crafted THC and CBD infused edibles, and for full disclosure, the brand also happens to be one of our star brands using our platform. If you ever have the opportunity to try them, don't hesitate as they are absolutely delicious!

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today. 

While the cannabis industry has reached momentous milestones, we are still in the process of putting stakes in the ground as each state's laws and regulations differ and are ever-changing—growing pains each and every medical and adult-use market faces each and every day. That said, the biggest challenge we face at springbig is finding a compliant way to get our customers' messaging out there to the consumers.

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

At springbig, our goal is to help our clients increase retention, boost revenue, build customer loyalty, and create and execute smarter marketing campaigns through SMS text messaging service. So, with federal legalization looming, I'm excited to see what avenues and channels open up for cannabis marketing. 

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support and why. 

Last Prisoner Project is at the top of my list as it is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cannabis criminal justice reform, and was founded out of the belief that if anyone is able to profit and build wealth in the legal cannabis industry, those individuals must also work to release and rebuild the lives of those who have suffered from cannabis criminalization. 

A recent project you're proud of.

The new springbig website, as I was able to design the look and feel as well as build the strategy behind the launch.

Someone else's project you admired recently. 

Weedmaps going public—very cool move for the industry and where it's going. 

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

I really admire Rosie Mattio, as she's paved her way to becoming one of the most successful PR and marketing professionals in the cannabis industry.

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

I love chowing down on cookies and watching 30 Rock!

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

Most likely working at an advertising agency representing clients in the automotive industry.

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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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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