The Crisp Digital Business Series: James Cummiskey, Founder of Compare CBD
In the next interview in this series Matt speaks with James Cummiskey, Founder of Compare CBD. James is a young entrepreneur who’s working at the forefront of the UK’s rapidly-growing CBD market. His story is an inspiring one: he overcame the challenges of a humble background and a lack of formal qualifications to create first his own digital marketing agency and now the top-performing CBD comparison website, Compare CBD. James was inspired by his mum, who found herself lost and confused when trying to work out which CBD product to buy. With the seed of a great idea, James attracted investment from around the globe and by now has grown a team of 25 people based across the UK, the Netherlands and North America. He’s also fresh off the launch of his new brand Royal Lion CBD. On top of all of that they are launching a company called Global Hemp Warehouse based in Manchester in 6 weeks and are launching The World CBD Awards in June in Barcelona.
We chatted to James about reaching this exciting point of growth, and how he’s used digital marketing to get here.
Matt: First off James, how is digital enabling you to engage your market?
James: For us, the digital world is a place where we can educate our market across a variety of platforms, on a worldwide scale. The CBD sector is so new and so vibrant, as it’s a supplement that has only just entered the market in the UK and Europe. Right now most people don’t know a lot about it and are dealing with a lot of misinformation, which we’re here to help with.
The main platform that we use is our website, comparecbd.com, but we also leverage other platforms, including social media. We have over 44k followers on Facebook, for example, and around 34k on Instagram. I think we’ve been doing so well over different channels because we’re not trying to push the hard sell. Instead, we’re offering people a safe, educational place to first find out more about CBD and then buy CBD products once they have a better idea of what they want.
Matt: Which technology have you used to build your main platform?
James: Compare CBD, the main website, is an affiliate-based platform that’s built using WordPress and WooCommerce. Though if you take a look at the platform, you might not even realise that it’s built on WordPress, because we’ve done a lot of in-depth, bespoke development. Our digital team, based across the UK, Canada and the US, has customised and adapted the website precisely to meet our unique needs.
Matt: How are you leveraging digital to identify the intent of your customers?
James: A lot of that is down to our Partner Denise Chapman, who is an amazing asset to the company. Denise has a wealth of experience in the sector, which goes hand-in-hand with my own extensive experience. Together we’re working to create a company for the people. We’re not pushing products, we’re pushing information and trying to educate our market because we know that’s what’s needed for CBD to really take off in the UK. We know first-hand that people need reliable information so that they can leave behind any doubts and buy with confidence. When it’s time to buy, customers come back to us because we’re the ones who told them what they needed to know.
The CBD market has been developing in the US for a number of years now. It has been growing from strength to strength. Here in the UK, it has really taken off over the last 12 months, and even more so in Europe. I think that over the next few years we should hope and expect to see changes in legislation, based on an increase in education and awareness about CBD. Potential users and lawmakers need to understand that we’re not talking about a psychoactive drug, here, but about a natural, plant-derived supplement that should be treated as such. Getting them to that understanding is what we’re here to do.
Matt: How is digital enabling you to increase your meaningful reach?
James: Social media plays a huge role. We have a Facebook group with around 36k members, which we use in a variety of ways. The group is a place where users can chat with us, ask questions and get problems resolved. One particularly successful approach we’ve used in the group is offering giveaways. We get a lot of samples from our partners which we give away for free to group members, so they can find out more about products first-hand. We’ve rolled out the giveaway concept across many different platforms.
Matt: What trends do you see digital impacting on within marketing in the short-term future?
James: I think traditionally there has been a lot of focus on SEO rankings and competing to be found first in Google Search. I personally believe this is less important now, and the future lies with social. You can get more traffic on social media in a day than you could attract to your website in a whole month. We can achieve worldwide reach quickly and easily with a single popular post. That’s why we’re leveraging social platforms as much as possible to complement the Compare CBD website.
Matt: What one thing do you think digital could do better for your business?
James: I think that there are still a lot of unnecessary restrictions on the CBD industry in general. For example, Google Ads is still not allowing us to put up advertising, even though CBD products have been approved in the UK as a food supplement. It’s a similar story with Facebook, which doesn’t allow us to create sponsored ads which include the word ‘CBD’. We should be able to advertise CBD like any other food supplement, with ads on any network. I believe we should see a change here over the next year or so, as the CBD market continues to blossom. Over time, more and more people will see the real benefits of the product, and we’re excited to help them get there and to be a part of that.
Matt: So excited to watch your journey James. And many other business people would be wise to watch it too. So so grateful to chat, all the best of luck for the future James.
James: Cheers Matt, appreciated the chat.
NOTE: If you’d like to be considered for the Crisp Digital Business Series please do get in touch with me via my LinkedIn profile. And of course if you have any digital business needs please do take our Digital Scorecard or get in touch.