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Chris Van Dusen: “Prioritize health — without that, you can’t do anything”

Prioritize health — without that, you can’t do anything. This can mean going for a run, going to the gym, etc. Just make time for your overall health and wellbeing. I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Van Dusen. Chris is the CMO of Balanced Health Botanicals in Denver, CO. Established in 2016, Balanced Health Botanicals owns […]

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Prioritize health — without that, you can’t do anything. This can mean going for a run, going to the gym, etc. Just make time for your overall health and wellbeing.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Van Dusen. Chris is the CMO of Balanced Health Botanicals in Denver, CO. Established in 2016, Balanced Health Botanicals owns and operates some of the largest manufacturing operations and brands, including CBDistillery, in the hemp-derived CBD market. Chris has spent the last 10 years in various executive-level roles both in-house and at leading agencies, most recently at Parcon Media which he co-founded with the focus on Conversion Rate Optimization and high accountable media buying. Chris leads a diverse team of marketers focused on democratizing CBD and making BHB the largest supplier of hemp-derived CBD in the world.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up I watched the brands I knew and respected invent incredible creative initiatives that both elevated their message and created a unique connection to the brand that resonated with me at the time and through my formative years. Watching brands tell stories through unique tactics inspired me and my career as a marketing creative — I wanted to be part of innovate storytelling, impacting consumers with powerful and creative messages.

Fast-forward to today, I now run my own creative agency as well as spearhead an incredibly innovative team at a large consumer-facing CBD brand that has been a part of some truly exceptional and impactful marketing campaigns. It’s exciting to work in an industry where we are able to use unconventional, yet effective, tactics to tell a story and convey brand value. I’m inspired every day.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What truly helps us, Balanced Health Botanicals, stand out in an industry as crowded as the CBD space, is our ability to always provide high-quality products and to be fully transparent with the information we are communicating. Our ability to be transparent allows our marketing tactics to be bold and buzzworthy. Specifically, in 2019 we spearheaded a massive Gimmick-Free CBD campaign that called attention to the need for consumer education and brand transparency. As industry leaders, we took on the responsibility to set the standards, democratize CBD and provide a call-to-action for consumers to pay attention and look beyond the marketing ploys before making purchasing decisions. The campaign highlighted the misuse of CBD throughout the industry and was launched with 7-billboard displays in Times Square featuring gimmicky CBD products — from toilet paper to condoms — compared to our own gimmick-free products.

When I was in New York and saw our products next to real, albeit non-effective, products on a prominent billboard in Times Square, it really hit home that as a company, we are in a position to be able to call out these gimmicky companies for their quality and bad practices.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The CBD space currently consists of over 3,000 brands and with all of these brands, consumer needs not currently being met. It’s exciting to be a part of a team that focuses on R&D in order to bring innovations to life that are really what the consumers want. We have decided to expand our line of products to include soothing warming and cooling creams, and are currently in product development to release new, innovative products deeply align with our mission and quality standards.

In order to further satisfy our consumers’ needs, we have launched two new brands under the direction of Balanced Health Botanicals™. BOTA™ is a new line of premium plant-powered skincare and supplements that combine powerful natural botanicals with hemp-derived CBD. CBDistilleryRx™ is a retail-exclusive line of broad-spectrum hemp-derived CBD products that combines the power of CBD with proven, effective ingredients to help improve overall health and wellness. Seeing these two brands launch successfully and effectively will be the most exciting project of my year.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?

I noticed a “tipping point” when I started merging marketing goals with overall business goals. I learned and understood the importance of how marketing can drive the success of a business and used (and continue to use) those metrics to apply tactful strategies that would result in proven holistic success.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Prioritize health — without that, you can’t do anything. This can mean going for a run, going to the gym, etc. Just make time for your overall health and wellbeing.

How do you define “marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?

I like to think of marketing as dumping gasoline on a fire. That is to say, the brand is the fire and it’s already burning, but marketing accelerates its true character and value. Our job as marketers is to understand brand goals and to show the customer how our products fill their unique needs, unlike any other product/brand.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My Wife, Sara Van Dusen, is who I am most grateful to. Sara helped me cross the chasm between digital tactics and humanizing the marketing experience. I was previously focused on digital marketing and working with Sara was instrumental in humanizing my marketing perspective. As an already brilliant marketer for large law firms and a CV to boot, she understood that I saw the analytics and digital side of the world but helped me better focus on the human perspective to really improve the user experience and create a meaningful connection. I thank her every day for sharing her wisdom with me!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of a very influential movement that we created at Balanced Health Botanicals. We launched the #CBDMOVEMENT™ — a movement that provides the masses with easy access to hemp-derived CBD products, widespread resources to be more knowledgeable on CBD, the latest industry research and unfiltered consumer testimonials.

The #CBDMOVEMENT™ is steamrolling change across the nation inspiring consumers to think about alternative methods of healing and to change the mindset of the stigmatized cannabis industry. We are on a mission to be the premier education resource and develop the brand as a “one-stop-shop” for consumers curious about hemp-derived CBD from purchasing a product to simply wanting to learn more.

When we created this movement, we believed that in order for a consumer to make the best decision when purchasing CBD, they need to understand what they are buying. Our Ultimate CBD User Guide has over 50,000 downloads.

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Thank you for all of these great insights!

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