Initial coin offerings (ICOs) funding for startups has exceeded the more traditional venture funding, has leveled the playing field and is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs. Now anyone, anywhere in the world with the idea that people believe in can fund their business with a crowdsale.
It’s not all about Bitcoin anymore either. There are over 1,500 of emerging altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies) in the circulation with great promise of application beyond currency. And more are being created every day.
We’re in the nascent years of this quickly evolving technology that could have a meaningful and transformational impact across industries. This includes disruption of the online media and publishing with advancements in decentralized social media, content management systems and advertising platforms.
The technical-knowhow and the experience of the team is the backbone of every crypto project that wants to have a bright, long-term future.
But don’t expect your whitepaper, roadmap or even the finished product to just sell itself.
A good online marketing campaign with a clear and open communication can do wonders and help differentiate your business in the jungle of thousands of projects.
All startups including all cryptocurrency startups are risky by nature. The forkable nature of open-source cryptoassets makes experimentation easy and cheap which leads to weaker attempts and more failures.
You can expect 90% or more of all the startups to fail. These are some of the most common reasons:
Many in the fast-moving cryptocurrency industry come from technical or academic backgrounds with little or no experience of running a business or doing online marketing. This makes it harder to succeed despite the strong technical foundation.
I have no background in the blockchain space and the underlying technology but I have done my research and am a crypto enthusiast. With my experience with blogging, social media and content marketing, I see how big difference good communication can make for a crypto startup and this post is my contribution to this new decentralized world.
This post is your guide on how to run an online marketing campaign for your cryptocurrency startup. Just doing the basics right can set your cryptoasset apart, increase the brand awareness of your project, create interest in your mission and accelerate the real world adoption. Let’s get started.
Don’t just focus on the technical details, the buzzwords and the industry jargon. Explain things simply and in detail so that people thoroughly can understand the logic and idea behind your project. Present your company in words, imagery and video. Speak in words that even non-technical people outside the crypto industry can understand.
For cryptoasssets and the whole industry to grow and thrive, there is a necessity to become friendly to non-tech users. Put extra effort into educating your target audience.
A normal person should be able to understand what your project is about after having a look at your homepage. Having a real concept that people can grasp really helps with marketing and communication.
Product-market fit means that you are “in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market”. Your product needs to satisfy the need of a real market. You need to do a lot of market research talking to real people to find out what their problems are and how your technology can help solve them.
Don’t be a solution in search of a problem. Be a solution to a problem. Ask yourself tough questions including:
Figure out what your project does, what real problem your technology is solving for real people or businesses, and what your brand and mission stand for. The greatest teams with the best products will fail if they don’t find a market and don’t create a product that fills the need of the real people.
Be upfront on your website and your other platforms. Explain who you and your team are. Showcase your backgrounds. What makes you the right team to tackle the specific problem that you are addressing? What is your experience and why should we trust you?
Position and differentiate your startup. Don’t be afraid to talk about your competitors and similar projects and benchmark yourself. Aim to explain why people should believe in your product versus the competing projects by positioning and differentiation.
But remember that the bigger your idea is, the harder it will be to accomplish it and the higher chance there are that you will disappoint. Think big but take it smaller steps and goals at a time. It’s healthy for a startup to start small and make smaller steps towards a long-term overarching vision that can be revealed at a later date.
Staff your startup with customer facing resources such as social media marketing specialists, blog writers, designers, storytellers, community managers, customer service representatives and PR professionals. These will help with the communication, content creation, outreach, audience growth and management of an engaged community.
Resources are tight? This could be one cross-functional position, or even several team members who work on these areas for a certain percentage of their total time (maybe something like Google’s 20% rule) or even just the founder herself taking a bigger role in the communication. You start small and build a bigger customer facing team as you progress.
Your marketing staff are not necessary mathematicians, cryptographers or developers. They are in most cases just like the people you are trying to reach.
They are the people who will represent your company in front of the potential customers. This is why the communication between the developers and marketers is critical. They need to be aligned.
You want to help the marketers understand your project and your development progress in order to better communicate it to other non-tech people.
Without clear internal communication, there will be misunderstandings and a lack of clarity not only within your marketing team but also with those whom their message reaches.
There are many cryptoassets and startups so if you want attention you need to take massive marketing action to get it. Without you spending time on spreading the word about your project to a new audience, it will be difficult to grow. These are some of the activities that you should perform regularly:
Every company needs customers. Be it B2B or B2C. You need to work on the adoption of your product early on.
Be proactive. Reach out to your target market, build relationships, grow your prospect email database. Email is one of the strongest tools you have in your marketing toolbox. It’s an open platform and a direct line of communication with you in full control unlike on centralized social media platforms who can change their algorithms or business models anytime they want.
Reach out to and initiate potential partnership proposals with other cryptoassets and other companies to see how you can strategically work together. Partnership news spread wide in the world of crypto and can generate synergy for all parties involved.
The earlier you start, the more prepared you will be for the day your product launches and is ready to open the doors to the first customers. Without this early work, you will open the door but nobody will show up.
The audience should not come to you, you should go where the audience is. Determine which platforms you want to have an official presence on. There are many possibilities in the crypto space from Medium for your text content, YouTube for your video content, Twitter as the key social network, to Telegram, Reddit, Slack or Discord for hosting your community.
Create consistent, professional looking and regularly updated profiles on the different social media platforms and establish your presence in places where people spend their time. Make sure your branding, marketing and social media presence are all aligned and are telling a consistent story about your company and your mission.
And do make sure that your content strategy matches the message to the specific medium.
Telegram, Twitter, Discord, Slack and others are all great tools that help you grow your audience, but they are terrible at keeping your content archives discoverable.
You may do a great Q&A session today and tomorrow it will be forever lost in the noise of a large Telegram group. Pretty much nobody will see it after that first day. That is a waste of a great content opportunity and can be done better.
Post, organize and curate all your content on your blog or your website too:
This way none of your great content will ever get lost. You will breathe extra life into it with people discovering your content even weeks or months after you’ve initially published them.
If you look at the social media profiles of many cryptocurrency startups, you see a lot of pure marketing messages tooting their own horn. There is a space for that but the first priority for your content strategy should be to create content of value to the audience you are targeting.
Don’t just promote your own product, but become a part of a broader conversation:
Your content needs to deliver value. It should be compelling and should encourage audience interaction for you to further grow your community. Just talking about how great you are all the time doesn’t do much of that.
Make sure to have a personal presence on LinkedIn and other social media. Be a resource. Answer questions. Thanks to the open-source nature of blockchain, the crypto founders are actually much better at this than CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies who are rarely available, open and engaged.
There are many great examples of crypto founders being very active and engaged in social media:
Ensure that you regularly inform your community on what the team is doing. Some crypto teams communicate daily, some such as Request Network do bi-weekly, some such as modum.io update monthly, while some never post anything after their ICO pitch. You don’t want to be like those that never post.
You want to instill confidence in your team and the progress you are making. You want to gain trust and respectability from your target audience. The main way to do that is by regular, clear and open communication.
Forget about the market cap and the coin price in your marketing and communication. Forget about your rank on the CoinMarketCap.
Bitcoin goes up, you go up no matter what. Bitcoin goes down, you go down too. Bitcoin goes up but you go down. You cannot win with these topics.
You cannot control any of these in the short term and by focusing on them when it’s all green can get you into trouble if or when the market turns and the price goes down.
At least not in the short-term before you go live and before you start getting paying customers. It should be of no concern to you. You should not focus on it, you should not comment on it and you should make that clear to your audience too.
You control your communication, the product that you build and the marketing activities you are undertaking to grow your market. You don’t control your market cap and the coin price so you should completely ignore all the talk about them.
Some crypto communities are left to their own devices. This leads to an inconsistent experience for both new and old members of the community and doesn’t put you in the best light.
Be available and actively manage your community by starting and joining conversations, answering questions, responding to the concerns and genuinely considering feedback and ideas from the audience.
Crowdsourcing your funding is not the only thing you can crowdsource. You can crowdsource ideas and feedback too.
Monitor your community and the industry, actively take steps to build an engaged audience and be as responsive as you can to the questions and feedback. You will have a much happier and more engaged community this way.
User generated content is very welcomed and encouraged by most brands in social media. Brands that are doing the best in terms of social media engagement are usually those that have the most dedicated fanbase.
Cryptoassets are lucky as this industry has a far more dedicated fanbase than most of the other industries.
Everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to be involved. There’s a huge number of crypto memes created by the community.
Brands from more established industries struggle to get many people to create content about them while cryptocurrencies get a lot of user generated content organically.
Encourage it, moderate it, engage with it and republish the best stuff to your full audience. It can only help you get higher engagement and an even wider reach.
Your community members can be a key to your marketing success. They can help do the marketing and spread word of mouth for you. Your free marketing machine.
Incentivize your biggest fans to spread the word about you. Every decentralised crypto project needs a grassroots movement to help it gain traction and get real world adoption.
Organic buzz and word of mouth is always preferred so explore first how you can get a natural traction from your audience, but do keep an eye on the other alternatives too.
Some projects run very elaborate bounties, affiliate and referral schemes incentivizing people to spread the word about them in exchange for extra tokens or other rewards.
You can get inspired by what some of the other crypto projects have done with an example from Brave’s Basic Attention Token.
You should have a very tight control over the account logins and the posting access to the official brand profiles that you run. Not everyone in your team needs to be able to log in and post onto your social media profiles.
Most social media management tools allow you to set different user access levels and posting permissions. Only a few people should have the admin level that allows them to post and they should also be the ones that review the posts from other team members and approve them before publishing.
There have been cases with social media accounts being run by interns who tend to make some grave mistakes and in the world of investments and money it can be fatal.
Some projects are too impatient and try to force the success and social media engagement. They do this by buying fake followers, using automated software to fake the hype, creating multiple accounts to fake the engagement and more.
All of these fake activities are not worth it in the long run and any serious business should stay away from these practices. These tactics could cause irreversible damage to the reputation of the company and the coin price might never recover.
And even if you do pay for lots of fake followers you will soon find that your community is dead and you get no engagement as nobody actually sees the content that you post. It’s just not worth it.
Draft clear social media guidelines internally for your team. Whatever they share in social could be watched by the audience and considered, reviewed and speculated on. Be clear with your team on what type of crypto related content they should or should not be posting in public.
Be prepared by having guidelines for how to approach different situations that can occur in social media too. Anything from questions, negative comments to different crisis situations. You want to have clear guidelines and instructions on how to deal with these before they happen. It might be difficult to think clear while you’re putting out fires. Clear guidelines help in such situations.
Do the same for your communities. Publish your community guidelines and your community moderation policy. Be clear on what is acceptable and what’s not and enforce the rules you have set.
This doesn’t mean that you should become a cult and censor any negative posts that do not worship your business. Free speech should still rule.
Keep your promises and meet your milestones. Ship on time or ship early. Underpromise and overdeliver rather than overpromise and underdeliver.
Avoid the hype and the social media announcements of the upcoming announcements. No promises are better than empty promises.
The best product doesn’t always win. Sometimes being early to the market is better than being a perfectionist and waiting to build the “perfect” product. Deliver a real product as soon as you can. Even a minimum viable product.
By doing this, you will stand apart from the majority of projects which are still in the planning or the development stages and may never make it to the market or may never get successful as they take their time while someone else eats their lunch.
Cryptocurrencies are a growing industry and if you’re doing some good work, you’re bound to be talked about. And if you’re not monitoring your web mentions, you will miss out on people talking about you and your projects.
Be on top of all the talk by tracking the mentions of your brand name, of your social media profiles, and links to your website.
Figure out what people are saying, listen to the feedback. This can even warn you of any negative coverage so you can be out there and respond before things get out of hand.
When just starting out, you can use free tools such as Google Alerts to get web mentions, Hootsuite to get your social media mentions or Notify to get your social mentions sent directly to your team’s Slack channel.
Remember to also search social media for people talking about you without mentioning your profile such as if they only mention the name of your company, your symbol or even your hashtag. Those will typically not be included if you just look for @mentions.
Learn about who your audience is by using your social media analytics, surveys and questionnaires. This can help you conceptualize better content ideas for new marketing campaigns and can guide you to a better future direction.
It can also help you figure out if there are opportunities for you to organize offline events such as meetups or hackathons and bring the community together in the real life.
Regularly evaluate the performance and measure the results of your marketing, content and community activities.
Set growth goals and key performance indicators such as the total size of your audience, the growth, traffic on your website, number of social media engagements, and the number of your token holders.
Compare also your numbers to the numbers of your competitors. Benchmarking is simple in social media as most numbers are available publicly so are easily captured and compared.
Monitor and report on this on a regular basis in order to help you understand how you are performing and learn what you can do better.