By Olga Grinina
I’ve been involved in the Wild Wild West of ICOs for quite a while now, and I have to confess: most of marketing people in crypto still got no clue about how the industry really works.
Respect the crypto mecca
Before diving into the dos and don'ts of successful post-industrial PR-strategies, let’s try to figure things out on a broader scale. Why has blockchain suddenly become everybody’s darling? What is happening with global economic processes? Understanding the global socio-economic shift with blockchain and non-financial motivation as its quintessence is the foundation for developing efficient marketing with user engagement at its core.
A global paradigm shift to post-industrial business model is bringing the community and user engagement to the front. The customers are to take the most active part in the businesses of new formation, thus changing their role to something way bigger than mere social media following: it is the users who are now together with the CEOs and managers participating in the business operations. That’s why when striving to come up with ideas on how to get a massive user response, the first question one should ask is ‘How do I make them want to get involved and participate in this thing we’re building?’
Understanding the essence of decentralized business model is important too. It is basically all about building ecosystems that give chance to the communities to can bring value at the same time receiving some additional value from the platform itself. Naturally, a community-focused strategy is not about promoting a product or a service. It is about engagement and interaction for the mutual organic exchange of value with a view to build a loyal strong community around project based on real use/programming cases, related not to hype, but to business and technology.
More so, this target of building an exceptional community seems to be paramount to becoming a winning blockchain product, and there is actually playbook for doing so:
#1 — Maximize your initial token distribution
#2 — Codify your project’s mission and values
#3 — Cultivate productive online discussion
#4 — Provide support
#5 — Set up a grant program
#6 — Support community-run organizations
#7 — Spread the word
#8 — Have fun
Get those darn organic followers
Still can’t figure out how to get that organic social media following? Pour in some traffic to the page with zero content. Hello, it’s me captain obvious speaking: make some effort to repost some of those McAffee’s tweets at least. Alternatively, I got one cheat code for you here called ‘delete everything’: this is where you’re basically saying ‘oops, we never started this page’. This is how you end up with never getting another chance to draw the audience, which is probably for the better. No one was ever going to buy your tokens, anyways.
Everyone wants to be exclusive and first-blockchain-platform-leveraging-the-coolest-technology. However, you could probably get more creative than asking prospective investors to join the Whitelist hoping that they immediately feel privileged to get a dubious chance to apply to invest into something no one has ever heard about. How about making a slight effort to engage the audience just for a change? ‘I want Cointelegraph!’, is probably the most frequent request that I’m getting from nitty-witty CEOs. They all lusting it like crazy. But wait a minute, have you guys heard of Alexa rank? Not trying to demolish ‘the most read crypto media in the world’, but really there are tech media with higher rankings! I’m not even talking Techcrunch here. Turn to major Medium publications focused on tech that has been out there for much longer drawing in the enthusiast audience engaged in lively quality discussions. Now we’re talking audience engagement. Tokeneconomy, Consensys, Coinbase blog post, as well as the number of personal blogs are some of my top-favorites here. Trust me, your potential investors, enthusiasts and — most importantly — investment funds and other big players are all hanging out there.
Any brand director in ‘so last season fiat industry’ would cry out loud, if he saw you trying to cut the costs on hiring a designer and instead using ‘some basic images just to fill up the space’. Remember, dummy, visuals aligned with your brand strategy are essential. ‘Okay, we’ll make stickers then!’ Now you’re getting there. Remember I bragged about user engagement? How about launching a design contest — let people get creative, trust me the results will outperform your KPIs big time. I came across this one community quest run by an emerging platform Akropolis, with all sorts of those quizzes and riddles. The community engagement on their Telegram got really massive at some point, and I’m pretty sure they’re getting the most out of community-driven strategies in terms of technical implementation of the product as well.Mind the code
Here is one of my favorites: ‘‘We’ll fill out the GitHub page later, no one can read that damn code anyway!’ Well, you’re wrong, dummy. Get that code straight and make it pop out. And probably consider hiring CTO who won’t be telling you that the code is ‘private’: he probably doesn’t have it or your ICO is scam — unless that was your initial plan. Gone are the times when one could get away with copy pasting the lines of code or stealing from the rival’s page. And please, please do not announce the ICO start date, until you’re got that ERC-20 up and running. Cause there actually might be some people who would really want to transfer their precious bitcoins to buy your token.
Anything goes in PR hustle
One thing that everyone chose not to notice, yet it is running under the counter, is bribing. That might sound a bit of a strong word, but that’s what it really is. Media outlets supply the readers with paid PRs here and there, exchanges are allegedly (or in fact) manipulating the asset prices, while expert rating opinions are bought for a certain amount of BTC.
‘Iget approached by blockchain entrepreneur wannabes with innocent requests to review their project on ICO Bench or mention on Cointelegraph. Some of them are rather straight-forward paid offers. What strikes me is that those shady ICOs are not even trying to get the essence of tokenization. Have you guys ever asked yourself why you need to run the business on blockchain? Meanwhile, in ICO projects architecture is essential to design business processes so that the token was attractive for investment and had both potential of its value growth at the external market and potential for its inner value growth when scaling the project. Not so many startups are capable of handling it: more often than not the business itself and the token are on the opposite ends. And honestly, there are cases when in fact the business would be operating so much better without introducing a token at all. I’d say that a successful ICO is essentially a combination of good product, effective marketing strategy and proper market placement,’
says Vasily Sumanov who is also getting his share of annoying LinkedIn message buzz.
On a larger scale, the implications of this are rather alarming for blockchain industry as a whole. Not only the reputation is at stake. By launching a token for the sake of pushing it to the exchange and pumping up the price, those ‘artful entrepreneurs’ are merely demolishing our good faith in new technologies.
‘Are we done yet? I just wanna sell those tokens, man’. Hey, I’m trying to help you here. One last thing: ICO listings. Very important: ‘The more listings we cover, the more people buy the token’. Well, sometimes — or more so, almost every time — quality wins over quantity. Check out a good old Alexa rank for the most visited sites out of that huge list — no one ever gets down further than the first 10 anyways.
Dig deeper, think harder
One major take away for CMOs scratching their head over ‘that damn ICO’ is this: forget your good old product/market centered strategies, they simply don’t apply here. Blockchain’s mission: generating value for the community being fundamental technology to give a chance to create systems where community can bring value itself + receive additional value from the platform. Non-financial motivation is the key factor in post-industrial economy.
More juicy stuff in here: https://www.technomads.wtf/