We can easily see that blockchain is one of the profoundest technological shifts that is fast transforming the way our world does business, and pretty much everything else.
Making payments and getting paid on the Internet has so far been a very big problem. Both merchants and customers must go through intermediaries to carry out financial transactions, with some amount of those financial transactions being deducted by the intermediaries.
The present system of making and receiving payments is cumbersome, costly, and when it comes to micro-payments, also non-viable. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to make micro-payments for individual pieces of content and other digital products.
Digital currency like bitcoin, built upon blockchain technology, does away with intermediaries, and enables you to carry out peer-to-peer transactions, not just without intermediaries, but also without banks and other conventional financial systems.
Anyway, this write-up is not about the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency themselves, this write-up is about why it is important to take ICO marketing seriously and what steps you can take to have a successful ICO.
The little bit of information above is just to give you an idea of how cutting-edge this new technology is and hence, how difficult it is to explain it to people who may become your investors.
An ICO is an “Initial Coin Offering”. It is similar to the conventional IPO, but in this case, start-ups and other companies that don’t want to go through conventional intermediaries to raise capital, go the ICO way.
An ICO is also called a “token sale” or a “token generation event”. It is an event that an organization uses to sell digital tokens for obtaining public capital to fund its business operations.
A token is a cryptographically secured “contract”, or a set of rights.
According to the definition of the particular token that you have purchased or invested in, you may have access to the services of the business that has introduced the ICO, or you can use the digital contracts to purchase goods and services that allow transactions in that particular token, you can even sell those tokens just the way you can sell shares.
When an ICO is launched, an initial value is attributed to the token and a sale is organized. All the people who are purchasing the token or the cryptocurrency are actually investing in that company.
As explained above, an ICO completely bypasses the conventional way of raising capital. No banks are involved. No financial institutions are involved. Just digital contracts.
Since these digital contracts are powered by blockchain technology, they are totally foolproof.
The trust factor is greater, provided your investors understand the technology as well as its implications. You can more readily get investors for ICOs than for IPOs.
Another benefit of having an ICO is that you can operate globally. Normally, an IPO is available to only people living in a particular geographic area. This is not the case with an ICO. You can be anywhere, and still you can invest in an ICO.
An ICO is a very important event. Your entire growth plan depends on it if you hope to raise capital for your organization.
With over 1500 cryptocurrencies in circulation (in 2018) across nearly 10,000 markets, despite being a new market, the competition is tough, and no wonder, in 2017, only 48% ICOs experienced some sort of success.
Normal marketing doesn’t work for an ICO because it is a totally new technology and even newer concept. How do you explain a prospective investor the concept of “contracts” instead of hard cash? Is your prospective investor able to understand what all can be achieved with your token? Can the tokens be exchanged for real money?
Different purposes can be solved with different tokens and cryptocurrencies and it can become confusing. With money you know that you can buy stuff, and you know that if a business accepts money, what sort of money it accepts.
Different businesses might be accepting different tokens or cryptocurrencies, so your investors may think that it is some sort of a closed-grouping activity and consequently, may shy away from investing in it.
It is an emerging technology with massive implications for the future, but still, very few people actually understand the concept, and this is why, normal marketing doesn’t help an ICO much.
Marketing for an ICO needs to be multi-pronged. You need to make people aware and informed at multiple levels.
Remember that when it comes to marketing your ICO, it isn’t just about prompting people to invest in your ICO or making them by your token or cryptocurrency. There is also a lack of knowledge.
The advantage that conventional IPOs have is that people are pretty much aware of these industries and even if they are not aware, there are many mainstream publications that are constantly publishing news updates on these industries.
For example, if there is an IPO for a steel company, you know why steel is used. By quickly going through the business pages you will find out whether the demand for steel is going to increase or decrease in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, you can invest in a steel IPO.
This mainstream presence is missing for ICOs. Only those who make an effort to understand the technology and its implications will be eager to explore. This is why, ICO marketing needs to be a heady mix of education, tutoring, information dissemination, and of course, convincing.
Frankly, the tools remain the same, but the way you communicate and the way you use these tools is different, compared to conventional marketing.
For instance, blockchain development and cryptocurrency are both, highly niche subjects in application, and very broad subjects in implication. This is why, you need to target niche audience as well as broad audience.
Although there is an increasing number of people showing more interest in various cryptocurrencies available across the globe, eventually, real funding can only be attracted when general public, your usual moms and pops, cousins, colleagues, nephews and niece and neighbours become eager to invest in ICOs.
By mainstreaming the discussion of ICOs in general and blockchain development and cryptocurrency in particular. They need not know the intricate concepts of blockchain development and digital tokens, but they should be able to understand how these cryptocurrencies and tokens are going to affect e-commerce and the way legal documents are authorized and managed.
For this, you will need to get active in advance, at least 3–4 months before the ICO, even a year for that matter.
Your target audience might be anywhere. They can be on Facebook, on your blog and other blogs, on tech magazines and online forums. You can reach out to them through your mailing list, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, and pretty much every channel Internet users use to get updates and share their opinions.
Some of the marketing channels and tools are listed below.
Many cryptocurrency providers create very useful videos and then distribute these videos using various video streaming channels like YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram.
Animated videos are easily understandable. With diagrams and small animations, you can explain the blockchain concept and how blockchain-powered contracts, once distributed across a blockchain, are impossible to violate.
It goes without saying that a well-designed website is very essential to your business. A business without a website is unthinkable these days and the same holds true for your ICO.
You can have a dedicated website for your ICO or you can have a sub-page on your blockchain development website.
You can also use your main website as well as the landing page for ICO to capture leads in the form of email addresses so that you can constantly keep in touch with your prospects.
Blogging is a great way of engaging your prospective investors. It helps you strike up a dialogue with people and when you constantly talk to people, they begin to trust you.
You can publish multiple blog posts so that people looking for informative and useful content on the blockchain technology and the concept of cryptocurrency and ICO can come to your blog and gain knowledge.
You can also get your content published on high-traffic publishing platforms like Hackernoon, Medium and LinkedIn. These publishing platforms can get your ICO instant exposure and also allow you to present your expertise to a wider audience.
Publishing white papers an authoritative way of letting your prospects know that you have an in-depth knowledge of your field and their money is safe with you.
Remember that the birth of cryptocurrency is attributed to a white paper written by Satoshi Nakamoto.
The format of the white paper itself enables you to put across your point of view in a very clear manner. Usually, a white paper takes up a question or a problem, and then provides an answer. Or rather, how the answer is implemented.
A white paper allows your ICO and your related business operations a considerable level of credibility and trust not just among your peer group but also among potential investors.
A white paper also gives you an opportunity to introduce your development team and showcase what great work it has been doing.
There are many niche websites to list your upcoming ICO — this is an advantage and also a disadvantage.
The advantage is that you have got many options, and the disadvantage is that often it is very difficult to decide where to publish your ICO listing. You need to exercise discretion because listing your ICO can be very expensive sometimes. For example, listing your ICO in a high-traffic ICO listing website can cost you anywhere upwards $ 1000 (or equivalent cryptocurrency). Considering you may have to go for 50–70 listings, this can turn out to be quite an expensive exercise.
An experienced ICO marketing company on the other hand can advise you how to shortlist the websites where you should submit your ICO details.
Reviews are normally done by individuals and experts that are not directly associated with your organization, and consequently, their word is given more weightage by your prospects. Even Google depends on reviews to a great extent when its algorithm ranks your website or its individual links.
Not surprisingly, the blockchain technology in itself makes the reviewing process quite credible. Sort of, immutable.
Most of the review platforms for ICO reviews are based on blockchain platforms and hence, once a review is approved and published, it is physically and technologically impossible to tinker with it.
An ICO marketing agency like Dot Com Infoway can get your ICO reviewed by highly trusted bloggers, influencers and journalists to enhance your trust quotient.
Internet forums are easily one of the oldest web platforms to come into existence. In the form of bulletin boards, you can easily say that they might even be older than mainstream email.
Despite a surge in social media and before that blogging, online forums haven’t lost their charms. The biggest contemporary example is Reddit, which is, at least in geeky circles, as famous as Facebook and Twitter and in fact, its users are more active and engage in more meaningful conversations than on other platforms.
A great thing about online forums is that people are already asking questions and awaiting answers.
One can search online forums for discussions and questions on blockchain development, cryptocurrencies, digital tokens and ICOs and provide meaningful answers or add value to ongoing discussions.
According to this OptinMonster report, 281 billion emails are estimated to be sent and received every day in 2018. The report further says that in the US alone, 85% of adults send or read email.
Despite Instagram and Snapchat, 78% teenagers use email. 99% people check email every day and sometimes people check their email 20 times a day. More than 75% check their emails first thing in the morning.
This tells you how important a communication channel email is. You can strategically build a mailing list, or you can also acquire (often, not a preferred way to go) a mailing list database and then carry out a sustained email marketing campaign.
Always try to send very useful information to your email recipients. Short, succinct messages packed with lots of usable information.
You can use email messages to educate your prospects about blockchain technology and its benefits. In a series of emails, you can inform them which all industries are adopting blockchain and why it is going to be a dominating technology in the coming years and consequently, why it makes sense to invest in ICOs.
Millions of people in the world still depend on their everyday dose of news. If an article published in the New York Times or Washington Post, for example, mentions your ICO in a positive light, it immediately catapults your brand to a higher realm.
Although getting covered by New York Times and Washington Post may not be possible for every ICO, there are hundreds of small but effective publications Dot Com Infoway can help your ICO get featured in.
Our ICO marketing team constantly keeps in touch with influencers and journalists who are constantly writing about blockchain development and cryptocurrency and these journalists and influencers can give your brand the needed exposure.
Can marketing today be done without social media? No. Almost the entire world uses Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Quora, LinkedIn, Telegram and Instagram, daily.
Although one may feel that most of the time people are discussing irrelevant things (aside from LinkedIn where lots of good business happens) what one needs to keep in mind is that people are constantly conversing and interacting. No matter how important or irrelevant are the topics, the important thing is, people have become used to talking to each other and this tendency can be leveraged through encouraging conversations on blockchain development and cryptocurrencies.
PPC campaigns are expensive, but they are highly effective. They can get target audience to your website or blog or the landing page, almost within 15 minutes of setting up your PPC campaign.
The caveat is, ICO advertising is banned on many platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter. What do you do?
One, there are some specialized websites like Cointraffic that provide targeted PPC advertising. Two, instead of directly talking about your ICO, you can cover various topics that are relevant to your field and then use PPC campaigns to drive traffic to those topics from conventional PPC advertising platforms.
Although SEO is not a marketing strategy per se, it cannot be overlooked. You need traffic from search engines and for this, you need to rank higher compared to your competitors.
In fact, SEO is one of the first strategies that you should implement to promote your brand and inform your audience. People are constantly searching for things like, “what is blockchain development” and “what are cryptocurrencies”? If you publish information-rich articles and blog posts on these and related topics, your search engine rankings will improve, creating more awareness of your brand.
Bounty programs are incentive-based campaigns where individuals and companies are invited to participate in an activity in anticipation of some sort of reward. More and more ICO promoters are using bounty programs to market themselves.
You can use ICO bounty programs to encourage people to seed and carry out conversations about your upcoming and ongoing ICO.
Through various incentives you can encourage journalists and bloggers to write about your ICO. You can also offer digital tokens in leu of promotional activities carried out on your behalf. There is a long list of activities you can compile that can be used to offer ICO bounty programs to interested parties.
Different ICO marketing needs may have different costs. The cost involves what channels and tools you want to employ and how much intensity is needed to promote your ICO.
Are you in a hurry and you need to market your ICO in a short span of time? Do you want to maximize your exposure? Do you want a sustained campaign spanning over a few months or even a year?
All these factors are going to affect your average cost of marketing and ICO.
The cost also depends on the ICO marketing team you decide to go with. If you have an in-house marketing staff, you may have a different cost factor.
Marketing is needed when there is competition. Marketing is also needed when there is too much noise and you want people to be able to hear your message clearly so that they can make sense of what you are saying and decide accordingly.
Marketing is also needed when there is less awareness about a topic and public perception is hazy at best.
ICO marketing is educational, informative and interactive. It requires striking up conversations between ICO promoters and prospective investors in a non-intrusive manner.
This is a specialized kind of marketing where marketing is done in such a manner that your prospects don’t even realize that they are being marketed to. More than marketing, you need engagement. This is where highly experienced ICO marketing agencies like Dot Com Infoway can make a big contribution.
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