l remember when crypto was still a foreign concept? Bitcoin was this new and crazy idea that people didn't really understand, and it was hard to get people interested in learning more about it. Luckily we're all on board and investing now.
Or... are we?
Many Bitcoiners make the assumption that since they are interested in crypto, everyone else must be too. But you'd be surprised at how many people are still uninterested in learning about crypto; in fact, a lot of people don't even know what it is. Bitcoin has been around for over 10 years now, and all things considered, 300 million crypto users worldwide aren't that many.
So how do we get more people interested? How do we educate the uneducated about crypto and persuade them to invest? This is what I spoke about with one of my podcast guests from last year, Aubrey Strobel (see the episode here). She's the head of comms for the crypto startup Lolli.
Her mission? To make crypto mainstream, and to bridge the knowledge gap for the 'moms and pops' of the world. I thought it'd be interesting to explore this in more detail; the idea of reaching the unreached with your business concept. Let's talk about it.
Aubrey Strobel is the Head of Communications at Lolli, a platform where you earn free Bitcoin while shopping online. She discovered crypto in 2016 and worked for a few different blockchain projects shortly after wrapping up her journalism degree.
She is a regular contributor for Coindesk, has had her works featured by NBC, speaks globally on crypto and blockchain, and today, both Lolli and Aubrey are household names within the crypto scene.
So how did this all start? Aubrey herself wasn't an avid Bitcoiner from the get-go; she was a journalism student interested in social justice. It was only after a recommendation from her friends that she went down to the local Bitcoin ATM and made a small investment. That was the beginning.
“I got into crypto through talking to my friends. But then I saw an opportunity to work at a PR firm to share the story and educate people about Bitcoin. It was a very large problem, and a problem that I could help solve or be a voice for.”
Years later, she's the head of marketing for Lolli and an avid proponent of crypto use. When I asked her why Aubrey told me:
“Freedom is a value that I hold very near and dear as an American, and I feel like that has been democratized in terms of the internet, but hasn't really been done in finance. There's too much power in certain institutions.”
With a passion to educate and a mission to make crypto mainstream, Aubrey is the perfect example of someone who's gone out of her way to reach the unreached. She's not only an excellent marketer but also believes in what she's selling; a rare combination.
As I said, it's easy to wrap yourself in a bubble of your own reality. Maybe you are super educated in all things artificial intelligence, and so you assume that every company must be adopting it, too; or perhaps you are an active member of the vegan community, and now believe that everyone is going plant-based.
It's an incredibly human phenomenon. Psychologists have even given this a name: the false consensus effect. We tend to overestimate how widely our own beliefs are shared by others.
In some cases, this is totally fine. It's not a problem if you assume that all companies use the same CRM software as you (because it's clearly the best and most popular). But when it comes to your entire business concept, assuming the knowledge of your target consumer is a dangerous game.
“When you're in the industry, you want to shake people and say, ‘This is the future. I hope you can see that too'," Aubrey lamented in our interview. "But blockchain, crypto, all these terms we're talking about now are still kind of confusing to a lot of people.”
When you ignore the true education level of your audience, you miss out on a whole lot of potential business. Imagine if Facebook had only marketed to people who were already using MySpace. Your grandma wouldn't be posting pictures of her cats for the world to see, that's pretty certain.
Aubrey recognized the education gap in the crypto industry immediately, and her work since then has been pivotal in moving the space forward.
“The reason that Bitcoin is great is that it has that scarcity component to it; there is no way to create more Bitcoin."
Aubrey explained when I asked why she's a fan of the currency. This is the message she's trying to reach the broader masses with – but there's a long way to go yet.
“Right now, the mainstream group of people is just trying to take care of their kids and pay their bills; they're not looking much beyond that. So to say it's the ‘future of finance’, and to throw around terms like DeFi and blockchain... the normal person just doesn't have time to really sit there and figure that out.”
It's true. For those of us who have personally invested in crypto and perhaps seen some impressive returns, it's hard to remember sometimes that the industry is still in its earliest stages. We've been reading about Bitcoin since 2009; for many people, it only hit their radar in late 2017.
This is where Aubrey and her team come in.
“We want to lower those barriers to entry for people. We want to be a resource for people; we're trying to help them in every way possible.”
The Lolli Approach
Aubrey was brought onto the Lolli team as a marketer, and she very quickly put her own spin on the company mission.
“I would say Lolli is leading the charge because we're not after just Bitcoiners. It's not just a Bitcoin club anymore. It's about getting every single person possible.”
So, what are they actually doing? Great question.
At its simplest, Lolli is like Honey for Bitcoin. You install the Lolli extension and shop at one of their partner stores like Sephora or Nike. When you make a purchase, you earn a certain percentage of Bitcoin back – just like cashback rewards.
“However we can get people owning Bitcoin is a good thing for me. I don't care how that takes place. Lolli was a project that I thought I could really get people – the moms and dads, aunts and uncles – into the door with.”
It's a genius move. If you look at companies like Honey – the brands that attach themselves to the daily habits of millions of people – you start to see the power of what Lolli is doing. People are far more inclined to try something out if it's easy and doesn't require a lot of commitment.
“I think we need to get people comfortable holding and owning Bitcoin, and being their own bank first. And Lolli allows people to do that in a very easy way. Not everyone sees themselves as an investor; they see themselves as a shopper, though. I think most people are accustomed to shopping online. And so that bridge is easier to get people over.”
Lolli isn't asking you to put down $10,000 to buy Bitcoin; they're saying “Hey, try this out. You might like it.” And the only money you spend is on buying from your favorite stores, which you were doing anyway.
“You can earn fractions of Bitcoin on Lolli every single day, which makes it an even more active wallet than Coinbase or perhaps any of these larger exchanges because people are just finding ways to make it a part of their daily behavior accruing money.”
I'm so impressed by the Lolli strategy, and by Aubrey's dedication to educating people through it. It's one thing to talk about the importance of Bitcoin; it's another to actually get people to use it in their everyday lives. This is how you make real progress.
For me, the question that arose from my conversation with Aubrey was this: how can I apply her same logic to my own business? How can we all?
Bare bones, this is the situation I see:
All of us have a wider audience we aren't reaching with the benefits of our products and services, whether that's because they don't know we exist or because they think we're not for them. Most of us want to get in front of that audience, but we don't know how – because we assume they already know about us, and have decided against us anyway. If we could find a way to reach the unreached and get them to give us a chance, we could see a serious uptick in business.
The solution? Humanize your brand. Make it accessible. Tailor it to the mainstream as opposed to the people who already stan you.
“Any way that you can humanize a brand is impactful, no matter what that may be," Aubrey explained. "People don't want to talk to brands; they want to feel comfortable, they want to engage. You should have your users want to spend money with you, and make them feel that way when they're shopping.”
This makes me think of companies like LUSH in Australia and the UK. Not only is Lush one of the most inviting stores to walk into (smells, colors, textures), but they've also managed to remove all knowledge barriers and educate customers on their many natural skincare ingredients.
How have they done this? Well, for starters:
They've ditched packaging in favor of naked products (no pun intended). This means that customers can touch and feel the product before they buy it, making the experience more interactive. They have open cupboards and displays so that customers can see and smell all the products before they buy them. They have a team of knowledgeable staff members who are passionate about the products and can answer any questions customers might have.
What's more, Lush has become a master of content marketing. They've built an entire website dedicated to educating their customers on the benefits of natural skincare, and they've done it in a way that's engaging and easy to understand.
Bit of a left-field example, I know – but seriously, who else from the soaps and skincare industry has managed the same feat on such a scale? We can learn a lot from Lush, Honey, Lolli, and other education-first brands.
To round out the newsletter, let's hear some of Aubrey's insights into what humanizing your brand requires. What are the steps, and what should you avoid?
First, what not to do
Aubrey's big no-no is compromising on your unique messaging. Don't sacrifice what makes you special just to get in front of a bigger audience.
“A lot of these crypto companies are really trying to dress themselves up like banks. And that's exactly what we were trying to get away from. We're not trying to be banks anymore. We're trying to have this idea of freedom. And so I think really lean into what makes you unique, no matter what that may be.”
Lolli doesn't shy away from its identity as a crypto company. It does, however, make an effort to meet people where they are, and to make investing feel more a part of everyday life.
“We're trying to be the fun bank. We want to add different incentives like interest accounts and things like that.”
A big part of the Lolli strategy is about making waves through social media. Lolli accounts aren't posting the latest stock prices or industry news; they're sharing relatable content and building a personality.
“We've made our Instagram sort of a meme account. Our Twitter account puts out memes, but it sort of just trends with topics that are happening. We also have other channels where we offer the best Bitcoin back deals that you can get on Lolli."
You might be thinking – a meme account? Seriously? No one's going to trust a meme connoisseur with their time and money. Well... you'd be surprised.
“People make jokes about memes, but meme advertising is a new strategy that’s going on. People even argue there will be Chief Meme Officers in the future, because that kind of content is important for companies to relate, and it's easy engagement.”
And of course, there's the education aspect; the whole goal of Lolli is to make Bitcoin more accessible. Aubrey makes sure that their marketing strategy supports this mission.
"We can't just bring people in and then not educate them. Once you own Bitcoin, we want to explain to you why it's a better currency than people have already, and how to take care of that money. Because Bitcoin, while it is very simple in some ways, it can be very complicated.”
Aubrey warns that we shouldn't be shying away from social media; it's where the crowds are, and where you'll make the most noise.
“For people who may not know how to guide their company or personal brand, I would say just start today. Some people feel kind of intimidated by these platforms – that maybe they couldn't have a voice there. I think just start today and be consistent with your content.”
I love today's newsletter topic because it's such a thought-provoking one. Are you accidentally cutting out a huge potential audience by failing to educate? Are you humanizing your brand in a way that makes sense, or are you selling yourself short?
Aubrey really showed me that passion is one of the key ingredients to a successful outreach strategy. You need to believe in your mission. You need to want people to find your product and want their lives to change as a result.
Trying and failing to reach a broader audience? Meet people where they're at – don't make them come to you. Attach yourself to something they interact with on a daily basis. If you can't do that, double down on your social media strategy and make sure you're being personal, relatable, and consistent.
Thanks for reading, everyone. What's your strategy for reaching the unreached? I'd love to hear it below!
Also published here.