The year 2017 saw one dynamite blockchain project after another. Hundreds of millions were raised, enthusiasm was stratospheric, and promises made by companies verged on world-shaking. While marketing was clearly important to the pre-launch process, sometimes it felt like all one had to do was breathe the words ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ to receive glowing press in the community. Only now, as we ride out the inevitable doldrums between token sale and product release, that the importance of an effective marketing team can prove its weight in bitcoin.
One sought after name in the industry is Brian D. Evans, founder of the media platform Influencive.com, and winner the Golden Token award for Blockchain Influencer of the Year in 2018. He’s currently CMO at ShipChain, where he works with a team of influencers set on hauling the freight and shipping industry into the 21st century with blockchain technology. Drawing from his fifteen years of experience in the field of online advertising, what follows are some strategies that every blockchain project should follow if it wants to keep its brand cooking post token sale.
Leverage Social Media
Broadcast your brand on as many vectors as you can, and when you find the one that’s getting you the best traffic, and/or generating the strongest community engagement, focus your efforts there. Post regular updates, but only speak when you have something to say. Vague promises of “great things in the works” won’t convince anyone. Customers are savvier than ever, and they know vaporware when they see it.
Offer the community an intimate look into your company. Behind the scenes videos and photos are a great way to get outsiders excited. It’s important to think of the public the same way you do your employees. Their morale matters, and they’re pinning their hopes and dreams on you, too. By fostering a shared sense of of struggle, hard work, and optimism through social media channels, your community will feel like your victories are their own. It’s the same as sports fandom. Even though the fans never play a snap, they believe they’ve earned a share of the glory when their team performs well.
This may sound like a no-brainer, and yet, Twitter is littered with accounts for major blockchain projects, some of which raised hundreds of millions, but which violate each and every recommendation listed above. Look no further than their replies to see the ire stoked by such negligence.
Razor Sharp Messaging
Your blockchain project probably wouldn’t have succeeded without a clear use-case and it’s important not to lose sight of it as you maintain brand interest in the lull between funding and going operational. Utilizing social media is vital as we’ve discussed, and continuous updates that track with your stated goals keep the public interest simmering. Even if the updates are granular, people will want to hear about them if they represent another step forward on the long march to your product launch. While it’s tempting to go along with the blockchain’s quasi-utopian narrative, try to keep messaging grounded. We all want to believe that blockchain can change the world for the better, but we also want to know how.
Tailor Your Message to Different Audiences
Any successful idea or product appeals to a wide range of audiences. As Brian Evans notes, ShipChain’s disruption of the freight and shipping supply chain not only has the potential to update an industry that’s technologically behind the times, resulting in clear cost and time benefits to the end consumer, but its business model also strongly appeals to people within the industry.
There are three categories which demand their own tailor made marketing channel. Small businesses, who live and die by each shipment of their product, are highly interested in the platform’s global track and trace capabilities. Brokers and other middlemen, while they may feel threatened at first, have much to gain by transferring their business to the blockchain. And developers, the ones building on ShipChain’s ecosystem, are intrigued by working in a space that has an incredibly high ceiling for its user base.
Finding a way to successfully market to these three groups separately, using language they’re accustomed to, leads to interest in the product that, while different in kind, can be equally strong. Evans acknowledges that this requires wearing many hats as a CMO, in effect becoming an expert in several disciplines, but this is part and parcel of marketing in the blockchain space, and appeals to those among us who are always looking to stretch their horizons.
Peace of Mind
Contra PT Barnum, there is such a thing as bad publicity. Blockchain still bears a patina of distrust due to years of anti-crypto news in the mainstream press. If you want your product or platform to attract a broad user base, you’re going to have to reach the non-enthusiast crowd, and the sad fact of the matter is many of these people either A) have no idea what blockchain is, B) think it’s unsafe due to high profile crypto heists, or C) believe it’s connected with nefarious criminals operating on the black market. If someone visits Twitter and falls for scammers impersonating your company, you may have lost a customer for life. Don’t let it happen. If and when you reach a public beta stage, it’s incumbent on your security team to make sure it goes off without a glitch, and then for your marketing team to trumpet this accomplishment loud and clear to the wary public. Do you part to make blockchain as benign as email to the average Jane and Joe.
Finally, Accept the Possibility of Failure
Evans stresses the importance of walking the line between managing expectations and maintaining relentless optimism. When a favorite project of his failed, he had to accept that failure is a bitter reality even for the most successful people on earth. Just as you shouldn’t make impossible promises in your marketing, you should keep your own expectations grounded in reality, so that when failure does come, it won’t be at the expense of your own self worth. Many an idea that seemed bulletproof has come to an unhappy end, but that doesn’t mean all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it were for naught.
It’s no easy task marketing a product or platform post campaign. Even the most experienced marketer has to admit it’s a struggle to maintain the hurricane-force winds of hype that greeted many a token sale in the previous year. The public, used to instant gratification, and swiftly advancing technology may lose patience with the time it takes to turn idea into reality. Other businesses, promised sweeping improvements to their industries aren’t immune to frustration, either. The crucial point is to not let this interim period succumb to silence. Your company might not have anything to sell right now, but when that day comes, the public will be ready. Thanks to you.