August 15, 2018

Marketing for Blockchain Startups & ICOs

In the past year, the blockchain community has gained tremendous momentum. Some outstanding projects are building the basis for what will become the next economy.

In the past year, the blockchain community has gained tremendous momentum. Some outstanding projects are building the basis for what will become the next economy. That momentum has also given birth to a new phenomenon in startup funding: Initial Coin Offerings. Simply put, an ICO is a mix between an IPO (the going public on the stock market) and crowdfunding. It started slow in 2016, with a total of 43 ICOs that raised $95 million. According to Coinschedule, last year, 210 ICOs were registered, generating in a total of $3.8 billion in funding. So far in 2018, 171 ICOs have been registered, raising close to $6 billion, just in the first quarter alone. If it keeps going at this pace, though it seems to actually rather accelerate further, we are looking at a rate of two ICOs per day…

There is a lot of competition and a lot of noise out there

With the increased popularity of blockchain technology as well as ICOs as a mechanism to fund startups, investors are becoming more selective. With more and more projects competing for funding, a strong marketing strategy and execution is becoming increasingly the key to a successful ICO. You need to stand out of the competition and break out of the noise.

One of the effects we expect this development to bring along is a significant level of professionalization of ICOs. Not only from the much needed regulatory and legal angle, but also from the Marketing point of view. And that might be equally important for the success of this industry.

Startups are focusing on technology and talking to themselves

Startups in the blockchain space are focusing on the technology and the product or solution. There are truly some brilliant developers and entrepreneurs out there, who are working hard on changing the world. There is no doubt about it. But not everybody is a brilliant programmer, a technology expert. Actually, most people are not.

If you want someone to invest in you and your project, it is only fair to expect them to be able to understand what you do, without a PhD in computer science.

For blockchain technology to reach mass adoption, it needs to become easier to understand. It needs to get out of the gig-nerd-cellar and into the living room.

Blockchain will change the way we communicate, the way we pay, the way we consume entertainment, the way logistics work… Almost everything. But it will not change the way we are wired as humans and how we take decisions. For humans to buy into something, it needs to be relevant to them. They need to see it, they need to want it and they need to trust it. Then, and only then, we will be able to change the world. And we want to change the world.

What is the solution? Translate your message into a story that people get

Lets first of all agree that you are awesome. Your project is awesome. Now what you need to do is to explain it in simple words. Package your project into a story. One that people can understand. Could you imagine if Henry Ford would have expected that everybody understood how a car works, before buying one? I hope you agree, we would still be riding horses… Technology is fascinating, but for most people it is far too complicated and intimidating. The true success of the Internet came with its mass adoption. When it started permeating everybody’s life every single day. How many people understand the Google search algorithm? Would you expect them to? Many of us have a hard time even spelling “algorithm” correctly!

Your project will succeed through solid financing and user adoption. Technology is not at the center, but a mere catalyzer. For investors, it is all about the problem you solve and the potential for your product. For users, it is all about what they can do with your product thanks to the technology. Therefore, stop talking about blockchain, mining, encryption, nodes, hash, ledgers, consensus… If you want me to understand your product, don’t force me to re-learn what a “fork” is. I won’t eat it…

Photo credits:

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels
Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Opt-Out IconYour Privacy Choices Notice at Collection