- Blockchain project marketing is different.
- Design your website using objective criteria.
- Know your audience and their journey to you.
- Marketing is about providing value at the right time.
- Your blockchain community is more than a fanbase.
Marketing is a tricky business, an endeavor that combines the artistic and the analytical with a bucket full of human psychology. But blockchain project marketing is a whole different animal. As I discuss in this partner post about blockchain communities, blockchain projects differ from typical firms in other sectors. This is largely due to the philosophical foundation most crypto organizations are built upon, which creates a significantly different type of community than what surrounds non-blockchain products and services.
For the most part, firms who solve a market need only, (without the philosophical component) build fans not communities. In our sector, projects have fans of course, but many of them participate as early adopters, volunteers, conference attendees, investors, and even governors. They are true communities, and they engage with their projects on a more intimate level.
For this reason, marketing blockchain projects requires a different set of best practices and I’d like to discuss a few of them in this post, relating to website design, inbound marketing, and community building.
Designing a marketing website for your blockchain project
Traditional website design suffers from a lack of objectivity. If you think about it, a website is one of your greatest assets because it’s always available day and night. It’s always communicating with your visitors, users, and potential customers. It is the foundation for your inbound strategy, and all outreach eventually leads people to it.
If that’s the case, it’s odd that many organizations treat their website like it’s an online business card, instead of the essential sales and marketing tool it is. I think this is particularly true in the greater blockchain community, where it seems (right or wrong) development is emphasized much higher than marketing and comms. And though project leads approach their code with logic, objectivity, and data (of course!) they do not extend that same method to digital asset creation.
This, my friends, has to change.
Your website has monumental potential to positively affect your project, but unless you take the time to decide your website’s purpose before you begin, it won’t reach it. Instead, It will cost you valuable resources, and the only result will be a pretty picture on the internet that no one ever visits.
If you want to get the most from your website, here are the steps you should complete before you begin designing it:
- Begin with your organizational goals. Figure out exactly what you are trying to achieve in the next 6-12 months, and design your website to achieve these goals. For example, if you want 5000 people to download your app, the website must be built to make that happen. Define your goals first.
- Define your audience. Who are the people you must attract in order to fulfill your project goals? This is beyond demographics, though they are important too. What are their character traits and quirks? What are their life goals? Where do they congregate, both in person and digitally? The better you know your users and have empathy for them, the better you will be able to communicate with them.
- Define your users’ journey to your product, service, or platform. There are three journey stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Your user has a different need depending on where they are on that journey, and therefore the way you communicate has to change with it.
- Use data. See how your users interact with your content and digital assets, and refine them over time. Your website should not be considered static. Regularly make changes over time based on whether or not it is helping you achieve your organizational goals.
For a full rundown of how to design a website for your blockchain project, including how to define your audience and their user journey, please check out this article.
Blockchain project marketing is about giving value
The two major types of marketing are inbound and outbound. Outbound was the dominant marketing approach until the last decade or so, and can be identified by its more interruptive style. Telemarketing, radio ads, television commercials, and print ads are all outbound approaches. As much as they are effective, they don’t often create a positive relationship between the company advertising, and their target audience.
Think about it. All of these types of marketing are things we’d prefer to avoid! When was the last time you were grateful to see an add before your YouTube video played? When was the last time you enjoyed a phone call from a telemarketer? Probably never.
Outbound marketing definitely works; the viewer begins to memorize the message, which influences their purchasing habits over time. But it also takes a psychological tole, as the viewer both experiences contempt for the product or service (because the advertising interrupts and distracts from the content they actually want to consume), as well as a magnetic pull to purchase it. This is terribly confusing emotionally.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It begins with the premise that people generally prefer receiving value over being interrupted, on their own terms. And people are willing to begin long term relationships with organizations who understand this. I find this approach essential for blockchain projects, because in order to be successful, we have to build communities. In order to build communities, we must entice people by giving them value.
Respect your audience
The best way to do that is by respecting our audience. We leave them alone except when we are providing them value. What does this look like? Information is valuable. For example, say a crypto holder acquires enough funds that her phone wallet no longer feels safe enough. She is worried the attack vectors on that type of storage are too great – and rightly so! This is the beginning of her user journey; the Awareness Stage, where she realizes she has a need. In this case, a more secure storage method.
So, what does she do next? She researches different types of storage options. This is the Consideration Stage. She sees a ton of options including software, hardware, and paper-based; from online to ice cold. And now she can choose the best option for her needs, in this case purchasing a hardware wallet.
Can you see how the type of information useful to her is different depending on which stage she’s in? While in the Consideration Stage, a blog post about different types of storage, and the pros and cons associated with each of them would be valuable. As a counter example, hardware wallet pricing information would not be needed in the Awareness Stage, since she hasn’t looked into what options exist yet. This information would be irrelevant to her, and would either be ignored or perceived as an annoyance.
Here are the steps one should take to begin their inbound approach:
- Decide what information would be valuable for your target user at each stage of their journey to you.
- Find out where your target user congregates during those stages (digitally and physically).
- Make that information available where they congregate.
- Offer a way for them to proceed to the next step on their journey, for instance a link to your website that has purchase information.
For more information on using Inbound Marketing for your blockchain project, please read this article.
Blockchain community cultivation beyond a fanbase
As I mentioned above, blockchain communities differ from communities in other sectors because blockchain projects normally have a strong philosophical foundation. In a typical company, the organizational goal is to sell a product or service. And even though the inbound marketing approach has prioritized building a fanbase around one’s offerings, it’s not the same. Blockchain projects combine market need and shared philosophy. This creates a movement supported by a mutual value structure, which is much more powerful than peers finding commonality around a product they both like.
Because of this, blockchain communities can help push the project forward – there’s a lot of inertia to tap into here, with people volunteering, sharing content, investing, and more. For that reason it’s very important to cultivate your community, to get the most out of it.
Here are some tips on how best to engage with your community:
- Communicate your project’s core philosophy, and only share things that support that philosophy. Share it often! And in different formats. This will curate your audience by attracting those who share your philosophy, repelling those who don’t.
- Use many formats to get your ideas across. Everyone consumes content differently, and their preferences vary. Use text, images, video, and voice. By using different mediums, the same message will still be compelling because it’s presented in a different way.
- Above everything, be clear. The entire point of communication is to understand and be understood, so make sure your message is logical, succinct, and accessible. There’s no need to sell anything. You don’t need to be verbose or fancy. You don’t need flashy design elements. In fact, most of the time this just distracts from the underlying message. If your audience understands your values and what you have to offer, they will make the best decision for themselves. The trick is to be specific and honest.
For a more in-depth look at community engagement in a blockchain world, please take a look at this article:
Rounding it up
Marketing blockchain projects requires specific expertise, because unlike most other companies, our goals go beyond selling products and services. Yes we are trying to fill a market need, but most projects are pursuing a parallel (and some would say “higher”) objective – to change the world through censorship resistance, identity ownership, and financial sovereignty. In order to do that, we must take extra care to figure out who our audience is, where we can find them, what we can offer them, and what we need them to do in order for us to complete our mission.
This is a much more objective method of marketing, which acts in harmony with the way blockchain projects approach development anyway. Use organizational goals as your guardrails, and provide value throughout the user journey. Then review data. Change what’s not working, and amplify what is. That is what it takes to market in a blockchain world.
PS: It wouldn't be a great blog post without an offer at the end 🙂
At MSquared we have a ton of experience marketing and communicating blockchain projects (like Swarm City and EthKan) and we’ve developed an objective system for website design/build and inbound marketing using the exercises covered in this post – and much more. We would be thrilled to help you with your project.
In fact, we’d like to start giving you value for free right away. Schedule a 30 minute strategy session with us. Let’s find out together how we can better identify and engage your community. This one’s on the house.