Inbound marketing is an outreach strategy where you look to provide value to your potential users and customers. You do this at every step of their journey towards your product or service. It is the opposite of outbound marketing, which is a more interruptive style that characterized most approaches until a little over a decade ago.
Telemarketing, radio ads, television commercials, and print ads are all outbound marketing, and as much as they can be effective, they don’t often create a positive relationship between the advertising company and their target audience. This makes complete sense if you think about it. Commercials, for example, are for the most part a distraction from the thing you want to watch.
Commercials are something you endure, while you wait for the content you’re actually interested in to begin or resume.
This creates contempt between the viewer and the product, because on some level they resent what they’re forced to watch. It may be subconscious, but the more times you see that same commercial, the more you resent it. But a funny thing happens – you also begin to memorize its message and imagery. Over time your brain believes that message is true. So the next time you’re looking to make a purchase you choose that product because it shouted at you the most.
What an emotionally confusing experience!
I image on some level we hate the products we purchase as a result of this type of outreach. No matter how useful they are. Think of the mental gymnastics we must do to be simultaneously happy AND unhappy that we spent money on something!
Inbound marketing is the answer
Inbound marketing is a completely different approach. It begins with the premise that people ultimately prefer receiving value over being interrupted. Because of that, they are more willing to begin a long term relationship with a brand who understands this. Inbound is a more intimate approach, because in order to give your audience things of value, you must understand who they are – not just their demographics, but their desires, fears, and goals. It’s that understanding that connects you with your audience, because they know you are putting effort into giving them what they want, instead of forcing your message down their throat.
This is particularly important in blockchain marketing, because most projects are not simply selling products; they’re building communities too.
Like any new, potentially paradigm-altering technology, there is no built-in audience for what we’re creating. It didn’t exist before. We have to turn disparate individuals into communities of users, and we do it one person at a time. That means first seeking to understand them, and then offering them value at the right time.
I would argue that in these early days of building blockchain tools and communities, outbound strategy does not work because typically the user experience in blockchain is not as good as old-world competitors. People will only put up with less convenience if they clearly see that using a product provides other forms of value. For instance, philosophical alignment.
Therefore, giving value must be the primary goal of blockchain marketing. Otherwise, users who first learn about your project in an interruptive way, only to find it less convenient or less easy than old-world options will not onboard. We are creating a movement, and the only way to do it in a sustainable way is to provide value in every interaction. For a more general overview of blockchain project marketing, please visit this article here.
Know your blockchain audience
To that end, the first thing we must do is understand our audience. Who exactly are the people we’re looking to attract? Define their demographics, of course, but don’t stop there. Can you identify their Myers Briggs? What type of job do they do, and what is their role in it? Do they have quirks? What are their goals, and why might they be drawn to the blockchain world and specifically your product or service?
The better you can identify with your audience on an empathic level – the more “real” they are to you – the better you will be at communicating with them.
Then find out what communities they participate in, and what communication tools they use, because you will need a presence there to interact with them. Are they social media users, and what types of content do they consume at different times of the day? Do they attend meetups or conferences?
We developed a comprehensive user persona template that helps us capture all this information in one friendly document, so we have it available whenever we’re looking to communicate with our audience. This persona is real to us – we even give them a name and picture. And we “speak” directly to that persona whenever we engage publicly, so that we never lose track of who they are, and what they value.
Know their journey to your blockchain project
Before anyone buys a product or service, or joins a club or community, they go through a process by which they:
- Identify they have a need or want.
- Research options to fulfill it.
- Determine which option gives them the most value.
This process is called “the buyer’s journey”. It may also be referred to as “the user’s journey”. The buyer’s journey is an acknowledgement that beyond impulse purchases, (which I would argue still exhibit similar behaviors) every time one acquires something new, there is a path they follow to get to it. And at each step on that path, the user has a certain amount of awareness and knowledge. They have certain expectations, and they take certain actions.
By understanding how they act, what they know, and what they expect at each stage, you can determine what information they would find useful. Then you can provide it for them at that stage. Think about how powerful that is! Not only are you tailoring your message for a specific person, your message is specific to where they are on their journey.
Right message, right person, right place, right time
Knowing your audience, where they congregate, and their journey empowers your ability to market your blockchain project in a fulfilling way; for you and them, because you are able to provide the information they want, when they want it most. For example, if someone doesn’t even know they need your product, what good would come of it if you told them the price to acquire it?
That would be a non-sequitur. At that early stage it would be better to give them more general information. For instance, how using blockchain technology can help them achieve a certain goal. If they find it valuable that creates a positive connection, as they associate your project with providing value. They may then learn more about you, and perhaps visit your website. (As an aside, here’s a post describing how to use objective criteria to design your website.) Once there you can lead them down a path towards understanding your product, service, or platform.
The thing I want most to impress upon you is that using an inbound strategy is permission based, and therefore more respectful.
You are giving value when someone wants it – on their terms, and thus building a relationship with them. Have you noticed the way some ICOs present themselves as scammy? (Not all ICOs are scams of course.) They interject themselves into your life with emails you never asked for, and exhibit other obnoxious behavior. If you are legitimately trying to start a movement towards an economy that values permission-based, peaceful interactions, then you should approach your audience that way too.
I am convinced that employing an objective, thoughtful inbound strategy is the right way to build a community for your blockchain project. You’ll get the best results and stay philosophically consistent in the process.
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.