Running a successful ICO is daunting. All of the pieces have to fall into place with impeccable precision or the project risks failure.
You see, most projects worth their salt are primarily pushed by technology. The core team is focused on solving a real-world problem but rarely understand the complexity of marketing a successful ICO.
Successfully marketing your project is just as important as developing real-world solutions. In fact, in many cases its more important. “Build it and they will come” strategies only work in Hollywood movies. Cultivating an enthusiastic audience who supports your idea is vital because even the coolest innovations fall prey to oblivion.
This article is designed to get you on the right track.
I will outline the 12 essential pillars of successful ICO marketing. We will discuss everything from core strategy to the nitty-gritty details that can make or break your project. These are lessons learned the hard way: by working on real projects. Some have been enormously successful whiles others not so much.
This is where most ICO marketing fails.
Long before it’s time to market your project a comprehensive strategy must be developed. This begins with your messaging and then expands to understanding how it interacts with all of the pillars that I will explain in this post.
First and foremost you need to concentrate on your messaging.
No matter what you’re building, the project needs to be clearly expressed in a way that is understandable and relatable to your audience. Nothing is more important than the words on the page.
To make sure your strategy is sound, be sure to consider some of these fundamental questions:
Running a successful ICO depends on every piece of the puzzle working together in harmony.
By correctly identifying your core audience, the problems they face, and presenting a solution which addresses their pain points, you can fashion a marketing strategy that speaks directly to their needs.
Remember, a great marketing strategy intellectually tempts your audience, but more importantly, makes a deep emotional connection to your propostion.
If you haven’t found that connection, stop reading. Everything depends on getting this right.
Once your strategy has begun to take form, you need to start building out your core marketing collaterals. Like any complex venture, you are going to need an entire suite of tightly integrated marketing materials.
Some of the most important ones are:
And this is just the beginning.
While developing these collaterals you need also focus on making sure that they all fit into a well-defined branding strategy. This is how you project a professional image into the marketplace.
The success of your ICO must be measured not just in tokens sold, but also by the size and enthusiasm of the community you create throughout the entire ICO marketing process.
The long term viability of your project rests on your ability to forge a relationship with highly engaged and enthusiastic supporters. To achieve this, a strategic methodology must be developed which allows you to cultivate the following:
Remember, your audience isn’t just defined by its numbers. You must also attract the right people to ensure the cultivation of relevant support.
These relevant supporters are the core believers who will work with you, ensuring the long-term success of your project. That’s why it’s essential to focus on them from the very beginning.
Content is every marketer’s most powerful tool.
Designing, implementing, and executing a comprehensive content marketing strategy is a fundamental requirement. This defines the way that your project will be perceived and determines the power of your message.
Content comes in many shapes, sizes and forms:
Working cohesively, this plethora of content forms the basis of how your project communicates with your audience. They need to be carefully structured, planned and published in a way that maximizes your effective reach within the marketplace.
Each piece of content should be tailored to a specific audience and should play a role in your overall story arch. By crafting your content marketing strategy in this way, you will be able to achieve a lasting presence in the dreams and imagination of your target audience.
Never underestimate the importance of solid infrastructure. Your ICO marketing initiative will depend on many pieces of core infrastructure that need to work in
conjunction and be resistant to failure and attack. ICO marketing takes place in a hostile environment; full of scammers, phishers and bad actors. That’s why maintaining solid infrastructure is critical.
Some elements to take into consideration are:
All of the above need to work seamlessly in conjunction. Improvise at your own risk.
One unique marketing tool that ICOs have at their disposal is the ability to leverage the actual token to incentivize participation in the project. By designing, implementing and managing a successful bounty campaign, you can forge a thriving army of enthusiastic supporters.
Unfortunately, most projects fail to utilize this resource to its maximum potential.
Not only is it essential to build a sizeable army of bounty supporters; it also needs to be correctly managed.
Done well, your bounty program can:
ICO Success consistently attract over 50-thousand people to our programs. This is not accidental. Through our experience we know building a true relationship with your supporters is vital to market awareness. Managing 50K people is no easy feat. They must be organized into tightly focused groups based on their specific abilities.
Email marketing is one of the key tools for solidifying a lasting relationship with your audience. Effective ICO email marketing is not just about informing people about your project’s news. Instead, you need to implement a coherent strategy that builds a lasting bond with your community.
Remember, a highly engaged email list is one of your primary marketing assets. It will become an integral part of your post-ICO marketing strategy, and you need to treat it with the respect that it deserves.
To accomplish this, we utilize the most advanced marketing automation tools on the market.
A question that often arises is how often should your whitelist receive email? Our experience has shown that the more you mail the better your results. Don’t be shy about emailing your audience as often as you have something important to say.
This comes with a very important caveat.
The quality of your emails is vital to retention. Constantly emailing boring “newsletter style” emails with no personality or entertainment value will cause your audience to quickly unsubscribe to your updates or worse, mark you as spam.
Please remember this: Successful email marketing is all about writing great email content. An email is an intimate one-on-one conversation that you are having with each person on your list. This conversation is taking place inside their head. As a marketer it’s your job to make the conversation as fun and engaging as possible.
Nothing builds more credibility than being featured in leading publications.
By reading about your project in reputable sources, you are effectively leveraging the credibility of the publication in your favor. Thus, the more top media coverage you can accumulate, the better perceived your project will be.
However, PR is not an easy task.
You have to remember that the journalist’s allegiance is first to his or her own career, next to the publication, then ultimately to the readers. On this scale, your needs are obviously way down towards the bottom.
So, how do you make these stars align?
First, by actually recognizing that the more newsworthy your content is, the better your chances of getting coverage. Great stories get told. Boring, slanted hack pieces get ignored.
That being said, experience shows that a successful PR strategy requires:
With these in mind, your project can and will be covered in important media outlets.
Your project doesn’t exist inside of a vacuum. In today’s world the important conversations which matter most are happening all over the internet as well as in private groups, public channels, and even at the local cafe.
To participate in the maximum number of these conversations, you absolutely must implement an effective social media strategy that includes:
Doing this creates a worldwide fabric of people interacting with your project which can self-propagate to more and more people.
The most important networks for ICO marketing are:
Resources are scarce or deferred to other areas of your project. This is understandable but usually a pivotal mistake.
Frankly speaking, it’s nearly impossible to launch an effective ICO marketing strategy in today’s market without having a reasonably sized advertising budget. Bottom line: you need to drive traffic to your project in order to start building the community that propels you toward success.
Certainly a certain amount of boot strapping is possible. While you’ll need to have resources available from the beginning, you can re-invest part of the proceeds from your early private token sales back into your advertising budget. Building off of early achievements as you advance toward your final goal is beneficial in the long run.
Most of your advertising will be separated into two separate activities:
The top of funnel advertising is how you reach new people who haven’t heard of your project yet. These ads could be:
Retargeting ads are shown to people already in our audience and the purpose is to keep us situated as “top of mind”. These ads are usually:
By combining this advertising with the marketing automation techniques explained above you are able to build up an audience that is constantly aware of the progress your project is making.
As the pieces of your integrated ICO marketing strategy begin to fall in place, you will begin to cultivate an online community of supporters. Nurturing and growing this community should be one of your principal objectives.
To accomplish this you must put in place an effective community management system. This system requires real human beings capable of interacting in real time with your audience.
Some of the tasks related to community management are:
While not particularly exciting, this aspect of your marketing plays a critical role in your public perception. Is the team responsive? Do you react correctly to criticism? How do you take care of “problems” that will inevitably arise?
The early stages of your marketing may not require a large group of people to manage your channels however, as your community grows, be prepared for the necessity of 24/7 coverage.
Not all ICO marketing is high-brow, sophisticated digital marketing.
More often than not, what’s needed is the willingness to roll up your sleeves and get down in the trenches. Managing your ICO marketing requires dedication and discipline to promote your messaging in an effective and engaging way.
This requires being innovative regarding your marketing. Going to a conference? Why not flood the area with cars wrapped in your logo? Going to be a guest on an interactive podcast? Make sure your supporters are ready with positive questions.
It’s time to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to make a great impression. While I don’t recommend jumping out of airplanes or crashing through windows, finding your unique voice is essential to building that connection with your audience,
Marketing an ICO is difficult. Yes, it’s a lot like running a traditional crowdsale campaign, except you need to work 10 times harder. Every piece of the puzzle needs to be carefully thought through and planned so when it comes time to execute, you’re prepared and ready to go.
I recommend that you begin your marketing at least 3 or 4 months ahead of your target token sale date. Take plenty of time to ensure your messaging makes sense and resonates with the audience you really need to reach.
Remember, don’t be afraid to project your real personality into your project’s marketing. People want to feel an authentic connection with the team behind the project and nothing’s worse than being bland, boring and uninspiring.
Finally, if this post has been of use to you, please feel free to click the button below to download our ultimate ICO planning guide.
Dennis H. Lewis is our CMO and is a serial entrepreneur and self-proclaimed digital storyteller. An author of three books, he has an uncanny knack of being able to distill complex technologies and explain them in ways that are fun and approachable. Over his extensive career he has lead startups both in Europe and the United States and currently runs a successful digital marketing firm in Orlando, FL. He has been featured on mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, Good Morning America and the BBC.