by Dennis H. Lewis
ICOs are all the rage.
And that’s what’s happening with initial token sales right now.
However, the honest truth is that very few people have actually gone through the process from beginning to end. Even fewer can claim to have participated in marketing a successful ICO.
Almost by chance, I’m one of the few.
The first ICO I was in charge of marketing was a little known project called VIVA. I had known the team at VIVA for quite some time, and when they asked me to use my marketing experience to help launch their project I couldn’t help but agree.
After that, I’ve worked with multiple projects including OPEN Platform, ZFX Token and SuchApp.
However, the purpose of this post is to share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully how it can help you do even better.
You see, I already had extensive experience running crowdfunding campaigns. And although the audience and the messaging were completely different, I soon realized that the mechanics are actually very similar.
There are three fundamental areas that you have to prepare for: story, audience and foundation.
Let’s start with your story.
Nothing is more important than a compelling story that reaches out and grabs your audience in the gut.
This is your why.
What problem are you solving? Why is it important? How did you come across your solution? Who is your team?
All of these questions (and quite a few more) need to be addressed in your story.
Remember, you are asking people to invest their hard-earned money in your project. It’s a risky proposition. They don’t know you and have very little recourse if you fail.
That’s why building trust and credibility is so important.
The next critical aspect is to build an audience.
Who are the people that feel most deeply about the problem you’re trying to solve? How does it affect them? On what level? Where do they congregate? How do they communicate?
Up until now most initial coin offerings have centered around a purely cryptocentric audience. But this is changing.
The crypto world represents only a tiny fraction of the worldwide populace. While the amounts being raised may seem astronomical, on a global scale they are completely insignificant.
In the near future most successful ICOs will be reaching far beyond the traditional crypto world.
And while you build this audience, always remember to build longterm viable assets.
Sure, your fundamental goal is to sell your tokens, but you also need to assure your ability to grow in the future. This means cultivating assets like an engaged email list, a substantial following on social media and a solid retargeting audience.
You should plan from the beginning on getting the most from every click that you generate.
And last, but definitely not least, are the foundational aspects of your ICO.
Perhaps the most important foundational aspect of your ICO is your white paper.
This is where you dig deep into the problem, the solution and the offering. You need to anticipate objections and answer them in a straight forward manner.
While lots of teams approach the elaboration of their white paper through a collaborative process, don’t even consider stopping there. While it’s great to bring in the opinions and contributions of your entire team, your white paper must be professionally edited and published.
This includes making sure it faithfully tells your story in a coherent and focused fashion. Does your white paper have a consistent voice and tone? Does it answer all of the necessary questions? Has it been pruned down to a manageable length? Does it look polished and professional?
Never forget that your white paper is your biggest ambassador. It needs to project a clear and inspiring vision along with convincing credibility.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to keep the process simple. The more hoops you make your investors jump through the fewer of them you’ll convince.
This means concentrating on making the buy process as simple and straightforward as possible.
Think through the paths that our audience will travel down and try to remove as many obstacles as possible.
Along this line, I also believe that you need to accept fiat currencies as well as crypto.
Unless you’re willing to fish exclusively in the tiny cryptocurrency pond, you need to accommodate people who have never heard of bitcoins, ethereum or digital wallets. And this means accepting fiat.
Because the learning curve required for non crypto savvy users is just to steep for many people who are interested in your project, but haven’t figured all of this out yet.
You don’t want your buyers stumbling into withdrawal limits, confusing technologies and other roadblocks before they even have a chance of participating.
It is also equally important to keep the process transparent.
Your investors are making a huge leap of faith by joining your project. And while some may do so for purely speculative reasons, many will feel a nagging doubt about whether they’ve made a wise decision.
By communicating regularly and openly about your progress and the milestones you’re completing you will be able to assuage their fears and keep them totally on board with the evolution of your ICO.
Which brings me to the final and perhaps most important lesson I’ve learned - the importance of a plan.
Pulling off a successful ICO requires bringing into alignment a whole host of tasks, systems and obligations, and to accomplish this you need a solid game plan.
This plan should begin three or four months ahead of the ICO launch and should include project milestones, budgets and post ICO actions. My experience has shown that this is where most ICOs and crowdfunding projects go bad.
One thing is to raise money, and another altogether is to actually accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Good planning and careful execution are essential for making both happen.
Right now it’s easy to get stars in your eyes imagining the rewards of pulling off a successful ICO. After all, reading about how scrappy teams of hungry developers have pulled off massive raises is the ultimate story of bootstrapping world class success.
And, in my opinion, we are only now beginning to ride a wave that has years of potential ahead of itself.
With that in mind it is really important to start putting in place strong projects that are well thought out and that provide lasting value to their investors.
Interested in running a successful ICO?
If so, click here to get my free Ultimate ICO Planning Guide.
Dennis H. Lewis is our CEO 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.