Do You Know Your Target Audience for a Successful ICO Marketing Campaign?by Sebastian Schuhl
When founders realized that they could algorithmically generate a token which would generate value if enough people became interested, the ICO model took flight. The reason for tokenizing was less important than the simple fact that you were planning on offering a token. Some even slapped a quick phrase along the lines of, “It’s the Bitcoin for [insert relevant industry],” threw together a white paper, and pinged it around Reddit, Twitter, and native Telegram channels.
For a while, this worked. But thank goodness it didn’t last. Now, in 2018, the mainstream arrival of cryptocurrencies should hopefully give flight to real products rather than simple money-getting schemes. Not only that, but it has also shed some light on the demographics of investors.
The following is a part of our series on the “Five Things We’ve Learned From Watching ICO Market(ing) Closely.”
Floodlights and Lasers
The Floodlight marketing method only worked due to the over-hyped sector last year and failed to consider fundamental questions of marketing: why and for whom? It also soon attracted upstart folks moving over to the vibrant blockchain ecosystem with minimal (if any) marketing experience at all, promising to deliver that urgently needed “hype.” It was an example of herd mentality meeting over-hyped and poorly understood technology. It was, however, beneficial for something altogether different.
Broad spectrum attention-seeking shed light on four groups within the investing space as well as exposing a swath of scams and shady non-products. It paved the way for the Laser focus on a project’s target audiences.
Gain Trust of Your Target Audience(s)
The patchwork of people turning commentary into financial support is myriad. There are newbies just entering the space, technical analysts hoping to buy low and sell high, large scale crypto funds, as well as developers poking holes in emerging products. So, how do you satisfy them all in order to reach your soft cap? The trick is in how you communicate your vision and product benefits to appeal to each demographic. As marketing guru Robert Cialdini explained in his seminal work Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, marketers who are able to corroborate similarities and create a likeness in a customer usually generated a better turnover rate. Or, in short: you need to gain the trust of your target audience.
The Blockchain Community & Developers
We see the group of people that got in on blockchain very early on, say before 2013, as the “original” Blockchain community. This group is largely made up of (blockchain) developers who have been following the technology closely over several years now and, thus, know the tell signs of promising projects. As a premise, it’s likely more productive to first convince these programmers of your product’s viability. Assuming you’ve done this (if not, well, that’s a whole different problem), you’ll need to focus your attention on the places that these individuals are spending their time. Getting your GitHub up to snub and the code presented is a non-starter, but being active in this channel will mean that you’ll earn the trust of a highly-skeptical demographic of potential investors and supporters. Don’t try to sell too hard to these experts. Make it easy for them to digest your relevant information and they will form their own opinion.
If you can earn the trust of the people who are likely to be the most knowledgeable about the technology, this will have a snowball effect on gathering confidence from the rest of the community.
The “Big Whales”
While institutional investors have access to larger amounts of capital, they are far less likely to shell it out for a product that hasn’t been battle-tested. This demographic is far more careful with risk and will turn your ICO inside and out before contributing to a project. You need to give them your best possible pitch and tell them how your business is going to make money (for them). Provide them with as close to a proper business plan as you can - at least outlining significant milestones, a clear allocation of funding, and a potential growth path for your business. Often, they are a hard sell, but earning them as contributors is also important for meeting your goals. You draw their attention via a precise translation of the backend that so attracted the developers on GitHub. It’s less the technical how, and more the why your technology will disrupt a particular industry.
Speculators and Hobbyists
Venture capital funds and developers will hopefully be the most difficult groups to appease. But earning their support makes reaching the upper end of your funding round much easier. These two groups set the stage for the arrival of speculative traders hoping to turn a quick profit as well as the hobbyist who is just getting started in the crypto space.
These speculators will likely be most active in Telegram channels, on Reddit, and writing reports or starting conversations on Twitter about your project. These are the two groups who will help take your ICO to its next step as they represent the masses. It’s the point where you start rolling your biggest snowball.
Practically, it means being extremely active on social media channels. Be aware that these two groups are high-maintenance target audiences which require significant investment of time to keep them engaged. They will ask and demand answers to all kinds of product and non-product related questions. So, while GitHub is still essential to maintain, for the sake of efficiency, you should attempt to convene all conversations into a few concise locations. This is also helpful for generating derivative discussions between all four groups: Developers, VCs, speculators, and hobbyists.
Your Potential Customers
Watching hundreds of ICOs closely, we’ve noticed that a worrying large number of projects are making the same mistake; they are exclusively marketing their ICO in the crypto space, investing large amounts of money on PR and Ads on crypto portals. Yet, they are completely disregarding one crucial target group: their potential users. The idea of crowdfunding is to pitch your product to potential customers - not to investors - because they understand your vision and your product.
While many of the 2017’s ICOs were merely in the game to source money from an unknown crowd, 2018 has shown that, going forward, only projects with a real business case will be successful in raising sufficient funding through ICOs. And here’s the catch. A real business case requires real, paying customers at some point. So although your target customers/users might not be as involved in crypto as you might want them to, you need to focus your ICO marketing to this crucial audience. These people are the most important community you have to build, grow, and engage, as they will be the ones turning into true, value adding customers and hopefully brand ambassadors later on.
Despite the fact that your potential users might not even invest in your ICO, creating a community of passionate fans who believe in your vision and who love your product/service, is one of the most fundamental tasks for any successful ICO marketing campaign. Furthermore, you can leverage the engagement of a highly passionate and active community. A large follower base of genuinely interested supporters will show great demand for your product and will positively influence the willingness of other investor groups to get in on your project.
Roughly speaking, these groups make up your primary audience. A successful marketing campaign means each of them is being attended to and thus reciprocating financial support (or the network effects of sheer fandom). In the following article in our series, we’ll be taking a deep dive into how you can use traditional social media platforms to garner attention from potential investors for your crypto project.