Digital currency has its roots in disruption from the beginning. Bitcoin was Satoshi Nakamoto’s response to the 2008 global financial meltdown. He invented blockchain as a transparent, decentralized ledger system to record bitcoin transactions without third-party verification.
Fast forward to 2023. It’s easy to see why people are emotionally attached to the idea of decentralized finance. The promise of an alternative to the central banks’ control of fiat appeals to the 99% that aren’t part of the global financial elite.
Beyond that, the rise of ICOs was, until the SEC noticed, a way that anyone with some technical expertise and a good story could raise thousands, even millions, outside of traditional fundraising channels.
It's the "good story" part we'll look at in this post because that is what marketing is.
Marketing is simply telling the same basic story over and over and over again in creative ways. To keep people engaged and attract new fans, you must devise countless creative ways to engage them. That's why marketing activities are heavy on the creative element.
One key to remember is that there is nothing new under the sun - effective crypto marketing strategies work because they leverage the same fundamentals that the biggest brands from any era use - from Coca-Cola to IBM, and Apple, to Solana, Cardano, and more.
Fundamentals First for Powerful Crypto Marketing
Before you dive into the implementation, be sure your fundamentals are clear. Even though cryptocurrency introduces new tools, crypto projects still benefit from spending time on solid marketing fundamentals. Once you see the template, you can dissect the elements of successful crypto and NFT projects.
Below are the basic questions every team should answer for their marketing fundamentals.
What Unique Benefit Do You Offer, and for Whom?
One sentence every brand should be clear on is this:
We do X for Y, so they can do/have/feel Z.
X is your product or service. Y is your target customer. And Z is the benefit they receive from doing business with you. Another way of thinking of it is, what problem do you solve?
For example, Bitcoin allows people to pay each other directly for goods and services to avoid banks and fees.
The more specific you are about X and Y, the easier it will be to attract and engage your audience. Finally, you must know how your X differs from your competition. Why should a customer choose you over the competitor? What is unique about your product or service?
Once you are clear on whom you serve and how you are different, the next job is building a community that trusts you enough that some of them will eventually do business with you.
Hot tip: One shortcut to building an engaged community is demonstrating shared values and giving people a platform for collective action.
People are emotional about their values, and emotion is the super glue for a community. In 2022, a Trustpilot study reported that 50% of consumers say it's important for brands to take a stance on social, environmental, or political issues.
Telling stories or taking action that reflects shared values is a powerful tool for building community. Cardano's founder Charles Hoskinson is a master at using shared values to create what he calls an “army of marketers” for Cardano.
The cryptocurrency space is a case study in a values-driven community. Many crypto investors want to see a more equitable financial world. They are willing to accept the risk of building out an alternative system.
Others in the space value outsized opportunities for risk and reward. In recent years, investors have engaged in massive speculation in the crypto markets. Some have made millions, and many others have not.
Despite having rational knowledge that cryptocurrencies are unregulated and risky, some investors have let their emotions lead them to invest money they could not afford to lose and suffer painful financial losses. This gamble exemplifies how emotion may override logic in values-driven behavior.
Choosing Tools for Building Community
As Web3 evolves, so do communities and tools for engaging people. Discord offers a great example. The conventional wisdom is that in order to build community in Web3, you must build an engaged community on Discord.
The reality is that you must consider your audience first.
Web3 native projects use Discord and Telegram extensively for community engagement. For projects that target Web3 natives, a robust Discord and Telegram presence is a must.
For projects targeting the mainstream, Discord makes no sense because the mainstream is not interested in Discord, at least not the current version. There is too much friction for newbies in the Discord user experience (UX). As for Telegram, they are already using Messenger and text SMS and don't see the value in another messaging channel.
A successful example from the NFT world of marketing to the mainstream is Donald Trump's controversial NFT drop. His community exists in different mainstream channels. His NFT marketers didn't waste time or money trying to migrate people over to Discord or Telegram.
Even among Web3 native communities, loyalties can shift. One example is L1 brand loyalty.
L1 cryptocurrency companies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano are foundational blockchains that have native cryptocurrency coin. Developers build decentralized applications (dApps) on these L1 layers.
Initially, we saw community growth among users loyal to their preferred L1 layer. While there will always be a die-hard segment of core support for L1 brands, dApps are getting better at branding and marketing.
Some users now care less about the L1 layer as they shift their attention and loyalty to dApps.
It's similar to Google phones vs. iPhones. You could think of Google and Apple as L1 tech companies. Their underlying tech and business models support more than just smartphones.
Imagine you have always used Apple products but miss the Steve Jobs era. If a Google phone can give you the same functionality as an iPhone for less money, you may consider switching to a Google phone even if you still use an iMac.
Bridge Marketing Web2 - Web3
There is much talk about Web2 and Web3 marketing right now. How do Web3 marketers know if they are on the right track?
One idea is to look at the adoption curves that track a technology's market penetration over time. Some experts look at the Internet's adoption curve as an analogy for Web3 crypto adoption, as measured by wallet users.
In the early Internet years, businesses debated, "Do we really need a website?". The mainstream banking community missed creating the PayPals and Venmos of the world.
The same conversations are happening now in Web3 and cryptocurrency. Even with the crypto winter cool-down and user experience challenges with wallets, crypto adoption continues to increase. Catching the early wave of mainstream adoption represents a massive potential opportunity.
Let’s look at Solana, an example of a brand that leverages Web2 marketing strategies to improve performance and the user experience. These tactics also ensure that Solana is well-positioned for future mainstream adoption.
Brand Example - Solana
Solana is a blockchain platform that provides a fast, scalable, decentralized infrastructure for building applications. The Solana team has implemented various marketing strategies to promote its platform to developers, users, and investors.
- Technical documentation: Solana has extensive technical documentation that explains how to build on the platform, which can be helpful for developers who want to create decentralized applications (dApps) on Solana.
- Partnerships: Solana partners with various companies and projects in the blockchain space to expand its ecosystem and promote its platform. For example, Solana has partnered with Chainlink, Serum, and Mango Markets to bring decentralized finance (DeFi) applications to Solana.
- Community building: Solana has a solid and active community that includes developers, users, and investors. The Solana team has organized hackathons, meetups, and other events to engage with the community and promote the platform.
- Social media and content marketing: Solana has an active presence on social media platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and even a few Facebook groups. The Solana team also creates content like blog posts, videos, and podcasts to educate people about the platform and its potential use cases.
- Public relations: Solana has received coverage in various media outlets, including Forbes, CoinDesk, and Decrypt. The Solana team has also been featured in interviews and podcasts to discuss the platform and its goals.
Overall, Solana's marketing strategy focuses on the fundamentals - promoting the platform's technical capabilities, building a strong community, and partnering with other companies to expand its ecosystem.
Twitter is the only large mainstream Web2 social platform to host a robust crypto community. In early 2022, Coindesk took an in-depth look at the Twitter community demographics.
Most of the U.S. Twitter crypto audience is urban men in their early to mid-30s living in New York, Los Angeles, and other areas of California. They visit Twitter for discussions about NFTs, sports, and the metaverse.
The Twitter crypto audience follows crypto news outlets on YouTube, OpenSea, Crypto.com, Medium, and Reddit, and their other areas of interest are cars, esports, finance, and podcasts.
Whether your target audience overlaps closely with the above or not, Twitter can be a very effective channel to engage with their audience and promote their brand.
Here are some strategies crypto projects utilize Twitter for marketing:
- Cultivate influencer relationships. Before posting regularly, research and follow a few influencers that align with your project. Share or comment on their tweets authentically.
- Choosing specific influencers is a great way to target your outreach. For example, even though men dominate Crypto Twitter, an increasing number of women are active in the community. If your target audience includes women, cultivating female influencers on Twitter is a great way to focus your efforts and leverage the platform.
- Share news and updates, and remember that consistency is vital. Use hashtags to reach a wider audience.
- Engage with followers: Be sure to reply to tweets and ask for feedback often. You can also experiment with running polls. Polls have the double benefit of increasing engagement and providing more information about your audience.
Crypto products and services will continue to evolve as the industry matures. Crypto businesses can successfully reach and engage their target audiences by focusing on strong marketing fundamentals and utilizing a variety of tactics such as social media, content marketing, influencer partnerships, and community engagement.
One barrier to adoption in web3 is complexity at tax time. If you or your audience buy, sell, or trade crypto assets, ZenLedger can help. We organize your crypto holdings, aggregate transactions across wallets and exchanges, and compute capital gain or loss yearly. We even identify ways to save throughout the year using tax loss harvesting. Get started for free today.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as professional advice. Please seek independent legal, financial, tax, or other advice specific to your particular situation.