Technology, even the best technology in the world, requires some kind of marketing. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Apple. In 2015 they increased their marketing budget to 1.8 Billion USD. That’s right, I said billion. Why? Even if their tech is top tier, consumers aren’t going to drop thousands of dollars unless they are excited about the product. It’s just that simple. You’re only going to pay that kind of money for the best, newest, coolest thing that will make all of your friends jealous.
I understand that developers hate this stuff, generally speaking. The personality traits that create brilliant, focused coders are pretty much the opposite of those needed for marketing. So my target audience is probably never going to read this. Rather they are locked in a room, staring wide eyed at a computer screen and bathed in its unsightly green glow.
Nonetheless, on the offhand chance that someone is starting a project and open to some advice, let’s look at why marketing is important:
- It’s a crowded space. Face it, there is a lot going on. Scrolling through twitter gives the reader a daily barrage of the best widgets ever. It takes extra work to penetrate through all that noise and really get people to pay attention.
- People are busy. They work and have lives outside of crypto. Their time is precious and they need a reason to invest it in your project.
- It will probably cost them money. Also an important consideration in today’s economy. They aren’t going to spend it without a reason. Are you offering convenience? Cool factor? Profit for them? Why should they buy your product?
Now that we have established that marketing is important, we need to figure out how to go about it. For the most part the US and European communities focus on Twitter and Discord, while the LATAM communities also use Facebook and Telegram. This is probably a good time to point out that it is relatively easy to create what you love, but its another thing entirely to sell it. What is momentous to you is just another product or NFT in the marketplace to the multitude. You have to convince them of its worth.
Which brings us to the most overriding and important concept here: have a business plan, include marketing, and follow it. Yes, I know, its unpleasant. You would rather just build or create things because that is why you are here in the first place. While I understand, marketing is as essential to your success as building, coding, creating. You want to sell it so you can create more, right? Then you have to integrate marketing in the product development and design. It’s easier to add in your business plan from the beginning, as opposed to tacking it on the end. You don’t want to own a house that looks like it was built one room at a time, do you?
Of course not. You want to have the project that everyone runs toward. You want your project to be welcomed with excitement and open arms. While nothing is guaranteed, there are ways to increase your chances for success. However, they require methodical (diabolical?) planning and commitment.
Creating a Plan
How are you going to do all this? The easiest way is to start early and add small consistent steps into your project plan. The first step is going over your project with a few people. Find a few friends who like you enough to be honest. Buy them a few beers and go over your project. Tell them you want their questions and their criticism. Go over your project and see if you can get them to understand and believe in it? It might not be your favorite thing to do but trust me its best to check the reception in a friendly environment before you open it up to the community. Their questions might even help you improve the project or at least expose some aspects that need to be marketed.
The next step would be to see if you can recruit some community members and go through the same process. Again, if you are looking for organic growth without spending a fortune, its best to start this early. The goal here is to start slowly building interest, excitement and community buy in – while you are still building the project. Yes you can get noticed simply by paying for a promo team. But often that feels inauthentic. Also the top notch teams are rare and costly. If you want an example of this strategy, look at FluidToken and their community outreach via ambassadors. They are starting early and with trusted community members.
Who are the Community Influencers?
This brings me to my next point, which is finding out who the trusted community members are. Admittedly, everyone isn’t going to have the same list. However if you have been in the Cardano community a while you probably already know who these people are. If you don’t know then watching twitter and listening to a few spaces will give you a pretty good idea. This is important because your time is valuable so don’t waste it with people who can’t help you. The people broadcasting that they are “influencers” usually just want to get paid. Find folks at a level suitable to promote your project and work from there. As you can see, this approach works best when used early and often.
Malfunctions are Bad Press
Be honest about where you are in your project. Under promising and over delivering is as important here as in any business. If you are in testing and the product isn’t finished yet that isn’t a problem. In fact, you can probably recruit people to help you test and build excitement that way. The important thing is to be upfront and thorough in testing so that users aren’t disappointed. Its much harder to undo negative events than it is to gradually build excitement.
Approach People in Different Ways
Shockingly we have many different perspectives, even in the Cardano community. We learn differently. We have varying needs or interests. This means that when you start to think about recruiting people to your team you have to appeal to them in different ways. Some like articles, while others prefer video. Funny attention getters are good, but you also have to find a way to convey technical details. This means you have to consider multiple methods of outreach: Twitter, Infographics, animated promos, your own Medium account for more detailed information, interviews with Cardano pod casts or YouTubers. All of these are options. I know, its overwhelming. This is why you plan to include these things incrementally and steadily.
Find Your Fans
If you include this from your business plan from the start you can build a small fan base without expense. Perhaps you can get them to sign up for regular email updates. Of course this means someone has to create the updates regularly. In early stages this could be once a month. You dont want to spam people. You just steadily remind them that you are building away and can be counted on to finish the project.
Get Peoples Attention
In the later stages of your project it is time to get focused. Now instead of building a fan base (hopefully you have some of that already) you want to build excitement. This is when you start thinking about promos and infographics. These are the things that are going to raise awareness in the general community. Hopefully you have attracted some trusted community members at this point. These people can confirm that you have been working and testing for some time in order to build a quality project.
Reach out to blogs and news sites.
If you are going to succeed you need attention. So many NFT projects assume the community knows things. Don’t assume. YouTubers and blogs are always looking for things to talk about. At this point you can explain how long you have been working, talk about your roadmap and where your project is going. You have built this thing, now tell people about it.
Don’t Give Up
Let’s be honest – this is business, and it is not easy. This is why projects of scale need teams so that responsibilities can be divided, and workload can be balanced. Running a successful project requires a diverse skill set that encompasses technology, communications, and business acumen. Everyone feels overwhelmed at times. Planning and balancing workload is critical to your success. So is finding mentors in the community. No one knows it all. Don’t be afraid to reach out to members of the community for advice or insight. Also please understand that successful projects require long term commitment. There will be days when you question your own resolve. The most important thing to do is keep working and building your project. Do not give up and walk away from all of your hard work.
Managing Time Constraints
I know this is a lot. Again, there are only so many hours in a day and every day is a new opportunity. Managing any project is a big job. You should build time away into your business plan so that you don’t get overwhelmed. No project is worth sacrificing your mental health. On the other hand, unforeseen circumstances will arise. Remember, its how you deal with those that will largely determine the success of your project.
So you have read this article and decided you dont have time or cant be bothered with all of this marketing nonsense. I get it. This leaves you with a few options. The first is that you trust the incredible value of your project to gain traction by itself. Possible, but unlikely and then your work and development time are wasted. The second is that you find a way to incentivize a marketing team. What are the ways to do that:
- Find true believers – if you believe you can convince others
- Offer future perks once the project is live
- Tokenization- this creates a revenue stream but also additional responsibilities for you to manage
- Pay them
Paying with tokens
Let’s face it – this is crypto, and a lot of folks are here for profits. You have the option of creating a token and awarding it to early supporters. This, however, shouldn’t be undertaken lightly and is another thing that will take your most valuable resource as a project manager- time. If you choose this option, there are many things to think about. What is the token to be used for? Is it a governance token? Do you want to create a DAO? How do you distribute the token? Generally, tokens are allocated at regular intervals for specific performance. In other words, if this is for your promotional team, you could distribute every month if they meet your required participation threshold. Of course, who has to manage all that? You do.
You Get What You Pay For
If you choose to pay for promotional services, then take the time to choose wisely. The best promo teams are expensive, but expense doesn’t necessarily equate to quality. Experienced teams should be able to provide examples of previous success and references. They should also be willing to demonstrate their work ethic. Be wary of those who demand full payment up front.
Im not saying that you have to pay a promo team. Some projects are built organically. Take Freeloaderz for example. This is a project that has built a steady following and a core group of contributors organically. They have recruited many talented developers and community members to donate countless hours for what is really becoming a community project. The value proposition is that they are working to make the Cardano experience better and thus we all benefit. The growth has been steady and community interest along with it. I’m calling it organic growth because people came of their own accord over time. Please note that the core members spend a great deal of time in coordinating and structuring the environment. There are weekly team meetings and proposal mechanisms. They have spent the time and created the structure to make their project a success.
There is no denying that this is a lot. If you are working with a team, then each member should have some of their time (say 20%) assigned to marketing tasks. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to appear on a podcast. As you can see from the above there are plenty of things to do. They might be typing monthly project updates for your email, for example. However you do it, marketing considerations need to be integrated into your project plan. They are as integral to your project as your designs or your code. Communicate early and often. Build a team that is enthusiastic about helping you. Most importantly, be consistent so that all your hard work gets noticed.