Why Your ICO Marketing Isn’t Helping Anyone

The terms Blockchain and Bitcoin are still new concepts to many and a bit of a mystery to most, even for those in the space. The idea of an ICO, or Initial Coin Offering (see: What is An Initial Coin Offering? Raising Millions In Seconds), is a newer addition to the growing glossary of terms that need to be learned.

Despite everything, it is great to see that nothing is stopping the excitement building around the space:

It is interesting that the number of searches for the term “ICO” is about the same as the number of searches for “blockchain.” This is excellent for companies participating in ICOs, and arguably quite important for the space as a whole, because it creates an entryway for non-technology, non-finance people to understand our fascinating world.

Therefore, it is crucial that companies get their ICO marketing correct.

If you are part of an ICO, here are the areas to focus on that will help you succeed and help the space as a whole:

  1. Focus on The “Why” (vs. The “How”)

    Most people have been trained to focus on how something works and, though this is important and needs to be understood, it is not the most important aspect by any means. You need to start with “Why” because it triggers emotional involvement and will therefore inspire the greatest number of people to take action. Emotions can play a large part in decision-making processes, both in business and in life. According to Mary C. Lamia’s Ph.D. thesis, Like it Or Not, Emotions Will Drive the Decisions You Make Today: “A great deal of your decisions are informed by your emotional responses because that is what emotions are designed to do: to appraise and summarize an experience and inform your actions.”

    It is easy to see (feel) the impact of starting with “Why” when you see it in action. If a company defines and explains itself with the state of the art technology they use and the smarter way they are using it, many people will be interested enough to click, though not all and sometimes not leading to the best outcome. If the same company starts with “Why” they exist (for example, “We exist to liberate people across the world from economic oppression.”), that will drive a deeper, more meaningful interest in the company. It will drive more clicks, ignite a desire to learn more, and spur interest in sharing the content with others.

    This strategy also provides a differentiator allowing you to grow in any direction. If your focus is on liberating people, it will be natural to do anything that furthers that goal. Instead, the “how” boxes you into a corner – by focusing on the technology that liberates people, not the goal of liberating them, it may look (and feel) strange to people when you perhaps decide to grow in a non-technology direction. But by focusing on “why,” even the most adventurous route will feel right; for example, it would not seem strange to anyone (including your employees and customers) if the company decides to open an educational center focused on liberating people.

    I encourage you to dive deeper into this concept, and Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why does a fantastic job of explaining it in depth. This idea can support you in other areas of your business as well as your personal life.

  2. Focus on a General Audience (not only a Tech Audience)

    ICO marketing that caters exclusively to a technology audience will dramatically limit your growth and impact on the world. Is it not true that any limit on your potential growth is bad for business and the general growth of blockchain technology? If you could multiply the number of people that see your message and take part in your ICO, would you not do so?

    A proven tactic for ensuring that your marketing as a whole is digestible for a general audience is to keep someone in mind who you know is not technical. Use this person as a filter for creating the copy, collateral materials, and anything else you need to promote your ICO. I use my mother (hi mom) as the filter most of the time. I always think to myself, “If my mother can’t understand this, then it needs to be better.” Of course, the final product does not always hit the mark for many reasons, but I sure try my hardest to get it there, and it has not failed me once.

    Another tactic is to not automatically assume that everyone will understand every part of your technology or company. It is a good idea to start from the basics whenever possible. It is conceivable (and would be fantastic!) that someone may land on your page who does not understand anything about blockchain. This person may have stumbled on your company based on your ideas alone. If they are welcomed by content that is full of acronyms or concepts not well known to a more general audience (blockchain still being one of them), then you have created an environment primed for someone to click out of. Do you want to miss this opportunity for a possible investment and further promotion? Because you assumed someone would understand everything? No.

Ultimately, there are many things you need to get right when promoting your ICO (website, paid social media, etc.), so please do not exclusively focus on the above. But start with what I have said as a guiding principle for everything you do, and you will surely come out further ahead. The less mysterious we can make things, and the easier things are to understand, the faster blockchain technology will grow. That goal is what we should all be responsible for working on.

Which companies do you think are doing a good job? Which companies are not doing things so well? We need to know about the latter so we can support them