Things you need to know about CMO before launching your ICO — Part 1

According to EY, ICO markets presents big risks for investors. Flawed token valuations, unclear regulations, heightened hacker attention and congested networks. In such context, the ability of ICO to meet fundraising goals is declining. 90% of projects with funds raised via ICOs reached fundraising goals in June 2017 compared with 25% in November 2017 (see ey-research-initial-coin-offerings-icos). In such context, and increasing scam %, startup need to rethink their ICO strategy by recentering the participants (users/investor) at the centre of the game. Build trust and transparency in a pre-ICO marketing strategy will definitely make the difference to reach fundraising goals.

Hundreds of ICOs are scheduled for 2018 (See this interesting article: The Top 10 ICOs in 2017 & What’s in the Pipeline for Q1 2018), competition is really tough out there with 1,500 cryptocurrencies in the market. To stand out from the rest, one needs to focus on marketing even more so then the product itself. To have a successful marketing campaign is becoming more difficult and requires expertise in media channel communication, inbound marketing, content management, latest exiting tools and a really good understanding of the blockchain technology and its ecosystem. A successful ICO will be managed by a multi-faceted approached strategy by leveraging all the existing tools.

It is not surprising that startup is now investing in atypical resources under CMO name, able to implement the right marketing strategy, coach the team and influence the organization in their ICO. The CMO is becoming the key executive person, not just an advisor but a doer, a coach and an influencer. He or She has to obtain strong knowledge in blockchain, ICO processes and a clear vision of how to apply marketing strategy and tools.

“A CMO will engage and mentor your team”

The most important challenge is to build trust and transparency to recover the investors’ attention and create evangelist of your product and token. Common sense, right? Yes… But there are many industries with all the hyped up and trendy environment that can inadvertently make us forget the basic rules consciously or unconsciously, and the survey results are a good proof. The new ICOs should be users and investors centric strategy and not a simple display of honeypots. Investors deserve simplicity, transparency, clarification, easy understanding as it is with their money you will run your company. As Ether is the gas of the smart contract protocol they are the fuel of your project.

Here are some 5 major points a CMO has to cover to support your ICO:

1/ A website with a great content, context and design:

Your website is one of your killer features to sell your product. In CMO language, work really hard on your UX Strategy: I always ask my team to insist on basics to help them to step back. Make it simple, clear, fluid with amazing design. The “whoah experience” that makes the visitor discover your solution.

Your product needs to be clearly displayed and easy to understand. I advise to use infographic or video and make a clear and short statement of the key features. Details are for later (like a marketing funnel). Help the visitor get the high-level picture, their interests, the innovative solutions and its potential. Don’t overwhelm them with full of data. At the end, nobody understand what you are doing and keep in mind they are not specialist and expert in blockchain as you are.

Technical point to take into account: You will need a high performance, providing fast, tidy, and appealing experience. Optimize your video, pictures, and structure to avoid download latency and others bugs that create user frustration.

Brainstorm a lot, benchmark what participants like, get user website feedback, compare with ICO success story to see what you can do better.

Implement the customer experience strategy to attract them and facilitate the access and the understanding of what you are selling.

2/ Content Strategy:

Let’s make it clear: Product, Goal, Roadmap, Team, Project, technology, Customer partnership, Compliance. EVERYTHING that helps the investor to choose you. (Make them realized you are the right choice by educating them). Be clear on where you are on your roadmap and if you’re late tell them why (transparency). It is ok to be late in such technology.

3/ Roadmap:

Again use the simple term, investors need to understand you. Focus on functionality and results

4/ White paper:

I strongly recommend to use 2 white papers:

  • A general one for all non-technical investors,
  • A technical one for experts to support your sell and show why it is innovative and how you will meet your features and performance goals.

5/ Team:

You should have experts in blockchain, project core business, marketing, IT, Web development and not an anonymous team (Red flag for a scam). Your team need to be reachable (LinkedIn, telegram, website., etc) and you should answer to people. If you are overwhelmed, pay an agency, discuss with your CMO but do not pass a request without an answer.

The big question is: what if we are not experts but we know enough to launch the startup? Do it!!! Be clear about your experience and counterbalance with your other experiences and the fact your organization is backed by experts and mentors.

CMO knows that ICO is about Communication and Timing. That’s it.

The CMO communication strategy will focus first on your offer, your goals, your team and investors’ terms. He will make sure your project description, roadmap and goals are clear, easy to understand, realistic and attractive. As an investor, If they do not understand, they will be frustrated by doing more research or worst, assume it’s a scam. Remember, if you are capable to explain clearly, it is because you master your project. This is the huge difference with others competitors. Apply this rule to everything: Roadmap, whiter paper, articles…

Challenge is to get the attention of the audience in a growing market where there is a pop up of ICO almost every day. How can you make a difference?

PWC shows clearly in their E-Book the part of the marketing and the duration. From my perspective and experience, 4 weeks job is not enough. You need time to create an audience and deliver the message. The website needs to be as clear as possible (even a child should understand..) and fluid (UX/UI) to avoid any short visit. Iteration, feedback is the basic. PR, communication campaign should be triggered 3 months or more before the ICO Launch. Here’s why: You give time to gather an audience, your strategy is customer oriented, you get feedback on your product and understanding of the product. The people will thank you for that and will talk about you. Unless your ICO has no plus value, then that is another story.

“Few pieces of advices from CMO expert”:
  • Communicate constantly in the forum, official websites, blockchain communication channel and of course, on media channels. You have Reddit, Quora, Discord, Telegram, your blog, Bitcointalk.
  • You can also use the WAVES platform allowing you to set up a digital token in a few minutes at low cost. (Just a suggestion pending on your project complexity but keep in mind you don’t have all the control)
  • Don’t launch your ICO ASAP, be prepared.
  • As the landscape channel is reduced since the recent bans (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), you have to leverage your resource to do more with less. Welcome to the regulated world. At this stage, we do not recommend to outsource but to get a doer (someone who participates in the team) and coach more than an adviser. A permanent position or interim position (better solution to see if you want to carry on even if the results are beyond your expectations). Outreach is the key and you will have to pay the price.
  • Keep in mind the marketing strategy and activities will influence your whole organization. you need to focus on customer experience, build trust, transparency and interactivity.
  • Investors need to know where you are on the roadmap and your challenge. Most important, they want to know you control the situation.
  • Important advice: Remember, reputation is fragile and the devil is hidden in details, and please, don’t do any major change during your Pre-sale.

Final words:

Use experts in a permanent CMO position to lead your marketing strategy and sale. Don’t limit your need to advise, ask for doers and mentor to inspire your organization with customer experience. CMO selection is a tough choice, no place for mistakes and failures. Be prepared to some changes in your processes and some impact in all your services. This is the price to pay to build the attention your ICO deserve. Marketing is not an appearance game, it is a new way of clarity, transparency and communication to create a trustful connection.

Your goal is not a coin offering through ICO but to create an ecosystem to give benefit to participants who will promote your company in the blockchain communities and social media.

Food for thoughts to guide investors in their graal research:

Which is well conceived is clearly stated.

Food for thoughts for CEO who wants to sell his/her products:

Simplification is the ultimate sophistication.