London blockchain marketing: five questions to ask when choosing an agency

London, the UK’s Blockchain hub.

London’s blockchain industry is thriving…

The UK’s blockchain scene remains healthy even in today’s crypto bear market — as a visit to one of the many industry events taking place each week will tell you. London remains predominantly (but not exclusively) the base for the hundreds of UK blockchain businesses that exist today. As well as token-based startups at various stages of funding there are also exchanges, wallets, portfolio trackers, investment funds and advisors.

…but choosing a marketing agency remains tough

When we meet with such companies each month they often tell us how difficult it is to find credible service providers that are ready, willing and experienced enough to service their specific needs. In particular, choosing the right marketing agency can be a difficult task.

For a blockchain business, growing users or attracting investment typically requires a number of marketing levers working harmoniously. These might include digital advertising, content creation, community engagement, ICO listings, website building, SEO and so on.

Given the importance of these activities, choosing the right service provider to execute them has become a business-critical task.

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

The problem facing many UK-based blockchain companies is that the choice on offer to provide these marketing services is vast, confusing and fragmented.

Founding teams, CMOs and community managers often receive multiple unrequested solicitations every day. This is thanks to the truly international nature of blockchain, which has encouraged marketing service providers from all corners of the globe to pitch for services regardless of location.

It’s important to know that there are some pitfalls associated with this. Separating the wheat from the chaff can be tricky.

Based on our own client experience in the industry — we’ve put together five questions to help you choose the marketing agency required to make your blockchain business thrive.

Five key questions to help you choose the right agency

  1. Strategic, tactical or both?

There is no one-size-fits all in blockchain marketing. It’s easy, as a founding team, to make a number of implicit assumptions as to what marketing channels you need, and then choose marketing service providers based on them. Some even approach marketing as a check-list of tactics that they’ve simply seen in action elsewhere.

Of course your specific outcomes may not require the same tactics as your peers. So when considering which agency you need, ask yourself what level of strategic value, knowledge and advice they will bring. Will they review your overall business objectives and put together a bespoke plan of the most effective activity? Will they recommend the right budget levels to deliver your goals? Will they ask the right questions and challenge parts of the brief and push you to consider alternatives? Can they put together a plan that integrates its activity and is greater than the sum of its parts?

Strategic, tactical or both?

2. One stop shop vs roster of agencies?

Keeping costs as low as possible is often a key consideration for many blockchain startups, especially in early funding rounds. In these scenarios, it’s easy to think that small freelance marketing service providers are the cheapest option. These sole traders can be used to do specific tasks — creating a website, writing a white paper, managing a telegram channel and so on. The thinking is that on their own each of these costs will be minimal.

If you have an experienced CMO or marketing manager who has the time, commitment and ability to get the best out of these discrete parts then this can work very well. For many others however each incremental cost soon adds up and they can prove a false economy.

Working with multiple providers in this way also creates its own set of headaches. Effectively managing a separate webmaster, designer, community manager and influencer marketer is likely to take up lots of your time that could be better spent elsewhere.

While marketing is sometimes seen as something that can be informally and quickly picked up, this is in reality a dangerous myth. If you have a technical bias within your team, it’s often hard to admit the fact that you simply do not have the skills currently to extract the potential from these resources.

When each service provider is focused on a single set of deliverables, they are rarely able to combine with other activity to drive synergies. Each tactical execution will likely not be tracked, measured or evaluated as part of an overall campaign. It will therefore be more difficult to refine and course-correct — you risk wasting valuable time that you may not be able to get back.

Finally, of course, the most significant impact will be among your target audience. If they are tech-savvy early adopters and investors, they are highly likely to spot, and disregard, any campaign that lacks consistency, coherence and cohesion.

Too many service providers?

3. How data and insight literate is your agency?

With the vast amount of useful data that is available to the modern marketer on virtually any target audience, it’s incredible that this insight is not always harnessed to improve marketing campaigns.

Good marketing agencies should be able to tell you how they will use data and insight throughout their work as a common language to unite every channel, from customer insight, to campaign targeting, to KPIs and robust evaluation of marketing effectiveness and return on marketing investment.

To be blunt, if your service provider is not experienced in manipulating marketing data to benefit your campaigns, they are wasting some of your investment on outdated methods.

4. Arms-length relationship or true extension of your team?

The benefits of decentralisation for blockchain businesses have been well debated and articulated. The benefits of decentralisation when it comes to your marketing services provider are less clear.

Working with marketing partners from other territories and timezones can sometimes hinder collaboration. A good marketing agency should be: a seamless extension of your organisation; able to answer the questions you cannot; to challenge your strategy; and bring fresh ideas and an external perspective.

Thanks to technology like Zoom the ability to do this remotely is improving all the time. Yet there is often little to beat face-to-face interaction. Our London-based clients tell us they get so much from regular in-person meetings and workshops that they didn’t get from agencies in different countries, on poor internet connections, and with a different native language.

While the virtual office is on the rise, the benefits of physical proximity aren’t disappearing any time soon — as Google and Amazon’s recent investment in huge office spaces in the US continues to show.

A further challenge is that some blockchain marketing agencies that show large teams on their websites are in truth displaying virtual networks of freelancers based in various different countries.

This can sometimes be a good thing, enabling services such as 24/7 community responses. But for the more strategic and high-value work, we feel this remains best done in the same room by a team who are familiar with working with each other in the same office, day-in, day-out.

Smells like team spirit

5. Do you understand the local market?

The final of our five questions is around local-market knowledge: would you benefit from working with an agency based in your city or country of operation thanks to the local network and market knowledge they can bring?

For example, our clients often rely on us — as their marketing partner — to introduce them to other businesses, such as banks, exchanges, custody solutions, accelerators and advisors. We are connected to their peers through our own client network, and are also able to share with them the latest trends, insight and contacts relevant to their business.

Clients also expect us to be conversant with the legislative issues relevant to our jurisdiction (as well as having an understanding of global ones of course). What’s more, when we advise clients on messaging and design of pitch decks and white papers, they rely on us having a good understanding of the principal audiences in our local territory. Although some projects may not have any such need for local-market knowledge, this is an important consideration that is often overlooked.

Bridging the marketing knowledge gap

To succeed with a blockchain business in bear-market conditions requires the right choice of marketing components firing together — and in the same direction. As we’ve seen, appoint the wrong experts and you may find yourself deploying questionable marketing activity, that ends up being both unprofessional and ineffective.

By answering the five questions above, we hope to help you avoid some of the perils of the marketing-knowledge gap that can exist in teams with a high technical bias. For in the broad church that is modern marketing, to succeed requires deep technical knowledge of a different kind — the specialised ability to succeed across a wide array of (local and global) marketing and community engagement platforms, channels, content and techniques.

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Who Is Block Influence?

Block Influence provides data-driven marketing solutions for blockchain companies. Our products and services, based upon public-profile analysis of experts and influencers, inform and improve market knowledge, influence engagement and content strategy. We turn insight into action, generating affluence through intelligence. If you’d like to hear more about our products and services, get in touch.