Marketing behind ICO. Part II.
The goal of this article is: “To explain, how is the Crypto World working Today, why is this such a hot topic at the moment and how the companies are using marketing before and during the emission of new crypto currency or new token. The method used for writing this article was mainly internet research, listening of different presentations of experts in this field and discussions with people that are trading crypto currencies, or they already did some ICO. This is totally new market that some people compare with Jungle or Clondyke as the situation and the rules are still changing here. This field has their own language with their terminology that sounds new and unfamiliar for newcomers, but it has their logic and it is possible to learn it fast. Only a group of people understand this problematic right and there is still many questions also from people that are doing with cryptocurrencies some time. If the readers of this article that never worked with crypto before will understand at least the basics of crypto problematics after the reading of this article, the goal of this article will be reached.
Benefits and the problems with ICOs
There are three key benefits of an ICO:
1. Ease/speed. There is a lack of regulation in the space, making it administratively straightforward and a relatively fast way to crowdfund a project.
2. Reach. ICO crowdfunding enjoys global participation due to the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies.
3. Distribution. ICOs solve the problem of initial coin distribution. Supply of the new currency goes to whoever has paid money for the project’s development.
Many successful blockchain technologies have been funded through ICOs, including Ethereum, Bitshares, NXT, Lisk and Factom, and many investors in ICOs have made significant returns.
ICOs are controversial, mainly due to a number of scams and failures that have occurred. There are two problems inherent to ICOs:
1. The need for trust. Blockchains remove the need for trust in transactions, and yet investors need to trust that the creators of blockchains are not scammers. A new company can announce that it is running an ICO and can make grand claims about its vision and technology. The company can then raise money and disappear into the night. A recent example of this was Edon.
2. Unknown technological flaws. The most high profile failure to date (by a country mile) was the DAO. After raising the equivalent of 150m USD in its ICO, a flaw in the contract allowed a hacker to withdraw a third of the value of the company, leading to a month of turmoil and eventually the Ethereum hard-fork. (Morris 2016)
To solve this is a task for marketing.
White paper is the key for a successful ICO. A white paper is an informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product or service. White papers are sales and marketing documents used to entice or persuade potential customers to learn more about or purchase a particular product, service, technology or methodology. White papers are designed to be used as a marketing tool before a sale, and not as a user manual or other technical document developed to provide support to the user after making a purchase.
The purpose of a white paper is to promote a certain product, service, technology or methodology, that startup want to do and for what they need to raise a money in ICO. The purpose is also to influence current and prospective customer’s decisions. Many white papers are designed for B2B (business to business) marketing purposes, such as between a professional investors as are venture funds, private equity funds, etc. The white paper is used to inform and persuade the other company that a certain offering (such as a product or technology) is superior for solving a particular business problem or addressing a certain challenge.
In relation to B2B marketing, there are three main types of white papers: backgrounders, which explain the technical features of a particular offering; numbered lists, which highlight tips or points regarding an offering; and problem/solution white papers, which introduce an improved solution to a common business or technical challenge.
While white papers are useful marketing tools, they differ from other marketing materials such as brochures. Where brochures and other materials might be flashy and include obvious sales pitches, a white paper is intended to provide persuasive and factual evidence that a particular offering is a superior method of approaching or solving a problem or challenge. In general, white papers are at least 2,500 words in length and are written in a more academic (and less flashy) style than other marketing materials.(Investopedia 20xx)
ICO white papers include not only start-up product/service plan, but also a description of how the emission and the distribution of tokens will look like. There also use to be a shorter version of white paper called: one pager, where the most important information are compressed to one page.
It’s common to use bounty programs as a way to incentivize people in the community to help out with smaller tasks in exchange for tokens during or before the token sale. Campaign types:
• Bitcointalk Signatures
• Whitepaper Translations
• Articles and Blog Posts
• Twitter Posts or Follows
• Facebook Posts or Likes
• Bugs, etc.
To make a successful ICO means lot of marketing and PR work. Many companies are hiring PR agencies, as is eg. Wachsman PR (wachsmanpr.com 2017), that is totally specialized on ICOs Worldwide, or have their own PR departments, bloggers, social network and e-commerce specialists or heiters. Marketing is usually made online and is focused on Communities. The marketers are trying to focus on the communities and they are using:
1. Forums, eg:
2. Chats and social networks, eg:
• CoinFund Slack – #crowdsales
• Cryptopia Slack – #ico-analysis
• Reddit channels
• Facebook Channels and crypto communities
• Telegram Channels
• G+ accounts
Chatting is very important part of ICO marketing. People that are interested in cryptocurrencies usually follows some channels or communities on these social networks. There are general channels about crypto on each social network and than specific community channels about some crypto problems or in connection with some cryptocurrency. If someone is going to make an ICO, to have their own channel on each from these social networks is a must. Than is important to get on your channels as much followers, as is possible. Than non-stop communication and reactions on all posts in these communities are needed. So who want to have and successful ICO, they need to have 24//7 employees that are only communicating with the all channel members and potential investors over the chats. People who want to invest to ICO are very carefully watching, how many followers do the ICO organizer have on their social network channels and if the people that are following these channels are authorities in some crypto communities. More followers and as much crypto authorities (bloggers, books authors, well-known analytics, etc.) between followers, are needed.
Many Blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences are organized each month all over the world or online, where the companies can promote their ICOs, of course, for not a small fees. Eg.:
• Token Summit – Conference on the emerging token-based economy – NYC, NY
• Consensus – Blockchain technology conference – NYC, NY
• Devcon – Devcon (Ethereum Foundation) – Cancun, MX
• EDCON – European Ethereum Development Conference – Paris, France
• Online conference 15.-16.11. http://blockchain.withthebest.com/
• India – Bangalore 16.11. https://www.goeventz.com/event/world-iot-summit-2017-bangalore/48010 https://www.goeventz.com/event/ux-designcon-and-designathon-2017/52159
• Indonesia – Jakarta 23.11. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/paid-event-investor-forum-2017-tickets-38699687808?aff=ebdssbcitybrowse
• India – Mumbai: 24.11. https://www.goeventz.com/event/blockchain-summit-mumbai/52841
• Hungary – Budapest 28.11. http://blockchain.infinitigroup.eu/
• Singapore 29.-30.11 https://blockshowasia.com/
• Korea – Seoul 30.11.-1.12. http://www.insidefintechconference.com/seoul/2017
• Thailand – Bangkok – 4.12. https://blockchainworldconferences.com/
• China – Peking – 6.12. http://forums.theasianbanker.com/china-private-wealth-2017
• India – Pune – 14.12. http://www.unicomlearning.com/2017/Blockchain_Summit_Pune/
• India – new Delhi – 16.-17.12. http://blockchaincon.io/
• Vietnam – Hanoi – 12.1. http://forums.theasianbanker.com/thefofvietnam2018
• Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore – 15.-19.1. https://coinsbank.com/cruise-asia#section-about
• Thailand – Phuket 17.1. https://coinsbank.com/thai/
• Singapore 13.-15.3. https://asia.money2020.com/
• Singapore 22.3. http://www.datacloudasia.com/
and many others.
There are evening meetups almost in each capital or bigger city sometimes more times during the week, that are organized by local fans, heckers or Blockchain communities. There are different meetups, depends on the cryptocurrency that is supported, e.g.:
• Ethereum Meetups
• Bitcoin Meetups
• Blockchain Meetups
• NEO meetups, etc.
5. Community Organizations
• Chamber of Digital Commerce – @chamberdigital
• National Blockchain associations, etc.
These organizations are trying to build a knowledge base about cryptocurrencies, they are trying to educate communities but also a general public about cryptocurrencies, they are organizing meetups, events, seminars, conferences with blockchain issue.
This is one of the most important tasks in ICO marketing if the startup wants to be successful. The ICO has to be listed on as many pages as it is possible. There is plenty ICO catalogues and pages that are evaluating ICOs. These ICO tracking pages has their own analytics that are evaluating white papers, community, history of the company, ICO team and some other factors and base on that, they are giving investing advices to potential investors. The list of some ICO listing pages is here:
• Smith & Crown – https://www.smithandcrown.com
• ICO Bazaar – https://icobazaar.com
• ICO Rating – http://icorating.com
• TokenMarket – https://tokenmarket.net
• ICO Alert – https://www.icoalert.com
• ICO Crypto Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/icocrypto/
• CryptoCompare – https://www.cryptocompare.com
• ICO Countdown – http://www.icocountdown.com
• ICO List – https://www.ico-list.com
• CoinList – https://coinlist.co
• ICO Calendar – https://github.com/Scanate/UltimateICOCalendar
• Token Investor – https://tokeninvestor.com
• Token Sale Calendar – http://www.tokensalecalendar.com
• imToken ICO Dapp – https://ico.token.im
• CoinSchedule – https://www.coinschedule.com
• CyberFund – https://cyber.fund
• ICO Timeline – https://icotimeline.com
• ICO Tracker – https://icotracker.net
• Token Report – http://tokenreport.com
• Fund Yourself Now – https://www.fundyourselfnow.com
Figure 3: ICO reviews
Source: icorating.com (2017)
There are some crypto podcasts where is definitely needed to be, so the investors can watch and listen interviews with the representatives of your startup and can hear the reasons why they have invest to your ICO. To see the real face will make the ICO more trustful. Some podcast channels are here:
• Coin Interview – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOu5mkF_NczLQzICINvzr9w
• Lets Talk Bitcoin – https://letstalkbitcoin.com
• Unchained – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/unchained-big-ideas-from-worlds-blockchain-cryptocurrency/id1123922160?mt=2&i=1000384504169
• Blockchain Innovations – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blockchain-innovation-interviewing-brightest-minds/id1238906492?mt=2
• Epicenter – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh-0T48JrvvmKDX41aWB_Vg
As in normal business World, also in Crypto World exists online newspapers or magazines, that are writing many interesting articles about Crypto World, new currencies, legislative in this field, etc. It is definitely needed to have advertisement or PR article on as much Press media, as it is possible. Than the numbers from ALEXA Rank (alexa.com 2017) – how many times was our article read, are watched.
The list of some magazines and newspapers is here:
○ Coindesk – https://www.coindesk.com
○ CoinTelegraph – https://cointelegraph.com
○ Bitcoin Magazine – https://bitcoinmagazine.com
○ CoinJournal – https://coinjournal.net
○ CoinReport – https://coinreport.net
○ BlockchainNews – http://www.the-blockchain.com
○ CoinSpeaker – https://www.coinspeaker.com
○ CoinFox – http://www.coinfox.info
○ CoinIdol – https://coinidol.com
○ TheMerkle – https://themerkle.com
○ CryptoSmile – http://www.cryptosmile.com
○ Newbium – https://coins.newbium.com
○ Forklog – http://forklog.net
○ AllCoinsNews – http://allcoinsnews.com
○ NewsBTC – http://www.newsbtc.com
○ CryptoCoinNews – https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com
○ Bitcoin.com News – https://news.bitcoin.com
○ BlockchainTechNews – https://www.blockchaintechnews.com
○ Rueters – https://www.reuters.com
○ Forbes – https://www.forbes.com
○ TechCrunch – https://techcrunch.com
○ Yahoo Finance – https://finance.yahoo.com
○ Product Hunt – https://www.producthunt.com
○ Nasdaq – http://www.nasdaq.com
PUSH notification messages are also very common in use here, for a marketing purposes.
Different banners could be also on this crypto pages:
• CoinMarketCap – https://coinmarketcap.com
• CoinFox – http://www.coinfox.info
• CoinDesk – Financial sponsored content – https://www.coindesk.com
• CoinGecko – https://www.coingecko.com/en
• CryptoMinded – Currated list of cryptocurrency sites – https://cryptominded.com
Here is the example of promo banners from Coinmarketcap.com:
Figure 4: ICO promo banners
Source: coinmarketcap.com (2017)
At the end
The ICOs market is extremely changeable and what works for ICOs a few months ago, do not need to works now.
ICOs is bubbling. The Economist piece, published in April of 2017, notes: “[n]early 250m USD has already been invested in [ICOs], of which 107m USD alone has flowed in this year,” (Smith and Crown 2017)
That ICOs would eventually get ahead of themselves and bubble like so many young technology niches was predicted at least since last October. How long the good times will last isn’t obvious. But the correction will come, as always, and when it does, we’ll see which cryptos have a real shot. But now, if we have a chance, we should use the opportunity, that ICOs are giving us these days.
End of part II.
Literatúra/List of References
 ALEXA bank. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://www.alexa.com>
 Batagelj, Z. 2016. ICO 2.0 – What is the ideal ICO? 2016. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://medium.com/iconominet/ico-2-0-what-is-the-ideal-ico-ee9d285a8939
 Coinmarketcap.com. 2017. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://coinmarketcap.com/all/views/all/> and <https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/decent/historical-data/?start=20130428&end=20171126>
 Decent. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://decent.ch/en/decent-ico-overview/>
 Icorating. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <http://icorating.com>
 Icotracker.net. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://icotracker.net/project/decent>
 Sophiatx.com. 2017. Internal SophiaTX documentation. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://www.sophiatx.com/>
 Investopedia. White paper. 20xx. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/whitepaper.asp>
 Kastelein, R., 2017. What Initial Coin Offerings Are, and Why VC Firms Care. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2013-09-19]. Available at: <https://hbr.org/2017/03/what-initial-coin-offerings-are-and-why-vc-firms-care>
 Morris, Ch., 2016. Everything you need to know about blockchain ICOs. 2016. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://decentralize.today/everything-you-need-to-know-about-blockchain-icos-46a3eac39dc3>
 Mougayar, W., 2016. The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology. USA: Wiley, 2016. ISBN 978-1-119-30031-1.
 Smith and Crown. 2017. What is an ICO. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://www.smithandcrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/smithandcrown_ico_handout_v2.0.pdf>
 Techcrunch. 2017. WTF is an ICO. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/23/wtf-is-an-ico/>
 Wachsmanpr.com. 2017. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <http://wachsmanpr.com/>
 Zakrisson, D. 2016. Why ICOs fail. 2016. [online]. [cit. 2017-11-26]. Available at: <https://medium.com/iconominet/why-icos-fail-1f9530a6d135>
Kľúčové slová/Key Words
ICO, cryptocurrency, social networks, communities, TGE, tokens, crowdsale
kryptomena, sociálne siete, komunity, tokeny, predaj davu
JEL klasifikácia/JEL Classification
Marketing na pozadí ICO. Časť II.
Príspevok vysvetľuje, čo to je ICO – Initial Coin Offering, teda predaj tokenov pri emitovaní novej kryptomeny, založenej na tzv. blockchain technológii, a prečo je o neho taký záujem. Taktiež pojednáva o marketingových praktikách potrebných na prilákanie nákupcov tokenov v ICO. Marketing pre ICO prebieha prevažne v kryptokomunitách pomocou diskusných fór a sociálnych sietí a koná sa globálne. Cieľom marketingových kampaní je získanie čím väčšieho počtu nákupcov z tzv. Crowdu – davu, ktorí svojim nákupom tokenov prispievajú na rozbeh nového startupového projektu využívajúceho blockchain a na ňom postavenú novovytvorenú kryptomenu. Pri samotnom ICO sa zbierajú (raisujú, z ang. raising) iné kryptomeny, prevažne Bitcoin a Ethereum. Väčšina ICO projektov je postavená práve na programovacom jazyku Solidity, ktorý bol vyvinutý tvorcom Etherea, ale nie je to vždy tak. Marketingové kampane prebiehajú skoro všetky v anglickom jazyku, ale využívajú sa sekundárne aj preklady do iných svetových jazykov. Základom marketingovej kampane je tzv. Whitepaper, ktorý podrobne opisuje pripravovaný projekt a celú štruktúru chystaného ICO. Taktiež významnú úlohu zohrávajú influenceri, teda vedúce kapacity v danom odbore, zväčša tvorcovia mien, diskutéri, uznávaní analytici atď.
Kontakt na autorov/Address
Mgr. Jozef Metke, Wolkrova 41, 85101 Bratislava, [email protected]
4. december 2017 / 4. december 2017