Let me run you through a scenario that a lot of founders in the crypto space find themselves these days.
You have spent countless hours and invested personal savings into a startup that is based on a tokenization model. If it gains traction, your startup could create a whole new marketplace for users, or innovate an industry that has not kept pace with the implications of the crypto-boom and decentralized ledgers.
Because your business model relies on tokenization, you decide to pursue a round of funding by hosting an initial coin offering. It’s probably a wise move. Many high-octane companies have raised millions through ICO’s when they were just kernels of an idea. Despite a lot of shady dealings in ICO markets over the past couple of years — and strict regulatory guidelines from the SEC — they remain an excellent way for founders to raise money for their startups by connecting with the public and the investor community.
But then the reality set’s in. It’s not only about the brilliance of your business idea. It’s about how you present your startup to the public and investors. The question is: How do you ensure your ICO does not get lumped into the ocean of scam-like token sales? Guess what — it all comes down to how you promote your ICO.
How to Promote an ICO Effectively Without Resorting to Spam Bot Tactics
- Publish Dates on Popular Calendar Sites
You want to start by informing your target community about your planned date to sell tokens. There are many calendar sites out there, but only some are reputable. In other words, you don’t want to go out and automate an email to every single calendar site you can find with your information. There puts your product in front of the wrong types of investors and would constitute what we’re calling ‘spam bot’ outreach.
Here is what the homepage of Coinschedule looks like right now:
In terms of the content you want to share, the more the merrier is the right approach here. If you give some context about your token sale in a few bite-sized chunks on the calendar site itself, then journalists will be able to share details of your project in their lists of top up and coming token sales.
Here is an example of a well-written description:
And here is an example of a description that lacks substance:
- Use Professional Groups and Platforms
The biggest asset about ICO fundraising is that you can find investors in a lot of places. The challenge is getting the value of your startup idea across to potential investors. It works very much like a marketing campaign in that you have a target audience, popular channels that your target audience frequents, and a publication strategy aimed at driving interest in your ICO.
The best place to start is by sharing the ICO in your online community — the groups that you already frequent, or that your company has a solid profile on already. Usually, this means professional LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn direct mail outreach, Medium, Quora, and Facebook groups. You want to share the same update in all of them.
What exactly should you share? This is a tricky question to answer out of context. While it always depends on the company, usually a content publication campaign helps to spread the word about the unique value proposition of the tokens. A dual strategy of content publication plus targeted outreach promoting the day of the ICO is pretty common because it is effective and affordable. Just remember: don’t use automated outreach tactics on LinkedIn or Facebook. Make real connections and send unique emails to the right people. There is no shortcut to forging quality relationships!
- Develop a PR Strategy
Interest in crypto projects is booming, and there are a lot of platforms that will share information about companies upcoming ICO if they are approached in the right way. Landing a sync on Coindesk is usually the goal here, but it’s a fool’s errand without a solid PR strategy.
Popular publications like Coindesk get thousands upon thousands of requests every single day to publish information about upcoming ICOs. As you probably know, they tend to ignore the majority of them, choosing instead to promote stories they receive from PR agencies they have a long-term working relationship.
While landing on Coindesk is not necessarily out of the question, there are other outlets that can yield far better bang for your buck. One place to start is to author interesting content around your product (like a white paper, for example) and use them as assets in a PR campaign. While it might require you postponing your ICO until enough people know about you, it will increase the likelihood that you hit your token sale goals.
- Stick to Your Guns
It’s never easy to raise funding for your startup. Startups operating in traditional currency face an uphill battle to raising private investor money in a seed round. Startups operating in the crypto-currency market can look to both the public and private investor communities for investment, but bad actors operating in the crypto market have pierced public trust in ICOs. Founders looking to pursue ICOs need to be vigilant in their promotional efforts by sticking to the strategies above.