W(h)en Marketing
The phrase is often heard in the online chatrooms of cryptocurrency communities, sometimes ironically, but oftentimes not. It’s usually interpreted as a degenerate rallying cry to pump a coin to the moon and be the next #100xGem.
“wen marketing.”
But honestly, it is a fair question. While perhaps not very eloquent of an expression, these two simple “words” reflect a somewhat uncomfortable fact — marketing is so much at the core of success in the blockchain industry that it’s arguably even more important than the actual technical development work itself. Indeed, there are countless examples of projects that have achieved said “success”, usually only temporarily, by spreading a thick marketing veneer over varying degrees of vaporware. But consider the reverse — a strong product without any awareness in the crowded & noisy crypto world? It’s doomed to fail.
“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion.”
Perhaps even more tragic, a single communications failure can cause collective attention to turn away from a previously thriving project for just long enough to lose precious momentum. It really doesn’t take much in an industry where ever-shortening attention spans are stretched even thinner and a week feels as busy as a month, while people constantly turn to the newest and shiniest token to be released.
“If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back.”
Being subjected to so many restrictions means maintaining crypto marketing momentum isn’t easy, let alone continuing to grow it. Blockchain technology shares space on platforms’ ads policy lists with the likes of tobacco, firearms, & gambling content. The triple combo of market forces — a constrained supply of accessible advertising spaces, increased demand as the blockchain industry experiences exponential growth, and a heightened willingness to pay for marketing considering its importance as established above — mean that prices to advertise on the few available crypto-friendly channels can be sky-high compared to traditional avenues.
“wen effective marketing.”
So do we just give up and answer the titular question by saying it’s too difficult? Too expensive? In such an innovative industry with so much growth potential, and with marketing being the key to greatness, surely more can be done to achieve genuine marketing success? It can be worthwhile to assess the situation from the perspective of marketing theory. Despite being published in 2010 when Bitcoin was all but unknown, de Wit & Meyer’s fourth edition of “Strategy: Process, Content, Context” presents a useful lens with which to view cryptocurrency marketing.
Consider the simple spectrum above, with its two extremes. On the right is traditional corporate marketing (“when will marketing commence?”), with all of its structure, paid ads, attribution modeling, press releases, and PR agencies. At the left is the new wave of crypto marketing (“wen marketing”), oftentimes cloaked in anonymity and leveraging dank memes, Telegram chatrooms, guerilla marketing, influencers, and… even more influencers. In many cases, forces act to create paralyzing tension between these two polar extremes, much like a tug of war. Resolving the tension and moving forwards is often achieved by shifting to one end of the spectrum and sacrificing the other. In the crypto marketing world this is often done out of necessity.
“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”
When experienced corporate professionals jump into the deep end to run marketing for a crypto project the force pulling them back to their comfort zone and area of expertise is often just too strong to overcome and results in the strategic tension tug of war being resolved to a “far right” outcome on the spectrum. This is arguably the worst result and can mean the project flounders, perhaps never really getting off the ground. Building a sleek website and prematurely splashing marketing budgets around may create some benefit, but little in the way of sustainable long-term growth. Lacking a foundation of organic brand presence and community support leaves the project to coast along as an empty shell until cash reserves are depleted.
“can devs do something aw.”
Meanwhile, when individuals fully immersed in cryptocurrency culture attempt to turn their hand to marketing, the force keeping them in their comfort zone and area of expertise is again just too strong to overcome but results in the strategic tension tug of war being resolved to a “far left” outcome on the spectrum. However, in this case the results may initially be very promising with community interactions and organic growth surging. It’s only once the project attempts to scale that cracks can appear to show and growth end up being capped, due to a lack of internal structures, strategies, & plans, and the difficulty in presenting a polished and professional image which is especially important in a world moving ever-closer to the holy grail of mass adoption.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Is the answer then simply a compromise? To find a way to meet in the middle and in doing so dilute both concepts, adopting a tepid strategy that combines the worst of both worlds? Well, it shouldn’t be. True marketing leaders are able to resolve this strategic tension by moving from an either/or solution to a both/and outcome. Or as de Wit & Meyer themselves put it:
“[Marketing leaders] have the predisposition and the capacity to hold in their heads two opposing ideas at once. And then, without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they’re able to creatively resolve the tension between those two ideas by generating a new one that contains elements of the others but is superior to both.”
If you come across a blockchain technology project that displays this kind of excellence in marketing leadership, the key to unlocking success in the industry, you might be in for an exciting ride!
Last modified 1mo ago
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