The 2 Phases of Adoption: Marketing in a Blockchain World

Jeremy Epstein Business

When I first got my head around the concept of blockchains, I thought, “this is like a tsunami that is 50 miles off the coast and no one knows it is coming.”

What I am starting to see now, at least in the “mainstream-ification” of blockchain technologies in the marketing world are the very first little waves.

These are the waves where it is still safe to let your little kids play on the beach.

When I published the CMO Primer for the Age of Blockchains, most people were positive. Some people said, “man, you are WAY too early on this.”

I was ok being early, but the question that has always plagued me since I first got into this space was “just how early am I?”

What has consistently surprised me is that while I am early, I am not early as I thought or as others might think.

Here’s what I am seeing.

  • I am the marketing faculty member for the Don and Alex Tapscott-led Blockchain Research Institute.  I recently submitted my contribution and my contacts there are telling me that the demand is quite high. All of these are enterprise level clients.
  • The number of inquiries I have received for the Blockchain Business Readiness Workshop has grown by 200% in the last 3 months
  • The number of reporter calls I have received and articles where I have been quoted/featured (PR Week, CMS Newswire, VentureBeat, etc.) is increasing steadily.

It is still early, but it is happening

What exactly is happening?

I expect the first phase of adoption within the marketing world to be focused on the question of “how do we use blockchain tech to do what we already do more efficiently?”

That is the right question to ask…for now. If you look at the Blockchain Marketing Technology Landscape, you’ll see there’s a cluster around ad tech.  I expect you’ll see the early adopters within enterprise marketing begin small-scale pilots in Q1 or Q2 of 2018 with some of these decentralized ad networks. That’s the obvious one.  Maybe a few within loyalty programs as well.

There is going to be an explosion in interest from enterprise marketers to get ahead in this arms race. As they should.

I’ll keep you posted on who is doing this.

Whoever it is, though, it’s not enough.  Necessary, but not sufficient.

Phase 2 is going to require the most forward-thinking CMOs to ask themselves “ok, what new business opportunities and threats are going to emerge because of the arrival of blockchain technologies that we can take advantage of and need to defend ourselves against?”

This will be the great challenge of the age of blockchains.

If you go back to 1997, there are plenty of articles saying how Amazon can’t beat Barnes and Noble. Here’s one of them.

We are about to watch that movie again.

It will be interesting to see which companies recognize what decentralization and crypto mean for them and respond accordingly.

Seeing a competitive threat and helping navigate the company in response to it….to me, that is what a CMO is for.