The Future Is Bright for 3 out of 4 Blockchain-based Start-Ups

Jeremy Epstein Business

More than $35 billion worth of new investment has poured into crypto-currencies since the beginning of 2017 and famed investor, Tim Draper, is publicly supporting Tezos’ ICO.

With news like that, it’s pretty clear to anyone watching that the world of blockchain and decentralized-based solutions is heating up rapidly.

As more investment and more activity comes the need for greater differentiation. The intensity of competition and number of “me-too” or “copycat” projects is only going to increase dramatically.

So, it’s a good thing that some of the start-ups in the decentralization industry are getting ready.

Blockchain Start-Ups Have Not Invested in Marketing…But They Will

According to the “State of Decentralized Marketing Maturity Report Q2, 2017” just released by the Decentralized Marketing Network, a co-op of blockchain startups pooling their marketing knowledge, 75% of blockchain and decentralized start-ups plan to increase their marketing headcount in the next 12 months. Further, 70% of them plan to increase their spend on marketing.

It’s a good thing too because the report uncovered something that most industry observers have known for a long time. When blockchain-based start-ups “market,” their messaging is often inconsistent, ad-hoc, and typically more aligned to features than benefits.  

It’s no surprise really.

Most disruptive technological periods begin this way. There’s a flurry of great engineering-led innovations, but marketing maturity is low. The report backs this up, finding that an average of only 5% of budgets was spent on marketing and only 35% of start-ups have anyone who even has responsibility for marketing.

Beware: Marketing is Misunderstood

The number of reasons why marketing as a discipline is misunderstood are many. Everyone has familiarity with tactics such as advertising, promotional items, flyers, business cards, and websites. So, naturally, everyone thinks they understand marketing.

Sadly, that’s not the case.  In a fantastic review of “Drucker on Marketing,” Jenny Cheung writes that “selling has to do with persuading a prospect to buy something you have.  Marketing has to do with already having what prospects want.”

What Smart Marketers Do and You Can As Well

Marketing isn’t an afterthought. It’s the critical thinking that goes into creating a product or service that actually meets someone’s active or latent needs.

Getting there doesn’t have to take 8 months. It can be done in a few weeks, but it involves:

  1. creating a brand platform
  2. refining a strong, differentiated value proposition
  3. understanding your audience and the various personas
  4. building a messaging platform (here’s a way to get started quickly)
  5. creating a tight marketing plan that aligns objectives, goals, strategies, and tactics

It also involves operational and strategic discipline, which are covered more broadly in 14 Rules for Successful High-Growth Marketing.

Most important of all is that is never too early to get started. Des Traynor, the founder of Intercom (a $50mm revenue company) has a really powerful talk where he basically says, “we made a lot of marketing mistakes early on and I wish we had done it differently.

Learn the Lesson: Tech Alone Isn’t Enough…

The classic example of a superior technology losing the battle is the Betamax-VHS battle in the 80s.

As decentralized start-ups enter the next phase, making the investment in Marketing earlier rather than later is the wise way to go.

According to the Decentralized Marketing Network, many start-ups have realized that.  Here’s to hoping they follow through