This article divides your ICO marketing campaign into 8 steps and gives you a clear roadmap as to what to do and how to do it. It also has resources and examples for you to understand better **Must read for anyone trying to do their ICO in 2018**

The ICO revolution has begun and ICOs are definitely here to stay. This claim is backed by data that shows that

· $96 million was raised via ICOs in 2016

· $6 billion was raised via ICOs in 2017

· $6.3 billion was raised via ICOs by April 2018

They are becoming a preferred route for fundraising for new companies who want to build innovative products on blockchain, and established companies looking to pivot to blockchain.

With over 2500 cryptocurrencies in the market, and over 10 ICOs releasing every day, it becomes very important for you to differentiate your ICO effectively. Moreover, people now have developed a high bullshit meter for scammy ICOs (a lot of crypto investors have burnt their hands in such ICOs). Thus it becomes all the more necessary for you to build credibility and trust points in the blockchain ecosystem. This, and only this will help you attract the right kind of audience and crypto investors.

We have put together the following 8 steps based on our learnings from the top ICOs, which you can easily follow to raise a successful ICO.

Step 1: Why ICO?

Timeline — As much time as it takes, as this will be the base of the entire strategy

We agree that blockchain is one of the biggest keywords floating around in 2018 and promises to revolutionize all the industries it touches, but before you jump in, answer the following questions:

  • Does your idea actually need blockchain?
  • How are your competitors trying to solve the same problem?
  • Do you actually need your own cryptocurrency?
  • Are you really building something useful?
  • Does your token have a big enough use case?
  • Why would someone invest in your token?

All the above questions need to be answered objectively with proof before you go on the next step of building a financial storyline.

Step 2 A financial storyline

Timeline — 6 to 8 weeks

Investing in an ICO is high involvement purchase. A crypto investor will need the following trust points about your ICO before he/she decides to invest in it

  1. Problem that you are solving?
  2. How are you doing it?
  3. Why do you need blockchain to solve this problem?
  4. What is your token economics and token flow like?
  5. What is your tech architecture?
  6. What is the value you create for all the participants of your ecosystem?
  7. What is your roadmap?
  8. What is your Go To Market plan?
  9. Details about your team and advisors
  10. Details about your token sales
  11. Size of your community and level of engagement
  12. Are the influencers and press talking about you and the value you are creating?
  13. What are the reviews and ratings for your project on popular listing platforms?
  14. Who are your partners who will help you in driving adoption?

In order to elucidate the points mentioned above, you must create the following documents:

Whitepaper

Investor Deck

  • Whitepaper explained visually, for an investor to skim through — checkout a template here http://icodeck.me/

Lightpaper

  • All the key communication points summarised in 2 pages

Website/landing page

  • This will host all the important documents and will also have a snapshot of the ICO concept
  • It will have links to all your community channels like Telegram, Twitter and Medium
  • It will also have links to your press and partnerships
  • Some examples of good ICO landing pages — https://carryprotocol.io/, https://gamb.io/
  • This will keep on changing as you move into different parts within your ICO like launch, private sale, pre sale, and public sale

Explainer Video

Step 3 Initial feedback loop

Timeline — 2 to 3 weeks

The audience who will invest in your ICO will potentially fall in 3 categories

  1. People who get direct value from the product, or use your product in daily life
  2. People who understand the business impact of the value that you are creating
  3. FOMO investors who would want to invest if the above 2 are investing

Find some crypto investors (max 10 each) who fall in each of the above and spend time taking qualitative feedback on the trust points. This will help you understand if the direction you are moving in is right or wrong. It will also help you determine which parts of your communication are strong and which need to be iterated.

The objective of this process is to make sure that before you accelerate your marketing efforts you have ensured a clear and trusted communication between your brand (ICO) and potential investors.

You can build a highly relevant feedback loop by using https://earn.com/lists/

Step 4 Content Marketing Strategy to support your financial storyline

Timeline — Starts after steps 2 and 3 are complete, and continues till end of the ICO

The ICO you are building will either be

  1. An entirely new product like a decentralised margin trading exchange
  2. A decentralised alternative for a centralised product like decentralised cloud storage

In either of the above, you will need to create

Category level marketing content

  1. Why should you care about this category?
  2. What will you be able to do now, which you could not earlier?
  3. How can this change the way you do things everyday?
  4. How can this make you a better person or make processes better around you?

Product level marketing content

  1. How to use the product
  2. Product reviews
  3. How to drive maximum value from your product
  4. Product hacks, etc.

This content can be in the form of

  1. Blogs
  2. Videos
  3. Infographics
  4. Slideshare decks
  5. Tutorials

This will help you in the following 3 ways

  1. Always have new and exciting things to discuss with your community
  2. Helping your community understand the value proposition even more clearly
  3. Showcase your thought leadership and subject matter expertise on the problem you are solving

This is the content we made to acquire relevant crypto investors in our community Cryptocurrency Trading Geeks

  1. https://hackernoon.com/building-and-engaging-a-crypto-community-a-playbook-with-example-9e30695e8ae6
  2. https://medium.com/stature-network/understanding-cryptocurrency-trading-signals-macd-in-300-words-b962bc100245

Organic content is an investment which gives consistent returns for a very long time

BONUS — This strategy if executed well can result in a lot of organic press

Step 5 Global Distribution Strategy

Timeline — Starts after step 2 and 3 are complete, should be done in sync with step 4. Always remember if you spend 4 hours in creating content, spend 20 hours in distributing it to get the maximum juice from the content.

A global distribution strategy is the key so that relevant investors end up interacting with your content. This will help in driving interested people to your community and completing your public sale. A global distribution strategy will constitute the following channels. The below channels are ranked in proportion to their effectiveness (in terms of driving relevant investor traffic)

  1. PR — This is a great way to create thought leadership in your domain. If your project or team gets global recognition form the top blockchain and tech publications globally then it becomes a good trust point for potential investors in your ICO. List of over 300+ PR outlets https://airtable.com/shrtx1CiclWv1knaj/tblpTgJcCyYlrzJ6g
  2. Influencers — Crypto investing is driven inherently by word of mouth. What better word of mouth, than from the mouth of a well respected and trusted influencer. Influencer reviews, AMAs, video interviews are a few ways in which you can engage potential audiences via influencers. Find some good examples here https://hackernoon.com/a-huge-list-of-crypto-influencers-to-follow-on-youtube-813f4590da2b
  3. Crypto Communities — These are small communities distributed globally across multiple platforms like discord, telegram and facebook and have members ranging from 5K to 100K. Distributing your content in these communities can drive a lot of traffic towards your ICO website/telegram group. An example of such communities on telegram is https://telegramcryptogroups.com/
  4. High quality platforms like Reddit and Quora — Reddit and Quora are different because of the quality of people that spend time on these platforms. This audience is not you typical average joe, but highly engaged and knowledgeable. The type of content required to make a mark on these platforms needs to be insightful and well communicated or you might do more harm than good to your ICO brand. Some examples of such forums https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/ https://www.reddit.com/r/icocrypto/
  5. Offline Events and Meetups — Nothing drives trust and action more than getting a group of engaged and interested people in a room and discussing your project with them. Offline events and meetups, though unscalable has proved to be a very relevant channel of meeting your community in person and understanding how you can create more value for them. Find all such events here https://cryptocalendar.pro/ and here https://coinmarketcal.com/
  6. Email marketing — Most ICOs miss out on capitalizing this channel. Email can be a great channel to share exciting news and important updates with your subscribers. It can also be a very useful channel to get personalized feedback from your community. After telegram, email is one of the best channels to remain connected with your community. You can use this for your newsletters https://www.getrevue.co/
  7. ICO listing and Rating platforms — These platforms already have a qualified user base coming and exploring potential ICOs to invest in. If you are not present here, and your project has not been reviewed by relevant ICO experts then it becomes difficult for ICO investors to discover it organically. Check out the entire list here https://hackernoon.com/top-100-ico-listing-sites-9dfd98672930
  8. Bounty Program — One of the most famous methods of driving word of mouth by involved crypto audiences. Check out https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?board=238.0 for all the live altcoin bounty programs. It involves making people do small tasks like joining your telegram group, writing a piece of content, translating your whitepaper or sharing your content on facebook in return for your coins. Well executed bounty programs can drive a lot of relevant crypto investors to your ICO.
  9. Specific crypto ad platforms — We all know that Google and Facebook have banned all the ICO ads. But there exist a lot of native networks to market that allow crypto ad placements. To get quick access to some of the best crypto audiences, you can take the services of any of these platforms https://coinzilla.io https://cointraffic.io/

The benefit of a great distribution strategy — When people search for your brand or value keyword, they discover you and great things about you on Google — “Excellent Google search reputation management”

Step 6 Measurement of your efforts

Timeline — Should start when you start producing content and doing distribution and continue till the end of the ICO.

Measuring efforts is one of the most important steps to ensure success. Effective measurement will help you understand what is doing well and what has to be iterated. Things you should be measuring are

  1. Traffic on your website using Google Analytics
  2. Effectiveness of traffic sources using Google Analytics
  3. Engagement in your Telegram group — discussion quality, query resolution time
  4. Engagement on your content — likes, shares, comments
  5. Referrals for your product and ICO

Step 7 Community Management

Timeline — Starts after step 2, to build the initial feedback loop and then scales with the ICO until the public sale.

Your community on Telegram is the direct link between your ICO and your investors/users. An average ICO investor has a lot of questions about the potential investment which he/she wants clear by interacting with the team. Low query resolution time is one of the biggest signs of a well managed community. This helps drive confidence in the investors and drives community growth via word of mouth.

Top things to keep in mind while managing an ICO community

  1. Have a ready list of all possible FAQs which your community might have, so that you don’t have to write the answers repeatedly
  2. Understand what content your community would want to read and get value from.Use that to drive discussions among the members
  3. Be ready to manage the community in a crisis like phishing attacks and hacking on your ICO website

Bots you can use to track your community engagement https://chatmod.io/ https://combot.org/

Bonus A good community can be your biggest asset in completing a successful public sale. Share things like partnership announcements, PR releases, influencer endorsements, etc. to keep the interest of the community alive. Weekly contests in the community can go a long way in driving engagement and camaraderie among the members.

Step 8 Investor Relations

Timeline — During your private and pre sale

Before launching your public sale, you would want to test the waters by doing a private and pre sale round. This will give you an idea as to how do the serious investors value your company.

A private sale round is your first round where you can raise money from private institutional investors and ICO pools. This is where the people get the maximum discount for participation. This gives you a good understanding of what the investor selling points are in your proposition, along with confidence to execute a pre and public sale. It also gives you a bigger budget to reach out to more investors for the pre and public sale.

A pre sale is where you invite your community to buy tokens at a discounted rate than the public sale. This is the testing ground of how successful your public sale will be. Only the most engaged community members buy tokens in the pre-sale.

You will have to reach out to relevant institutional investors and hedge funds who would be willing to invest in your ICO, and also maintain excellent community relations to complete a successful pre sale and build momentum for the public sale.

Connect with relevant investors using these lists and platforms –

https://autonomous.app.box.com/s/0ghro1d2otd6irvoqfft5hz3l8n3hd17

https://earn.com/crypto-fund-managers/

https://earn.com/vcs/

https://earn.com/angels/

Marketing an ICO from start to end is a 4 to 6 month job, and if all the above mentioned steps are followed precisely, success is definitely yours. It is important to spend time perfecting the communication and design, and making sure it reaches out to the highest quality, most engaged audience.Finally, it is very crucial to be extremely authentic, and know that people trust companies and owners who have an authentic, inspiring voice.