Unless you’ve been under a rock, you may have noticed that defi swooped into the crypto markets during 2020, gathering speed and momentum while capturing a hefty percentage of media coverage in the fintech space. This article covers the subject of how crypto and defi marketers are tackling industry challenges. What are the major impediments to successful defi and crypto branding and what specific marketing techniques can be used to overcome these challenges?
A new kind of pioneer
The Internet pioneers had their work cut out for them. Going where no one had gone before to create a network that folks worldwide could use for business, pleasure and learning. But they worked with an existing, well established economic and business environment, one that welcomed them with open arms.
Fast forward a few decades and we have a new kind of Internet pioneer. One that is building the infrastructure that intends on replacing the economic (and to much extent, the business) environment with something better.
Decentralized finance (defi), cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology make up this movement toward a more fair and transparent way of doing money and business. The new decentralized finance frontier eliminates costly middlemen while including people from all walks of life. It uses automated consensus mechanisms, incentivization, and self learning algorithms to ensure all members of an ecosystem are rewarded for following the rules and making the platform stronger.
What’s vastly different between the original Internet pioneers and the degens of today is that this movement itself must first build its own, underlying economic infrastructure. It seeks to replace the way we do business and the way we view money. So when a defi startup builds its product, it inevitably runs into issues for which there are no solutions, yet. So they must create them, test them and do more of the same.
The process induces an atmosphere of constant learning, innovative problem solving, and frequent pivoting. It’s made for a very savvy (and red-eyed) group of entrepreneurs. Defi marketers in particular not only must stay ahead of the game, but often they are creating the game as they go, with less tools available to them than marketers in mainstream industries.
Why share marketing techniques with other defi marketers?
We spoke with marketers who worked extensively with crypto and defi startups to ask them what they found most challenging about promoting in the open finance realm. Then, we found out what they were doing to get through these obstacles.
As many in the crypto industry will tell you, partnerships among crypto companies are golden as they help raise awareness, build branding, and enlarge communities. In the hyper competitive world of crypto marketing, however, there’s often a lack of this kind of collaboration.
So in the spirit of sharing resources and working together to help support the industry as a whole, these marketers offered to divulge some of their experiences and solutions so we as an industry stay strong together through all the economic uncertainty (as well as the certain backlash once some governments figure out what we’ve been up to in defi!).
The main challenges and marketing techniques from the pros
How do you drive traffic to projects without compromising the essence of cryptocurrencies?
Dimitry Apollonsky, CEO at growth marketing agency, Soar.sh, has vast experience with clients in the defi space. As an experienced marketing manager, Dimitry offered these words of wisdom:
“In a decentralized ecosystem like defi, the biggest issue is for marketing to appear genuine and in-touch. It’s particularly hard to appear genuine in Crypto. If someone doesn’t trust centralized finance, typically they’re not going to trust Facebook or Google ads either.
The challenge for us marketers during this time is to figure out how to drive awareness and build traffic to projects without compromising the essence of crypto — decentralization and lack of trust in central authorities.”
In his time consulting and working with crypto companies, Dimitry has found several ways to overcome the challenge of staying true to crypto’s tenets:
- “Build a good product and a good set of values that your product stands for. Once you have that, you can build a community that will do all your marketing for you. Also, leverage Telegram, Reddit and other community platforms.
- Provide value to the cryptocurrency industry as a whole through thoughtful content marketing and by solving small (better yet big) problems. Do this in key ways that are relevant to the crypto ecosystem as a whole.”
- Don’t speak from your brand — speak from your person. Personal brands still have cachet even when company brands struggle to.”
Dimitry has implemented these tactics plus other innovative strategies to drive widespread adoption to dozens of crypto clients at Soar.sh.
Barriers to Entry
Another challenge that defi marketers have experienced involves a range of barriers to entry for startups. One such issue is related to the glut of content about blockchain technologies; how does a crypto news or content service stand out when there are so many in the game?
Overcoming a crowded field to make your mark
As an example, Marketing Director of CoinJoy, Colin Read, noted a marked barrier to entry in the form of media. In his work for Coinjoy’s crypto and defi news aggregator, he’s found that: “Competition in the media industry is extremely high, and there’s a multitude of existing, well-proven information sources. Every year, the crypto community becomes more selective in choosing the sources they read, the applications they use, and the websites they visit.”
Finding your voice in an already noisy crypto media environment requires, again, a commitment to one of the most important tenets of crypto: building trust.
“Earning the trust of the user when there are already thousands of other good projects around is really not an easy task.” Read continued. “We have to work hard to offer our readers what makes us special: clean and elegant design, no obtrusive banner ads, unique, quality content. The CoinJoy.io team has big development plans and is already working on new site features. But as a news aggregator, we can’t necessarily offer an innovative product on the crypto market. But we do our job well and continue to build trust by building user-demanded features.”
Restrictions imposed on significant marketing channels.
If you’ve had any part in crypto marketing over the last few years, you’re aware of the unique marketing restrictions faced by startup teams in crypto and defi. The Internet’s two biggest sources of ad revenue, Facebook and Google, have often used restrictions on all crypto companies in order to weed out the projects that are not legit. Many major platforms follow their lead on this.
Jim Sanders, CEO at CryptoDetail, told us that “The main challenge every crypto marketer faces is the restrictions imposed on significant marketing channels such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Twitter Ads. As an industry, we’re forced to focus away from these mainstream (and highly effective) ad platforms towards building relationships with opinion leaders, PR, and search traffic.“.
DeFi’s technically savvy users
A third barrier to entry has to do with the crypto audience itself. CryptoDetail’s Jim Sanders explained that “The market of defi and DEXes is still very young, narrow, and requires a technically savvy audience. At the same time, competition is quite fierce. In such conditions, the threshold for entering this market becomes very high.” At the same time, it can be tricky for defi projects on the move to find fintech-savvy freelancers that are up to speed.
Connecting to mainstream press
Another aspect of the crypto industry is its awkward relationship with legacy banking and business systems, as well as the mainstream press. Defi is not just a new technology that can be added to these systems. It requires a new infrastructure that will ultimately produce an alternative to banking and commerce as we know it.
But because young crypto markets have only captured a small percentage of the Internet’s vast audience, mainstream press often views defi as a gray area. Additionally, defi moves at such a fast pace that it’s hard to imagine a mainstream news outlet being able to jump in and accurately report on what’s currently happening. Yet many defi startups still want to keep that link to journalism, even though it is hard to establish while crypto remains outside of mainstream media,
Without a mainstream press connection, many crypto projects turn to other avenues of brand building such as:
- SEO and other content strategies help build brand awareness and when done right they drive traffic to a project’s site. They also are instrumental in educating newcomers to the space and supply ample opportunities for linking strategies and evergreen content that grows traffic organically.
- Luckily, marketers in defi and crypto have one tool that no other industry enjoys: the versatile and plentiful crypto token. And the innovative marketers of crypto and defi are taking this tool to new levels. Such as with programmed bot promotions that automatically (and immediately) airdrop tokens into users’ wallets after they perform certain tasks, such as retweeting, entering a contest, or following a company’s social accounts.
Marketing in defi and crypto requires an open ended mindset and a love for quick pivots and building on preexisting innovations. Thankfully, the folks that contributed to this article were willing to share some of their defi marketing secrets. Because they know that decentralized finance creates a world where everyone has access to wealth building tools. They intend on being a part of this massive move from broken money systems to a fairer, more profitable way.
If your crypto or defi project is in need of expert and innovative launch content and promotion, reach out to the content services team of HedgeTrade and we’ll help you build a plan that works for you.