Web3 startups, like any other type of startup, can encounter marketing challenges that lead to failure or suboptimal results. In this article, I gathered the most popular Web3 startups’ failures in marketing and explained how to avoid them. I recommend this text to the founders, CEOs and COOs of the Web3 projects. I wish you a pleasant reading, and I hope it will be helpful for you.
My name is Daria Volkova. I’m a Strategic Brand Marketer and Growth Expert helping blockchain-based projects gain awareness and trust among users and developers.
In this article, “marketing” means all activities to increase knowledge about the project, including audiences of end users, developers, private investors and the VC funds.
When I talk about the marketing of technical projects built on the blockchain, I don't mean annoying banner ads or radio spots. My article and approach focus on activities to increase knowledge and loyalty to the brand, build a community, work with content marketing and DevRel.
So, I’m ready to share the top failures/mistakes in promoting the Web3 projects.
Most founders have a background in development and engineering, so they may believe in the "power of code" and don’t realize the need for marketing. Indeed, a well-functioning product without marketing is better than a fake project everyone knows about.
But if you have a good idea with a purpose, you have to turn your "mountain of code" into a business. It takes marketing and brand activity, partnerships and collaborations.
So, let your project become technically robust, recognizable and attractive for investment.
While community-building and technical documentation are essential, neglecting traditional marketing channels (content marketing, social media, and PR) can limit the project's reach. These channels can help attract a broader audience beyond the Web3 community.
Any product needs to be marketed. Even if you’re creating the “most unique technology in the world”, there will come a time when your technology ceases to amaze and it becomes difficult to interest people.
Most blockchain startups suffer because of lack of business and marketing expertise. Think about this when you want to say that marketing/branding is no needed because you are good at coding and memes.
The Web3 space is competitive, and startups must differentiate themselves from competitors through a clear Value Proposition, a new thoughtful business model or memorable design and tone of voice. Failure to showcase what makes the project unique can result in obscurity.
Also, failure to clearly communicate the value and purpose of the Web3 project can hinder marketing efforts. If potential users and investors don't understand the project's significance or how it addresses specific pain points, they may not be motivated to get involved.
To create your Value Proposition and Brand Positioning, you have to answer these questions:
What pain do you solve for clients?
How do your products differ from competitors' products?
What impact do you want to have in the world?
How would you like to be remembered?
Why should people follow your project?
Read the complete list of questions to help you build a brand by this link to the article on HackerNoon: "Brand Strategy for a Web3 Startup - Raise Your Value and Visibility in the Web3 Space".
Understanding your Value for the users, developers and partners can't be done without learning their needs and habits. So, the following common failure is ignoring research and interviews with the potential clients.
Some Web3 founders think they are representatives of the target audience. In most cases, this is not true. You must read about your users, use specific data analytics tools (off-chain and on-chain), and think about your project's User Experience.
Web3 startups sometimes focus excessively on the technical aspects of their projects and neglect the User Experience. A confusing or poorly designed interface can deter users, no matter how innovative the underlying technology is.
To build a smooth UX, you must learn from your users and find people (Product Designers, UX/UI designers) who can create an understandable interface for many, not only tech nerds.
Vitalik Buterin, Mark Cuban, Stani Kulechov, CZ, Alex Glukhovsky, David Hoffman, Sandy Carter and Aya Miyaguchi — I’m sure you know all these names, or almost all. They use their names to strengthen the brands of the products they have created and/or are developing.
If you are a founder, you must be the public face of your company. You have to be an Ambassador. People trust people, not corporations.
In personal brand building, one of the critical points is Positioning. Brand Positioning helps others choose YOU and YOUR PRODUCT, not someone else. It works for both product branding and personal branding. In simple words, your Positioning is a phrase or description under your photo on LinkedIn or X (Twitter).
To create your positioning, imagine yourself at a business party where, in addition to cocktails and music, people are interested in the professional achievements of others and try to find business partners. Precise and accurate Positioning will help you interest people and become a welcome interlocutor to whom you won't want to say goodbye quickly.
So, how would you introduce yourself and your project to get people interested at this Web3 party?
Timing can be critical in the fast-moving world of Web3. Launching a project or marketing campaign at the wrong time, such as during a bear market or when a competing project gains traction, can lead to failure.
I see the unsuccessful work of the launchpads during the down trade. Despite this tendency, many projects try to launch their tokens with big hopes.
I remember 2021 when many people wanted to create their NFT collections - no matter which and how. I gave consulting services to the guys planning to create their NFT collections, and some of them tried to do this because it was hype and "everything could be sold". No, not everything. You have to understand the current market status and propose what is valuable.
Some Web3 startups may fall into the trap of overhyping their projects without delivering on promises. Exaggerated claims can lead to disappointment and skepticism, damaging the project's reputation.
Some startups may prioritize short-term token price increases over long-term sustainability and utility. This can lead to a focus on speculative trading rather than the development and adoption of the technology.
I can say that projects created only for hype and quick buck fade just as quickly, causing many questions. Too much hype in the DeFi or crypto industry raises suspicions and indicates an insufficient market understanding by users/investors.
This can lead to financial and reputational losses both on the part of the project and on the part of the clients. Do you remember the hype surrounding Terra (Luna/USD)? And you know how it all ended.
Therefore, the following point I want to highlight is the neglect of the mission and long-term vision of the project, including in terms of marketing. Some founders see marketing and branding as disparate tools, so they hire people who work with their hands rather than think strategically.
That is why you can see projects with a content writer who creates SEO-optimized texts for a blog on topics that are irrelevant to the project. Some projects can't decide on a brand design and endlessly rework it because they do it randomly and not based on a clear strategy and vision of the brand.
I advise you to develop strategic thinking and surround yourself with people who can plan several steps and understand the cause-and-effect relationships between actions and results.
Successful marketing for Web3 startups requires a combination of technical expertise, community building, strategic partnerships, regulatory compliance, and effective communication. Avoiding the pitfalls mentioned above and adopting a balanced marketing strategy can contribute to the success of a Web3 project.
In order to build a successful product, you need to work with all aspects - technical, user experience, marketing and branding.
Share this article with your colleagues and Web3 founders thinking about marketing their projects but don’t know how to start.