Every product that you see in the market is going through its own life cycle, just like a human being. From inception to slowly fading out of our lives, the life cycle of a product can be broken down into 6 key stages - development, introduction, growth, maturity, saturation, and decline.
This is the phase before the product is launched into the market. It consists of the groundwork - research, finding investors, and development of product prototypes. During this stage, brands spend time and money understanding their product-market fit without necessarily making any sales or revenue.
This is the stage where the customers are introduced to the product for the first time. During this phase, marketing teams begin to build product awareness and reach out to potential customers. The focus is on creating marketing campaigns to build brand awareness and test out different distribution channels to educate potential customers about the product.
The growth stage is when customers have accepted a product and have started using it. During this phase, the product grows, and brands start seeing revenue and also competition in the market.
The maturity stage is when the product has been around for a while but the sales don’t seem to be rising as they did during the growth phase. In an attempt to revive interest, companies re-evaluate their pricing, offer discounts and start to get creative with their product marketing in order to continue growing and expanding to new customers.
During this phase, marketing campaigns are focused on building a distinct brand identity to seem different from competitors in the market rather than building brand awareness. This can be a profitable phase for brands since a lot of the building cost is already reduced and sales start to climb.
During this stage, there might be more competitors in the market and sales start to see a decline. This is the stage where the product gets one last chance. The market is flooded with competitors and sales are regularly declining. Brands need to continue to provide unique value, competitive pricing and/or additional features to stay relevant and not reach the dreaded Decline stage.
That’s it. It’s pretty much over at this point. The product hasn’t become widely adopted or accepted at this point. There’s a constant decline in sales & customer engagement.
At this stage, a company would usually discontinue its product, sell its company or innovate and pivot in a different direction altogether. It’s safe to say that this isn’t a stage any product wants to see.
Growth and marketing are essential at every stage of a product cycle - right from the inception of the product to maturity and decline. Growth models adopted by brands seem to be at the forefront of what makes a product last in the market or decline. Good growth strategies can turn ordinary solutions into memorable brands. Here is a comparative study of how growth models have evolved:
Every business needs the means to sustain itself. Sustainability means getting people to pay for your product or service that covers your costs, and then some. As soon as revenue exceeds costs, you are self-sustaining, which is the first milestone of sustainability. However these days, startups aim to not only sustain but to exponentially grow by investing surplus revenue back into growth. It’s a positive feedback loop.
Web 1 and Web 2 companies explored many business models. Most of these models were a mix of AARRR (awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral) funnels and different forms of growth loops. Here’s a comparative study on how these models have evolved with the evolution of the internet:
The web was originally about sharing information - one giant hyperlinked document. Many people tried the business model of copying and pasting offline content **into the online world and this didn’t work very well for brands.
Some Web 1 companies tried a web-native business model - treat the webpage as an application to buy things or interact with others and take a cut. Some of these worked quite well, such as eBay and Craigslist. Ebay’s model was based on an AARRR growth model and their strategies focused on:
During a time like this, Amazon came up with its famous loop.
Their idea was to improve customer experience to drive more traffic at every stage of growth. A better customer experience gets more traffic which gets more sellers, this brought in a better selection of items sold and hence provided a better customer experience. This is a growth-based model and is self-sustaining in many ways. As opposed to AARRR models that work only when you keep pumping more money towards the top of the funnel to generate more growth, growth models were more sustainable and provided better customer experiences. Growth models allowed to lower costs which lowered prices and further improved customer experience. With the help of this loop, and with time to see the results, Amazon has become one of the world’s most valuable companies in the world.
The Web 2 generation brought mobile, social media, and the cloud. This made their customers more than just buyers. Customers became the driving force for the success of any company. Brand loyalty was paramount and social media, digital and influencer marketing campaigns became necessary with customers relying mostly on reviews for making purchase decisions. Data collection and CRMs became essential as they helped brands personalize customer experiences and drive sales.
Here are a few ways in which brands adapted to this new age of social media and digital marketing:
Brands started paying for subscriptions to software solutions like SalesForce, Meetup, and MailChimp to generate leads and follow up with them through emails and SMS.
Referral marketing is when you encourage your customers to share your business with their networks. A referral email is a newsletter that offers incentives for existing customers to share your newsletter or offers with their contacts. This type of program usually involves an offer for both the referrer and the referee, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Targeted advertising is a form of online advertising that specifically targets customers based on particular traits, interests, preferences & demographic. Advertisers discover this information by tracking user activity on the Internet or third-party cookies.
Today, ads are all over the place. They’re in dedicated search platforms (Google AdWords), 3rd party web pages (Google AdSense), social media (Facebook, Twitter), apps (most free mobile apps), and content (YouTube). We may hate ads, but they do make for sustainable businesses on the web. However, people are getting tired of seeing ads and have been against the idea of companies selling user data to these third-party advertisers.
The fastest-growing products are best represented as a system of loops instead of funnels. Loops are closed systems where the inputs through some stages generate an output that can be reinvested into the input at a later stage. There are growth loops that serve different value creation including new users, returning users, defensibility, or efficiency and there are mainly two forms of growth loops in the market - the closed loop and infinity loop.
Using growth loops in marketing is a strategy that involves gathering feedback about customers through customer interactions and distributing it to various teams. This method is used to create targeted content and test its efficiency for different audiences, develop marketing campaigns, and reach better ROI.
The strategy can be implemented in four steps :
Identify your site users
Websites with engaging content like blogs, videos, and educational content drive more traffic. To analyze leads that come from different sources, companies often use different tools like Google Analytics, Moz Keyword Explorer, Bitly, and more to provide brands various insights about their visitors such as - location, sources of referral, visited pages, time spent on each page, etc. As a result, you’ll know a brand’s main sources of traffic, and most visited pages, and understand content visitors don’t need.
Explore your customer’s interests
Once you have created a list of visitors on your website, they can be divided into groups based on their interests. Some of these visitors will may not make purchase decisions while some can become potential clients. The most common ways of sharing information with your clients & customers are blogs, youtube ads, social media channels, pay-per-click ads, Google ads, and other marketing tools. If there are people interested in your brand, they will let you know by subscribing to your newsletters for updates or following your on your social channels.
Create a visitor database
Once you have a list of potential clients, you need to create a database of them. The best way to do this is by using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. It helps you collect all the necessary information about your customers, understand and record their behavior, create marketing campaigns, build strong relationships and generate more sales.
Manage customer relationships
The final step is to build strong relationships with your clients and ensure collaboration between the marketing, sales, and customer support teams. There are plenty of marketing tools that can be used to build good customer relationships, such as email newsletters, rewards for loyalty, posts on social media, giveaways, etc.
Here’s an example of two different kinds of growth loops used by Netflix and Tik-Tok:
AARRR funnels focus on acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue; whereas growth loops are self-perpetuating cycles in which each new user brings in more users, and so on.
The AARRR framework is a good way to grow sales; whereas growth loops help keep users engaged and ensure user retention.
Most successful brands use a combination of both by applying growth loops at every stage of the funnel to make them more effective.
CRM in web 2 stands for Customer Relationship Management. It’s a software system that helps brands track all forms of communication with their clients and nurture relationships. A good CRM allows businesses to be better organized and efficient, with better time and resource management by tracking customer data and behavior across a platform.
A CRM consolidates all communications, user data, and leads to help you better manage and personalize user experiences. CRMs connect all the data from sales leads and customers in one place.
However, with web 3, users are in charge of their data and can choose who to share it with and what they share. They also rely on using web 3 wallets and social media platforms like Twitter, Discord, and Telegram for all communication with the brand. Most of the community engagement happens on these social media platforms.
Web 3 gives communities direct ownership of their relationships and allows them to bring those relationships to any token-enabled experience. This redefines brand-customer relationships massively.
So, how do you create growth loops for a web 3 community?
Let’s get into how a web3 brand’s life cycle looks like:
Finding your target community and catering to their needs and wants will reward web3 brands generously because we're building for a group of people who share values, needs, and ideologies.
Targeting these groups using social media campaigns, airdrops, loyalty programs and more will prove to be more beneficial than spamming users with newsletters and emails. Remember, these are web3 natives, not web2.
Collectibles can tell a lot about a user's persona. The type of communities a user engages with, giveaways they show interest in, DAOs they are a member of, POAPs they've collected from events, wallet activity, and community engagement across various channels help paint a clearer picture of the user than traditional web 2 touch points. This data can be used to identify your potential customers & target communities, and build a product that caters to them.
A web 3 native CRM could gather data across various touchpoints to create comprehensive customer profiles and understand how users behave within various collectible-based communities.
Building in public has become a very popular way for brands to operate in web3. This involves sharing every stage of your product design process openly with your community and taking feedback wherever required.
Mozilla was the first web 2 company to popularize this idea by open-sourcing their entire rebranding process and writing several articles diving deep into every stage, idea, and decision made by the brand.
Today web 3 brands like Questbook, ENS, Ethereum, and several NFT projects take this a step further by allowing community members to become a part of the building process and rewarding them for the efforts made. This not only builds a stronger sense of community but also helps create a great product for a larger community. This can be done by just sharing updates with your community on your social platforms and asking for feedback, offering job opportunities or bounties to encourage your community members to build the product with you, or giving them complete control by the formation of DAOs.
To build a brand in Web3, you need more than a PR-team-approved positioning line for your most ardent fans to memorize. You need a story even your casual fans will remember, and having one will give you an edge over everyone else.
The onboarding step mainly consists of preparing your community for the launch of your NFT collection through different marketing strategies and getting creative with the method of drop. These are a few steps brands apply to activate your community before launch:
This is the first and the most important step that goes into creating a web3 brand. A lot of brands are called “Headless” and this might be true for most. The truth is that most of the people who get behind a cryptocurrency or an NFT project have no idea about its underlying technical fundamentals. Very few look deeply into the technical, contractual, or governance fundamentals of a single cryptocurrency — let alone evaluate those fundamentals relative to alternatives competing for the same use case.
We saw that quite spectacularly last week in the collapse of the algorithmic stablecoin Terra, just as we’ve seen it many times before. It is all about speculation and telling a story of a brand that will echo forever.
Here are some web3 brands that were built purely because of speculation and storytelling:
Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency that is just a copy of the Bitcoin blockchain. Software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer decided one day to create a payment system as a “joke” to make a joke on the state of cryptocurrency speculation and trading at the time. DOGE was the first of its type - “meme coin”, meaning its visuals took the form of a meme popular among the crypto bros of Reddit and elsewhere.
Needless to say, that community — the then dominant sub-culture of the crypto speculator metaverse — loved it. When Elon Musk picked up on the trend and flogged it on Twitter and Dogecoin went to the moon.
Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency success built on a story that captured the imagination of a community. Even though it’s a meme coin, we cannot deny the fact that its current market cap is $8B.
“AAAAAAAUUUUUGGGHHHHH goblins goblinns GOBLINNNNNNNNns wekm ta goblintown yoo sniksnakr DEJEN RATS oooooh rats are yummmz dis a NEFTEEE O GOBBLINGS on da BLOKCHIN wat? oh. crustybutt da goblinking say GEE EMMM DEDJEN RUTS an queenie saay HLLO SWEATIES ok dats all byeby“
This is literally what is written on their OpenSea description and yet the project has an all-time trading volume of 50,000 Ethereum which is approximately equal to 65 million dollars (1 ETH ~ 1300$ today). On the official website, the team outlined their plans in bold letters: “No roadmap. No Discord. No utility. CC0.
They launched this project in a bear market, during a three-hour-long twitter space we saw the founders of the project introduce it by making Goblin Noises. It was a group of about a dozen grown men making barely comprehensible goblin noises for three hours. They spoke unintelligibly and at length about serving burgers to people in the audience with "Gary Pee sauce," a reference to NFT OG Gary "Vee" Vaynerchuk.
This just proves that web 3 brands can be a success or a complete flop depending on the stories you put out, initial speculation over the project, and of course community.
Plenty of NFT collections today employ an allowlist or whitelist mechanism to identify potential buyers and secure their spot before the mint. This avoids a gas war during the drop and guarantees a good percentage of sales from those who have received a spot. This also creates hype for the project before the launch and paves the way for successful launches.
Anyone can win a whitelist spot by participating in giveaways, joining the project’s discord, engaging with the community, or applying to get whitelisted through discord or the project’s website.
y00ts - a project by Frank DeGods on the Solana ecosystem employed an interesting allowlist campaign. To be listed for the y00ts mint, users had to receive a scholarship to be y00tlisted. The y00tlisting process was similar to whitelisting for a project but with a twist – you apply, much like an application for a job, that would either be approved or denied at the team’s discretion.
This campaign attracted a lot of influencers and NFT enthusiasts to the project even before the actual mint and was one of the main reasons for the project’s hype and success.
A lot of projects also partner with other communities to give their holders special allowlist spots before mint. A lot of these allowlist spots are also given away to users who are active on social media, through giveaways and brand partnerships.
It is possible to create NFT contracts and drop styles in all sorts of different ways. It’s also possible to blend different drop approaches in interesting ways. These are a few drop styles that have been adopted by projects in the past:
1. First come first serve (FCFS) mints
Just like the name suggests, this is a style in which minting is done on a “first come first serve” basis - either to the public or to specific members of the community who were whitelisted. These can be done in a few ways:
Permissionless — Anyone can mint on an FCFS basis. Example: Bored Ape Yacht Club
Token-gated — Anyone who holds a specific token can mint on an FCFS basis. Example: y00ts which could only be minted by users who had 375 $DUST in their wallet and has been y00tlisted.
Raffle-based — Uses a raffle system to allocate a limited number of allowlist spots for an FCFS mint. Example: Boki’s final sale, Azuki, y00ts and so many more. This is the most common minting process in the NFT ecosystem at the moment.
Price-tiered — a drop style in which different supply tiers in a collection have different mint prices, e.g. NFT IDs 0-999 at 0.1 ETH, 1000-1999 at 0.2 ETH, and so forth. Example: The Hashmasks
2. Dutch auctions (DAs)
An NFT drop style in which a collection’s NFTs start at an initial mint price and that price drops by a particular sum periodically until a designated price floor is hit or a demand equilibrium is reached and all the NFTs sell out.
Examples: Vee Friends V2, ENS domain name auctions, Art Blocks, Azuki, etc.
3. Free claims/Free mints
An NFT drop style in which a collection’s NFTs are free to mint besides the gas costs associated with the claim transactions. Projects that opt for this style rely on secondary sale royalty rates to bring in revenues.
Examples: Cryptopunks, Goblinstown, Loot.
4. Daily auctions
This is an NFT drop style pioneered by Nouns DAO that entails generating and auctioning one new NFT every day indefinitely. Lately, we’ve seen a wave of projects adopt this method of distribution style while experimenting with its NFT pacing, i.e. releasing more than one NFT a day and so forth. Ex: Nouns Dao, Wizards Dao, Lil Nouns Dao.
There are several other methods of dropping an NFT such as having unlimited Open Editions, Bonding curves, and MultiRaffles. A lot of projects also use a combination of two or more of the methods mentioned above to make their drops interesting.
We at Layer-E provide brands with several options for launching their collection with our smart contract solutions making it easy for you to track and manage allowlist spots, drop styles, and more.
Give your NFTs utility by offering your holders with special rewards, running raffles and quests, providing token-gated content, exclusive access to events, and offering physical and digital goodies.
We at Layer-E help brands engage with their audience through strategies like engage-to-earn. Here, users can earn rewards for engaging with the brand and brands can create phygital drops to tie physical claims to their digital NFTs and engage deeper with their audience to build loyalty. Our CRMs help brands identify diamond-handed holders and reward them for their loyalty which incentivizes your audience to engage more with your brand.
Most web3 projects scale their business by collaborating with web2 brands or other web3 projects, offering metaverse compatibility, launching a second collection, or releasing tokens for use in their marketplaces.
The idea is to keep providing long-term value to your community through collaborations or new utility which in turn generates revenue for your brand. Here are some examples of how web 3 brands are scaling:
Yuga Labs - the creators of Bored Ape Yacht club recently launched their metaverse called Otherside. Otherside is one of the most anticipated metaverse projects due to its gamification plan and connection with Animoca Brands. They announced this with the launch of their native token $APE which can be used within the metaverse for purchases and is also tradeable. Holders received an airdrop of $APE tokens depending on how many Yuga Labs NFTs they held.
Boss Beauties recently collaborated with Mattel to create Boss Beauties Barbie Dolls, Gary Vee’s Vee Friends recently announced their collaboration with Macy’s and Toys R Us to create physical toys of their NFTs to further expand their brand.
These are just some ways in which NFT brands can continue to expand and find use cases within the digital and the physical world.
The process of minting your brand’s collectibles and managing your collectibles might seem like a daunting task. With so many steps involved, community interaction needed at every point along with the involvement of smart contracts and different ERC standards might overwhelm brands.
We make this process simpler by following a simple three-step mechanism to manage your brand collectibles in one place:
We provide brands with custom APIs and solutions to launch their own NFT collections on any chain. Launching a collection on Layer-E is very simple and the best part - you own your collectibles and smart contract.
We also provide brands with options to create raffles, whitelist spots, and treasure hunts to onboard your community and engage with them before the drop.
We help brands create engaging collectible launches and build brand loyalty with their customers through quests, events, collaborations, engage-to-earn, and several other engagement options.
We also provide brands with web3 CRMs - Collectible Relationship Management - to help identify your most loyal users and engage with them to build stronger relationships.
At Layer-E, we help brands scale at every possible step by helping them onboard new users through engaging campaigns, and collaborations and providing exciting utility to the holders.
Our vision is to help brands bring value to their customers through collaborations, token drops, phygital drops, and more, in turn creating new sources of revenue for the brand.
If you’re a brand looking to launch your NFT collection and find the process overwhelming, we at Layer-E are here to help you every step of the way through our solutions right from the development of the idea for launch to scaling your brand after the drop.
Layer-E is the leading Collectible Relationship Management product suite in web3 built for creators, companies and fandom to turbocharge revenue and reach. Interested in being part of our exclusive club of launched brand including Coinbase, Flipkart, Mercedes and more? Get in touch with us here to build your Collectible Relationship strategy with us.