Caution is not always a bad thing. A healthy skepticism prevents people from diving in headfirst into a shallow concept. However, when fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) monopolizes voices in new and innovative territories, it can inhibit positive growth. This is currently the case with Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
In 2013, when J.R. Willett announced the concept of an ICO – a fundraising system where companies sell their new cryptocurrency tokens in exchange for Bitcoin and Ether – it was immediately met with public skepticism. That skepticism only grew as mainstream voices entered the Blockchain arena to chastise Bitcoin and discredit the work of the crypto community.
Today, ICOs still carry the weight of media FUD. Scams, hacks, misinformation and high-profile cynics are the poster children of ICO and Blockchain worldwide. This prevents positive, impactful and innovative projects from getting the attention they deserve. The cryptocurrency market has a PR problem.
For your ICO to succeed, you need to fight fire with fire. Your company needs to stand out from the growing mass of competition, eliminate skepticism and gain and retain support from key communities. Achieving this requires your own PR strategy.
I meet regularly with people eager to make a splash in the crypto world. I’ve sat through countless pitches and entertained concepts that vary from practical to outlandish. The question I get asked is almost unanimously: “how can I get more project attention and fight FUD.” My answer almost always involves these three concepts:
1. Have a clear message
If you can’t explain your vision to a 5-year-old, you don’t have a clear message.
About 95% of the companies I talk to have this problem. They are smart people, surrounded by like-minded individuals who use a similar vernacular to explain their solution. By contrast, the majority of ICO investors aren’t Blockchain “experts” and are looking for a concise summary without industry jargon.
Similarly, the mainstream media often has a tenuous grasp on the Blockchain concept. It’s easier for them to demonize a project they don’t understand than to sift through a poorly worded whitepaper.
FUD is a symptom of misunderstanding. Formulate a way to explain your vision in three sentences or less. Strive for as few words as possible.
2. Proactively engage skeptics and influencers
If you don’t get out in front of skeptics, their voices can eclipse your marketing efforts.
Inaction is one of the biggest detriments to new ICO projects. Blockchain teams often focus on building their platform and forget to build and engage their communities. If you don’t address your public early on in your ICO process, outside voices will hijack the tone and sentiment surrounding your project.
Create a steady flow of information and maintain active social channels that address the media, investors and project enthusiasts. Stay engaged through your entire ICO process and address any FUD with clear, calculated responses.
3. Show your value
You must move forward with more strength than your skeptics trying to pull you back.
Demonstrated success is the quickest way to curtail the FUD cycle. ICOs that benchmark successes and broadcast wins are ten times more likely to gain and retain support. Unfortunately, many ICOs either overhype “potential” success or fail to announce critical milestones.
In the first example, companies run into trouble when they prematurely announce success or tease a partnership or milestone they have yet to secure. This can destroy community trust when a company fails to deliver. In the second instance, a company that doesn’t trumpet wins will appear stagnant and lose community interest.
Under promise and over deliver. Raise eyebrows in the crypto community by consistently setting goals and then publicly achieving those goals. If you can show success every step of the way, you will have no problem quashing FUD and attracting new audiences to your ICO.