The ever-rising volume of blockchain projects has spurred demand for marketing services but has also placed new challenges on the digital agencies responsible for marketing strategy. How do you connect with individuals who do not fully understand the technology?

Jason Fishman

Jason Fishman, senior vice president of the Digital Niche Agency, wants companies to rely on marketing fundamentals that include pinpointing audiences and keeping them engaged. He also wants to create communities of interested users and investors. 

Playa Vista, Calif.-based DNA built its business initially in the crowdfunding equity market, but over the past year it has added four blockchain clients and is in discussions with a number of others. Fishman, a marketing veteran, says his firm’s strategies consider users’ “digital touch points” and rely on a combination of channels to engage audiences.

ThirtyK: How did your firm get involved in blockchain?

Fishman: We built a name for ourselves via close relationships with equity crowdfunding portals such as StartEngine. Building our portfolio as of August 2017, we started getting inquiries for cryptocurrency crowd sales, [initial coin offerings], [security token offerings].

“The message I’ve been preaching is of taking good, fundamental marketing tactics around audience growth. These crypto projects are often lacking them.”

We’ve been able to partner with different consultants, funds, advisers, cryptocurrency events, conferences. We have done a strong volume of ICOs [and] STOs this year, as well as post-fund initiatives around trading exchange awareness, user acquisition and even lead generation.

ThirtyK: What types of clients do you serve?

Fishman: We’ve had a different part in all types of funding raises. We’ve seen organizations that were further along and early stage in their technology. Long-term planning is an attribute that investors seek.

ThirtyK: How does DNA differentiate itself?

Fishman: One of our unique propositions is our audiences. We’ve built advertising audiences, accredited and unaccredited investors, (in the) U.S. (and) overseas and we can be very focused in targeting.

ThirtyK: What is the similarity between a crowdfund and an ICO?

Fishman: For equity crowdfunding, similar to an ICO, you are purchasing a small stake in the business.

ThirtyK: What do you see as the basic difference between the two?

Fishman: There are no great investor success stories in equity crowdfunding. There are issuer success stories of how they raised money in short windows of time. But there are not investor success stories where investors sold their equity at a certain point and saw a large return. ICOs have those success stories. When you go to a conference you’ll talk to individuals who have had those success stories from investments.

ThirtyK: How do you produce a crypto community that lasts?

Fishman: We’ll build a strategy based on real-time events in the crypto industry, looking at other brands and the tactics that are getting the best responses from audiences. We’ll build a strategy around audiences’ digital touch points, creative messaging, and activate social media, community channels [and] email.

If different publishers, influencer groups, organizations, events (such as conferences) are regularly talking about a project, it not only validates the project, it inspires social sharing [and] serves as a traffic source. For some projects, we’ll see the best audience growth on Reddit, others on Bitcointalk. Telegram is definitely one that we’ve seen thrive beautifully after a [fund] raise.

Backup Channels

ThirtyK: How important are metrics?

Fishman: The only way to do this without getting lucky is to have a strategy and tactics to produce audience growth, milestones and backup channels if those numbers are not reached.

ThirtyK: Is there anything dramatically different than marketing other types of tech businesses?

Fishman: The message I’ve been preaching is of taking good, fundamental marketing tactics around audience growth. These crypto projects are often lacking them.

ThirtyK: What are blockchain projects doing wrong in building communities?

Fishman: It’s not so much what they are doing wrong as it is missing opportunities. We’ll talk with groups that have never run an advertising campaign, that have not been posting regularly to their community channels, that are not continually looking at influencers or new publishers to cover overall momentum. They’re waiting for their next big event so there is an absence of a content calendar, growth in these communities or milestones.

ThirtyK: Are there drawbacks to building a community?

Fishman: It depends on what stage a project is in. If a project is not ready for mass adoption, for mass investor adoption — they’re only looking for friends and family to be brought to the table as prospective investors — the audience should be managed accordingly.

ThirtyK: Do token airdrops work in building a community?

Fishman: Short answer, yes. They have to be set up and measured properly. You’re not always getting the best users with airdrops. Users who may not be trading upon receipt of the airdrop or within a given timeline and therefore are not producing the results that a project is looking for. So you have to look to the right partners to launch and manage that airdrop.

Effective Bounty Programs?

ThirtyK: Are bounty programs effective in building a community?

Fishman: If a bounty program hits your target investor — that is, something they are interested in — then yes. We have a list of people who respond to these. It all depends on how they’re used. It can also bring different bounty program partners.

ThirtyK: What is the right timing for releases and updates of information?

Fishman: I’m a fan of regular updates, unless there’s a significant drawback with the overall timeline, which is not uncommon in this industry. The more you [engage] an audience with valuable content, the better. The release timeline is very much a result of good planning, which means you have to look at what else is occurring in the industry. Some news event can damage a release, and you’ll lose the traction you were looking to get.

James Rubin
James Rubin has covered a range of business topics for such publications as the Economist Intelligence Unit, Forbes Insights and Adweek. His papers have been presented at World Economic Forum events. He was an associate editor at TheStreet and is the author of the "Urban Cyclist's Survival Guide."