Discover more from America 2.0 (by Gary Sheng)
10 Creative Ways to Market Your Product
Traditional advertising is just one way (and an increasingly bad one) to market a truly innovative technology. Here’s how to do it a better way.
As the world of technology constantly evolves, it's crucial for foundational tech companies to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing, promoting, and growing their businesses.
Traditional ad spend may not always be the most effective method for achieving these goals, and there are plenty of creative ways to make an impact.
This blog post aims to explore some of these innovative strategies while also documenting my evolving thoughts on this topic.
I have years of experience creatively promoting innovative ideas and products, but I have only seen so much. Feel free to suggest any other best practices that I may have missed in the comments 🙏
1. Discover and communicate your unique value proposition
Your potential users are flooded with potential solutions that MIGHT solve their problem, but they’re looking for the best in the market.
If you can’t communicate to your ideal users why your product is the best in the market for the specific use case they need, you will not get much adoption.
So how do you discover the unique value proposition of your product, so you can effectively communicating how valuable it will be to your potential users’ lives?
Market research and immersion in your problem area are key to identifying the innovative and exciting organizations already working on similar issues.
Through extensive research, the Gitcoin Passport team (which I am a part of) has discovered that it is uniquely valuable because it aggregates the best identity and reputation validators altogether (or at least, it’s on the path to doing so because of it’s world-class relationships and brand love).
And in case you’re wondering, we at Gitcoin believe this unique value prop is valuable because we believe there are no one-size fits all solutions for sybil defense, and that the default “winner” will be the one that empowers projects to select multiple sybil defense tools all at once (aka Gitcoin Passport).
2. Make it easy for people to understand your product
Offering a straightforward and accessible way for users to explore your product is vital for encouraging adoption.
Some people are fine with reading documentation, especially developers. But most people just want to try out the product for themselves; and ideally, they are able to see an “instance” of someone else successfully using it.
Platforms like Guild.xyz provide a great example by allowing users to browse other projects' Guilds and see well-known projects using the platform, through their publicly viewable “Guildhall” at https://guild.xyz/explorer.
How else can you help people understand your product easily?
A lot of people—including me—like to watch video tutorials of how to use a product before using it. The joke I like to make is: if no one is talking about your product on YouTube, do you even exist?
Someone that does amazing tutorials is Nader Dabit, a legendary developer and developer advocate. Here’s a video he released recently about Lens Protocol:
3. Answer questions people already want answered
On the note of Nader Dabit and his amazing explainer videos, creating content that addresses common questions or concerns related to your product can be a powerful way to drive adoption.
For example, if you are Guild.xyz and you want to inspire people to use your product because you think that appreciating role automation is essential to getting adoption, you might want to create blog posts answering questions like:
What does it take to scale a community? (with the implication that Guild helps scale communities)
What are essential tools for community managers? (with the implication that Guild is one of these essential tools)
Why is role automation essential to your web3 project’s success? (with the implication that Guild’s role automation functionality supports project success)
Similarly, if you are Gitcoin, trying to increase adoption of Grants Stack as the product that many web3 projects use to run grants programs, you might want to create blog posts answering questions like:
What role does a grants program, especially a QF one, have in the growth of a web3 ecosystem? (with the implication that Grants Stack helps you run QF grants programs)
What makes running a grants program hard without something like Grants Stack? (with the implication that Grants Stack automates some hard things for you that you don’t want to do manually / with less use-case-catered tools)
How can Grants Stack's inclusion of a project directory benefit your ecosystem’s growth? (with the implication that sourcing good projects to become grantees is difficult, and Grants Stack makes it easier)
4. Build a community of practice and learning
Establishing a community around your product can be an invaluable asset for growth.
One of the things Gitcoin is doing for the growth of Gitcoin Passport is creating a community around the two areas they are building a solution in: Sybil Defense and Identity & Reputation. They announced the intention to build this community here:
You can also host a podcast on the field, like Kevin Owocki and the Greenpill podcast series, or follow the example of John Paller, who has successfully become a super-convener through ETHDenver while also being the CEO of Opolis. This dual role benefits both his event organization and his company.
5. Create opportunities for users to connect with each other
Encouraging and supporting user-to-user interactions can lead to organic growth and knowledge sharing. Notion has done a lot to encourage and sometimes explicitly invest in good spokespeople and course creators that train people on how to use Notion. It is wise for any tech company with major ambitions to consider doing the same.
Forums like Reddit can be a great way to create a digital Schelling point for your users. At the end of the day, whether it’s Reddit, Discord, Telegram, or something else, your users just need to know what the default place they can go to for questions and to meet other people intensely using your product.
6. Turn milestones and releases into mintable celebrations
Commemorating achievements through mintable celebrations like NFTs can be an effective way to highlight your company's impact and growth.
For example, Gitcoin raised a million dollars into an upcoming Gitcoin Grants Round matching pool just from a single NFT collection created in collaboration with Metalabel, which celebrated the past few years of Quadratic Funding experiments.
These mintable celebrations implicitly say “our impact so far is valuable, and you want to collect it because when we get even bigger over time, our first milestones will be really memorable and valuable.”
7. Host events with the leaders of your field or sponsor them
Hosting or sponsoring events with industry leaders can provide numerous benefits. Gitcoin has been smart about hosting Schelling Point — an accessible, fun, educational gathering for people who want to build at the intersection of web3 and the public good.
Taking up mindspace in the heads of web3 leaders, who might need partners that offer solutions like ones that Gitcoin can provide.
Talent pipeline from attendees
Always being at the bleeding edge, because speakers at conferences almost always want to share the edge of their thinking with audiences
For example, Elon Musk could consider hosting a future of social media summit, where he invites leaders of different social media platforms. This would enable Elon (and his staff at Twitter) to learn from industry leaders, foster collaboration and innovation, showcase his commitment to improving social media, and provide exposure for smaller platforms.
8. Get your leaders to speak at conferences
One of the ways that people and companies decide what is relevant is based on who is speaking at major conferences. You want your company to have representation at major conferences, especially if your major competitors are gunning for speaker slots too.
Many of the best partnerships formed often result from networking opportunities in the Speaker's lounge or from people approaching speakers after a panel discussion. Ensure that your company's leaders are active and visible at industry events to maximize these opportunities.
9. Provide thoughtful, heart-centered, HUMAN customer service
In today's digital age, it might seem surprising, but providing exceptional, human-centered customer service can be a powerful marketing strategy.
Many customer service interactions have become automated, so adding a human touch can differentiate your brand and help retain customers like nothing else. When users experience difficulties with a product, having a human customer service representative who can validate their concerns and offer clear guidance on resolving their issues can significantly improve their overall experience.
Notion, for example, has managed to provide a positive customer service experience despite its large user base. This human-centered approach sets them apart from organizations like Google and Meta, which often lack personalized support. Another crucial aspect of customer service is logging feature requests and keeping customers informed when their requested features are implemented. Descript excels at this, generating significant brand loyalty by directly addressing user needs and communicating with them throughout the process. As the author of this blog post, I personally experienced Descript's exceptional customer service and shared my appreciation in a tweet:
Incorporating human-centered customer service into your marketing strategy can create lasting connections with users and foster brand loyalty. This approach not only helps differentiate your company from competitors but also contributes to a positive reputation and word-of-mouth referrals.
10. Get your leaders to have a strong social media presence
A strong social media presence for your organization's leaders is a valuable marketing asset, as people tend to connect with individuals more than companies. Encourage your leaders to build their personal brands, which can have a positive impact on your company's reputation and reach.
You can share my blog post from last week, "5 Super Practical Personal Branding Principles" to get them to begin thinking about their personal brand.
It's important for your leaders to recognize that their personal brand can benefit not only the company they currently work for but also their future endeavors and the broader mission they are passionate about Building a personal brand can open doors to opportunities for starting or advising other companies within the same domain.
Amjad Masad, the founder of Replit, is an excellent example of a leader with a robust social media presence. His active online presence attracts top developers, investors, and partners to work with Replit.
Another great example is Kevin Owocki, formerly of Gitcoin and now of Supermodular, who is highly skilled at building not only the brands of his companies but also his own personal brand. This approach generates brand love and loyalty for the companies he is associated with.
Encouraging your leaders to have a strong social media presence can amplify your company's marketing efforts and create genuine connections with customers, partners, and investors.
This personal touch can lead to increased brand loyalty and a wider reach for your company's message.
CONCLUSION: Take these creative ideas and run with them!
In conclusion, the creative marketing and promotion strategies outlined in this blog post can help foundational tech companies grow and succeed in an increasingly competitive landscape.
By understanding your unique value proposition, making your product accessible, answering common questions, building a community, offering heart-led customer service, and engaging with industry leaders, you can elevate your product and create a thriving ecosystem around it.
Remember, these are just a few examples, and there are other innovative approaches to consider as you continue to evolve your marketing strategy.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.
And send this to marketing leaders and other executives at your organization or organizations you believe in.