Taking a token sale to market in 2018

Some thoughts on recent changes in the crypto marketing landscape

Some thoughts on recent changes in the crypto marketing landscape

Before my second job interview with BABB I had read the draft white paper and knew what an ambitious and exciting project BABB was.

I thought to myself, “it would be really cool to be part of this…” so when Rushd asked “we are planning a token sale soon and would like you to help us with that, do you think you can do it?” my immediate answer was “hell yeah!”…

I know marketing and I’ve been working in marketing for over 15 years — so I thought marketing a blockchain project should not be anything particularly new, right? Well, yes… and no. Fast forward few weeks and my “hell yeah” turned into “OMG what a roller coaster!”

Things change fast in marketing, but in crypto and blockchain things seemed to be changing even faster than I was used to. Even in the five months between joining the team and selling out the token sale, I observed several crucial changes that affected the overall blockchain marketing landscape.

1. Non-techie inflow

Blockchain projects and token sales used to be popular mainly among the techie population: people who understood the concept, evaluate the proposition and the potential of the project and the team behind it.

But these days, even my mum knows about Bitcoin and more and more non-techie people are getting into token sales.

As a result…

Marketers now need not only to sell the token and the project, but also educate and inform. We have to explain the tech to non-techies in human, simple and comprehensive language.

2. Trust is harder to earn

Remember the time when all you needed for a sold-out token sale was a nice looking website and decent white paper? Remember the crazy high amounts that were raised?

Well, those days are gone. As companies have sought to take advantage from the non-techie inflow mentioned above, scams have become commonplace. And as a result of that, core token sale investors have started to do deep due diligence.

BABB team felt like we were under a microscope for months before and during the token sale. We didn’t mind though — we had nothing to hide.

As a result…

The most important (although barely measurable) metric for the success of the token sale is trust. If people don’t trust you, nothing will work out.

It won’t matter how big your team is, how nice your office is or how much money you spent on ads. Trust is everything. And trust is only earned through transparency (unless, of course, you’re selling vapourware).

Speaking of ads…

3. Crypto crackdown

As time goes by there are fewer and fewer places to advertise your ICO. In January, Facebook banned ICO and crypto-related ads. Google has announced they will ban crypto-related Google ads from July. I am sure the trend will continue.

It’s not just ad buys which are being squeezed by the crypto crackdown. Email service providers (ESPs) such as MailChimp are also closing the accounts of crypto companies and refusing to open new accounts for crypto companies.

At BABB, we use ActiveCampaign and never before had a problem. On the day the main sale went live, we had an email scheduled go out at 9am to all 42,000 people who registered for the sale.

At 9.01, we got an alert to say that our email contained content which was against their new terms of use. We went back and forth with them for over 3 hours until they were finally happy with the wording and we could send it.

So there you go — the crackdown is affecting everyone, including us.

As a result…

Some think it’s bad news… but I think otherwise.


Because I think that it will diminish the advertising race. Hopefully token sales won’t be just about the amount of money you spend on paid ads.

Yes, paid efforts can help a lot with the visibility of the project, but nevertheless I hope that from now on blockchain projects will put more efforts into educating vs selling, building relationships and engagement vs digital banners and creating original content vs paying influencers to do so.

The ad ban may force companies provide more value and avoid creating a hype that is not backed up with anything substantial.

However, if ESPs continue to get stricter, this could cause problems for legitimate companies trying to communicate with their community. We’re being careful to operate within Active Campaign’s new terms of use and hopefully we’ll stay in their good books from now on.

Some members of our community were worried that the crackdown would negatively impact the BABB project.

In fact, not at all, and here’s why:

  • It’s a crypto ban, not a blockchain ban. BABB is a blockchain project in post-token sale stage; advertising BABB’s vision and benefits will not be a problem

  • Event during the token sale, we spent very little money on paid digital advertising. We put most of our efforts into content creation and engagement with the community —there’s no ban on that!

  • Although BAX is one of the most crucial and important elements of the project, BABB is much more than a token. So in our future advertising, we can come up with many creative ideas without focusing on crypto.

What’s next?

The crypto space changes faster than any other industry I’ve worked in. Right now, as in every other element of the cryptosphere, regulatory forces are closing in on marketers to crack down on scam companies flogging their token and protect the inexperienced people flooding into the space.

As a marketer and a crypto lover, I welcome this change and I think we’ll see the trend continue. Token sales, and the way we market them, will look totally different by the end of 2018. I hope we’ll see more high-quality projects getting the attention they deserve, with fewer scams raising money through nothing more than a big advertising budget.