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How to growth hack Web3 marketing like an OG

The world of crypto, blockchain and the wider Web3 space has been expanding and doing so at rapid speed. 

Its humble origins as a safe-haven niche for fintech enthusiasts using blockchain to beat the traditional financial system have evolved. It’s now an industry that regulators want to control, celebrities endorse, and some of the biggest institutions are investing in.

This means that in just a decade, the story being told about the space to outsiders in an effort to lure them in as long-term users has also shifted. How do you tell a story about an ecosystem with very little history? How do you sell an idea that is constantly in a state of evolution?

Cointelegraph spoke exclusively with Amanda Cassatt during Proof of Talk in Paris. Cassatt is the founder and CEO of Serotonin, a leading Web3 marketing company. She was formerly the chief marketing officer of Consensys and explains how she built one of the most successful marketing empires, telling the stories of Web3.

Storytelling where there is none

Cassatt’s own journey into the crypto space began in 2015 as a founder in New York who was searching for a payment solution. It was then that she stumbled upon one of the early Ethereum meetups.

“What I noticed, even though I wasn’t able to do due diligence on the codebase - was that this was a group of the smartest people that I had ever met and they were the most excited that I'd seen anyone of this number, this smart, probably in my whole life,” she explained.

Cassatt said it took them “a while” to explain the concepts behind Ethereum to her, as it wasn’t thoroughly or properly explained in “accessible ways” for non-technical people at the time. She added that the realization that Web3 could be an "alternate foundation" of a "superior financial system" blew her mind:

“Fundamentally, instead of locking you into one system based on where you're born, it enables many different systems to be architected and to compete with each other and to have people choose to opt into them - and that just seems better.”

This was the point at which she realized she had to join what she called the circus at the time.

“I realized that a lot of the folks in that crew didn't really have storytelling backgrounds and weren't familiar with how the media works," Cassatt explained.

Eventually, growing into her role at Consensys, she became part of creating some of those explanations.

However, telling the stories of a relatively nascent space, especially in the 2015-2017 era, things were a lot different.

Cassatt explained that words like crypto, Bitcoin or Ethereum weren’t allowed on any paid platform such as Mailchimp, Google Ads, or Facebook — any of the Meta business suite platforms that are key to digital marketers.

A 2018 Cointelegraph news headline following Facebook's decision to ban cryptocurrency and initial coin offering adverts. Source: Cointelegraph

She said that there was no way to do standard Web2 style programmatic advertising that catered towards the emerging sector:

“We had to move away from this calcified model of what marketing is - marketers managing these big spends on Web2 ad platforms, because we literally weren't able to do that.”

According to the Serotonin CEO, there are three kinds of marketing: owned, earned and paid. What they focused on in the early days of Consensys was owned and earned.

“We basically couldn't do paid things other than event sponsorships and hosting events and stuff like that because the platforms didn't allow it, which was very cool because it meant we came back to our growth hacker roots.”

Seeing more paid growth marketing in the space is a “reflection of the space maturing,” which Cassatt considers a positive development.

Organizing the organizers

One of the most effective tactics she recalled employing on behalf of Consensys was building a network of meetup organizers. She described this as people who wanted to add the “Ethereum meetup organizer” title for a certain city to their identity.

“So we organized the organizers."

"We made sure they had the money for pizza and beer, or the culturally relevant equivalents," she said, "or that they had standard decks and presentation templates to kind of standardize and professionalize how they were speaking about projects.”

Cassatt said they eventually curated a roving content series of new DApps that would go on tour through all of the different meetups and pick up users and get feedback.

This meant there was always fresh and organic content, and that came with more efficiency of not having to organize every single meetup group ourselves.

“It’s a great metaphor for how to build an organic community in Web3."

“You make sure that you have a system that people want to opt into - an incentive framework with intrinsic and extrinsic motives. Plug people into that system, and empower them rather than having to come up with all the great ideas yourself as the marketer, then look around your community and see where there are sparks.”

Every company is a media company

Another visionary approach to the Web3 space, that can be applied to startups in a broader sense, is found in the way companies view the content they produce.

“I basically think of every startup as its own niche media company about its own subject matter.”

Cassatt said startups should consider themselves as that and have, for example, an email newsletter where it covers all of the developments going on in a certain topic or space.

The Consensys newsletter continues to provide updates about the Ethereum ecosystem, remaining an owned marketing offering for the firm. Source: Consensys

She pointed to her work at Consensys, where they launched various newsletters about “everything that was going on in Ethereum” so that people would read them for editorial value and not just production promotion.

“It was a source of truth that people could come to in the space.”

Advice for the next generation

And while one of the most challenging aspects of being in the Web3 space - whether one is a marketer, developer, or user- is keeping up with the rapid changes, Cassatt offered some evergreen advice:

“Try to find product market fit. The potential for high reward in the crypto space has brought in so many creators and would-be founders and that's amazing because it's more shots on goal for creating something cool.”

She said this also means that there isn't a lot of start-up training or a lot of discipline and experience in the space compared to venture funded Web2 startups.

“I would learn how to actually find product market fit properly for a startup, come up with an idea, test it out on your people you know, that are in your target audience, see if they want to use it, see what they would pay for it,” she said.

Then, after the first frame of fit with those early evangelists is found, message it to the next concentric circle of people, see what they think, and see if they would use it:

“Get the people that you know in your target audience group excited about it before you grow to the next and then grow to the next. People forget this but it's so simple - you have to do things that don't scale at the beginning.”


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