7 Steps to Web3 Go-to-Market Strategy Success
In the new era of Web3, there are many new, shiny Web3 growth levers to push and pull. To add to that, there are some old marketing tricks and strategies that simply won’t work in this new world. Here I walk you through how to launch a successful Web3 go to market strategy for 2022 and beyond.
What is a Web3 go-to-market strategy anyway?
In its simplest form, a Web3 go-to-market strategy is a plan of action as to how you take your Web3 project from ideation through to scaling into the market. It’s worth noting there are different structures Web3 projects can choose from. Some remain relatively centralised, others decentralised. Some utilise tokens, while others opt not to. So, of course, some of the ideas I mention below are not going to be applicable to each and every Web3 project.
Some people have been throwing around “go-to-community” as an alternative to go-to-market, but frankly, I’m not a fan of that term. Firstly it just sounds weird. Secondly, how can you “go-to” community? It doesn’t even make any sense. The logic of building a community as part of your Web3 go-to-market strategy is certainly solid, I’m just not convinced on that term.
Our go-to-market steps to success: Web3 style
Note: the steps I outline below are not necessarily going to be implemented in the order you read them in. This order assumes the Web3 project starts relatively centralised with some key decision makers and a bit of investment. But, other projects may start with (3) and already have an early community launched where they might then go and vote on steps (1) and (2). Also, some people might rejig when the right time to build the tech stack, or even build it in parallel to other steps.
1. Define the why
Whether it’s a Web2 or Web3 project there must be a clearly defined WHY. This goes back to Simon Sinek’s thesis “start with why”. Any project must have an underlying motivation and reason for why they want to change the world.
This exercise should start with your vision, and how you see the world in the future. Trying to put actual numbers and being detailed about this future is best. It should be something you and the project collaborators can actually visualise. From this, you can build out your mission statement, which is the underlying reason you are doing this project. This statement will outline at a high level how you will achieve the vision you’ve set out.
Once you’ve defined your vision and mission it’s going to be important to outline specific goals you want to achieve with the Web3 project. This will likely come in the form of targets, broken down across time that will help you to keep a finger on the pulse of how you are progressing based on what you initially set out.
During this strategic phase of your go-to-market it’s also going to be important you do plenty of customer research to validate your vision of the world. You don’t necessarily need people to buy into the future vision, but you need to validate whether people feel a pain point strongly enough they will join your project (or I should specify join and pay in some way). This means you need to really understand your target audience and you need to thoroughly research the pain point you are trying to solve for them. This work will help you build a product or service based on real-life research into a real-world problem.
A final, but important part of this step is to build out your initial, hypothesised value proposition. It’s hypothetical because this could change over time. You might speak to more potential customers in your target audience and realise your messaging was off, or you might realise adoption of the product or service wasn’t where you were expecting, so you might end up pivoting your proposition. This can be fluid, but it’s important to outline what you think is your value proposition from the get-go.
From the value proposition statement and your customer research, you can start to build out your positioning strategy, so where you sit compared to other competing solutions. As a quick side note, don’t just think of direct competitors, like Coke vs. Pepsi, this of tangential competitors like coffee, sweets or other snacks.
In summary, in this first stage I’d recommend planning:
- Your why
- Specific goals & targets
- Customer research
- Target audience
- Pain point validation
- Value proposition
2. Build the brand assets
Once you’ve done your research and strategic planning for the future it’s time to get something out to the public. At this stage, I’m not recommending going out and building a whole product or service that you’ve outlined in your vision. I’d start slowly and start to build out your brand assets and test some assumptions you have made around demand in the market for what you’re about to build.
In order to do this, you need to build what has been termed as a ‘minimum viable brand’. Essentially, this is the minimum amount of investment you need to put into brand to be able to test some initial demand assumptions. If you’ve followed the steps in step 1, you’ve already done a lot of the thinking around this. In this step, you just need to bring those things to life in the form of a logo, a website and some brand assets.
A quality brand is an important asset to build trust in your target audience, so it’s worth investing in, but only to a certain extent. This is why I like the idea of a minimum viable brand, as it forces you to think about how you can build a brand in the leanest possible way.
Within the Web3 space, you might be thinking about brand assets such as memes or even designing some NFT art to airdrop to your early adopters to incentivise sign-ups or certain types of behaviour early on.
Also, within the Web3 space, it’s pretty common to write a whitepaper that outlines your reasoning behind the Web3 project as well as outlining key stakeholder benefits and the ways the project is going to operate. If you’re launching a token system with the Web3 project, this is a good time to model out the distribution plan and how you leverage tokens to incentivise certain behaviours.
Within the whitepaper and your launch planning, it’s also recommended to think carefully about the different types of members or people you are bringing into the project and what their roles and goals are. Each type of member might have a different value proposition or problem you are solving, so it’s important to plan out what their roles and permissions are within the community. It’s also worth sitting down to think about reputation scoring, which will define the levels of influence different stakeholders will have in the community.
In summary, in this step I’d recommend:
- Build minimum viable brand
- Build brand assets
- Write whitepaper
- Third-party research
- Tokenomics modelling
- Define member roles
- Reputation scoring
3. Community launch
You might notice that launching and starting to build the community comes before any of the serious marketing or Web3 growth activities. This is not necessarily revolutionary or all that new. Many Web2 businesses started with community. The logic here is that you get to build your fan base and build loyalty around some initial customers. Furthermore, it enables you to get rapid feedback on what you’re launching.
Getting an early base of engaged community members can transform your ability to scale down the line when you can build in viral loops and network effects.
As you’ve written your whitepaper in the previous step you have a nice bank of content you can leverage across some new distribution channels. So, I’d now recommend launching your Twitter and Discord (or similar) channels, two of the main community channels in Web3. If you’re looking for a blogging or longer-form content channel it might also be worth looking into Mirror.
When you launch a Discord server or your Twitter account it’s essential it is looked after and that someone is owning the engagement and initial growth of both of those channels. I’d recommend making sure you have an experienced Community Manager to manage comms with members. It’s important to bring in someone who is passionate about the project and truly believes in the vision and mission of what you are building.
Now it’s time to start building some early hype around the Web3 project with your early adopter community. This means starting to talk about the token distribution plans with them. You could start minting the tokens (although the tooling is talked about in the next step) and shouting about the plans to Airdrop the tokens or NFTs. You can see how we planned out our token distribution plans here.
For this step I’m recommending:
- Launch community (in Discord or similar)
- Launch socials (Twitter, Mirror)
- Bring in a Community Manager
- Token/NFT distribution
- Token/NFT minting
4. Techstack set-up
At some point, you’re going to need to build out the tech and Martech infrastructure within the project. Again, it makes sense to build out the basics if you haven’t tangibly validated the idea or demand. This stage is about testing the proposition with a minimal amount of investment into what could be expensive technology, otherwise known as the minimum viable product.
Choosing the blockchain you are going to build on is a relatively important decision and something that differs from project to project and over time as certain chains become more popular to build on. Do some research into other similar Web3 projects and get a sense for where your potential audience is already operating. Some chains have avid advocates, which might make it easier to convince them to join your Web3 project.
If you’re launching a DAO you’ll likely need to think about what governance and token distribution tools to use. At Growth DAO we’re using Colony as the token distribution, reputation scoring and simple voting too (for yes/no decisions that need to be made). For more complex decisions we’ve integrated Colony with Snapshot, which pulls in members’ token information and reputation scores allowing for weighted voting. By using these “out of the box” tools we’re able to test specific assumptions we have made about the benefits of transitioning from Growth Division to Growth DAO in a relatively cheap and easy manner. The plan then would be to build out our own infrastructure, which would be more customisable, down the line.
If you’re launching an NFT you’re going to have to decide which marketplace to use, or even if you want to create your own marketplace. Again, utilising existing platforms will allow you to test faster and in a lean way. Furthermore, you can often leverage the audiences already on the marketplaces, for instance, one of the largest marketplaces is OpenSea has over 1 million users as of writing this post.
Most Web3 projects have some sort of community, therefore you need to plan where and how you are going to manage the community. You could choose one of the classic comms apps like Discord or Telegram, or you might choose to host your wider community on Twitter or Reddit.
Documentation is another key aspect of running a community and growing a Web3 project. People need to have access to key pieces of information about the project. This includes the whitepaper, frequently asked questions and other key documents on how to get involved. For this, you might want to use something like Gitbook or Notion. You can see our whitepaper as an example here.
In this step build:
- Community management tooling
- Reputation management tooling
- Any custom tooling for your Web3 project
5. Brand & trust building
So at this stage, you should have a good understanding of your Web3 project’s reason for being, a decent brand ready to shout about, some of your basic tech set-up and an initial community that’s starting to engage and validate your initial idea. So what’s the next step? Well, you now need to begin to build trust and reputation in your project.
There are a couple of channels that work really well at building credibility and reputation by leveraging the reputation of other well-known brands or people. This comes in 3 different forms (1) Public relations (2) Target market blogs (3) Influencers and (4) Partnerships. I’ll dive into each one in turn.
Just before going into these 3 brands and trust-building channels I wanted to make a small point. You should be strategic with each of these and really consider who your ideal customer profile is and what influences their decision-making. If your early adopters are Web3 native then you should definitely be targeting Web3 publications, bloggers, influencers or partners. It’s super important to remain hyper-focused on connecting with and building influence in your very specific niche, the more focused the better.
First up, public relations (PR). Within the Web2 space, I’d normally withhold recommendations to invest in PR until the scaling phase. However, in certain circumstances (by all means not all), it’s worth investing in PR slightly earlier. The reason is that Web3 projects often require early signs of validation and really need to gain credibility before the community growth phase.
Compared to PR, target market blogs (TMB) are considerably more focused on specific audiences within your niche. PR is relatively unfocused in its targeting, for instance, you might be targeting an audience interested in Web3 projects. TMBs is more about trying to get guest posts or mentions in publications or blogs that have a far more specific audience. For instance, you might be targeting an audience interested in ‘how to manage DAO communities”. The benefit of TMBs as a channel is that you can earn reputation within a highly relevant audience that likely has a high probability of converting to your Web3 project’s community.
Influencers is another Web3 growth channel that can help a new Web3 project credibility and authority. This channel works especially in conjunction with PR. If you’re getting mentions in reputable publications then getting influencers in the industry to re-share these as stories with a call to action link embedded in the share you get increased, reputable exposure to a hyper-relevant audience.
The final trust-building channel worth exploring at this stage is building partnerships with other Web3 projects who are “fishing in the same pond” as you are. Partnerships not only allow you to leverage the partner’s audience, but also allows you to leverage their reputation and brand. It is worth noting here that partnerships are by definition, a two-way street. You need to ensure you have something substantive to offer the partner. Adding value to the partner quickly is one of the key factors in building a successful partnership.
Now it’s time to build some initial reputation in your audience:
6. Community growth
Now this step does really depend on the scope of your Web3 project’s growth budgets, resources and ambitions.
In this step it’s worth taking a step back and thinking more broadly about what channels to market are going to enable you to reach your prospective members, customers or audience. This is now thinking beyond the aforementioned brand-building and awareness channels, it’s now time to think about repeatable channels to market. There are 4 channels to choose from at this stage (1) Referrals (2) Paid Ads (3) SEO (4) Direct Outreach.
First up, is community referrals. This is one of the main Web3 growth channels as there are new mechanisms to leverage compared to Web2’s version of referrals as a growth channel. For example, in DAO projects you can leverage tokens to incentivise referrals within the community, where a referrer can get paid out using a one-off or ongoing rewards based on the value the new community member brings. If you can create a viral loop, with a K coefficient of more than 1, within your Web3 community growth you’re onto a true winner.
Paid ads have been a massive channel for growth in the Web2 era with platforms such as Meta, Google, TikTok, Reddit, LinkedIn and Quora leading the way. In the Web3 space, all these platforms can also be utilised to good effect. Providing you can segment and target your audience, you can utilise paid ads as a top-of-the-funnel awareness channel, but also as a conversion-based strategy using retargeting. It’s also worth adding Web3 crypto exchanges into the mix as an advertising channel, where you can operate display ads to a Web3 native audience.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is going to remain an important channel to be investing in within Web3 projects. Most projects will still have websites, therefore it makes sense to optimise them and drive relevant, organic traffic to them. There are also a lot of keyword opportunities in the Web3 space as it’s new and there is often little competition on some of the key terms.
The final Web3 growth channel that’s also worth considering is Direct Outreach. Generally, this is seen as a B2B channel as it involves directly messaging your prospective audience, normally on LinkedIn or via email. If you’re building a B2B Web3 project this is definitely a channel to keep in mind. We’ve found people in the Web3 space are actually more open to speaking and helping each other out. In Web3 you can also add direct outreach to your potential customers or community members via Twitter or through some light, personalised Discord shilling (basically going into other relevant Discord servers and messaging relevant people based on their profile).
In this step it’s about pushing community growth in a repeatable way:
- Paid Ads
- Direct Outreach
7. Commercial focus
Now your Web3 project should be at a good point where you have a large, growing community of engaged members. It’s important at this point (and arguably way before) to really put a focus on the long-run viability of the project. You need to get serious about proving your unit economics. You’re not running a charity (unless you are!) so members, investors, or founders have to benefit monetarily from what you’re building. That means locking down your unit economics so they are watertight. This involves understanding exactly how much it takes to acquire a new member vs how much they are going to give you in value.
Now’s the time to really focus on investing in more scalable technology in anticipation of ‘crossing the chasm’ as Geoffery Moore put it in his theory on customer adoption of new technologies or products. This involves moving from your enthusiasts and early adopters to your early majority. This might mean moving away from your Web3 native audience to a new non-Web3 native audience. Sounds scary? It kind of is.
This step will likely involve understanding a whole new customer persona, understanding their way of understanding the problem you are solving and how they speak about it (therefore how you should speak to them about it). This might call for a big investment into the brand and your messaging strategy to ensure your proposition truly resonates with them.
Now’s the difficult part:
- Invest in better, more scalable tech
- Drive home with a focus on unit economics
- Cross the chasm
GD’s Web3 Go-to-Market Summary
So, there we have it, my 7 steps to go from ideation of your new Web3 project all the way through to scaling the projects to the masses, my take on a Web3 go-to-market strategy.
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