Commentary

From Cannabis To Crypto: Growth-Marketing Framework For Frontier Industries

I’ve always been attracted by emerging sectors — like cannabis and cryptocurrency — that are equal parts movements and industries. These sectors operate in legally grey areas, face many of the same financial, political, and regulatory challenges, yet possess opportunities for explosive growth and massive disruption. 

Here is a five-step framework that I use when approaching marketing for any business in a “frontier” industry: 

1. Define your North Star metric.Before considering any kind of marketing, it is critical to define what growth means for your business. Whether leads, sales, subscriptions, or money raised, every company’s definition of growth is unique. This singular metric is referred to as your North Star metric. 

2. Leverage existing resources for growth 

  • Employees:  Your team members (and their professional networks) are the most valuable asset for your marketing. Any time you have news to announce, every employee should be sharing it on LinkedIn and Twitter. 
  • Customers: One of the biggest issues for any CMO in the blockchain space is the lack of real customer success stories. If you’re one of the lucky ones with happy customers, use it to create compelling case studies that serve as the ultimate social proof.
  • On-site SEO: To ensure the compounding effect of your marketing, it is imperative that your website is optimized for indexation and user-friendliness, and built properly from a tech perspective. You will be surprised at the impact this has on your organic traffic. 

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3. Education trumps fear. Don’t sell, educate. Crypto, like cannabis, suffers from a lack of understanding and basic knowledge. As marketers in a sector plagued by a dark history of crypto heists (Mt. Gox, Coincheck), black market use cases (Silk Road), and fraudulent ICOs, we’re forced to help clients and partners understand the real value that blockchain technology enables. 

Becoming a thought leader in the early days of any frontier industry is priceless. Companies that leverage content marketing significantly outperform those that don’t, both in terms of traffic and sales. Newcomers to the blockchain space are increasingly conducting their own research, so lacking content to aid them in their research can mean immediate disqualification from their considerations. 

Content most valuable to your buyers: 

  • Videos and product demos
  • Blog posts addressing pain points in your industry and your solution 
  • Whitepapers, webinars, and podcasts with industry insight

Once content is created, understand where your target customers hang out on the internet, and push content there via: 

  • Newsletters
  • Social media channels
  • Employee socials 
  • Media outreach 
  • Telegram, Slack, LinkedIn groups 
  • Third-party newsletters 
  • Social media advertising 

4. Analyze your funnels frequently. Every business has a unique set of funnels that make up the user journey, from visitor to customer. Map the data gathered from your analytics tools to your user journey, and you’ll be able to see the bottlenecks where users drop off, enabling you to create strategies that improve your conversion rates. Start your analysis with a series of questions about how a user engages with the product: 

  1. How exactly does a user get from visitor to paying customer? 
  2. At what moment does a user truly understand the value of your product?
  3. At which point in the funnel do you see drop-offs? Why?
  4. What channels can you leverage to remove the bottleneck?

5. Hide the cables, focus on benefits. In blockchain, too many product startups market themselves through features rather than benefits, and look like windows directly into the blockchain. Foreign workers sending money to their families overseas should not need to be concerned with block explorers, transaction hashes, excessively complicated jargon, and unreadable address names. 

People care about your product being faster, simpler, more secure, and less expensive. You must define value upfront, replace complexity with simplicity, and focus exclusively on solving the problems of the end user.

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