It’s an illusion. There is no objective reality. There are no facts. There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion. Marketing is a manipulation of those perceptions.”
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout is one of the most recommended books when Googling for “best marketing books” and for good reason.
Published in 1993, this book has stood the test of time and still comes highly recommended by entrepreneurs, professional marketers, and throughout various marketing circles and organizations.
We’ve extracted nine marketing laws from the book to dive into and demonstrate how they apply to the crypto space.
In doing so, we hope you gain a better understanding of how to better position and market your project. Investors will also be equipped with a framework to use going forward to determine what projects will likely gain traction from the wider crypto community at large.
So to begin, let’s kick things off with…
#1 The Law of Leadership
It’s better to be first than it is to be better.
The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It’s the law of leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better. It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that got there first.”
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when most hear the word “cryptocurrency”?
No matter how much you despise, berate, or look down upon Bitcoin, it has become the front-runner and poster-child for all cryptocurrencies.
Yes. It might have governance issues, it possibly develops at a snail’s pace, nonetheless there is little doubt that it is the de facto “leader” when it comes to all things cryptocurrencies.
Because of The Law of Leadership.
Remember: It’s better to be first than it is to be better.
(But what if you aren’t first to the mark, what then? Well, there is…)
#2 The Law of the Category
If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
If you didn’t get into the prospect’s mind first, don’t give up hope. Find a new category you can be first in. It’s not as difficult as you might think.”
First smart contract platform?
First major scamcoin?
A key takeaway here is that almost everyone is interested in what’s new.
Not everyone gets excited about what’s better.
What’s new, novel, and interesting makes us perk up and pay attention. What merely improves upon what exists doesn’t quite garner as much attention.
With the creation and promotion of a new category, the project in that category automatically becomes the #1 leading prospect because there is literally no competition.
How could there be if the category was only just created?
Having a new category is great as it provides a “sticking point” for others to easily remember the project, and it also opens up the opportunity for the project to be the new talk around town.
The difference between “what’s new” versus “what’s better” can be night and day. Especially in an industry where the level of noise is through the roof.
Have you heard about Shaggalicious? They’ve got this new “SHAG” consensus mechanism which is rather interesting. In a nutshell, when transactions are sent out they shag each other and this creates what is known as a “rabbit” block. It’s quite mind blowing, you need to check out the whitepaper to understand it all.”
3. The Law of the Mind
It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.
Being first in the mind is everything in marketing. Being first in the marketplace is important only to the extent that it allows you to get in the mind first.
What is the first altcoin ever created?
If you’ve done your research or happen to be an OG of this space, you may know that Namecoin was actually the first altcoin to be created – not Litecoin.
Namecoin was first released in April of 2011, which was followed six months later with the release of Litecoin in October 2011.
Despite this, Litecoin still managed to become the first in mind when it comes to “altcoins” without necessarily being first to market.
Well, Litecoin introduced some new changes to Bitcoin’s block generation time (10 minutes down to 2.5), coin supply (increased from 21 to 84 million), and hashing algorithm (Scrypt over SHA-256).
Even though Litecoin wasn’t the first altcoin to be created, it became the “first” by becoming first in mind, bringing us to…
4. The Law of Perception
Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products. Marketing is the process of dealing with those perceptions. Marketing is not a battle of products. It’s a battle of perceptions.”
The XRP token might not accrue value from the adoption and success of Ripple Inc’s offerings and services. However, a perception that has formed is that Ripple could possibly transform the banking sector forever due to the big-name partnerships they’ve established, and if successful, the XRP token would appreciate in value.
Another perception (or story) proposes that XRP’s low price per token (0.35 USD at time of writing), means XRP is a great investment because it has a LOT of room for appreciation; especially when compared to Bitcoin’s several thou$and dollar price tag for just one Bitcoin!
Both these perceptions aren’t necessarily true. These perceptions have however developed and formed over time in the minds of people, despite the fact that these perceptions aren’t an accurate reflection of the underlying situation or product at hand.
I was told by a potential investor that if I got “two Chinese PHDs” on my team then he would invest. I told him that our tech was fine and we were always looking to do better, but why two Chinese PHDs?— and he said that the last 3 projects he made money on had Chinese PHDs so it was a good signal, and that he knew someone that could “loan” us some in exchange for some tokens.”
These examples illustrate the importance of perceptions when it comes to marketing crypto projects. Just because a product (or the tech and code) is superior, doesn’t equate to adoption in the long run, marketing is also a necessary component to significantly boost the chances of doing well.
Stepping out of crypto for a second, Apple is a perfect example of this law in action.
Everyone knows that the underlying products that Apple offers aren’t necessarily a cut above the rest, at least not enough to charge the premiums that they do. Apple’s premium comes from the perception that people have formed and been led to believe about Apple’s brand, which is then priced in to their products.
5. The Law of Focus
The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.
You burn your way into the mind by narrowing the focus to a single word or concept. The law of leadership – it’s better to be first than to be better – generally enables the first brand or company in a category to own a word in the mind of the prospect.”
Bitcoin owns the word “cryptocurrency”.
A few other examples of projects that own a word or concept:
The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.”
It’s common in crypto to find projects promising to do everything possible under the sun through their whitepapers. The “do it all” mentality however usually arouses skepticism, suspicion, and doubt from outsiders looking in.
This leads towards people forming negative perceptions about a project as they start doubting the team’s ability to pull off what they intend to do. Or they take it that the project has no idea what they are actually attempting to solve.
Another major issue here is that by trying to do everything, a project can’t stand for anything.
If a project can’t stand for anything, it makes it that much harder for people to wrap their head around the project. Especially if there isn’t a single word, phrase, or concept that allows people to easily associate the project with.
A project attempting to build a scalable, privacy-enabled, interoperable, secure, decentralized, private, public blockchain ecosystem network that is also developer and non-dev friendly with a decentralized exchange, crypto wallets, and 5th generation smart contract platform to boot, this can make it rather difficult for people to associate any single solid concept to the project.
6. The Law of the Ladder
The [marketing] strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder.
While being first into the prospect’s mind ought to be your primary marketing objective, the battle isn’t lost if you fail in this endeavor. There are strategies to use for No. 2 and No. 3 brands. Your marketing strategy should depend on how soon you got into the mind and consequently which rung of the ladder you occupy.”
If you aren’t the first prospect in your category, then you need to relate yourself in a “friendly” way to whoever happens to be number one or number two in your category.
People have a view of what the existing hierarchy and ladder is for each category and they use this to help them filter out the information that they will gladly accept, or instantly reject.
Information that doesn’t fit in and bode well with a person’s current understanding of things (i.e. the existing hierarchy of a category) tends to be rejected or interpreted from a state of disbelief and suspicion.
New projects therefore need to present themselves in a manner that is consistent with how people interpret that category. If not, the project may be ignored, scrutinized, and ridiculed.
Before Ethereum, the idea of “smart contracts” was still rather obscure. The closest thing was Bitcoin’s Script however it possessed very limited functionality as a “smart contract”. Ethereum was created as a result and positioned itself as a new Turing complete smart contract language that had far greater potential than Script when it came to real-world programmable smart contracts.
Once the “smart contract platform” category was established with Ethereum at the head, the smart contract wars began with EOS chasing after Ethereum by positioning itself as the semi-centralized, yet faster and more scalable version of Ethereum.
7. The Law of Duality
In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.
Early on, a new category is a ladder of many rungs. Gradually, the ladder becomes a two-rung affair. When you take the long view of marketing, you find the battle usually winds up as a titanic struggle between two major players – usually the old reliable brand and the upstart.”
An interesting note to make here is that the leader of each category tends to take up the majority of the market (50% or more), where each descending rung in the ladder is left with less and less market share (2nd – 25%, 3rd – 12.5% etc).
8. The Law of Division
Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
This law for crypto could easily be renamed to “The Law of Forking” due to the creation of Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash, BitcoinSV, BitcoinABC, BitcoinDiamond, BitcoinPrivate, BitcoinForkMe, and BitcoinPizza.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have expanded from being only centralized exchanges to becoming decentralized, hybrid or semi-centralized, fiat only, or crypto-to-crypto only exchanges.
Consensus is no longer constrained to merely Proof-of-Work… We now have Proof-of-Stake, Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs), Proof-of-Space, Proof-of-Time, Proof-of-History, Proof-of-Doge, and a whole host of other concoctions when it comes to consensus mechanisms, many of which are being tested, formulated, and created as we speak.
9. The Law of Candor
When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
One of the most effective ways to get into a prospect’s mind is to first admit a negative and then twist it into a positive.”
Dogecoin is pretty much a memecoin, BUT at the end of the day, you can be rest assured that 1 Doge will always equal 1 Doge – even if the value of all cryptocurrencies goes to zero.
In all seriousness, very few, if any, crypto projects apply The Law of Candor effectively in their marketing efforts. Most whitepapers we have seen simply list out all of the positives pertaining to their project and rarely address the challenges and weaknesses that they are likely to face.
In a similar vein to a project that claims to be able to do it all, not addressing particular weaknesses or challenges can arouse fear, uncertainty, and doubt from outsiders looking in. We know nothing and no one is perfect and that there are pros and cons to everything. What this means is that projects with the ability and willingness to acknowledge their “weaknesses” skillfully and publicly can actually serve as a tremendous boon for them. Especially when so few are doing this effectively in this space.
Why does a dose of honesty work so well in the marketing process? First and foremost, candor is very disarming. Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth. Positive statements, on the other hand, are looked at as dubious at best. You have to prove a positive statement to the prospect’s satisfaction. No proof is needed for a negative statement.”
Some may hear the name “hype.partners” and find it to be unprofessional, perhaps offensive, or even *gasp* repulsive. The word “hype” can stir up strong negative associations from people (especially with the recent crypto “bubble” of 2017/18).
Regardless, hype has been and will continue to be a major contributing factor for most revolutionary innovations and technological advancements of our time.
One reason for our choice of the word “hype” is that we firmly believe the blockchain industry has far more to offer to the world than the mere hype that has been generated to date. By partnering with the best blockchain projects that are BUIDLing products and services that offer real world value, we believe these collaborations will help to ensure that the blockchain industry not only lives up to the hype, but goes beyond it.
With hype doing and contributing what we do best within this industry – which is develop crypto communities – this allows our partnered projects to free up their time so that they can focus and concentrate on what they do best, which is BUIDL.
We hope these 9 Crypto Marketing Laws have provided you with a solid overview and understanding of some fundamental marketing principles that you may apply or use in your role as an adviser, investor, or developer in this space.
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We’ll be releasing regular articles with insights into the crypto industry, marketing, as well as best practices in developing strong communities.