3 Principles for Effective Web3 Marketing

Web3 can seem daunting, both as a marketer and also just as a person. There’s so much that’s new, different, and changing quickly in this space. We’ll keep banging the drum on the importance of developing a routine around learning and experiencing this new world. Just getting your hands dirty with listening, learning, and trying on a regular basis is by far the most important thing to be doing (and one of the best investments you can make in your career right now). But then you also need to start doing something as a marketer. There are many opportunities, and also many risks, that Web3 offers to brands right now.

Let’s dig into how to approach them.

At this point, we’ve all seen brands starting to dip their toes in this Web3 water, mostly through NFTs. Every major tech trend has a specific early use case that breaks through into the mainstream – NFTs are that for Web3. They are not all of what Web3 will be, but they are an early part of it that is here now and can (somewhat) easily be activated for marketing purposes.

Some brands are doing it well, some aren’t. It’s always good to keep an eye on what others are doing. Here’s a live link to brands’ doing NFT activations. Bookmark it and check it every so often to get a sense of what’s working, and not working.

What you should or shouldn’t do with NFTs and/or wider Web3 will depend entirely on your business, your brand, your team, and you as a marketer. But there are a few first principles that will help guide you regardless of what you decide to do when.

  • It’s still just marketing. Marketing is about changing perception and behaviour to drive the growth of a business. What it takes to change perception and behaviour are the same in Web3 as they were in Web2, Web1, and even the analog world – they just play out in a different way in different environments. Don’t lose sight of marketing fundamentals as you’re thinking about new tech and new trends. Successful activations will focus on adding value to your audience like all good marketing does. Compare something like Papa John’s NFT ‘Hot Bag Giveaway’ (really?) to the NBA All-Star VIP Pass NFT. The VIP pass is value that’s being delivered through an NFT that will certainly change perception and behaviour. (Side note, the Verge did a great piece on what’s happened with NBA Top Shot since it launched and why it seems to have fallen off the pace a bit) Start with the basics and figure out how to apply them through NFTs or Web3 – don’t start with NFTs and forget why you’re marketing to begin with.

  • It’s about the big picture and long-term. Many of the brand activations we’re seeing now are first-movers trying to land grab the industry attention that’s focused on this space right now. At best, they’re early experiments. At worst, they’re marketing for the sake of marketing to get headlines and win awards. The NFL has done their version of the NBA Top Shot – digital clips you can own as NFTs. That’s fine and I’m sure it will do well. But then you have a brand like Formula 1 that’s clearly taking their time to think through how they can develop a differentiated NFT or wider Web3 offering with the IP and data they have. It will be interesting to see the next wave of brands activating in this space that are taking more of the big picture, long-term approach, not the first-mover, land grab approach. Those will likely be the ones that have a bigger impact on business growth. Nike was an early adopter of the metaverse marketing world, but their strategy is clearly long-term and big-picture. They’ve acquired their own Web3 studio, and recently did an activation with Roblox that had 21 million people visiting their in-game store. Nike was an early adopter of the metaverse marketing world, but clearly, they’re focused on it as a long-term play.

  • It’s access, not ownership. One of the biggest misses we see happening with most brand activations in this space right now is that they focused on ownership, not access. They create NFTs and give/sell them to people to own. That’s a part of what NFTs offer, but not the most interesting or most valuable part. Access is how you can create true differentiated value with NFTs. Take Acura’s recent campaign. They parented with an artist to create a set of NFTs that will go to the first 500 people to reserve their new Integra model. Cool. But they missed a huge opportunity to offer value through access, not just ownership. What if the owners of those NFTs got access to a private community? What if they got an extra level of service? What if the NFT actually tied to ownership of the car? It gets a lot more complicated to think about access vs ownership, but there’s so much more opportunity in it. Starbucks seems to be on the right path with their Starbucks Rewards Web3 play. The TLDR (but do go read up on it and ideally test it out if/when you can) is that users will be able to collect NFTS (digital stamps) by completing tasks and/or purchasing them directly. Those stamps will then open up different “coffee experiences” for people (TBD what that will be). You can see how different this is from the Acura play. It’s focused on access, not ownership, by using NFTs as a tool to unlock more value than just giving someone a digital collectible. Also, it’s always worth watching what Gary Vee does with a new consumer media platform, and his focus with Web3 has been access through ownership, not the other way around.

Don’t get overwhelmed by how new and different this space feels. It’s only because you haven’t spent much time in it yet. Build your routines to learn, even if they are short and small right now. Get started getting started and it will start to feel more natural and normal soon, just like Web2 and Web1 before that. But when you are ready to activate, keep these three principles in mind – they will guide you in the right direction to actually drive brand and business growth with the potential this new world offers.

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