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Hey Growth Hackers!

I'm Pascal and I am passionate about growth. Super recently I co-founded the Blockchain Marketing Agency: Spike. Before I went down this road I freelanced as a growth marketer for several crowdfunding projects, I was head of growth at a sustainability startup and eventually ended up in the blockchain startup scene. I try to host meetups every 2 months or so here in Amsterdam with my community Growth Hacker Talk and more recently also partnered up with a blockchain consultancy firm and with a crypto fund to host the Square5 - Blockchain Investor Summits.

The most recent successful project I ran as a freelance growth marketer was Blockport. An Amsterdam-based social crypto-exchange. They decided to raise funds through a token sale and hired me to head their growth, together with a friend and fellow growth marketer Gino Taselaar we designed the complete marketing strategy for this token sale. We heavily leveraged social ads and retargeting, partnerships, bounty programs, viral marketing and user acquisition.

All marketing starts with a good product, and even though Blockport didn't have a working product yet at the time of the token sale, we did do a lot of customer development and made sure that we had a very resonating value proposition. This, of course, made our jobs way easier. 

By coordinating these channels with each other and some positive side effects from the uptrend in the market back in January we managed to sell out the entire 16,666 ETH token sale in just under 15 minutes!

Blockport's mission is to make cryptocurrency accessible to anyone by providing them with an easy to use exchange that also has social trading features, like the ability to follow other traders, check out their trade performance history, and, if you like what you see, copy their portfolio.

Community is a big part of what Blockport is all about, so that has been a large focus in our marketing strategy. Community is also a big factor for crypto investors to invest in a project or not, so it kind of felt like a necessity to run experiments to get a viral channel to work. 

I currently live in Amsterdam, right next to the Vondelpark (Amsterdam's miniature Central Park) and travel across the country as much as possible to see my lovely girlfriend as often as I can (in the Netherlands this means a 1 hour train ride). I like to go out for a run in the park in my spare time, I love traveling, even though I haven't seen much of the world yet, and I very much enjoy reading books. Currently I'm very captivated by "Thinking, fast and slow"

If you want to get in touch, feel free to add me on Linkedin.

I will be live on July 10 starting at 9:30AM PT for one and a half hours during which I will answer any questions you may have regarding the marketing process of a blockchain token sale or Amsterdam 

  • MV

    Maja Voje

    24 days ago #

    Hi Pascal, you are kicking off an important topic here.
    I am sure it will create more great opportunities for the growth fam. Kudos!

    My question is:
    Which resources would you recommend to noobs in blockchain/ICO marketing?
    or even more concretely - how did you learn it?

    To the moon!
    Maja

    p.s. Love you meetups in Amsterdam! Can't wait for the next one.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      Great question Maja!

      I started out in “regular” startup marketing and I think it’s important in any case to understand the importance of marketing and business fundamentals first. In the early days I read books like ‘the lean startup’ and ‘running lean’ to get a better understanding about the agile methodology and working in iterations.

      I also read some books that dive into growth hacking specifically, like ‘Growth Hacker Marketing’ by Ryan Holiday, Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown and Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. These books gave me insights how to build a process into my marketing activities.

      After plowing through those books, ‘growth hacking’ made a lot more sense. The process neatly fits with the lean startup methodology of ‘build, measure, learn’ and agile methodology in general. This also makes working in multi-disciplinary teams easier.

      Of course to build some deeper understanding of the subject I followed some industry experts, like Justin Wu, Vin Clancy, Josh Fechter and read a lot of the content they produced and tried to put it to practice myself. Growth Tribe also creates a lot of valuable content on their YouTube channel. All these people and channels give very tactical advise in their presentations and content, which makes it easy even when you’re just beginning to get some inspiration on channels to experiment with.

      At some point I started getting in touch with some people that we’re planning to run crowdfunding campaigns and after I ran a successful campaign I also got approached by some blockchain evangelists that wouldn’t stop talking about it (If one doesn't know where to find these people, try and find nearby crypto or blockchain meetups and network there!).

      I had some smaller roles at several blockchain startups first, but eventually ended up running the entire marketing strategy for one of my recent clients, Blockport, and am now looking to help more blockchain startups decentralize our economy by running their marketing.

      Hopefully see you again soon at one of our meetups, I’m definitely looking to do a blockchain themed edition some day!

      2 Share
      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        7 days ago #

        Thanks for the shout out for Hacking Growth! I love the approach that you've followed to learn growth hacking. These are some really good resources and I need to spend some more time with a few of them.

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    8 days ago #

    Welcome, Pascal! I’ve noticed that Amsterdam seems to be quite a hub for talented growth hackers. Do you agree with this and if yes, why do you think it’s the case?

    • SV

      Steven van Vessum

      8 days ago #

      Curious about this too, where do they all hang out? Do they all come to your meetup Pascal?

      • PV

        Pascal van Steen

        7 days ago #

        Hey Steven,

        I’m not sure if they ALL come, but I’ve definitely seen some very talented people turn up every now and then 🙂

        Feel free to drop by sometime if you feel like it. Our next edition will be October 4 🦄 /shamelessplug

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      Hey Glen,

      I agree. I think there are several causes for that. I’ll list them here:

      2 Share
    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      2. There are multiple educational platforms that focus specifically on teaching growth hacking

      Allthough I’m sure there are more, I’d like to highlight Growth Tribe and The Talent Institute as the apex educational platforms when it comes to growth hacking. Especially growth tribe IMO is absolutely killing it with their content (check them out on YouTube!).
      These platforms we’re founded on the obvious demand for growth from the startup scene and the discrepancy between your skill set after you finish formal education and what the job market wants.

      After a theoretical phase, you’ll get dropped at a startup to put your theory right to practice in a fast paced environment.
      I think both of these factors act like a positive feedback loop and there's still an increase in demand because of this.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      1. The Dutch population in general is pretty tech savvy and a big part of the population has early adopter tendencies.
      Our government is pro-actively involved in stimulating startup life in the Netherlands. A quick look at http://foundedinholland.com/ and https://www.startupdelta.org/ gives you an idea of how many startups our tiny country counts. Also, while working at some international startups I usually saw a large Dutch user base.
      This might not be the case for ALL new technologies, but definitely for a lot of them. There’s also quite some conferences and events regarding startups and tech in the Netherlands. I’d highly suggest checking out an aftermovie of TheNextWeb Conference, easily the coolest startup conference/festival I’ve ever visited. I’m obviously biased, but I think my meetups are pretty cool, too 🙂
      All these startups, of course, want or need to grow, so there’s also a lot of demand for people in growth.

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    12 days ago #

    Hi Pascal,

    So glad we finally have you on for an AMA!

    1. I've found it interesting to see people go from a background in growth to blockchain. Can you explain what that process was like for you? What are the similarities and differences between startup growth & blockchain launches?
    2. I know you've been planning growth hacking events in Amsterdam for a while now. What's your best tactic for retaining attendees and getting them to come back?
    3. What is the startup / blockchain ecosystem like in Amsterdam? Any recommendations for an American looking to move more into that ecosystem?

    Really looking forward to learning from you!

    Cheers,
    Dani

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      Hi Dani,

      Thanks for having me!

      1. Similarities: it’s all pretty chaotic and unstructured at the start. Blockchain ICOs/Token Sales have a lot in common with crowdfunding campaigns when it comes down to execution. It's basically launching a company in a very condensed timeframe.

      It still boils down to knowing who your customer is and finding out what actually triggers them to invest in your product.

      Differences: There are some other channels and tactics to utilize. Before blockchain I've never been really active on Telegram, Reddit or Discord, nor have I ran a bounty campaign before. Other than that it's not THAT different.

      3 Share
    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      2. Good question!

      We’re playing around with this too, as retention rates aren’t actually that good. I think that roughly only 10% visits our meetups more than one time.

      Our events are always free of charge so this also causes us to see a lot of no-shows. To counter this, we're always overselling our meetup spots by up to 80% to make sure we fill up the event space.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      3. I’d say Amsterdam is a great city for expats in general.

      For Dutch standards though, Amsterdam can be pretty expensive to live, but coming from the US west coast I’m sure you’ll be fine. Our government pro-actively wants to foster a startup culture, with programs like ‘Startup Delta’. Also our prince is an official Dutch startup ambassador and is heavily involved in the space.

      For getting to know some people in the startup space: there’s a TON of marketing/startup/developer meetups (like mine :D) in Amsterdam. I think you could literally visit multiple startups every day if you wanted to. These are of course great opportunities to meet some interesting people.

      Then, next to that, we also have quite some co-working spaces. TQ, being my favorite, offers flex desks in their member space for €100 (±$120)/month, which I think is a steal by any standard.

  • FB

    Fabian Bern

    12 days ago #

    Very keen on listening to it - with our growth agency, we have plenty of blockchain / crypto companies contacting us lately on helping them with growth and building / sustaining their community in China. Some of these (western) companies did an ICO last year, where they got quite some token sales from China too (I think China is in the top 5 of ICO investments).

    However, besides just sustaining and growing their community (which is in my opinion pretty similar (in terms of strategy etc.) to any other community), they also target to get more token sales. How do you manage KYC's from countries like that?

    Also very keen to hear your perspective on growing communities in markets like that and why/what is growth for blockchain companies so much different than other "regular" tech companies.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      Hey Fabian!

      Good to see you here.

      Earlier this year a high profile consultancy firm actually advised us not too ask too many customer details before their investment. So we didn't do a 'true' KYC. In the current market this is a definite requirement for investors.

      Currently we basically are not actively targeting US and China based investors because of this.

      Growing blockchain startups, fundamentally, isn't that much different. You need to find out who your customers are and where they hang out online to be able to approach or attract them online. Some of these channels I've only encountered now that I got into the blockchain space, like Telegram, Discord and Reddit. Other than that it's still pretty similar.

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    8 days ago #

    Hi Pascal, What are the biggest differences between marketing blockchain vs other tech startups?

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      There are some other channels and tactics to utilize. Before blockchain I've never been really active on Telegram, Reddit or Discord, nor have I ran a bounty campaign before. Other than that it's not THAT different.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    8 days ago #

    Hi Pascal, excited to have you on for this AMA. I have a couple of questions.
    1) Why did you decide to start a block chain marketing agency and what is the scope of services?
    2) How do you think your expertise in block chain marketing can help the broader GrowthHackers community?

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      Thank you for having me Sean!

      1. I've been convinced by some of the blockchain evangelists in my life about the value of decentralization and wanted to help this new economy with my own particular skill set that's mostly lenient towards marketing and growth. Also, this being a new and fast growing market made it very exciting to me to move into this space.

      2 Share
    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      2. I think the growth hacking process hasn't changed much, we just made the decision to stick to this particular niche. I think some of the experiments we ran have some interesting results to share. I'm working on a playbook which I'll share here when it's finished, if that's possible :)

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      Our scope of services:

      Growth marketing training (filling in a lean canvas / creating buyer personas / how to generate growth ideas and run a growth process based on rapid experimentation)

      14 week Blockchain Marketing project (Fleshing out fundamentals and running 6 growth sprints, optional continuation after project on retainer)

      Content marketing strategy (Creating a content calendar and optionally having one of our inhouse designers and copywriters execute on this strategy)

      Bounty Program (Setting up and running a bounty program in the run up to a blockchain token sale)

  • EK

    Erikson Kuebler

    8 days ago #

    1. Because blockchain/cryptocurrency is a relatively nascent industry, what do you think are the most effective ways to leverage direct marketing tactics such as “cold” emails to journalists and influencers for free growth/exposure?

    2. How do you leverage protocols’ native tokens to acquire new users? E.g. Since targeted token distribution creates the equivalent of “paid API calls” for people, are you finding that it’s helpful to target users based on certain parameters, and incentive them to complete tasks for tokens?

    For reference, I worked on this paper as a framework for low-cost marketing using “SmartDrops”, and I’ve seen this model work successfully in the past with projects that I am involved with.
    https://medium.com/@DJohnstonEC/the-smartdrop-model-859888916d94

    3. Do you think that on-chain data can help growth hackers target new users? E.g. Do you leverage on-chain data when targeting customers? For example, if you are promoting a new exchange, airdropping or reaching out to all wallets that hold Ox tokens, etc.

    4. What is the biggest mistake that protocols make when marketing? Is this the same mistake that founders of traditional companies make, or is it blockchain specific?

    5. Do you believe that founders are allocating enough of their tokens to “bounty” programs? If yes/no, what do you think is the right amount?

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      1. For getting these channels to work you definitely need to have a good feel for copywriting and maybe some behavioral psychology. It's pretty easy to get contact details of crypto influencers (for example, have a look here: https://cryptoinfluence.io/#/) and/or journalists, but convincing them to write about you is the hard part.

      2 Share
    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      2. I've ran bounty campaigns with a tool called Queue (Queueat.com, though recently we switched to Vyper) which ran very effectively. We did run them back when Facebook did not impose any restrictions, so it was easier to drive extra traffic through ads to the contest.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      3. We currently mostly promote through traditional channels and haven't really ran any airdrop campaigns because we feel the people it attracts to the community can be of lower quality. We're definitely looking into this though.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      4. I tend to see that a LOT of startups in general don't really think about who they're actually trying to address. They want to move to execution too fast. It's important to understand who your customer is and validating this before you start experimenting with acquisition channels at scale. This isn't specific to blockchain startups.

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      5. Yes, sometimes they also allocate way too much IMO. It's a nice channel to grow your community and have a lot of community content generated, but that still isn't worth 3% of $40 million IMO. I'd say you should allocate $200K - $400K (dependent on how important a large community is for your business i.e. if you have a solid tech/team and are going for private investment this isn't as relevant IMO) for a bounty program at max

  • AS

    Anthony Santiago

    7 days ago #

    You mentioned Telegram, Reddit or Discord as channels to support marketing in the blockchain space.

    Do you have any tips or resources on how to start growing the community/audience on those platforms?

    For example... Start small and organically grow? or are there any tools to help scale right from the start?

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      We started out using a tool called Dux-Soup to automate our Linkedin outreach. You need to watch out to not draft up spammy messaging. Again, copy is key here. Keep the message very short and target people based on keywords 'blockchain' or 'crypto' and tell them you're looking to connect with people in that space and that you're working on a project to that solves x.

      Also try and partner with other coins. Early on ARK allowed us to host an AMA in their Slack channel. These two tactics gave us a nice initial boost.

      Afterwards we used a viral contest tool (Queue, but recently switched to Vyper) to incentivize getting into any of these channels

      3 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    7 days ago #

    Hey Pascal - great to have you on!

    What are the biggest challenges with retention in blockchain/crypto communities?
    Any strategies you've seen that work better than others?

    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      1. Retention in general is harder to pull off when there isn't a working product yet (which is often the case with early stage blockchain startups). This means you need to find alternative ways to deliver value to your audience and that might prove a challenge.

      3 Share
    • PV

      Pascal van Steen

      7 days ago #

      2. In general content is a good solution. There's tons of content that most communities like to see:

      Educational content
      How to use your product or service when it's finished, maybe do some deep dives and help your community understand what it is you're trying to achieve.

      Behind-the-scenes or documenting content
      What's your team up to behind the scenes, do they seem happy? Are you doing fun stuff too. It can be reassuring for the community to see a thriving and enthusiastic team working on their favorite project.

      Promotional content
      You're working on some very ambitious goals and can be hard for your community to visualize what that will eventually look like. Create promotional content that very simply explains what you're doing and that is easy to share. Examples of content like this: explainer videos, blog posts, infographics etc.

      Retention is also the issue that I currently have with airdrops. This mostly just attracts people that are only in it to receive tokens and disappear as soon as they receive them.

      That being said, I also see to many investors pay attention to vanity metrics like 'Telegram members' if you get feedback from potential investors, this might be a tactic worth considering.

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