Initial Coin Offerings have collectively raised over $3 billion this year, with a couple heavyweights having raised around $200 million on their own (Tezos, EOS, Filecoin). While that’s great news for the industry, it also means competition is tougher than ever for new ICO launches, and it is going to take a lot more to get noticed now, than it did last year.

If you’re planning to launch and market your own ICO, it would be advisable for you to build and execute your marketing strategy in a manner similar to a political campaign. Here are 8 political campaigning tactics that can spell success for your ICO. 

#1. Build a Narrative

Political campaigns are built on narratives. There has to be a story behind the candidate, because it is all about building a history and conveying a vision – Who is he/she? Where does he/she come from? Whether it’s Barrack Obama branding himself as the face of change or Hillary Clinton presenting herself as an advocate for gender equality, it is the narrative that sells.

Similarly, your ICO needs a background story – the origin of your idea, the people behind the project and why you are passionate about doing what you plan to do. A launch without a narrative will simply get lost in the noise and become just another ICO asking for people’s money.

A good approach would be to sit down with your team and identify collective motivations, so you can build a persuasive narrative that people can understand, relate to, and most importantly, be compelled to invest in.

#2. Understand your Target Audience 

Political campaigns are big on understanding their target audience and creating messages that resonate with them. A candidate without a target audience has nothing going for his/her campaign. 

Political candidates identify exactly where their target audience resides and how best they can be approached with the main message.

As an ICO, you also need to define your target audience, and focus on where they can usually be found. There are many platforms where crypto-enthusiasts prefer to congregate, and most ICOs utilize Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Telegram. However, the target audience for a blockchain-powered cloud storage project, for example, will differ from the audience for a smart contracts platform – a successful marketing campaign will identify this difference and execute accordingly.

#3. Start Early

What you see as the action phase in political campaigns is actually the middle-end or the last push. What you do not see is all the work that goes on behind the scenes in the early stages – be it lobbying for supporters, executing pre-marketing activities or testing ideas, political campaigners make sure they start early.

The same goes for an ICO launch – starting early and getting the word out before the actual launch date will give you a significant advantage. You have to build anticipation, send out teasers and make sure your target audience knows that a pre-sale/public sale is coming up within a certain number of days.

Ideally, you want people to be frequently visiting your launch site ahead of the token sale and subscribing or signing up for the pre-sale. This can only happen if you get an early start on marketing and succeed in building momentum.

#4. Develop Engaging Content

Political campaigns release some of the most compelling ads on every medium possible, be it television, radio or print media. While ICOs don’t necessarily benefit from traditional media channels, the need for engaging content and advertising remains the same.

A simple press release won’t cut it; nor will a lone Tweet or a Facebook post. You need to design videos, create infographics and share slideshows that highlight the most important features of your project in a clear, concise, and captivating manner, without confusing or overwhelming your audience.

Even if you are putting together a whitepaper, try to keep it simple and informative, focusing on your project’s value proposition. 

Quality graphics are also an important and often overlooked requirement. In order for your message to standout, it needs to be well-packaged and have visual appeal.

#5. Make Public Appearances

Political campaigns rely heavily on public appearances, because they are all about building trust. The same goes for ICOs – you are trying to gain people’s trust so they can invest their money in your project without worrying about losing it.

The reason why political candidates focus on making personal appearances is that people want to see them in real life. They don’t trust messages sent from behind a computer screen. They don’t trust profile pictures and avatars. They want to see the actual people behind the project.

As an ICO founder or marketer, you cannot really go meeting the public at large; however, what you can do is make appearances at blockchain and cryptocurrency events, where you can mingle with the crowd, take pictures and share them on social media.

#6. Plan for Contingencies

Things rarely go according to plan A, which is why you need to have plans B, C and even D ready if required. Political campaigners know this all too well, which is why they plan for a variety of contingencies, such as voter turnout being lower than expected or an opponent releasing damaging information.

A poorly planned ICO launch is a huge risk, and the smallest problem can sink your chances of success if it is not handled properly. This is why you need to include contingency plans in your marketing campaign. What happens if your site gets hacked? How do you make emergency announcements in case something goes wrong? How do you recover from a PR disaster? How will you combat negative comments? Everything from minor ‘what ifs’ to worst-case scenarios need to be considered and planned for in advance.

#7. Get Influencers to Support you

Lobbying is important for both political campaigns and ICOs alike. In order to build trust, you need to bring influencers onboard and convince them to publically support your project. Since you are the entity doing the selling, people need to hear about you from neutral sources in order to build trust. 

As an ICO, you can reach out to influential personalities, and share your idea and proof of concept in order to bring them onboard as advisors or have them endorse the project publicly. Such moves make a huge difference, especially now that ICOs are springing up left, right and center.

#8. Use Negative Marketing

Finally, all political campaigns use negative marketing – that is when they tell you why the contesting candidate is not fit for office and won’t deliver what he/she promises. This is crucial because you cannot win solely via self-promotion; you also need to show people why you are better than others.

The same approach should be included in ICO marketing campaigns, especially when they are competing for market share with others. Make sure people don’t just know your plus points, but also the shortcomings of your competitors. Tell them exactly why others do not match up to what your project is offering. Whether it is lack of features, a flawed business model or sloppy coding – highlight it to gain a competitive edge.

These political campaigning tactics should give your ICO campaign a major boost, but do note that nothing trumps a good product. Regardless of how you market your ICO, if the actual product or service is not useful, you cannot sustain the momentum or success in the long run. Marketing strategies are only useful when you have a solid foundation, so it is essential for you to focus on your core offering as a priority, rather than turning to aggressive marketing for quick, but short-lived success.