Welcome to this week’s edition of the RHIZOME Wire!
About a week ago, ICON team member Ricky Dodds conducted an AMA on YouTube with WhiteBIT, a cryptocurrency exchange.
While this AMA didn’t generate a whole lot of attention within the community (at least as far as I could tell), it’s worth a watch, and Ricky did make an interesting point at the very end of the interview, when the question of marketing came up:
“We’re at a point now in the project’s lifespan where we want to add users and we will do what it takes to add users. We’re not building ICON 2.0, this foundational technology, to have it sort of sit and flounder. That’s just not a strategy that makes sense and we’re not going to go down that route, so we’re going to do what it takes to get users and to get developers and to get people excited about it, so just stay tuned there.”
It’s unclear if Ricky meant this statement to be interpreted in the manner that I interpreted it, but I ultimately believe this perspective marks an important turning point in not just ICON’s marketing strategy, but an important turning point in the project as a whole.
Ever since ICON first launched as an ICO, the only “product” that ICON had to market was the vision and ambition of the project. There was of course the whitepaper, along with a handful of partnerships and MOUs that were lined up.
The project’s promise—and the qualifications of the team behind it—was likely what got so many people to invest in the ICO and buy on the open market shortly thereafter, helping drive the price as high as it was.
The next couple of years was essentially just an extension of this vision. Sure, there was more and more good news — partnerships were being solidified, the foundation seemed to be growing, decentralization happened, and some exciting announcements came and went — but all of these steps for the most part still fell into the “promise” category. The only thing ICON had to “sell” during this time period was good news and exciting promises.
As all this was happening in the bear market, not much was happening with the price. A lot of this, in my opinion, was related to the underlying market dynamics — the same dynamics that brought down essentially every cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin.
However, I have also seen time and time again people say, “If only people knew about the X, Y, and Z partnerships, we’d be at $10 by now!”
But I ultimately think there’s a limited market for people who want to make an investment based solely on hope and promises, and ICON, for the most part, probably maximized that market. At a certain point in time, a project maxes out its “speculative” valuation and ultimately needs to move onto the phase of “utility.”
As I alluded to, most people bought ICON in anticipation of people someday needing to buy the token in order to use the token—not just to speculate on its future value.
That’s because we know intrinsic demand is what ultimately helps a project succeed.
And so now, with a number of exciting DApps, a suite of DeFi products, and cutting-edge cross chain technology coming down the pipeline (that will increase the utility of ICX but likely tokens on chains that ICON bridges with), we can actually start to market ICON for what it can do, rather than what it might be.
Prior to this point in time, the internal conversation an investor may have had might have been:
“Oh, another partnership for ICON? I’ve been hearing about those for years now. Why should I all of a sudden buy in now?”
However, once DeFi and other DApps launch, that internal conversation might go more along the lines of:
“Oh, I can earn significant interest on my holdings without paying exhorbitant gas fees? And all I need to do is buy some ICX? I’m in!”
Now, compound that with being able to utilize Bridge to easily transition from fiat to ICX, and that conversation isn’t just playing out in the mind of a cryptocurrency devotee, but among the greater general public as well. The Bridge integration isn’t a big deal because it allows people to easily transition into ICX — it’s a big deal because it more easily allows people to use the ICON network.
I should point out that increased demand for the token does not necessarily correlate with increased transaction count (or vice versa). Someone could buy a bunch of ICX in order to utilize Balanced or OMM, but doing so one only require a couple transactions.
And so now marketing gets a lot easier.
Instead of saying “Buy our token because we promise we have a lot of cool stuff coming in the future (which you may or may not understand)!” the team can now say “Come buy ICX to use this product that allows you to earn more money” or “Come buy ICX to use this new fun DApp that is about to launch.”
The initial success of ICONFi should indicate to you just how effective the “come use our product” pitch can ultimately be.
Over the coming weeks and months I think we’re going to start to see more effective marketing. But that’s not because the team isn’t caring about marketing until now. It’s because it’s a lot easier to market a tangible product to a wide audience than it is to market an intangible vision.
In the latest episode of the “Eye on ICON” podcast, we had a similar discussion to the above while we also made some comparisons between ICON’s growth and that of Ethereum.
As more and more people are seemingly entering (or re-entering) the ICON ecosystem, I wrote a brief article in an effort to get people caught up on everything ICON has going on and what’s coming down the pipeline. Be sure to give it a read!