On Marketing & BD next cycle

I owe the DAO an update on what’s been happening marketing-wise since the cycle 8 proposal passed. Here goes…

The decision among team leads is that we should hold off heavily promoting or marketing data feeds until they are more feature-complete, such as having aggregation (multiple sources), coverage (quantified security), and a better user/onboarding experience. Therefore, many of the plans we had at the beginning of cycle 8 have been put on hold. Much of the USDC allocated in the proposal will either be carried into the next cycle or returned to the treasury.

In reducing marketing expenses we are also reducing the team size. This is the case for all non-technical teams, not just the marketing team. As part of this, I am voluntarily giving up my grant and stepping down as marketing manager. This is something I decided to do a few weeks ago. We’re reducing the team to a minimum during this building period and it doesn’t need a manager. It just needs a few doers.

While I won’t be manager or even a grant recipient on the marketing team, I am still a token holder and have a vested interest in helping API3 succeed. I’m not planning to leave the project and will be available to the marketing team as a resource, advisor, or however else I can contribute.

In my opinion, these are the marketing areas we need to cover between now and when the tech team is ready to scale up data feeds.

  1. Communications, message, narrative, brand identity
  2. Visual brand management, quality, consistency, look & feel
  3. Content creation including api3.org, educational resources, etc…
  4. Community management & engagement
  5. Measurement & analytics

However, I am not planning to write the next marketing proposal. I have shared my recommendations among some of the current team members and I’ll share them here.

I believe @T.W is the best person to lead the marketing team. He was brought on a few months ago for communications. Since then, he’s demonstrated impressive leadership qualities in addition to being a great communicator. He’s smart, patient, empathetic, understands modern marketing, and sets a high bar for quality.

I believe @can is the best person to focus on visual brand management. Like Tom, he also sets a high bar for quality and work ethic.

Between Tom and Çan, along with developer advocates like Ashar, I feel we would have 1-3 covered. I have had @Marcus working on 4 & more recently 5.

Community moderation is necessary to keep the community channels on-topic and safe from scammers. Marcus has proven to be the best person to lead that over the past year. I have always felt moderation is more operations and customer service than marketing. As for community engagement and growth I had been looking for an extroverted socialite type to help as well.

Measurement & analytics is debatable. By debatable, I mean I think it’s smart to build that capability now and create a baseline for scaling up but I realize some others might not feel it’s a priority at this time. Personally, I think we’ve lagged behind in this area over the past year and now is when we should improve it.

As for me, I feel the most valuable thing I can do for the DAO right now is be a link between the product/core tech team and the marketing team. Before I was in marketing and management I was a professional software developer. I have computer science/engineering degrees and have helped build technically complex projects like API3. I understand the technical aspects of blockchain and oracles more than a typical business person. I can help make sure the marketing team understands what they’re marketing.

I would also like to help by acting as a kind of developer evangelist for API3 but I would consider what I described in the previous paragraph as the priority.

That concludes my perspective on what should happen with the marketing team next cycle. However, since I don’t intend to write the next marketing proposal, it’s ultimately up to Tom and the others involved whether they agree and what proposal they submit.

In response to the topic Midhav posted, I think it understates what the marketing team has been doing and I don’t agree with its suggestions. Adding an additional marketing-related team is a step in the wrong direction. At a time when we are downsizing the entire non-technical side of the project, we should be consolidating not expanding.

Furthermore, I am opposed to the idea of a team being led by Midhav. He was on the marketing team as a community mod when I joined API3. I eventually had no choice but to remove him from the team for reasons that accumulated over time including poor judgment, repeated failure to follow through, and frequent disruptions to those trying to get things done. Tolerating this behavior in the project has been a mistake. Rewarding it with more responsibility such as the official API3 social media accounts would be ill-advised.

I recommend going the opposite direction. There is already overlap between the marketing and BD teams in that they both exist to drive adoption for API3. Adding a 3rd team (ecosystem), and now as Midhav suggested a 4th team (content), increases the overlap. If we were in scale-up mode that much overlap might make sense. Given the current situation, it doesn’t.

In the current cycle we added the ecosystem team but the conflict and lack of cooperation between the ecosystem and marketing teams has been a problem. We could debate why all day long but it’s clear to me that having more teams working on the same activities results in more overlap, conflict, and inter-team communication costs.

The ecosystem team, as I understood it, was intended to promote API3 within specific blockchains by working with their ecosystem teams and participating in their ecosystems. But I see that as very similar to what the BD team does. Or, if not, it’s what the BD team should do. IMO the ecosystem team should merge with the BD team so that we only have 2 relatively small non-technical teams next cycle, Marketing and Ecosystem/BD. Then when it’s time to scale up we should revisit.

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I know there isn’t a whole lot that marketing lead can do at this stage, but you should still actively assist the DAO given the amount of knowledge (specifically awareness around the issues faced by the project) you’ve gained. Bringing in a new person or simply reallocating to others will result in the duplicate learning-curve lags and inefficiencies. Say a six-months salary is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, what matters more is the success of the project and that is why the investors have footed the bill. I believe there is more downsides for you to step back than the potential missed opportunities even if it maybe seem small at the time.

A few things i would like to point out, most overlap with marketing but some of it is just a general BD.

  1. Measurement & Analytics is possibly the most important metric. This is the first journey point for many checking out the API3 project (projects, investors, Web3 participants, etc), do not have sufficient time to read the whitepapers and medium posts. Their attention span lasts 5-10 minutes and you need to be able to convey this in a summarised manner. They want to see whether this project has some actual usage and traction because really nobody wants to be the experimental user who can get rekt or pre-product investor under this environment.

An anecdote, I’ve asked well known VCs to check out API3, the response was all similar. They’ve all said it sounds like a novel idea but I can’t tell whether there is actual usage or not, and if not how far off is the project from getting to a tangible usage stage. And if there is such documents, the team is doing an awful job because it is clearly not visible. Attention is a scare resource.

Community moderation has improved compare to its inception. You need to be more engaging and explain more what is going on with the project under the hood and what can be expected. Most of the times, the response has been we can’t disclose and can’t comment. We are not some government level secret agencies, and think we shouldn’t turn people emotionally upset by making a generic comments. It would be good to have a constructive discussion and explanation akin to the API3 MAXI group.

The codes need to be shipped fast and we must focus on low hanging fruits. Small incremental wins and progress will bring positive feedback loop to the project. We can’t simply have this mindset of ‘we build’ and users will come. At this stage, it should be to build a minimalist products ASAP and use the VC connections to get integrated to larger DeFi players as a complimentary oracle with Chainlink. It will take years for other non-crypto natives to integrate API3 like the aviation industry, so focus on the things that you can control and alter, those ‘new’ use cases should be treated more like the R&D segment, which takes time to materialise. Until then you need the staying power, otherwise people will lose faith and the project will fall apart.

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I’m not going anywhere. I still intend to be involved with marketing however I can contribute so I don’t think any learning will be lost. I just won’t be the marketing manager and I’ll spend more of my time diving into API3 products from a technical perspective.

I agree that measurement and analytics is important, especially when the sales/onboarding process is as self-serve and automated as the tech team is building it. It would be good to be able to correlate web traffic, community activity, events, social, etc… with actual Airnode and data feed adoption & usage. It’s also important to make sure adoption is publicly visible in terms of dapps, requests, TVS, etc… because that’s probably the best way to establish credibility.

Thanks for sharing your pov! I hope others do as well.

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My thoughts below are based on my rational observations as a Community Manager. I hope that others will provide their input as well so we can have an open discussion about it.

When I joined API3 last year, the idea was to have a small dedicated Community Management team that moderates our channels, works on community growth efforts and prepares initiatives to drive community engagement - combined with coordinated work across all social channels. As everyone had different skills that complemented each other, we were confident that it would work out well. Unfortunately, the team dissolved pretty rapidly due to lack of contributions and motivation. For that reason, team members either left the project or were put into another role, which lead to Community Management becoming a one man responsibility.

This has been an issue for several reasons. In my opinion, Community Management is a very big responsibility that asks for a holistic approach. It requires content creation (i.e. for educational purposes), proper communication and coordination through our social channels, engaging and growing our existing community (AMAs, initiatives, podcasts, workshops), building relationships with external communities, and managing our community channels by keeping them safe and up to date. This is not something that can be achieved by just one person, at least not efficiently in a big industry like this.

Cutting down on Community Management even further during times like these where distractive noise is little and projects with fundamentals get more attention is most likely not leading to the outcome we as a DAO want. I think now is the best time to put more effort into community growth and engagement, not vice versa. If I read @Midhav’s forum post, I feel that he still underestimates what Community Management is about. Reacting to messages is just a very small part of Community Management, and the negligence of other important tasks as outlined above works against the idea of building the foundation for a strong and active community leading up to our product releases. We should not rely on a “The Tech Will Speak For Itself” approach.

Our community expects us to achieve what we have outlined in our current and previous Marketing Proposals, and it has shown great patience so far with every step we have made. If we didn’t achieve our goals yet, then we should work on a plan to ensure that we do so. Otherwise, I fear that it will be perceived as a failure and our community members will lose their trust and patience in the project. We are at a crucial stage right now and I believe that every step forward has to be planned well through to not repeat the same mistakes. I agree with @ryan that Midhav’s suggestion to lead marketing is counterproductive for several reasons, and Ryan has already mentioned a few. Working with him in the Marketing Team was complicated due to his lack of responsiveness, transparency (no progress reports) and responsibility.

Ultimately, we need to work out a plan to figure out what our mission should be both short- and long-term in regards to Community Management and Marketing as a whole, and based on that, we should work on a proposal that optimizes our expenses while not sacrificing any opportunities during a time that is perfect to build.

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As these two conversations are linked, but my reply is in another thread I’m leaving a link to it here.

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