A successful ICO launch ends when the token offering has hit its funding goals. However, before we discuss how to launch a successful ICO, we must assume three things at the start:
1. Use case review complete, with use case validated and necessitated
The assumption here is that you have already determined that launching an ICO is the best way forward for your project or business. You have evaluated the question, “Can my project run without this token?” and answered an emphatic “No.” This determination is made after careful review has revealed that the token usage relationships (tokenomics) established through your token offering translate into a clear advantage for your business model. In other words, your token will have utility, and your coin offering will launch your project on the best possible long-term trajectory for you to accomplish your goals.
The use case review will also include a study of possible existing token platforms that you will compete with and an analysis of how your platform will compete effectively. Remember, you’re competing for investors’ money, and not only with any other project offering a similar token use case or similar service to yours; you’re also up against every single ICO being held roughly at the same time as yours.
2. Legal review complete, with legal risks defined and mitigated
The assumption here is that you have determined that your ICO is tokenising a utility and not a security. Arnold Spencer, general council for the Bitcoin ATM network Coinsource, put it well:
“If you join a golf club to play golf, it is not a financial investment and not a security. If you buy an interest in a golf course to make money from the business, it is a financial investment and therefore a security.”
The more ingrained the token is into the platform’s functionality, the less likely that it will be considered a securitised asset. Likewise, if an investor’s actions dictate the token’s value for them, it is probably not a security.
3. Blockchain platform has been chosen
After use case validation and legal review, the remaining step before developing full strategy and set of tactics for a successful ICO launch is choosing a blockchain platform. Your decision is primarily dictated by the kind of project you’re launching. Most ICOs use the Ethereum blockchain platform, while some special case ICOs use a purpose-built blockchain platform or a custom blockchain platform.
Ethereum is by far the most popular ICO launch platform and most likely the one that your technical team and advisors will have chosen for your project. Ethereum set the standard for ICO launches with the release of the open source ERC-20 technical specification, also known as the Ethereum token standard. A key advantage with ERC-20 is interoperability. Tokens built on the ERC-20 standard interact with each other easily, and there is less risk of poor coding and security loopholes.
Once an ICO is determined to be the best way forward when integrated with your business model, the token to be created has been determined to be a utility token, and the blockchain platform is selected, it is time to focus on how to launch a successful ICO.
The next two questions to answer are:
1. What token distribution method will you use?
2. How will you market your ICO?
Choose Your Token Sale Distribution Model
Each token sale distribution model has strengths and limitations. You must look at your organisation’s goals to find which of the models summarised below best fits your project. For each model listed, there are many variations. Whichever you choose, its functionality must be laid out in your token sale white paper.
The Capped Fixed Token Sale is the most common token sale model. Tokens are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis. The number of tokens for sale is predetermined, and the token price is fixed. There is a cap on the total raise, calculated in (number of tokens for sale) x (price per token). Insiders have allocations expressed in the white paper.
There are many variations to the capped fixed token sale model. For instance, discounts to the token price are often offered to early participants, with the price gradually increasing until all tokens are sold.
Total sale duration typically lasts for one month or until the hard cap is reached, whichever comes first. Any unsold tokens are distributed or kept by the development team as defined in the white paper. If the soft cap is not reached, tokens are returned to contributors as specified in the white paper.
Other token sale models include the Uncapped Token Sale, Capped Auction, and Uncapped Auction. Hybrid models combine certain characteristics from different token sale models, pulling some advantages of one model into another model to reach the desired results.
The goal of the ICO determines token model choice
The goal of your ICO is probably to raise a certain amount of capital. This goal should be aligned with the actual estimated costs of developing your platform.
Beyond the desired raise, you may have other concerns. For instance, you may want to distribute tokens “fairly,” guaranteeing that everyone can participate. You may do this by making strict rules to ensure all interested parties can buy tokens, not just those there moment the ICO goes live or those willing to pay high gas fees; and you may want to prevent “whales” from dominating token purchases.
The central challenge in choosing the exact mechanisms and details for your token sale model is that allowing for specific parameters to be true will in effect exclude others. This is where a full stack ICO launch platform provider</> will supply the advice and guidance that is crucial for how to launch a successful ICO.
Deploy Your Marketing Campaign
Do not announce your ICO until after you have a professionally designed website up and running. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Your website is the foundation of your ICO marketing campaign, upon which you build everything else.
Your ICO website will probably centre on a homepage landing page with a clean look and intuitive navigation, a short professional explainer video, and a clear call-to-action to either get on an email list (pre-ICO) or a direct link to a page where tokens can be purchased (during ICO). All copy and other content must be well-written and easy to understand.
Be sure that the project team showcased on the website have strong on LinkedIn presences that are easy to find and verify. Moreover, update your website to show that you are recruiting advisors not just for marketing purposes, but for real guidance when you don’t have the answers. Showcase advisors with a range of expertise to call upon for different problems. It is relatively easy to get advisors with impressive credentials since they have limited interaction with your project and can be on the advisory board for a number of projects while working on their own project full-time.
The white paper is a comprehensive document containing all relevant information specific to your project, including includes an explanation of technical, tokenomic, financial, commercial concerns and solutions, and a description of the founding team and advisors, presented around a project vision and a set of realistic goals.
The ICO website should cover all these bases, and white paper should deep-dive into each one
• Background — how it all started, what inspired you and your team to introduce your project to the real world.
• Introduction — description, the perception of the market and applicability of the blockchain technology in its environment.
• Analysis — competitors and growth potential.
• Introduction of the product — what is your product, the solutions it offers.
• Product section — an in-depth description of your product.
• Use cases — how can your product be used, scenarios.
• Development roadmap — what has been done, what will be done, milestones.
• Financial projections — how the money will be spent and the purposes of the expenditures.
• Team — key employees and their experience.
• Numbers— the number of coins, the value of each coin, the duration of the offering, platform to be used.
• Conditions for token buyers — clearly outline formal agreement between the token buyer and you, the issuer of the ICO. Otherwise, your project can raise concerns among the community and investors.
• Risks and rewards — outline both. Investors love the part about the returns.
• FAQs – Gather all possible questions, answers, complement FAQs section with emerging new questions and answers.
Note: translate your English-language website and white paper into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, and Russian.
Push the Word Out: Promote, Promote, Promote!
Do press releases and sponsored posts on crypto news sites that have a lot of followers and clout. Some sites will include promotion of your article on social media to widen reach and engagement.
Meeting people face-to-face at industry events will open new opportunities to accelerate an ICO launch towards success. Focus on networking with potential partners and collaborators while seeing what your competitions are doing. Moreover, use event marketing as an opportunity to keep a finger on the pulse of the crypto world as a whole and your competitors specifically.
Social media – actively manage your community
Creating and maintaining active social media communities is essential to ICO launch success. Day-to-day, this quickly becomes a full-time job in itself. Hire a Community Manager who is responsible for advocating for you on the social media platforms.
Telegram the standard for live chat rooms in the crypto world. It is a WhatsApp-type messaging service that has been used by almost every successful ICO launch. Here your admin interacts with your community directly, answering any questions and concerns. The math is simple: the more Telegram followers you have, the more likely your ICO is to hit its hard cap.
Discord and Slack are similar to Telegram. Choose either Discord or Slack, not both, to work in addition to Telegram so as not to confuse your followers with too many channels of communication,
Every major coin has its own subreddit. This is the place to foster a community that talks about your token and for you to keep an eye on public perception of your project. Frequent posts are vital to growing a large following.
Open an thread tagged [ANN] on the BitcoinTalk forum (bitcointalk.org) for ICO announcement.
ICO calendars and ratings site
People will often stumble upon your campaign by accident. List your project on ICO calendars where potential investors to track upcoming ICOs, and get listed with high star ratings on ICO rating sites.
An ICO bounty program reward’s user’s with tokens for their social media activity on behalf of the ICO. People get paid for promoting your ICO on forums, maintaining language-specific threads, translating and localizing documents, and posting on social media and blogs. Take a measured approach. Experienced ICO investors don’t want to see a lot of paid promotional articles. The community will become distrustful if is senses that you are pushing your bounty program too hard.
Marketing creates interest, whereas building trust gets supporters to invest time in following your project and eventually buy into it. Be clear about the motives driving your ICO project. Your ICO campaign will be irreparably harmed if the crypto community starts to label it a scam. You can improve your platform over time, but recovering positive perception about your project is almost impossible once it’s lost.
Build an open-source platform with a working alpha version of your platform on GitHub. Show that you are capable of doing what you say you want to do. Talk about beta release, public release, and future milestones.