As we all well know by now, the Parity team announced a massive reorganization of resources in October that targeted the BD and marketing teams.
In tandem, the Web3 Foundation released details for a $45M fund to bootstrap new marketing and growth leaders in the community, with an open call for proposals for new contributing companies and organizations.
We plan to submit a proposal to provide marketing services for Polkadot. We’d love feedback from the community first!
Here I’ll lay out Distractive’s vision for Polkadot, how we think this decentralization effort could help the ecosystem flourish, and our proposal for where we think Distractive could fit in.
Distractive is a Polkadot-native full-service marketing agency specializing in emerging crypto ecosystems. Founded by Nate Hamilton and Katie Butler (the marketing and BD leads for Moonbeam), Distractive has deep expertise in the Polkadot ecosystem, technology, and community.
We offer a wide range of services, including ecosystem engagement, social media, marketing communications, digital marketing, events, and content creation, that will be customized to fit Polkadot’s needs and resources. The Distractive team is also well-connected with many experienced crypto service providers and can augment our services where and when it’s needed.
~Oh by the way~ Distractive is also really well positioned to fill the gap in marketing services for Polkadot:
- Long-time community members who see a better world for Polkadot and are eager to make a shift in the way that Polkadot is presented.
- Pedigree as the founding marketing & BD teams for Moonbeam, one of the most successful and well-known parachains on Polkadot.
- Demonstrated ability to execute and deliver results using a lean team and budget.
- Experienced in decentralized team building with recommended “best practices” to help reduce chaos while empowering decision-making and independence.
- Capacity to take on new clients and can hire select Polkadot contributors to maintain continuity and ensure a seamless transition from Parity marketing.
This decentralization of the marketing & BD orgs is a huge shift for Polkadot. It runs a massive risk of turning into total chaos, but it could also be just the jumpstart we need to put Polkadot in the limelight again.
Here are our thoughts on what would help this initiative be successful.
Decentralization is a process. It takes time and a great deal of coordination to ensure we move and execute as a cohesive pack.
To start Polkadot down the path, we recommend first decentralizing decision-making power to a core group of professional, full-time teams. These teams will be highly coordinated but also autonomous, allowing them to get things done without an overly burdensome centralized approvals process.
A large number of independent contributors will be extremely difficult to manage and coordinate, particularly around high-impact events like big announcements. It would also reduce the impact of our marketing, by siloing groups with often-unaligned priorities.
We also recommend using the community only for approvals on high-level strategic decisions, thus leaving the day-to-day execution to experienced contributors in the space. Over time, as new leaders emerge, contributing teams should and will gradually transition to more democratic working groups. Let’s leave the “Expect Chaos” to Kusama
This movement will also mark a shift in the approach of Polkadot marketing from “read-only” to “read/write,” meaning that these marketing entities will be collaborating with the community and integrating feedback more frequently and fluidly than in the past, where feedback was often invited only once decisions had already been made. That said, there will be a balance here: not every community member is knowledgeable about marketing. The goal is to provide more opportunities to give input/collaborate throughout the process.
This decentralization effort by Parity and Web3 Foundation should serve as an opportunity to empower many decision-makers rather than a centralized decision-making body. This is an opportunity to simplify decisions rather than add complexity.
We do not recommend overly cumbersome committees at every step of the way, but rather frequent accountability check-ins and opportunities for the community to weigh in on the most impactful issues and projects. A chief weakness of Polkadot in the past has been its inability to move and act quickly; this is a wonderful opportunity to change that and allow teams to act more nimbly.
As we have implemented with the Moonbeam Foundation, we recommend the creation of an agreed-upon set of marketing guidelines for all marketing contributors, and granting individual teams the autonomy to make day-to-day decisions within those guidelines.
Importantly, we recommend limiting publishing capabilities for the website and social media accounts to a small number of qualified parties (among which will be Distractive) and enabling community contribution via submission/request forms. Turning the website and social media accounts into a Wikipedia-esque public forum without moderation and review staff will very likely invite trolls, muddle the message, and create a lot of noise/confusion at a critical time for Polkadot’s message to be simplified.
As community members, we have strong convictions about where Polkadot should sit in the market and its path for success. Our approach would be to immediately begin executing on a two-pronged marketing plan with the following objectives:
1. Reignite excitement around the broader Polkadot brand and the impact of its revolutionary approach to building blockchains
Reverse bearish sentiment from the existing crypto ecosystem
Better convey Polkadot’s value proposition to a wider audience with a better balance between technical features and mission-oriented calls-to-action
Create a “moment” for Polkadot early in 2024 that restarts the ecosystem
Take Polkadot’s visual brand and messaging back to its edgy roots (vs. today’s approach that comes off as very corporate)
2. Continue developer dominance & broaden Polkadot’s position as a leader in the shift toward technical abstraction and interoperability
Step away from the historical approach of “Polkadot or NOTHING” and embrace compatibility and collaboration with other technologies and developer stacks (specifically via the Polkadot SDK — Polygon, NEAR, Cardano, Avail, Chainflip and others are using it)
Reverse elitist perception that has left the Polkadot builder community feeling siloed and isolated
Put Polkadot back in the limelight when people talk about the dominant ecosystems or ponder where to build. Polkadot should be in league with Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche, and Solana.
Get more dApps building on Polkadot (not just parachains) by making Polkadot more welcoming for a broader swath of builders, not just protocol devs.
Distractive proposes to expand its existing team to form a nimble team dedicated to delivering integrated marketing services for Polkadot. The team will be a startup-style dynamic team of “doers” with an emphasis on consistent delivery and execution. Distractive will serve as a marketing leader and coordination layer for all decentralized contributors, while also providing services that span strategy development, digital marketing, events strategy, communications, ecosystem engagement, and content creation.
In this role as a visible marketing leader, Distractive will own responsibility for re-igniting enthusiasm and interest in Polkadot and raising the profile of everyone in its vibrant ecosystem.
Distractive will act as a “command post” for Polkadot’s decentralized marketing initiatives and provide core marketing services for the network and its ecosystem. This means that Distractive is charged with setting the “North Star” and direction for all marketing efforts, and collaborating with any agents as they develop plans and initiatives to deliver upon those goals.
The desire is not to create a true hierarchy of reporting; instead, Distractive will own the duties typically associated with marketing leadership and lead by example. The structure will most closely resemble a school of fish, where decentralized teams work together closely to maintain alignment and “swim” in the same direction. Distractive’s role would be to help lead the decentralized marketing collective, provide guidance to all marketing teams around messaging and positioning, and work collaboratively to ensure consistency (to the degree that any decentralized ecosystem can truly be consistent).
In this role, Distractive duties will include the creation of a marketing strategy, dissemination of messaging and branding guidelines, providing feedback to contributing teams and ideating on new campaigns/promotions, and reporting against key metrics. The team will act as a coordination layer across all teams.
Distractive will offer a broad range of integrated marketing services spanning communications, operations, and branding/positioning.
By having Distractive as a major marketing contributor, Polkadot marketing will be able to operate in a much more agile manner. The approach will be to have light and lean teams across a number of disciplines to compensate for when other ecosystem teams have heavy resources in one specialty and no coverage in another. This ensures there is always some minimum baseline of support. Additional resources can be added as needed with changing demands.
Services We’ll Deliver
- Marketing Strategy
- Team Coordination and Collaboration
- Digital Marketing & Marketing Operations
- Events Strategy & Coordination
- Integrated Marketing Communications
- Ecosystem Marketing
- Content Strategy & Development
- Branding & Design Strategy
- Brand & Positioning Evaluation: Where do we stand after the forpeople brand project and what can we carry forward into 2024?
- Positioning Overhaul: Work with the W3F, parachain teams, and other stakeholders to find a position and message that better resonates with our target audiences.
- 2024 Planning: Create a strawman for activities for the rest of the year including estimated spend for things like events and campaigns.
- Brand Campaign: Launch Polkadot’s revised brand to the world, including several targeted campaigns to targeted audiences including thought leaders, VCs, and influencers.
- Website Relaunch: Finally (finally!) let’s get a new website in-market for Polkadot that reflects its new competitive position and spruced-up brand. This will include a restructuring as needed to improve the SEO visibility of the website.
We are incredibly excited at the prospect of working on Polkadot in a more direct way and would love your feedback on this proposal. It’s a lot to review, and we know some of this is contradictory with the vision of other community leaders. We believe that decentralization needs to be a process and this would be a giant leap forward on the path to full decentralization.
Polkadot has tremendous opportunity and we feel Distractive can be one of the agents to help showcase the technology, ecosystem, and community to the best of its ability. Thanks for your attention and look forward to your feedback and comments.