What's Horsepower? Or How to Differentiate Your Blockchain Startup

Having difficulty marketing your decentralized startup? Fear not, the past yields clues for how new disruptive tech can differentiate.

AccessTimeIconApr 23, 2017 at 10:50 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 6, 2023 at 2:55 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconApr 23, 2017 at 10:50 a.m. UTCUpdated Mar 6, 2023 at 2:55 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconApr 23, 2017 at 10:50 a.m. UTCUpdated Mar 6, 2023 at 2:55 p.m. UTC

Jeremy Epstein is the CEO of Never Stop Marketing, a strategic marketing and consulting firm that focuses exclusively on helping blockchain-based technologies bring solutions to market faster and with less risk. Clients include OpenBazaar, Storj and Fermat.

In this opinion piece, Epstein discusses how disruptive technologies have successfully differentiated in the past, applying this same logic to the blockchain and cryptocurrency markets.

It comes down to this: 'Same, but different.'

One of the most common challenges that we hear from founders and leaders of projects in the decentralized applications and blockchain space is: "We need help with our messaging."

It’s at, or near the top of, everyone's list of concerns.

The good news is that the following two steps will get you a long way down the road towards reaching your goals.

What are you like?

Yes, I know. You are creating something the world has never seen before. It's revolutionary and will disrupt industries.

And you are right about that, but that doesn’t matter… because you are not the market. You aren't the person who needs to quickly understand and buy into your vision.

Most of us have a very difficult time immediately grasping a new concept. If it’s too difficult or takes too much mental energy, we move on.

So, the key to part one is: ground people in something that is familiar; something they already understand.

Once you give them that, you can move onto the fun part..

Now that you've grounded them, you can shake them up. You've given them a frame of reference, now widen the perspective:

  • "It's Uber… for nurses."
  • "It's Die Hard… on a bus."
  • "It's sushi… but meat."

You get the picture.

Cross the chasm

Recently on a road trip with my family, we came upon a classic American supercar, built for power and speed.

The term 'horsepower' came up.

It's so commonplace now, we don't even think about it. But it's a great example of 'same, but different'. When cars first came on the scene, no one had a frame of reference for them. They were a radical innovation.

So, what did the industry do?

They didn't talk about torque, joules or watts (or whatever), they said: "This auto has 10 horsepower."

At that time, pretty much everyone knew the power of a horse or two, so it wasn't hard to say: "Ah, I get it. It has 10 horsepower, but without the horses."

Today, ask anyone what the power of 10 horses is and most of us would have no idea, but it was a critical bridge to cross the chasm from the horse age to the age of the automobile.

Now listen and learn

You won't get it right the first time and that's OK.

What you can do is be conscious in how you test each 'same, but different' message. Watch and listen to how people react.

Make a list of 10 of them and each time you write an email or do a podcast, use a different one. You'll start to get a feel for what resonates with your market.

There's a lot of work behind this that can help, such as working on your brand and messaging platforms to really get it sharp, but a strong 'same, but different' will help move things quickly.

Horsepower image via Shutterstock

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