The ICO Survival Guide – How to Launch a Successful ICO (Part 1)

Industry veteran and tokentarget's CMO John Lewis breaks down the most important aspects of ICOs

Since January 2017 tokentarget has been working to help launch ICOs (initial coin offerings) and token sales. As a dedicated ICO marketing agency, we are approaching the ICO launches with a view to maximising engagement, virality and learning some great tricks along the way.

It’s a very crowded market right now but there are ways to make sure your ICO can stand out and attract the attention of the right targeted token investors. So, let’s delve a little deeper into the wonderful world of marketing for ICOs and see how we can improve our approach with a two-part series.


White papers are a fundamental part of your ICO marketing strategy and something you should think about early on. When you are building your white paper concept, make sure you think about some key aspects and address some relevant questions such as the following:

White papers are not supposed to be “wishy-washy” marketing speak. They need cold hard facts, statistics and examples. Make sure you take the time to think about how you can create a real token economy and explain how it will be sustainable for investors. This is what your white paper needs to explain clearly.

TIP: It is worth noting here that white papers are not usually charged at the same copy rate as a piece of web text or an article. Professional writers spend hours crafting high quality whitepapers so expect to pay well for this.

Legal aspect

We are not lawyers so please do not take any of this as direct advise however we do see that many different countries are being picked for company setup for ICOs such as Switzerland, Gibraltar, Estonia, Cyprus to name a few. The regulation for ICOs and token sales is very early stage and many countries are still trying to figure out how best to set standards and guidelines for regulation.

The regulatory landscape will definitely be changing on a weekly basis so we will be monitoring this and writing further articles to make sure our clients stay informed.

TIP: If you are launching an ICO and haven’t yet engaged the services of a lawyer then you may want to do so. Red tape and legalities require a trained professional to navigate and ideally one who has handled ICO launches before.


It is paramount to have a great core team that will build trust and legitimacy with any potential token investor. As you would imagine, the token investor wants to see a solid connected and real team that is sitting in the same office not working all over the world in remote locations and just adding their LinkedIn picture.

Serious investors may even look into details like pictures not being within the same photoshoot series and question the legitimacy of the direct and full-time work of the team on this project. Showing group pictures together with the team is powerful as well as having a company photo-shoot in the same location.

The minimum amount of people you will need in your core team is recommended below and obviously the more the merrier:


With advisors, again it is a trust building game so the more advisors from bigger organizations with larger networks and access as well as success in other ICOs and or projects will help build value for the project. It is normal to have an advisory package whereby you will offer advisors tokens in exchange for them being displayed within the white paper and on the website as advisors of the project.

The range of tokens to be offered to an advisor will range based on their seniority, network, success with other initial coin offerings as well as their access and network.

TIP: When it comes to your team and your advisors, transparency is key. Showcase the team’s expertise in handling ICOs and financial services companies and don’t lie about their achievements or prior positions.

Cyber security

The ICO and token sale sector is one that is very exciting for hackers due to the nature of the business and the fact that sending large quantities of Ethereum to wallets directly is something that hackers dream about. The normal process is that hackers get into the back end of an ICO and then change the wallet address from the company’s to their personal wallet, therefore stealing money from unknowing token investors.

It is definitely worth investing in a security company that will make sure your site is not only safe from hackers and DDoS attacks but a firm that will actually help monitor fake social profiles and fishing websites that may be used to trick and harm your token investors.

TIP: If you have a good security company onboard then be sure to shout about it. Investors are understandably wary of the security element of their transaction and are more likely to invest if you provide them with quantifiable peace of mind.

Token pricing

When you’re thinking about your pricing, make sure that you think about potential price changes of ETH if you are pegging your token value to ETH. This is where you need to note that this may rise and you may price yourself out in the market. If the token price rises too high, you may price yourself out and scare away token investors.

Keep in mind that many token investors want to buy low and sell higher so the lower the price of the token the easier the barrier of entry is for investors as well as the theoretical chance of them making a better return.

TIP: Do your homework on this before you launch. It is better to take additional time to figure out a token price before than have to change it afterwards. If you do need to change it afterwards then understand that the blockchain community will want to know exactly why and you will need to give some concrete answers.

Marketing communications

It is important especially today with over a thousand initial coin offerings and token sales in the market, that you find a way to stand out from all the noise and to find a way to connect with your target audience.

The way to do this is to think long and hard with catchy messaging that is more then just feature, product and price but shows the true value and vision. At tokentarget, we work with ICOs to create their brand voice right from the beginning so that they present a professional and united front in all their marketing communications.

Pitch deck

One of the most vital aspects of presenting to Angels, Investors, and Venture Capitalists is a great looking and well-structured Pitch Deck presentation. The aim of the presentation is to captivate your audience and get them not only to understand the concept, but also the market size the value proposition and why they need to get in and invest early.

Keep in mind that this audience is used to being pitched every day so each and every word and every slide as well as each visual is vital for gaining the attention needed. We typically recommended 10-20 slides maximum because any more then this will simply get boring.

We have saved many clients from making the mistake of pitching with a poor quality pitch deck presentation and are always able to help with this when our clients are in need.

TIP: We always ask our clients how they will be presenting. Will it be on a stage in front of an audience or will the presentation be emailed. We often recommend creating two presentations to suit both purposes.


In today’s world, video content and videos in general offer a much better way to engage an audience. They are a great way to convey your concepts as well as display the faces and the people behind the project.

We recommend utilizing both high quality Motion Graphics such as an example we produced for one of our clients. As well as a Live Footage video with Motion Graphics, that integrates the problem and the solution and helps to build trust by hearing from the people behind the product.

TIP: We employ professional scriptwriters and video producers to create high-quality videos for ICOs. Every single word and visual matter so this is not an area where you want to cut corners.


It is argued that a website is the most important aspect of any initial coin offering and is hands down the most vital marketing communication vehicle for acquiring and retaining token investors. It is very important to have a clean, modern, sleek website that clearly describes the problem, solution, value propositions and vision of your project to gain interest in a short period of time from any potential token investor.

It is also key to have the most important call to actions on your website such as but not limited to whitepaper, contribute, subscribe, and join telegram functions. These should be above the scroll and visible when scrolling down. We could discuss a lot about the ultimate idea website flow however if you need help with this feel free to contact us any time.


The digital version of the billboard ad is still the best way to generate awareness, engagement and visitors for your ICO. This is display marketing and banners. The fact of the matter is that the world is already blind to banners and they are even more blind to boring banners that do not engage or connect with the audience.

To create banners that actually convert we use strong messaging combined with connected visuals and a strong call to action. Some good examples of this are below in both Static form and HTML-5. An HTML-5 animated example can be found here, while a static example is provided below.

TIP: Less is more when it comes to a high converting banner. We often see clients struggling with banners containing too much text and confusing visuals. At tokentarget we employ professional designers and writers to create high converting banners for our ICOs.


So now that you have all of this great content, messaging, visuals, and video assets you need to get it in front of the targeted audiences of token investors that would be attracted to your project. The majority of any ICO and tokens sale investment goes into the channels of marketing and we have listed them each below.


Public relations and press releases are vital for any initial coin offering to gain the attention and trust of the public it is definitely a mandatory step to have placements and articles within major news outlets such as CoinDesk, CoinTelegraph, NewsBTC, CoinSpeaker, Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, Forbes to name a few but the list can go on and on.

The list of targeted placements will also change based on your specific vertical or niche where of course you want to build trust and respect. However you will always want to have visibility within the crypto community’s frequently viewed websites.

It is extremely important to not only find a PR firm that can write the content in a way that the top news sources will want to cover the story but also to choose a firm that has the necessary relationships with the editors needed to get your news published.

TIP: It is always a good idea to decide upon your company spokesperson or spokespeople early on. We may contact them for a statement or reach out to them if we see a PR crisis brewing somewhere.

This article is written by John Lewis, CMO of tokentarget. tokentarget is a dedicated token sale, ICO and blockchain marketing firm specializing in strategy, brand, marcoms, channel marketing & analytics.

Part 2 will include a breakdown of social media requirements for your whitepaper, with an additional emphasis on bounty programs, marketing, and analytics.

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