How To Do An ICO In 2023: Web3 Founder’s Checklist

The 46 Steps To A Successful ICO

With the advent of crypto economies and decentralized finance, fundraising for projects becomes more and more frictionless. Founders can attract the investments needed for their product development by conducting token sales.

You can use this guide as a high-level outline of the steps to be taken to conduct a successful token sale. Of course, there are many more details about each of the steps, but this overview should provide a good perspective on the token launch process.

Structure

This article will follow a checklist format with the steps grouped by multiple sections:

  • Fundamentals
  • General basics
  • Fundraising basics
  • Token basics
  • Marketing basics
  • Marketing ongoing

Note that you don’t necessarily have to follow the sequence perfectly — some steps can and even need to be taken simultaneously. The ordering here is to give you an idea of each step’s relative timing and priority in the list.

Fundamentals

1. Define product idea/concept and do market analysis

Before getting to token launch specifics, there are some fundamentals you need to take care of first.

You’re doing an ICO and raising money for a reason — create a product. And as with any product, yours has to go through the basic steps of product/market conceptualization, planning, and design.

And don’t be neglectful of this step — this is the mistake many young blockchain entrepreneurs make. They enter the space for technology, money, or other reasons but forget the basics of market strategy. How many whitepapers do I read of things that have very little value proposition, poor market identification, and no viability in the actual world realities? Probably 1 in 40 will survive six months after launch.

You can create a token for every idea, but not every idea deserves creating a token.

Before developing a token, dive into your concept and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the problem you’re solving or the opportunity you create with your product?
  2. For whom are you solving it? Who is your target audience? Who is using the product and how?
  3. Why and how is your solution better than the existing ones on the market?

The last one is quite important due to the emergence of clones from forking public repositories of popular projects. Usually, those clones don’t have a strong value proposition, therefore, fail to compete with already established players on the market.

Nowadays, you find a lot of tokens but not many great products.

Remember: What you’re building is a product that brings value (important!) to its customers.

2. Make a business plan

Another common mistake young entrepreneurs make is building something they cannot sell. Before creating a product, you need to understand how to monetize it. Not the other way around. Otherwise, you will end up with the technology that brings no income, and you’ll fail to pay your bills when the investor’s money runs out.

In reality, every successful blockchain product is a business. Or at least, it has a sustainable model that gives its stakeholders enough cash to operate sufficiently.

After deciding on a product idea, think of the following questions:

  1. How will you monetize it? What’s your business/revenue model?
  2. How will it be sustainable? How to make sure the network doesn’t die?
  3. How fast can you get to profitability/sustainability?
  4. How will you market it? Why would people use it and pay money for it?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to come up with the answers to all questions on your own. Do your research — study existing products in the field, do interviews — ask your potential customers/users: would they pay for your product or use your network? Then, study the data, make conclusions.

Remember: If your product is not sustainable, it has no value.

3. Define token utility and product tokenomics

Only after you come up with the product concept and its monetization plan should you think of a token and its role in your system.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the token?
  2. Is the token absolutely necessary?
  3. Why does your project need to be on the blockchain?
  4. What function or utility does the token have?

After that, think of the following:

  1. What will be a viable economic model behind our product and its token? How can we make sure the token won’t collapse?
  2. Is it going to be inflationary or deflationary?
  3. What incentives will we provide to token holders and network participants? Who will be the actors to participate in the system, and will they have enough motivation?
  4. What will be the token functionality: burning, staking, voting rights, fees?

Here is the whole article about designing product tokenomics:

Remember: You can design token economy only once.

4. Create a product implementation plan

After you outline your concept and design your token model, it’s time to think about what it will take to build your product. At this step, you want to understand what resources (human, intellectual, financial) you will need to bring your concept to life, assess the risks, and develop the initial timeline.

The following questions will be of help:

  1. What assumptions did you make during the concept stage which might not be true? Is there a way to validate them?
  2. How feasible is your idea in the current market realities? What are the risks?
  3. How will you implement your product? What would be the technologies behind it?
  4. What resources do you need in terms of human, intellectual, and financial capital to build the product?
  5. What’s the timeline for the implementation? Can you make it to the market before the technology is outdated?

After going through the work of answering all those questions, you will be an expert in your industry and your product, which is what you want.

Remember: Concepts are great, but project plans are better.

5. Write a whitepaper

Combine everything you’ve done in the steps before into a single document — the project whitepaper. Whitepapers vary in content and format, but these are the most common sections you can see in any whitepaper:

  • Executive summary
  • Problem statement
  • Solution description (product concept)
  • Technology
  • Token and tokenomics
  • The team

Once you complete your whitepaper, I would encourage you to get detailed feedback from respected figures in the crypto space and field you are working in, as well as the core demographic you are targeting for your ICO — and make relevant changes before moving forward.

General Basics

Another set of steps for a token launch is something you would have to do for any public organization. These are really basic things, but sometimes they’re forgotten.

6. Make visual branding

Hire a designer to create astounding visuals for your project. Do the whole brand kit — from a logo to a color scheme, fonts, styling, social media, and detailed guidelines. And don’t be cheap — branding is something that stays with you forever.

If you want to rebrand later on, it can take a lot of time and effort. So it is better to take care of it from the start properly.

Snapshot from the
Snapshot from the Solana Branding page

Remember: you have only one chance to make the first impression. Great logo and appealing visual branding is sometimes decisive factor for an investor to buy your token.

7. Make a website

Create a website for your project and an ICO.

You should have a separate landing page for a token sale if you have an existing main product page.

In general, well-designed pages do better in ICOs. Examples of landing pages:

The landing pages can differ in their structure, but in general, these are the typical sections you can see on any token sale website:

  • Whitepaper
  • Product features / token utility
  • Project roadmap
  • Team
  • Advisors and partners
  • Previous investors
  • ICO details (supply, cap, price)
  • Token allocations and distributions
  • Links to social accounts

Remember: if your project doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t exist.

8. Create a project roadmap

Based on the research and planning you’ve done in the concept phase, create a high-level roadmap for developing your project.

It doesn’t have to be too detailed but should represent key milestones for your project in the nearest future. The roadmap helps investors easily understand where your project stands at the current moment and assess its near-term and long-term potential.

Get a designer to make the roadmap look nice and use it for your website and presentation materials.

Sample roadmap from
Sample roadmap from Dribble

Remember: Great roadmap demonstrates that you have a clear vision and expectations for your project.

9. Create an app prototype or design

If you already have a product or design prototype, your proposition will be much stronger. Project teams that have made significant progress before the ICO tend to raise higher amounts of funds.

Remember: By making a product prototype before a token sale, you demonstrate to investors that you are capable of building things. This itself increases your chances of success during an ICO.

10. Reserve social media handles

Register accounts on all the popular social media and save the passwords in a safe place.

You want to do that before a project goes public so that you can claim the right usernames and social media handles.

Remember: You should reserve social media accounts even if you don’t plan to post anything in the near future actively.

11. Take care of legal matters

Set up legal entities for your project and do the necessary incorporation paperwork. You’ll need it to sign agreements with your employees, vendors, investors, and partners.

One of the common approaches is to register separate entities for operational work, IP, and profits. However, the is not legal advice, and in the end, you should consult a legal advisor in your jurisdiction.

As for a token launch, you might need a reputable law firm with experience incorporating blockchain companies/foundations and running an ICO to advise you on your process.

The biggest legal question you’ll need to answer is: Is the token you are offering during the ICO a security or not? What do you need to do to alleviate the concerns that the token may be a security?

Remember: Any time you begin messing with other people’s money, you will want to be covered legally. So, where a token sale really begins is in the pre-sale and legal planning.

12. Assemble a team

Assemble a solid team. You cannot handle the whole ICO process and further product development on your own. Therefore, you want to identify the weakest areas with which you need the most support and find people to cover the missing roles.

I could probably write a separate post on the topic of human resources and recruitment, but the general principles are as follows:

  • Look for people with a background in the crypto industry. If the person is not familiar with the space, you’ll need to do a lot of education for him to function effectively. It’s usually not worth it.
  • If you’re low on cash, use cost-efficient methods of hiring in the beginning. For example, use freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr to get the experts you need on an hourly rate or project basis. After you raise funds through the ICO, you should switch to hiring people full-time.
  • For each role, at least make basic criteria for an ideal candidate you’re looking for. Write down the key competencies that the person needs to have to be successful in your project role. It will help massively during the screening process.
  • Have a person responsible for technology as a part of your core team. You don’t want to completely outsource your product development, especially if your app works with smart contracts and other people’s assets. Someone from the core team needs to know the technology and cyber security to be able to review and validate all the code to make sure it doesn’t have any vulnerabilities.
  • Don’t forget to ask people’s consent to put their faces on your website — the more you have them here — the better.

Remember: In effective teams, 1+1=3

13. Set up internal operations

After you started working on the project, set up at least basic processes. Beginner teams often forget some essential things. For example, you should define and agree on questions like:

  • Where do you communicate within the team? What’s the primary channel that you’re using?
  • How do you meet? Are you doing daily standups, weekly syncs, or ad-hoc meetings?
  • How do you onboard new people? What’s the process for new team members? Who’s taking care of supervising them?
  • What are the responsibilities within the team? Who is accountable for which projects? Who’s responsible for making decisions, and the team consensus is reached?
  • What are the working hours and online schedule? Do you all work in the same timezone or is it up to an individual team member? How to ensure effective communication?

Having these things defined in advance saves you a lot of time and avoids operational overhead throughout the whole project journey. Nowadays, people significantly underestimate the importance of internal operations, so I suggest having a dedicated person responsible for process improvements within a team.

Remember: Your team members won’t be as effective by default — there has to be a clear process for everyone to follow.

14. Get advisors

Consider involving experienced advisors. Especially if you have knowledge gaps within your core team, you should seek advice from industry experts with experience in those fields.

Besides, having strong advisors supporting your project is a good sign for investors, especially when publicly mentioned on the website.

You can usually attract advisors by allocating a certain % of token supply for them in addition to cash compensation. Therefore, plan your budgets early on and think about what you need in an advisory.

Remember: An experienced advisor can identify potential issues and bottlenecks with your project that you couldn’t think about.

Fundraising basics

15. Choose IDO as your launch type

When choosing between ICO (Initial Coin Offering), IEO (Initial Exchange Offering), and IDO (Initial DEX Offering) for your token launch, opt for the last one.

Why? In the market realities of 2021-2022, IDO is the most popular and by far the simplest way of launching a token.

ICO vs. IEO vs. IDO statistics 2016-2021
ICO vs. IEO vs. IDO statistics 2016-2021

IDOs currently dominate the crypto fundraising market, constituting more than 80% of total sales volume for 2021.

What makes IDOs so appealing for token creators? There are two main reasons:

1) IDO listing process is free and effortless.

With an IDO, the first exchange where you list your token is a decentralized exchange (DEX). And at the moment, it is very easy to list tokens on DEXes. Opposed to centralized exchanges (CEX), DEX doesn’t have a KYC or a review process for new tokens. As a result, pretty much anyone who knows the token smart contract can start trading it on platforms like Uniswap or PancakeSwap almost instantly and for free. Thus, DEX launches provide instant liquidity for token sale participants, which is important for investors.

You should be aware of some aspects of DEX listings, such as liquidity and listing snipers (bots), which will be discussed later in the article.

2) Marketing support by launchpads. IDOs are often conducted together with so-called launchpads — platforms that help token creators to raise funding before a listing. Each launchpad already has a community of investors and is ready to offer its marketing support to token creators for a small fee. Due to the marketing help of launchpads, even projects with zero traction can get easily funded, which makes IDOs much more effortless than classic ICO token sales.

Remember: IDO is the simplest way to launch a token.

16. Create a pitch deck

Before starting a marketing campaign for a token sale, you might want to attract a few private or institutional investors to back up your project and provide access to useful resources early on.

When dealing with Venture Capital (VC) or private investors, you need a deck. There is no way around it — everyone asks for it, even advisors.

Therefore, show off your presentations skills and get your deck ready. Use the best practices for deck design like the 10-20-30 rule by Guy Kawasaki and make sure it looks good.

Doing a few pitches in front of investors/advisors will help you get initial feedback about your concept, identify potential issues with it, and give an idea about what questions are the most interesting for investors. You can later use this info to refine your value proposition, whitepaper, and website.

I would recommend two versions of the deck: the first is a short one to be sent via email, the second is a more detailed version to be presented at a demo meeting to interested parties.

Remember: if you can’t successfully pitch your idea to any private investors, your token sale is unlikely to be successful either.

17. Get seed funding (optional)

Speaking of early investors, you might want to attract seed capital (the first private investment) to cover the initial expenses of launching a token. Conducting a token sale isn’t as expensive as product development, but it is not cheap. So you’ll need some money, primarily for marketing your token launch. Often ICO marketing budgets account for 10-20% of all the capital raised.

Therefore, you’ll need at least some capital to start moving things forward. A $25,000-50,000 seed round is usually enough for an average project to get started and transition to the next fundraising stage. If you can provide that money by yourself — excellent, if not — you might want to seek private investors.

With investors, you can simply sign the SAFT agreement, which gives them the right to your tokens once they are issued.

Some launchpads also offer accelerators/incubators — they invest and launch your project simultaneously. Therefore, you might want to apply to such a program if you could benefit from outside hands-on project support.

Remember: you might need a lot of money to conduct a token sale.

18. Token sale strategy and tokenomics

Planning a token sale is a critical aspect of a successful ICO, as there is right and wrong way to do it.

There is a whole article you can write about this topic alone, but here are some questions you want to get answered:

  • How much are you raising? Set a fixed hard cap.
  • What are the token allocations between all parties? Team, private investors, advisors, public sale, liquidity, other?
  • What are the vesting schedules for each allocation?
  • What’s going to be your sale structure? How many rounds? What’s going to be the price for each?
  • What’s going to be the type of launch? IDO, IEO, ICO, mixed launch?
  • Are you doing private sales or whitelists? If so, what are the conditions?

Launchpads can help with executing a public sale, but the strategy you have to come up with on your own.

If you’re also doing a direct sale, here are the additional things you want to consider:

  • Do you want to do the KYC (Know Your Customer) for investors? If so, how?
  • Which currencies will you accept funding in?
  • What’s going to be the sale model? First-come-first-served? Oversubscription? Auction?
  • How long is the sale going to last?
  • Will you exclude certain countries from participating?
  • Will the tokens be released right after the token sale is complete? If not, when?

With the number of questions you need to be answered for your ICO launch, I highly encourage you to consult with the tokenomics advisor to make sure you avoid costly mistakes. You can only conduct a token sale once.

Here is a more in-depth article into the ICO tokenomics:

Remember: tokenomics is both art and science. You want to love both.

19. Find a launchpad and IDO host

When you have your tokenomics sorted, you can reach out to potential launchpad partners and apply for the launch.

After you submit a request and pass the internal review, the process is relatively straightforward: you get connected with a launchpad manager, arrange details such as allocation, fees, structure, and dates, and sign an agreement. Some launchpads might request an upfront fee in cash, but most of them just take a certain % of the sales volume conducted by the launchpad.

To increase your marketing exposure, you might want to consider multiple launchpads. For example, the Soldex project was launched on five launchpads at the same time.

Here are some of the most popular launchpads as of the moment of writing:

  1. DAOMaker https://daomaker.com/
  2. Polkastarter https://polkastarter.com/
  3. BSCPad https://bscpad.com/
  4. Ignition https://ignition.paidnetwork.com/
  5. Duckstarter https://duckstarter.io/

Remember: launchpad is your friend in the world of IDOs.

20. Choose an exchange to list a token

After a token sale is ended, your token needs to be listed on an exchange to create a market. You want to figure out where you will get listed. Is it going to be a centralized exchange or only DEX? If so, which one?

A DEX depends on the blockchain your token is launched on. If it’s an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token, it will be a Uniswap DEX. If you made your token on Binance Smart Chain BEP-20 network, you should list it on PancakeSwap.

In addition to DEX, you might also want to list your token on centralized exchanges. But beware — some of them take huge listing fees. During your token sale, you will start receiving listing proposals from some second-tier exchanges like ProBit, Bitmart, and such. But you shouldn’t jump on the first opportunity to get listed. Instead, you should do some research on the exchange’s reputation, marketing presence, and the legitimacy of volumes — some of them are driven by bots.

As an ideal option, you want to get listed on some tier-1 exchanges like Gate or KuCoin straight after the launch.

Remember: the more places your token is traded on, the better liquidity and the more exposure to new buyers it has.

21. Provide liquidity on DEX

Before tokens become tradable on DEX, you’ll need to provide liquidity.

Basically, you’ll need to deposit two tokens into a DEX smart contract: a certain amount of your native token, as well as a certain amount of another token — a currency against which your token is traded (e.g., USDC/BNB/ETH). Only then, the market will become “liquid,” and people can start trading tokens on an exchange.

You should determine the amount of liquidity to be provided based on how much funds you raised during the sale and the price of a token at listing.

There are a few rules:

  • Be the first one to provide liquidity on DEX. You must be the first to create a liquidity pool because the first liquidity provider sets the ratio between the pair of tokens, therefore the initial token price. And you don’t want to let anyone else define the price.
  • Don’t announce your token contract address before the listing. Don’t publish your token address anywhere to avoid snipers and bots at a listing. Suppose you’re conducting a launch together with a launchpad. In that case, it’s relatively easy to keep your token address secret since you won’t be sending any tokens directly to investors — the launchpad will manage payouts after the fact.
  • Lock the liquidity. The provided liquidity should be locked. This is done to assure investors that the liquidity will not be gone any time soon and prevent rug pulls. You can use tools like Unicrypt to lock up the liquidity.

Remember: if there is no liquidity, there is no market.

22. Write a guide on how to buy your token

It’s a really basic thing, yet many projects forget about it. Sometimes, investors are not educated enough to understand how to buy your token.

Make it clear to everyone how they can participate. Create a guide and make explainer videos. If you launch together with a launchpad, ask them to provide a tutorial on how to use their platform. If your process involves multiple steps (registration, whitelists, staking, etc.), describe every step in the process.

Remember: the more complicated your process, the fewer investors you will have.

Token basics

23. Choose a chain

The first step in creating a token is to select a blockchain to be launched on. You choose from a few prominent layer 1 blockchains, each with its advantages, providing great infrastructure for token creators. A few most popular chains are Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Solana, Avalanche, Fantom, Terra.

When selecting a chain, you should consider both the technological and community aspects of launching a token. For example, at OB Trading, we chose Binance Smart Chain as our product is closely tied with the Binance platform itself, includes features similar to BNB token, and our target audience was primarily Binance users. However, when we launched NFTs, we chose the Solana chain due to its active NFT community.

Nowadays, BSC is probably the easiest chain to launch on. The gas fees are not as high as on Ethereum and with BSC it is possible to bridge to other chains.

When considering a blockchain for your token, ask yourself the following:

  • Are there any technological, utility, or market benefits from launching on one chain over another?
  • What resources do we need to launch a project depending on a chain? Are the costs more expensive, or are developers more difficult to find?
  • What are the risks of us sticking with one particular chain? Is it possible to migrate, if needed? How difficult would it be?

Remember: the choice of a chain has a technological as well as a community impact.

24. Set up wallets

After choosing the chain, you’ll want to set up wallets where you will receive and manage the funds from an ICO.

The safest options are wallets with multi-sig functionality like Gnosis or hardware wallets.

Remember: don’t share your private keys with anyone.

25. Create a token (contract)

Once you choose the chain, it’s time to create a token. Nowadays, it’s not difficult to do, and an average developer can make token smart contracts with a few lines of code.

Here are the steps to have your token ready:

  1. Find a developer or a trusted partner to create a smart contract. Ask for recommendations and personal references as you don’t want untrusted parties to tamper with your contracts.
  2. Hand them the tokenomics. You should already have all the numbers and token utility outlined well before the token creation. The developer will ask you for the total supply, a number of decimals, fees, burning, staking mechanisms, reflections, vesting, whitelists, and other properties of tokens.
  3. Ask them to comment on all the code. It will be important during the token audit phase.

Remember: once you create a token smart contract, you cannot make changes to it later.

26. Test it on test-net

Deploy your token to the test-net and test it. Make a few transactions. See if the fees, burn, vesting, whitelisting, and all the other mechanics are working correctly.

27. Simulate DEX listing and test liquidity

You can use your test-net token to simulate a launch at DEX. You can create a test liquidity pool to understand how it works. See how different trades impact the price with different levels of liquidity.

The main thing to test here is the initial listing price: make sure you use the correct ratio of tokens in a pool to set the right price at listing.

Remember: the first liquidity provider in a pool defines the price

28. Deploy a contract to main-net

After you’re done testing, you’ll need to deploy the contract to the main-net. Then, you can start sending tokens to investors, partners, and the rest.

29. Publish code in a public repository

You want to have the code of your token contract available in a public repository for inspection and audit. Upload the code to your project’s GitHub repository or ask your developers to do so.

30. Run an audit

During the early stages of your token sale, order a code audit of your token contract from a known auditor in the space.

You want to get audited for two main reasons:

  • It ensures that your contract is safe from any potential exploits and vulnerabilities
  • Your investors can be sure that everything is ok with your token. Auditor provides a report with the audit results that you can share on your website and community.

Audit usually happens in three steps:

  1. Auditor makes an initial audit with a report and findings
  2. Your team implements changes from the initial audit
  3. Auditor makes the second audit and provides a final report

You can choose different auditors depending on your budget. For example, premium auditors like Certik can charge up to $10-25k for an audit. Of course, you can always opt-in to more affordable but still viable alternatives.

Remember: audit is needed not only for you but also for your investors.

Marketing basics

31. Create a strong marketing message

Based on your project vision and the work you’ve done for your whitepaper/pitch deck, make a strong marketing message that will appeal to investors. Everything from your branding, to your socials/website, to how you talk to your customers should be consistent with your message.

How to know if a marketing message is strong? First of all, it’s short — max 1-2 sentences. The attention span in the information era is very short, so you need to be able to attract people within a short amount of time. Second, every time you tell a message to someone, it should trigger a “Wow” reaction. If your message doesn’t excite people with whom you’re sharing it, rework it.

Some questions to help in creating a proper message;

  • What are you doing? Mention it clearly, without any fuzz or buzz.
  • What is the big problem you’re trying to solve with your product?
  • How does it help your investors/customers? What are the benefits?
  • What are your long-term goals? How can you incorporate them into your message?

Remember: you confuse — you lose. Your messaging should be clear.

32. Create a community

Nowadays, all crypto projects are judged by the size and activity of their community. Start building your own as soon as possible.

Create a Telegram group or a Discord server. Invite everyone there — your friends, colleagues, early project enthusiasts, investors. Bring as many people as possible. Start engaging with them, trigger conversations, encourage them to invite other people.

The community will be your primary marketing channel and your strongest marketing asset throughout the whole project journey. In addition, it is the foundation for the rest of marketing activities — if there is no solid community, any paid advertisement makes little sense.

Establish proper community rules (for example, no spam/insults), channel structure (Discord).

Remember: Community can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how you treat it. So make sure to cultivate and grow a meaningful culture around your project consistently.

33. Bring community managers on board

As much as you would want to, you won’t be able to moderate community all by yourself. You’ll need help in a role of community managers.

At the start of the project, bring at least one community manager full-time to moderate the communication channel. Make sure to onboard this person with your vision, product features, and community moderation rules.

Consider getting multiple community managers to cover different timezones as your community grows. Crypto never sleeps and is active 24/7, so should your moderation team.

Community managers also act as the bridge between the larger community and your internal team.

Remember: without proper management, a community quickly turns into chaos.

34. Set up community moderation tools

With the growth of your community, you’ll start getting the same questions from new visitors. You might also get bots and spammers into your group.

Therefore, it is important to set up proper tools and automations to save up the time of your community managers dealing with repeated questions or spammers.

On Telegram, there are many free bots that you can connect to your community chat for verification, moderation, and information purposes. For example, you can set up an automation to send a “welcome” message every time a new user joins the chat.

Example message by Rose bot
Example message by Rose bot

On Discord, you have a variety of tools as well. In addition, you can also separate them and group them by different channels, for example, Announcements, Developers, General, Random, Support, Scam Alerts, etc.

Remember: Proper automation can decrease your moderation costs by half.

35. Brush up your socials

Once you start your marketing efforts, you’ll need to brush up your primary social accounts.

Github

You need to have a clean, updated Github repository. Example: https://github.com/0xProject.

Make public whatever code possible.

Twitter

Same goes for your Twitter account. Have it clean, regularly updated, and with many likes on the posts. Examples: https://twitter.com/OneButtonTrade, https://twitter.com/soldexaihttps://twitter.com/0xproject

Blog/Medium

Have a clean, updated blog, ideally with a history of posts already. Examples: https://soldex.medium.com/https://blog.0xproject.com

BitcoinTalk

Create a bitcointalk announcement of the token. Example: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=2009966.0

Reddit

Own your own subreddit, brand it, and put in a few posts. Example: https://www.reddit.com/r/district0x/

Newsletter

Setup a newsletter on your website. Email is the best way to directly share important info with potential contributors on the day of the ICO.

Telegram/Discord

Have your community channel well structured and moderated. Examples: https://discord.com/invite/solana, https://t.me/ProjectSerum

36. Start creating content

It’s not enough just to create a community; you need to engage with it and bring news consistently, otherwise it will freeze out.

Here are the types of content that generally work well:

  • Product announcements, updates
  • Marketing announcements, giveaways, competitions
  • Educational posts about product
  • Educational posts about your industry
  • Announcements of partnerships, sponsors, new team members

Content both in written (blog) and video (YouTube) format works well.

The main idea is to be consistent, keep posting content regularly, and be present.

Remember: in marketing, who educates the most — wins (especially in crypto).

37. Get listed on ICO calendars

Submit your upcoming token sale to be featured on various ICO calendars, such as CoinMarketCap Calendar, ICO drops, and similar websites. They will bring traffic and additional project exposure.

38. Get listed on CoinMarketCap and Coingecko

Submit your token to be listed on CoinMarketCap and Coingecko — the most popular cryptocurrency tracker websites.

If you didn’t get there before listing, you absolutely must do it after your token is listed on an exchange.

Remember: Most investors don’t even consider projects that are not present on CoinMarketCap.

Marketing ongoing

After you made the initial marketing setup, the work is not finished — it’s just getting started. You’ll need to have your marketing team work non-stop; there are just so many things to do!

39. Do AMA sessions

Conduct regular AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) sessions with a community. Join hosted AMAs in other communities as well as host your own sessions from time to time. It helps to build the initial following in your community.

Remember: Having 5-10 AMAs per week during the ICO stage is a must.

40. Set up contests, challenges, giveaways

Use tools like Gleam.io to host giveaways and competitions for your community to help to spread the word about your project. Sometimes these contests can have viral effect.

41. Run ads

Once you have established a proper community, you can start running paid ads on some networks like Coinzilla or Poocoin Ads.

42. Make and announce partnerships

Try to make and announce as many useful partnerships with relevant projects as possible. People love good news.

43. Collaborate with launchpads

Run joint giveaways, create content, or host AMA sessions together with your launchpads to become closer with their community.

44. Arrange listings on the exchanges

Continue negotiating and arranging listings on top tier-2, tier-1 exchanges with good volumes.

45. Establish media presence

Work on your initial media presence and public image. Collaborate with a PR agency and get posted in reputable industry publications such as Cointelegraph, Yahoo.finance, Investing.com, etc.

46. Share product updates

Nothing excites the community more than learning about how things are going on the product development and what new features you have to offer.

Make sure to regularly keep the community posted about everything you build, think, or ship.

Never stop the marketing ball rolling. Keep on building value for your investors, customers, and the community.

The day of the launch (IDO) and the day of the listing

The two most important days in your token launch journey are the day of launch (public sale) and the day of listing.

Here are a couple of important rules during that period:

  • Be present 24/7 + community management x1000; be ready. You will get an enormous amount of questions leading up to the ICO. The whole team is basically going to need to be on call 24/7.
  • Build as much hype as possible. Promote your project everywhere, let the whole world know about your upcoming launch and listing.
  • Post something every 30 minutes on your Telegram/Discord. News, announcements, repost existing articles.
  • Get the community to work for you! Create posts on Reddit, Bitcointalk, and other socials and ask your community to upvote/comment on them.
  • Watch out for potential attacks. Shut down the community chat during the moment of launch and listing.
  • Keep sharing the tutorial videos you have created for how to participate. Limit the sources of truth to one place where people find the information they need to contribute.
  • Host the live stream or a voice chat with Q&A before or even during the launch.

Final note: General rules and principles

Here are a few general rules that will help you to be more successful in your ICO:

  • Be fast and responsive. Always react to community questions, concerns, or side events quickly and with concrete actions.
  • Use every situation as an opportunity to build more hype. Even if something didn’t go as planned or you missed the deadline — use this situation to create more content, build more empathy, and share your learnings and next steps with the world.
  • Market listing as much as pre-sale. The job is not done after the token sale is completed. The listing is a more significant day than the sale itself — many token creators forget about it. A token needs to show great performance in price during the listing; otherwise, it can lose a positive momentum, and it will be very hard to bring it back on track.
  • Be honest. Do not try to hide or conceal something from the community. If you messed up somewhere, admit it. If you don’t know something, don’t pretend you do. All the ugly truth always comes up, so you better be transparent from the beginning. In crypto, it’s hard to wash out tainted reputation.
  • Be consistent. Be consistent with your presence and marketing — be there with your community. As well as be consistent with your message and vision — share the same narrative and promote your beliefs. That’s how you build a loyal community of followers.

Conclusion

Conducting a token launch is not an easy task. It involves effective collaboration between many individuals and organizations that has to be carefully planned and organized.

There is a lot of preparation work on a fundamental level to properly research and design things like product concept, business plan, whitepaper, and tokenomics.

After the fundamentals are sorted, project teams need to do a basic project setup in terms of marketing: branding, website, socials, as well as operations: team, advisors, process, legal.

There are just as many activities for the fundraising part — preparing deck and tokenomics, pitching private investors, collaboration with launchpads. Make sure not to forget about the liquidity.

Token creation is usually not a complicated process, but a project team should have the tokenomics and the launch schedule ready.

Finally, the marketing and the community aspects require special attention. Many activities are planned during the pre-ICO, ICO, and post-ICO stages to build a thriving community and a meaningful brand.