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Some Unexpected B2B Marketing Lessons From NFTs & Sneakers

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Over the last few months, I’ve decided to intentionally get more curious about subcultures on the internet.

I’m very active on Twitter and use it daily. The same way there’s sub communities on Twitter (not formally, but they exist) like Crypto Twitter, Finance Twitter, Real Estate Twitter, Music Twitter, Pop Culture Twitter, etc… There’s little corners of the internet where people gather around shared interests in things that the rest of mainstream culture doesn’t always pay attention to.

As of late, two of those subcultures that I’ve decided to intentionally immerse myself in are sneaker culture & NFT culture.

I’ve never been a sneakerhead. I’ve never owned a pair of Jordans. And my choice for sneakers have always been pretty much the same…

… Whatever fits (and of course a pair of classic Reebok Pumps).

Over the course of this immersion into the world of sneakers and NFTs, I’ve noticed a lot of things that feel applicable to the world of B2B but are often ignored.

In this email, I’m not going to be giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the way another SaaS company operates their growth engine. I’m not going to give you an analytical look at how a brand was able to build their backlink empire.

Instead, I want to talk about some of the marketing brilliance being applied in the world of sneakers and NFTs and how it can be applied to our world of B2B and SaaS.

Buckle up… Some of these ideas might seem a bit out there but I’m confident that if applied appropriately, they can give a B2B brand the opportunity to finally stand out amongst their competitors.

Let’s get to it…
BUT… Before we do. You should know that this blog post was originally sent to thousands of B2B & SaaS marketers days before it went live on Foundation Labs. That’s right. Your competitors already read this. No sweat. You can make sure you never miss insights like this by subscribing to our newsletter today. 
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

1) EMBRACE THE PRODUCT / FEATURE DROP

Drops are changing the way consumers buy.

It’s essentially when a brand decides that they’re going to launch/make a product available at a certain time for a limited amount of people. In the NFT world, this has been happening with brands like NBA Top Shot where they will announce on social media that they’re releasing a new ‘pack’ of moments and people can click a link to get in the queue to buy.

Every single drop has sold out so far…

The hype surrounding these drops is REAL.

Last week, NBA Top Shot announced a drop was going to be happening at 1PM, but due to the amount of traffic they were generating — the drop had to be pushed 4 hours later. People on the other side of the globe were sitting on their computers waiting for the drop from 1AM to 5AM waiting for this thing.

That dedication is impressive.

In the world of Sneakers; the same thing happens. Companies like Shoe Palace will announce that they have a new shoe available for sale….

And in seconds…

It’s gone.

This phenomena shows the power of creating buzz around a product and adding a splash of scarcity.

There’s only 30,000 packs on Top Shot.
There’s only 30,000 Air Jordan’s available in the world.

This scarcity creates a level of demand that makes people sit on their computers for hours hoping that they’ll get access to the product. B2B brands can do this too…

How? Here’s the idea…

You create a piece of content that is ridiculously valuable.

It could be a series of interviews with experts in your niche. It could be a private event with a key influencer in your niche talking about a specific topic. It could be a research report that brands would typically pay thousands for.

Whatever it is, create something with RIDICULOUS value…

… But don’t just release it to everyone.

Instead, you take a page out of NBA Top Shot and the sneaker culture’s playbook and offer it only to the first 2,000 people who sign up & pre-order to get it. Or you only offer it to the next 1,000 people who sign up for your product.

The angles you could take here are endless.

But the key elements are: (1) creating scarcity and (2) making them give you something of value in exchange for the value that you’re providing back.

2) DON’T THINK YOU’RE TOO GOOD FOR A CONTEST

One other interesting marketing play that I’ve started to see embraced in both the NFT and Sneaker world is the power of contests & raffles.

It’s a simple idea that’s been used for decades but is rarely leveraged in B2B or SaaS. It’s the idea of getting your audience to do a few simple things in exchange for being entered to win something they really want.

On Instagram, there are a handful of accounts that run contests where they giveaway NFTs (like NBA Top Shot Moments) to people who enter a draw.

How do you enter the draw? You follow their Instagram. Like the photo. And tag one of your friends in the comments.

Here’s one that I recently came across:

Smart right?

This same thinking / strategy happens in sneaker culture.

In sneaker culture, there’s a lot of different types of raffles. There are Raffles like the NBA Top Shot one above where you tag some friends, like a post and follow an account for entry. These contests typically give you the sneaker for free… But some of the raffles are much more sophisticated.

In some, people enter the draw by downloading an app created by the raffle maker. That app then asks the user to submit their email / first name / last name and add their credit card. The credit card is requested because that user is going to be charged retail value for the sneaker they’re hoping to win as a part of the raffle.

So the net cost for the raffle maker is zero… But they’re able to get tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people to download their app and give their info.

How does this work in B2B and SaaS?

It sounds like a great pre-launch strategy to me.

Create a raffle experience prior to going live with your product (or new feature) that requires people to sign up or do things in advance to get access. The people who actually get access to the product or feature first are the one’s who “win” the raffle.

This gamified experience could be improved just a bit more by incentivizing your audience to share on social, FWD an email, etc… all for more entries in the raffle for access to your product.

And it could also apply to events. Imagine entering a raffle for the chance to go to an all expenses paid marketing conference in Bali (post-pandemic) with 200 other executives from your niche. I have a feeling the hype would be real and the number of applicants might even break your website.

Just like many of these NFT drops and sneaker drops have done to the sites they live on…

I’ve said it before.

I’ll say it again.

B2B. Does. Not. Have To Be. Boring.

It WILL be boring if you constantly do the same old things your competition does and never pop your head up to see what’s going on outside of our bubble. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s definitely important.

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