What Brand Marketing Can and Can’t Do in Web3: Ryan Wyatt
As president of Polygon Labs from 2022 to 2023, Ryan Wyatt may have had the toughest job in web3 at that time: shifting public perception of crypto and attracting brand names to Polygon in the midst of a bear market.
How did Ryan, the former head of gaming at YouTube, use brand marketing to traverse choppy crypto waters?
In a special talk for the inaugural Variant Founder Fellowship cohort, Ryan explained the advantages and pitfalls of pursuing partnerships, when early-stage founders can incorporate them into a go-to-market strategy, and how to get on people’s radar.
Below the video, check out our biggest takeaways from his talk.
Partner marketing isn’t actually ideal for early-stage startups.
Pursuing partnerships with big names may sound like the ideal way to go to market. It did wonders for Polygon’s name recognition. But Ryan also warns, “The idea of partner marketing is adding fuel to the fire, it’s not jump-starting something.” It requires that you already have a fire (the good kind), as well as time and money—resources that are in short supply at early-stage companies. Get traction first. (Hear Ryan share when Polygon decided it was time to use partner marketing at 30:00.)
Build your brand by being persistent.
To get noticed by big names as an early-stage company, you have to bring the energy. “You’ll really need to pound the pavement” and “be relentless” to get on somebody’s radar, says Ryan. “Have a lot of conviction and bug people.” (Learn the tactics other projects successfully utilized to get on Polygon’s radar at 20:00.)
Balance the long-term and short-term for partner launches.
Web3 is all about decentralization. Thus, Ryan says, “The success of the company is you not being involved in it anymore.” In practice, that can mean not relying on internal contributor groups to work with enterprise partners. If you’re pulling engineers away from their core tasks, “you just are kicking the can down the road on your product roadmap.” Instead: look to third parties to implement, which seeds your ecosystem in the process. (Learn how Polygon balanced brand partnerships with its roadmap at 56:35.)
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Variant is an investor in Polygon.