Campfires and NFTs


Eagle, CO

Last updated on Oct 5, 2021

Posted on Oct 5, 2021

I've been a tech entrepreneur for 32 years now. I've been in the same business for 32 years. I started my 2nd company in 2002. Knock on wood (my head), we're at the doorstep of another great app.

Campfires are a great metaphor for tech marketing and product development.

I grew up in the Colorado mountains. I've sat around thousands of campfires.

When I was young and impatient I tried to start campfires with gasoline. The fire would start, but it'd always burn out after a few minutes.

Then my dad showed me how to start a fire the right way. He taught me how to start a raging campfire with just one match.

First, you roll up balls of newspaper. Then you put twigs (kindling) around the newspaper in a pyramid, so the fire has air. Light the paper. The paper burns, the kindling catches fire. Then add slightly bigger kindling – but not too big or they won't catch fire - because the base of the fire isn't strong enough. Once the bigger kindling catches fire, it's time to add one or two small pieces of wood, again, being careful to allow the fire to breathe. Now add a log. Then another log.

If you've started a fire the right way you can build a raging fire. A fire that burns through the night, with coals still hot in the morning. A fire that's not easy to put out.

Twitter raids and the like remind me of trying to start a campfire with gasoline. I think they're gimmickry, I think the market sees them as being insincere. I view the founders as being impatient, I think they haven't done the work to make something great.

In all my years when I tried to jumpstart a product, took shortcuts, didn't do the hard work to learn my customers problems, I failed.

The same goes for when I tried carpet bombing the market with ads, did giveaways or referral campaigns. These tactics would always produce some customers. Just not the customers I wanted.

They'd bring customers who didn't have the right use case for our product, who came for all the wrong reasons. They signed up because they were curious, because of someone's faux enthusiasm, or because it was free. The customers that came to us were a PITA, often they did chargebacks.

Taking shortcuts and marketing gimmickry never worked. Because I was starting a campfire with gasoline.

In NFT world, a parallel is what OhhShiny tweeted today:

My experience has been that when I bought into NFTs because of Twitter hype, or I was copy buying, I lost ETH. The project was either a rug pull or it never went anywhere. I bought into a campfire started with gasoline.

But when I slowed down, asked around, asked questions, spent time in the project's Discord looking around and getting a feel for the community to see if this was a project I wanted to spend time in, it was the opposite. The floor didn't matter, because I was in a project I enjoyed. I bought into a campfire started with newspaper and kindling, the fire was strong.

Back to my product development and marketing.

When I took the time to carefully learn what my customers wanted, when I built a product that solved their burning problems, I always succeeded. I made a few killer apps.

When I dropped the gimmickry I got customers I wanted. Because I left it up to them to tell our story. When you leave it up to your customers to tell your story, that's the most sincere and authentic marketing there is. You can't buy marketing this good. Because no one can sell your product as good as your customer. Customers you want tell more customers you want.

If you've done the work and taken the time to build something that's truly great, your customers will do the rest. You've built a campfire the right way.

Back to NFTs.

NFT projects done right attract buyers who want to be there. Those buyers then tell others - referrals. Don't confuse a referral with shilling. A referral is usually understated. If it's a tweet, the tweet generally won't have anything to do with price.

Look for projects with a history. Projects that aren't doing Twitter raids and gimmickry, that aren't being pumped – SloMo. Projects you enjoy being part of, who leave it up to their buyers to tell their story.

FOMO? It's not a thing. Tesla's stock opened at $17. It was flat for a couple years. If you bought in at $200 you made lotsa money. If a project is strong, whatever price you buy in at won't matter.

A project done right is a raging campfire. The buyers stick around because they want to be there. It's hard to put out, it has a long runway.

And it's pure joy to sit around a raging campfire.

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