Scam or the future? No matter what you think of blockchains and cryptocurrencies it’s where you’ll find the hype in tech right now. If you’ve got the expertise there’s money to be made and interesting challenges to overcome. My client had the technical chops needed to jump on the blockchain hype train. Choo choo! 🚂
This is a risky market though. My client wanted to insulate itself from market volatility as much as possible. Building dApps or setting up a new protocol was off the table too. They’re both big investments of time and engineering resources.
🚨 Cliche alert: couldn’t they sell the shovels to fuel the gold rush? 🚨
After working through some ideas they settled on setting up a mining pool on one of the better known currencies. Mining pools aren’t sexy, they’re not at the bleeding edge, nor are they instantly huge earners. But they’re relatively insualted from market movements and take only a small amount of engineering resource to set up.
My task was to create an identity for a pool that resonated with miners, let them know we were in business, and build the pool’s reputation.
I approached this product like any other by following a go-to-market process:
- Market and customer research to identify underserved areas and pain points
- Jobs customers need to complete and general themes
- User personas based on jobs and themes
- Positioning, messaging, value proposition
- Launch and marketing plan
I already had some domain knowledge so I knew from the off where to find existing mining pools and miners.
Market research entailed:
- Current state of mining pools
- Technical comparison of pools, focusing on hashrate
- Messaging overview of large, medium, and small pools
This gave me a broad overview of the mining pool market, the market requirements for hashing rate, average fees, and how existing pools presented themselves to potential miners.
Customer research was trickier because this is an extremely challenging audience to engage. Anonymity is important to them and they’re sceptical of anything resembling marketing. As such, surveys and interviews weren’t the best approach.
But there are strong cryptocurrency communities that offer excellent opportunies for customer research.
Customer research entailed:
- Scouring relevant subreddits (where a majority of miners congregate) and their wikis for problems faced by miners
- Joining Telegram groups and Slack communities dedicated to mining the currency and watching for pain points
- Actively asking questions of the community about mining-related issues
This research left me with a comprehensive view of miners, their current problems, and problems with the wider currency and protocol ecosystem.
Jobs, themes, and personas
Why do people mine this currency? To make money of course 💸
But there are also many nuances to why people mine and what they want from their mining pool. A few key themes reoccurred across the research:
- Centralization of the blockchain was a pressing concern for a majority of the mining community, many of whom are advocates of decentralization (a more centralized network means more concentrated hashing power making it harder for small miners to find blocks, thus reducing income)
- Uptime and stability of many pools were patchy at best
- Security and anonymity for miners wasn’t always valued by existing pools
- Miners don’t trust many pools, even some of the biggest, due to rampant crookedness and siphoning off of miner profits
A compelling overarching job-to-be-done for the mining pool emerged:
When I mine XMR I want to contribute to the overall health of the network while earning a reliable income and remaining anonymous.
To inform messaging I broke this job down into smaller jobs and created user personas based around them.
With personas in hand I devised positioning, messaging, and value propositions for each persona. The messaging:
- Fostered trust by providing information about the backers of the pool
- Communicated the level of expertise and infrastructure behind the pool (with a focus on hashrates and uptime live from the pool)
- Closed the gap between pool and miners by building a Telegram community
- Introduced a bug bounty to build an ongoing relationship with miners and the pool