[Proposal] Balancer Academy - Marketing Via New User Education

BALANCER ACADEMY PROPOSAL

Synopsis

We aim to build Balancer.Academy to teach new users about De-Fi and create public awareness for the Balancer protocol through education.

Why?

Consumer Education is the most powerful form of marketing for projects at the cutting edge of technology. With the Total Locked Value (TLV) of assets crossing $10B, De-Fi has emerged as the major hotspot of all Blockchain activity.

In capital markets, users follow liquidity and vice versa. With AMMs enabling (nearly) permission-less listings, liquidity providers directly profit by supplying liquidity through their portfolio. This disrupts the traditional finance model where users pay Fund managers to maintain their portfolios instead of being paid for it (through fees).

However, there is very little awareness of how it works beyond a small subset in the crypto community. Despite better UX, non-custodial transactions and other obvious advantages, De-Fi projects continue to depend on Ce-Fi businesses for new user growth, largely due to the lack of their own processes to onboard and educate new users.

With Balancer Academy, we want to build and scale up an Edtech platform that can deliver De-Fi education to users across the world. This would not only help grow the market for AMMs and De-Fi, but also build a powerful engine of growth to facilitate informed user growth for the Balancer project.

Education based Marketing - A successful model

A great example of education based marketing is implemented by Zerodha, a South Asian Stock-investing Decacorn.

Based on the robinhood exchange model, it relied heavily on consumer education as a powerful lead acquisition strategy to grow at an astronomical pace. Given the lack of financial literacy amongst ordinary users across South Asia, it’s consumer education portal varsity has proven to be very popular, gaining 2.5M page views a month, without much advertising.

It has also been covered very favourably in the media which has further strengthened the user acquisition funnel.

Here is an example of their media coverage with their education focused marketing covered :

In the blockchain space, Binance has led the pack on consumer education through their Research & Education Academy. Recently, Coinmarketcap (also Binance) has launched a new education product called Alexandria to help it’s vast userbase learn about cryptocurrencies and onboarding to Binance.

What?

We will create, populate and extensively market an educational platform on Balancer dot Academy. This platform will be entirely focused on Open source De-Fi education. This project will seek to promote Balancer through Education-focused marketing.

While there are a few sources of content on Balancer (Youtube/Medium), most of them are scattered across platforms, with a high density of technical jargon. To leverage content for new user acquisition, it is important to be simple and structured - so ordinary users can learn without being daunted by the complexity of it all. Creating simple to understand will be our focus.

PHASE 1 :

The first phase of the project will last 6 to 8 Weeks and will focus on Content & Outreach.

1. Content Bank Creation - We will create a bank of initial content about De-Fi using Balancer examples. These articles will cover important aspects of De-Fi and Balancer like liquidity mining, impermanent loss, multi-asset pool and permissionless trading for users. We have an initial list of topics that new users will care the most about.

In the first build-up phase of this proposal, we will work on building a content bank consisting of easy-to-understand articles that explain the basics of De-Fi to new users.

2. Custom Animated Video - We will create a 60-90 second custom-animated video about the Balancer Academy to explain/promote the platform across social channels. The video will be high-quality and custom scripted with a voiceover.

3. Informational Book- We will also create a short, periodically updated PDF book on the essential concepts of AMMs and De-Fi. A number of users prefer to read in a text format and this book will cater to that audience. This book will be free to download on Balancer.academy and other channels, and will serve as an important tool to promote the platform.

Outreach Strategy : Marketing & PR

Promoting Balancer dot academy is an critical aspect of this proposal since engagement is central to its overall impact & success.

Our strategy to build this outreach will revolve around 3 major aspects :

1. SEO based acquisition - We will reverse engineer the platform to focus on high volume search keywords that users look for to ensure Balancer dot academy starts receiving organic traffic from search engines. This is the most sustainable form of traffic generation as direct marketing has poor ROI. We see this as a long term, low cost - high impact strategy to gain followers for balancer.academy.

2. Social Media Outreach - We will build and maintain channels on Reddit and Twitter to promote the Balancer.academy education platform to new users across the board. We will collaborate with the Balancer social media team (which has a sizeable twitter following) for onboarding early adopters.

3. Extensive PR - We will promote Balancer dot academy extensively through media by working with journalists and crypto blog platforms to spread the word. A large of media organizations in the traditional finance space loves to write about crypto-currencies and new development. We will reach out to these outlets to cover balancer academy.

When?

PHASE 1

October- 2020

Market Research on Strategy - Done
Platform Selection / Basic Customization - Done

November - December 2020:

Grant Amount Requested USDC $8,000 + 1000 BAL (as vested)

PHASE 2 : Future Roadmap

*Subject to Community Feedback

  • Live educational Workshops
  • Content Translation to multiple languages (Spanish / Mandarin)
  • Developer Education to increase technical talent pipeline.
  • Project Integrations and Use-case building

Where?

The project will be open-source and is publicly available at Balancer dot Academy

Who?

The project will be executed by a team of 2, working on different aspects of the project. More professionals will be hired on a freelance basis for scripting, voiceover, animations and content building/editing.

The team will be led by Gaurav Gupta, a marketing specialist with a decade of experience building growth for innovative digital businesses. His notable growth projects include Edtech companies like Labster (Raised $20M), where he led efforts to sign up universities and students for VR Education Courses. Some of his other clients include Bridallive (Shopify for the wedding retail industry) and Philips Netherlands.

He has worked extensively with developers as a part of his stint with Squads, a platform to assemble technology teams for software projects across Europe.

He also led various marketing projects for the Dash Treasury for the last two years - including efforts to sign up freelancers to use crypto payments, making business integrations with Dapps and the Dash Developer Advocacy program - an initiative to sign up blockchain developers worldwide to work on real-use cases on the Dash Blockchain.

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Posting some links here due to limitations on the initial post.

Coinmarketcap Alexandria - https://coinmarketcap.com/alexandria/

Zerodha Varsity(Similar Concept) - https://zerodha.com/varsity/

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The CMC one is pretty cool. I guess maybe a bit more insight into the actual content would be helpful. Given content is a never ending game how much is going to be delivered with the grant and where does it end? Do we get 5 articles or do we get 50 articles etc.

From memory going rate for a writer is circa 12-15c per word, and if you take an avg article of 800 words we’re looking at say $100 per article. So with current prices at ~$10 per BAL the ask is 18k so 180 articles or thereabouts?

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Balancer Academy is really about building a userbase for balancer through education.

It would be trivial to write lots and lots of content & articles and leave it at that.
Don’t think that would have much of an impact without user distribution.

Our focus is on building outreach to users as much as it is on creating content.

Specifically for the text content part though, we are planning to write concise and easy to understand modules.
4-6 Modules with 3–5 segments each with some illustrations on De-Fi, Balancer and AMM.
I would favour doing this in batch iterations rather than releasing piecemeal content. Once we get this right and build traction, we could build upon this further.

De-Fi is really niche and I think user education can not only build the market but also really move the needle on growth.

Love it. Definitely a needed initiative.

I think beyond explaining liquidity pools and impermanent loss (I believe these topics have had decent coverage around the web), explaining smart pools and their use cases should be a high priority. This area is very poorly understood by the public and is Balancer’s most unique differentiator IMO. It would be valuable to the ecosystem to have educational content about LBPs, managed index funds (ie PieDAO), smart treasuries, swing trading pools, etc.

Will the content bank consist of existing content around the web that does a good job of covering key topics?

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We should be able to cover most of the topics you mentioned in the first phase in addition to the basic ones. Smart pools, swing trading pools etc are priority areas and definitely need better explanation. Once we catch up with all the topics, the idea would be to keep updating the platform with explanations of new concepts that will inevitably keep coming.

We want to write the content from scratch in a really simple format using elementary examples.
Eg. Using apples, watermelons and grapes to explain a smart liquidity pool. Or perhaps the difference between Uniswap and Balancer. We can certainly add a section that links out to related content for further reading on a specific topic.

Have you guys written any similar content in the past (including stuff that isn’t about Balancer)? Would be great to get a feel for the style you’re planning to use and how you guys approach explaining complex concepts in a simple way (tough task!)

Here are a couple of public examples that I can share.

a) This is a remittance guide we made about Remitting money using Crypto.

b) We created a custom animated video course to explain how freelancers can use crypto to transact. ~1M Views, 1500 Targeted Freelancer Signups on a platform.

Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CfXOs3o2Hc

Channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeVQi20hLE7ahFfC_BrSoeg?view_as=subscriber

I 100% think this is needed too. Potentially to make it more palatable can take a similar approach to how we did the analytics grant and start with a small milestone so everyone in the community can get a feel for how it will look/feel and then be comfortable with more work?

Given it’s content instead of development I suspect you could set a much smaller milestone and phase and then go big in the next one

In my past experience, micro - milestoning growth projects beyond a minimum size leads to project gestation periods going up and dissipation of energy. Resources for tasks tend get deployed serially rather than in parallel and it becomes difficult to demonstrate potential without the pieces coming together.

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@Blocknext Thanks for sharing your past work. I thought the explainer videos were good.

How do you feel about starting with one written piece of content, on an agreed-upon topic? I think it would be valuable for the community to see a demonstration of your grasp of the concepts and your skills in expressing them clearly to a wide audience. That’s tough to do and I don’t think we should take that part for granted.

We can set a rate of 10 cents per word, limit of 2k words for this trial article. If your project is approved for a grant, this article would become part of the overall project, based on the terms of the project. If not approved (or if for whatever reason you don’t move forward with the project), you’d receive a BAL grant (liquid, not vested) for this article, based on this rate.

Educational content creation is a really important initiative for the Balancer community and we want to get it right. A few people have already reached out with proposals to provide this service. I think the community should have the opportunity to evaluate content quality and provide feedback to make the best informed decision with regard to signing on for a big project.

Looking forward to feedback from any community members on these thoughts.

@immutbl . We were researching a couple of topics anyhow so we’ll be happy put out a piece. A grant for this won’t be necessary.

Decentralized Portfolio management is an important use case for balancer which distinguishes it from other AMM protocols. We would be happy to cover this unless there is some other topic that the community would like to see.

This actually leads me to step back and ask a more high level question- how would you define your target audience?

Who are they and where do they fit within the Balancer ecosystem? How do you anticipate the acquisition of these users impacting the protocol (ie increasing liquidity, building trade volume, developing applications)?

Who are the most crucial users for this project to be targeting and why?

Thank you for your questions.

We feel this endeavour is to really discover a new audience for balancer rather than catering to a specific niche. The broad audience we have in mind is anyone who wants to learn about de-fi and programmable liquidity with a focus on finance professionals.

Here are some reasons why :-

  1. Balancer is fundamentally a De-Fi building block for which many use cases are yet to be discovered. New Ideas will come from different directions so the content must cover all the fundamentals. Real estate, gaming & price discovery - there are many things possible. We want everyone to be able understand De-Fi and AMMs so they can come up with their own use cases and find a place in the ecosystem. This will likely include (but not limited to) students, developers, finance professional & crypto traders.

  2. Even within the fast growing de-fi space, the understanding of core concepts is shallow at best. Current users like investors and even developers loathe to admit that they don’t really understand how things work. We want balancer academy to work for these set of users as well and help them develop a deeper conceptual understanding.

  3. Balancer is seeing only about 700 unique people transacting each week, so there is a need to work on widening informed awareness. The idea is help users make an informed choice and explain how the technology works. Increased trade volume and liquidity is going to be a second order consequence of this. With more data and feedback, we suspect it will also be easier to better adapt the product to users.

  4. Since the first prominent cases are heavily finance oriented, our hypothesis is that professionals working in investments or finance will find AMMs easy to relate to. Index Funds (Public Pools), Hedge Funds (Private Pools) and Mutual Funds (Smart Pools) are almost entirely analogous but with a much bigger suite of features available in De-Fi. We feel educational content is the best way to reach out to them, since otherwise, communications are heavily regulated in this industry. This would be an area of focus for us.

With a few iterations, it would get progressively simpler to define and sub-segment the audience, especially after taking user feedback on board.

I think educational videos would be good doing a weekly series of videos and having a full educational platform to learn would be another bonus and provide that easy learning that new users need.

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Sorry for the delay.

^ Not sure what you’re referring to here. Explain?

Do you think the various audiences you’ve mentioned (students, developers, finance pro’s, crypto traders) can be reached effectively together at once or do they need to be targeted separately?

What are some topics that you think your audience needs to learn about the most?

These were examples of some use cases for balancer that haven’t yet been widely implemented/explored. Real Estate (eg Blockchain REITS), Price Discovery ( eg Buyback Machines, Continuous Token Issuance) & Gaming ( Eg. Building De-fi Games like Drugwars on Balancer).

The proposed academy will help new users understand how balancer works which would not only enable informed participation in the ecosystem but would also enable developers and entrepreneurs to bridge the knowledge gap and build on balancer.

Given prevailing market conditions, with a massive influx of new users - it has to be a combination of both the approaches ie Attracting a general audience and campaigns to build outreach to special groups.

Sliced in terms of push and pull, the pull would essentially comprise of building powerful SEO, organic PR and funnel optimisation to attract and engage an inbound audience without constant need for ad spends. The push would focus on PR, leveraging existing media channels & collaborating with other content creators & influencers to onboard more users.

We think it is important to build a comprehensive repository over time. Most topics have been widely covered but in many bits in pieces - which can be make it difficult for new users to get a full grasp of the concepts. Topics like Smart Pools, Public Pools, Explaining how continuous token issuance can work, Idea Sketches eg Deconstructing and explaining implementations like Pie DAO, Ocean Protocol etc might see significant interest.