I think most would agree marketing has not been one of Steem's strong suits.
I think most would also agree that Steem (desparately) needs more users.
And I am guessing most would likely agree that one tried and tested way of getting more users is to do Marketing.
These assertions are not of course in any way new.
We have been hearing these sentiments for well over a year on Steem.
Is now the time to act?
The Story so far
There have been some small efforts of marketing Steem, but so far these have been rather piece-meal, under resourced, and uncoordinated.
Steemit Inc has put out a limited number of press releases, which particularly recently, have gained some media coverage. But their resources are limited.
The marketing baton has therefore has been passed over to the community and individual apps.
Community led marketing of Steem itself has been limited to a number of adhoc efforts primarily on Twitter and to a lesser degree on Reddit and Quora. In the past Jerry Banfield did put out some advertising on Facebook, but that was only for a limited period.
There is certainly some appetite in the community to do marketing, but limited resources, funding, skills, and direction have hampered progress to date.
The Steem Proposal System
The Steem Proposal System now presents an opportunity not available before. The SPS currently has over 2400 SBD (US$ 1880) to distribute per day. At present only a third of this is being given out to projects.
So far the SPS has given out over 41,000 SBD, but none of that has gone to any outward marketing projects.
There are not at present any obvious or significant marketing projects being put to the SPS.
Would an option therefore be to fast-track and outsource the marketing of Steem to a professional PR and marketing company?
While the SPS funding might not support a world leading agency, taking say just a third of the SPS budget - $600 per day - certainly would be sufficient to retain a decent middle weight company.
I am sure at this point some will object and say that only Steemians know enough about Steem to market it.
I would disagree. You go to experts when you need experts to do an expert job.
We could benefit greatly from a fresh pair of professional eyes that can look at Steem with a wordly view, unhampered by Steem politics and tribalism.
What would be the process?
Agree a brief and a budget to put out to interested agencies.
Invite expressions of interest and make a short list.
Ask the shortlisted agencies to present their ideas and plans.
Select the winning agency.
Award an initial contract of say 6 months, with possibly a 3 month break point.
Require the winning agency to attend a one-hour progress update and Q & A session every two weeks hosted by MSP Waves or the Ramble.
Review progress every 3 months to determine if the contract is continued.
What might be included in the brief for the first 3 / 6 months
A discovery period of 2 weeks that would include one or two community forums, and interviews with key players.
A requirement for a rolling program of press releases of at least 1 or 2 per week.
The preparation and execution of a social media plan.
The preparation and execution of an advertising campaign at various budget levels.
Attendance at fortnightly update sessions, and quarterly reviews.
I would suggest a SPS proposal for 800 SBD per day for an initial 6 month period. This would provide for a budget to the marketing agency of say $450 per day, or $13,500 per month, and allow some contingency for any non SPS funded periods and/or additional advertising campaign costs.
There is a risk that the marketing agency may fail to deliver, but the contract would include clear performance targets. If the agency fails to meet these then the contract an be terminated.
The bigger risk will be the mechanism of funding via the SPS. If a contract is commenced and the proposal then drops out of the SPS 'funding zone' for any length of time this would present a problem.
To mitigate this one route would be to start the proposal for say a month before commencing a contract with an agency. It would be very useful if a grouping of major stakeholders would make an open commitment to supporting the proposal for at least 3 months.
How to take this forward
The starting point will be who can, should or will take this forward?
Anyone could submit a proposal to the SPS, but it will carry more weight if it comes from the Steem Foundation, or a grouping of bigger stakeholders or witnesses.
The whole project, particularly in terms of the budgets involved needs more discussion and refinement, but this post is really just to throw the idea up in the air to see if anyone wants to catch it...
[ graphic by @pennsif ]