Whenever Steve Jobs walked on stage in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, he did not only present — he captured the public’s imagination. In this sense, he was as much a performer as a pitchman. The exact product he was there to introduce — be it the iPod, iPhone, iPad, or any of the other innovations Apple created over the years — did not ultimately matter. He was there to show you that whatever he held in his hand could lead to a happier, better, more creative and fulfilled version of you.
Where Jobs excelled at is the ability to distill this feeling into a single line. He did not sell us on the specs of the iPod. He captured us with the idea of “10,000 songs in your pocket.”
Cryptocurrency leaders would be well-served to learn from the marketing magic of a killer line. Like most other founders in this data-driven era, cryptocurrency leaders tend to obsess over charts, dashboards, and spreadsheets, determined to maximise this day’s float or this month’s downloads.
They lose sight of the bigger picture: Capturing the imagination of our stakeholders should be our biggest priority, because it obviates the need for nearly everything else. When you have them, you have them. A killer line can do that.
You can even see the power of a killer line even in the highest of stakes. When calling on the country to support the space race in a 1962 speech in Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy did not emphasise the geopolitical importance of beating the Soviet Union. Instead, his refrain was “we choose to go to the moon” — a dream that would come to fruition seven years later when Neil Armstrong disembarked from Apollo 11 and bunny hopped onto the lunar surface.
Who would not rally behind a leader who would will you to the stars?
Cryptocurrency leaders need to take note of Amazon, which is managing to skirt the backlash from its most exotic technology with a killer line as well. After nearly a fourteen month closed beta open only to employees, Amazon finally opened Amazon Go — a cashierless convenience store — to the public in Seattle, Washington. Anyone with a Amazon Go app could go into a store, grab what they need, and walk out without ever standing before a register. The catch? Cameras track your every movement — picking an item up, for example, effectively puts it in your virtual cart. One writer from TechCrunch described the feeling as one of “ubiquitous personal surveillance.”
If even tech geeks were against Amazon Go, how could the concept succeed? Amazon termed the Amazon Go experience as “Just Walk Out” shopping, which works perfectly as a killer line: It draws attention away from any uneasiness people may have over being watched and shifts it toward the time you save. Such messaging will be essential whenever Amazon decides to roll out a formal chain of Amazon Go’s or integrate the tech into Whole Foods, the supermarket line it bought in 2017, in positioning it as the future of retail.
I’d argue that because cryptocurrencies are tech-driven (it’s become an industry standard to issue a white paper before anything else), the concentration of domain expertise — programming, blockchain, digital finance, data science, design, and so on — means that killer lines like Amazon Go’s tend to be uncommon.
Our predominant lens is technology, not communications. But more and more companies are invoking a killer line as a refrain for their product or brand. One such example is in Indonesia’s Pundi X, which recently partnered with the FAMA Group in Hong Kong to enable customers to purchase from several of their partner restaurants — the Hive Cafe, SUPAFOOD, Locofama, and Sohofama — with cryptocurrency.
These transactions were powered by the Pundi X POS device, which accepted BTC, NPXS, ADI, and other cryptocurrencies. In a promotion at RISE, Pundi X distributed X Pass cards, which were a physical card wallet for digital currencies, that recipients could then use to buy food and drinks at FAMA Group restaurants which had the Pundi X POS device.
For any person who has ever bought cryptocurrency, one could assume that the process, one of the first to marry digital currencies with a point-of-sale device at brick-and-mortar locations, would be complicated. But the company states that it wants to lower the technical threshold for cryptocurrency transactions to the point that it’s “as easy as buying a bottle of water.” And how’s that for a killer line? Few would argue that buying a bottle of water is difficult, or that this goal is not worthwhile for cryptocurrency companies often belabored by complex processes. It’s this kind of welcoming tone that will help mainstream cryptocurrency.
Killer lines work because they are more they just catchy copy — their products deliver
You could fit 10,000 songs comfortably onto your iPod. You can just walk out of an Amazon Go with a bagful of groceries. And by all reports so far, transacting via the Pundi X POS device is as easy as buying a bottle of water.
It turns out that analogies like these are a popular source of killer lines for other cryptocurrency companies, often referencing household names – the Winklevoss twins have referred to their company Gemini as the “Nasdaq of Bitcoin,” while Coinalytics CEO Fabio Federici likes to call his company the “Bloomberg of Bitcoin.” For how much on the bleeding edge of technology most cryptocurrency companies are, this strategy is a simple but brilliant one: drawing on the familiar to demystify the new.
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