What in the world is Web3? If you ask SuperLayer Vice-President of Marketing Tony Pham, it's mostly about turning the you and me of digital creation into a "we."
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"The promise of Web3," he says, "is how does it become less about you on one side and I’m on the other....Now it’s, we’re all in this together, we’re all co-creating it. We’re now able to not just utilize communities as an extension of marketing, but identify the people who are ready, excited, and interested about what it is that we have to offer, and genuinely and authentically collaborate with them as equal stakeholders."
In Episode 523 of Marketing Smarts, recorded at the Boston's B2B Forum in October, Tony spends much of his session with host George B. Thomas giving the audience entry points into the concept of Web3 to make it seem less intimidating. He insists marketers may be halfway there already, in a stage he calls Web2.5.
Take loyalty programs, for example: "We're starting to see folks like Starbucks show us how to do it in a Web 2.5 way. You can take the idea of points, convert them into cryptocurrency, tokens, NFTs, and give people a lot of the same benefits, whether it's special access, bonuses, whatever it may be."
Web3 is a natural place for marketers to be, Tony says, because we're the ones always innovating and exploring possibilities. "We don't want to be chasing after [audiences]; we want to be there and welcoming them," he explains.
In a mic drop moment, Tony says any organization choosing to venture into Web3 will get a lot of attention, both from their customers and from PR. So, why wait?
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George Thomas: I'm super excited for the episode that you're getting a chance to listen in to. This interview happened live at our hybrid B2B Forum event. I got to sit on the main stage and interview Tony Pham about Web3 technologies, B2B marketers moving forward, and all sorts of great information.
Tony Pham is currently the vice-president of marketing at SuperLayer, a Web3 and crypto venture studio. Tony began his career in Silicon Valley by running product marketing at Slide. After Slide, he was the first VP of marketing at Life 360, a popular safety app used by over 35,000,000 monthly active users around the world. Tony is recognized as an industry leader, having won a Webby Award and a Data-Driven CMO Growth Award. Outside of work, Tony teaches meditation and compassion classes at Tibet House US.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a good one. Make sure that you have your notepad, iPad, or anything to write notes down ready. Without further ado, Marketing Smarts listeners, let's get into the interview.
I don't know where you folks like to hang out. You could imagine we're at a library or a bar or a stage, wherever you want to imagine, but we're going to have a good conversation. The reason I ask the question to begin with, and Tony, did you like the response, by the way, how many are Web3 masters?
Tony Pham: I appreciated it.
George: I really feel like this is another conversation Paul had yesterday where there's this chasm, this canyon of knowledge, and there's this mindset around I don't want to, I don't want to learn something else, why is the world changing so fast. Tony's goal and my goal today for this session is to get you less of the mentality of a canyon that you have to treacherously go across and maybe you realize that it's a creek that you have to step over, it's things that you might potentially be almost doing and really maybe just a mindset or toolsets.
Tony, let's start at the very beginning. What in God's name is Web3?
Tony: I appreciate that we're just getting into it. A helpful frame of reference may be that Web 1.0 was just reading only. We remember Geocities and pages like that where you really couldn't do much. Web 2.0 was then we would write, we were getting into social networks, blogging, there's more communication. Web3 brings us into read, write, own, where everybody who is contributing and participating is a stakeholder now. Web3 can involve things such as cryptocurrency, NFTs, DAOs, there's a whole range of things.
George: So, it's a whole range of things, which I think kind of paints the picture of why it might be a canyon. I don't necessarily know if everybody in the audience needs to pay attention to everything, but there are definitely things that they need to pay attention to. I know that there are probably some people out there, and maybe a guy sitting in a blue seat on a stage, that are like what would you say to the people that say Web3 is a buzzword, or it's something like a passing fad, much like social media?
Tony: I'm glad we're here in this audience of marketers because we all remember that social media was just that gust in the wind that never really materialized. I think that exactly, we don't want to be caught up in the resistance and the stubbornness of I'm just going to stick my head in the sand and hope that Web3 goes away, because it's not. A lot of companies and businesses are investing a ton of information and resources into it.
I really encourage, welcome, and invite everybody to just keep an open mind. The great thing about Web3 is that it's so new, we're all learning together. I'm still learning.
George: Education is fun, and it's so easy. Tony, we had a chance to talk before we sat on the stage, and it was a great talk. You said something during the talk and it was like you flashed right past it. I was like, "Whoa, wait. Let's back up a second. What did you mean by that?" I think it's going to be really helpful for the marketers in the room.
I don't know if it's a phrase that's out there or if you made it up. You started to talk about Web 2.5, which I immediately in my brain to there's a bridge over the canyon. When you think about this thing or this topic of Web 2.5 versus just going from 2.0 to 3.0, maybe talk to the audience about that a little bit.
Tony: Happy to. Web 2.5, from my perspective, is where we are today. We're taking existing Web 2.0 platforms and tools and we're moving in the direction of decentralization and all aspects of Web3.
One example of Web 2.5 would be OpenSea. For those that aren't familiar, it's a marketplace for NFTs. You're taking a pretty Web 2.0 idea, a marketplace similar to eBay, and you're starting to incorporate elements and tools such as MetaMask, cryptocurrency, to usher people into the direction of Web3.
Another example of Web 2.5 would be associating an NFT with a physical good that already exists. That's why we're seeing a lot of brands starting there.
George: I know one of the things to hit home for me, especially since we're in Boston, is you also used the example of loyalty points. My Dunkin' Donuts loyalty points are on point. When you think of loyalty points, because I think a lot of people can get behind that, maybe even share that example with the audience.
Tony: If we think about this idea of points, which has been around for a minute now, we can also bring that into Web3. We're starting to see folks like Starbucks show us how to do it in a Web 2.5 way. You can take the idea of points, convert them into cryptocurrency, tokens, NFTs, and give people a lot of the same benefits, whether it's special access, bonuses, whatever it may be. One way to think about it is that Web3 gives us this new really powerful platform in which to already be doing the things that we are.
George: We've gone from Web 2.0 to 2.5, so let's get into Web3 a little bit more. Why have we finally reached a point in the ecosystem where companies are actually allocating funds, budget, money to Web3?
Tony: I think we've reached that point because people are seeing that the Metas, the Amazons, the Googles, B-to-C and B2B, acknowledge that this is where we are all heading. If they're willing to make that bet, I think that's something for all of us to pay attention to, absolutely.
I also think there's an element of just the savviness of the way that we're all using the internet now. People have gotten more comfortable with online banking, for example. The next step that we can take is starting to use these cryptocurrency wallets. It just happens to be that we're in the right time for all of this.
George: On a side note, Tony, where do I get my hair done like that? The whole time I'm sitting here like this dude has better hair than I do.
Tony: I think you have amazing style, too.
George: I try. My wife dresses me, so we're good. Otherwise, it would be a hat and a hoodie.
Here's the thing. We as humans fundamentally come from this mentality of what's in it for me, what can I get out of this. With that, I want to ask you the question what are the opportunities, what's the potential for marketers if they actually embrace what we're talking about and leverage Web3 in some of the tactics, strategies, or just day in and day out stuff for the business?
Tony: I look at that a couple of ways. One would be I think as marketers we all have a responsibility to be aware of the competitive landscape. The reality is if you're a middle person type of business, if you're somebody who provides HR, or payroll, or financing to other businesses, you might be disrupted by a DAO, which stands for decentralized autonomous organization, so you probably want to know what's happening on the horizon.
I think from a benefits perspective, most people want to be the person on the team or with the organization that is able to share the learning and what's new with all of your colleagues. This is an opportunity to say we always are talking about how we're tired of doing the same types of events, for example. This is a chance to look into Web3 and what types of events that can happen in the Metaverse, for example.
George: I want to drill into two specific areas. For probably 80% of marketers in the room there are two banes of our existence as marketers. One, enabling our sales teams. Two, creating content. When you think about this conversation that we're having around Web3 from a marketing lens, talk to me about sales enablement and content creation and education, and what we as marketers should be thinking about in the Web3 space.
Tony: Great questions. I think I'll start on the content side, just because I've had the fortune to sit in a couple of sessions here and I know it's something that so many of us are engaged about. What Web3 presents is an opportunity to further the reach, extend the distribution, and increase the engagement that we have. Of course, you might be thinking that all sounds great, but how do I know this.
As marketers, it's part of our job to be constantly exploring and experimenting. There are ways to dip our toes into the water and with pretty minimal resource investment just try out a Twitter Space, for example, which I would describe as Web 2.5, and see how in this era I might not be getting the volume of people that are tuning in, but the engagement is incredible. Not only that, but I can reuse that content on other channels. And my business partners and clients are like, "You guys are doing Twitter Spaces? We've heard about that, but we don't really know how that's going to work out," and you can then speak from a place of greater authority.
When it comes to the sales enablement, I'm going to take a minute to breathe and sigh, because I can relate to all of you on how that's a challenge. I would definitely say, at the end of the day, for me it's about stepping into their shoes and really empathizing and being the ally and teammate about how to help them achieve their objectives, whatever those may be.
I think if the objective is greater lead generation, there is certainly a case to be made for how different Web3 tools and platforms are going to reach an audience that you might not be able to reach otherwise that are going to provide a way of repurposing webinar content that you already have, gating whitepaper content that you already have, in a format that people might actually be like, "I've been curious to try Web3, and this is the way that I can get something that I want, I'm up for it."
George: As the old fart in the room, I want to be very careful of the words that are coming out of our mouths because we could very quickly have this conversation and people could be screaming #NerdAlert out here. By a show of hands, how many of you know what Twitter Spaces is? We're good to go, let's keep going.
Let's get into some examples. When you think of Web3, when you think of marketing, you think of the stuff that we're doing, what is a great example of B2B marketers using Web3 content and education and stuff like that? Is there somebody out there that you feel like they're killing it?
Tony: Sure. There are Web3 native B2B companies that are doing very well, such as Alchemy, such as LayerZero. They basically help to make it easy for any organization to be interoperable across chains on blockchain. I can explain more about that.
Another example that I'll share is a name you'll more likely recognize, a company formerly known as Square, which is now known as Block, which is B2B, they provide payment services to merchants. I think they've done very well when it comes to providing that content, the education, the resources to their merchants in a way that isn't intimidating or pushy. It's saying we're still here providing the services you count on us for, and if you want to learn about crypto, Web3, and blockchain, we can also help you with that.
George: I love that. That's a good example. One of the things you said during our pre-interview meeting when we had a chance to talk that really helped reposition my brain into this direction that we're going, because at the beginning we talked about a massive canyon and how there were so many things, and for me, I was so focused on the many things that it just became this overwhelming conversation. You mentioned two words that I just want you to take a good while to unpack, it mentioned it's less about that thought of many things, and you mentioned context and framework. Just unpack that around Web3 a little bit.
Tony: Sometimes when I talk to folks, if you bring up the word Web3, you bring up cryptocurrency, and immediately what comes to mind is, like you were pointing to, this other thing that I have to learn, or isn't it that thing that a bunch of people put their money into and a couple of people made a lot, but then a bunch of people lost their retirements.
George: Not that that's funny.
Tony: It's not.
George: I don't know why both of us giggled at that moment, because that's really not funny.
Tony: People losing their 401Ks is very serious. What I will say is funny is how the mind wants to associate with the worst case scenario and fear. That, I do think we can laugh at. This is where context and framing come into play. Sure, those may be the headline use cases, but at the end of the day, this is about the context of as B2B marketers we always want to be on top of how we reach our audiences with the content that we've already invested so much in, in a way that not only moves the metrics forward, but in a way which people feel that there is a greater relationship with us.
That's ultimately the premise, the foundation of the promise of Web3 is how does it become less about you on one side and I'm on the other, and now it's we're all in this together, we're all co-creating it. When we think about things like user-generated content, we're now able to not just utilize communities as an extension of marketing, but identify the people who are ready, excited, and interested about what it is that we have to offer and genuinely and authentically collaborate with them as equal stakeholders.
George: Tony, I have to apologize to you. I forgot to mention something vitally important to you when I interview people. Right now, you're probably thinking, "Oh crap. What is happening? This is not one of the things that we talked about." Usually, at some point, you might hear me say the words, "I want to go off the beaten path for a second." That means that you can go, "Oh crap. George is going to ask me a question that I didn't know he was going to ask me."
Tony, I want to go off the beaten path for a second. You just said something in that last section where I had an oh crap moment. You were talking about serving the audiences that we serve. This whole conversation so far has been directed about the way that we're looking at Web3 and how it's difficult. My immediate emotion was like my audience is moving, they're not going to be where they once were.
Talk to me about that, what marketers should be thinking about. We're still saying the same things on the same old platforms because we have disconnected with an audience that we're actually supposed to be serving that they haven't had to worry about the education of strategy and tactics to Web3, they've only had to move next door. Unpack that a little bit.
Tony: Thanks for the question. I do want to highlight how it will be very dangerous of us to assume that Web3 is only a Gen Z thing, that if our business doesn't reach that audience, we don't have to worry about that. That's a myth. What my experience has shown is many people, whether it's B-to-C or B2B, are using Web 2.5 and Web3 without necessarily even knowing it. They might say, "I actually don't own any cryptocurrency, I can't be bothered," and they're already starting to use Web 2.5.
I'll share one example. Sweatcoin, a very popular app, one of the top apps around the world, which gives you points for just walking, so a pretty basic idea. They have now transitioned into allowing their active user base of millions of people to convert all of that into crypto. That's a powerful and huge audience that really just you're already onboarding masses of folks into Web3. They may not even be thinking to themselves, "I use Web3," but they're already there.
As B2B marketers, that would be a platform to reach people, whether it's through a partnership or whatever it may be. I think that's one thing that comes immediately to mind in terms of this conversation.
I think we're all aware this is one of the first events that many of us have done post-pandemic. Pandemic was a time in which people spent more time on screens, they spent more time with podcasts, they spent more time on Twitter Spaces, they spent more time on Telegram and Reddit. Again, these names, platforms, and sites that you might be like, "I'd really rather not," the reality is if our goal is to reach people where they are, significant numbers of them, Web3 is the direction in which many folks are heading and we don't want to be chasing after them, we want to be there and welcoming them.
George: I'm so glad that I asked that question. Let's back up for a second. Did you say get paid to walk?
George: What was the name of that?
Tony: I don't work for them. They're called Sweatcoin.
George: After this, I know where I'm going.
Tony: You will earn a fraction of a penny for walking a mile.
George: I'm going to walk so much. Maybe.
Here's the thing. One of the things that we had a chance to talk about before, and I love the idea of having a toolset that I can use. For me, it's all about the humans, it's all about engaging, it's all about pouring out the solutions to problems to help people reach their aspirations. If we take that and we understand now, because of the last question, people are going to easily be moving into these other pieces, unpack how Web3 is less of all of these things we need to learn and actually a toolset that we can put in our superhero marketing toolbelt to move forward with.
Tony: Absolutely. Earlier I mentioned many of us already do events. Web3 is a forum, a platform in which to think what are the new innovative, potentially more engaging types of events that I can now do. Many of us already produce and generate and invest a ton in our content strategy. How can Web3 be an extension and amplification of all of that? I also think when I'm talking about aspects such as Twitter Spaces, for example, it's important to not get so caught up in just that specific channel because it will change as well.
During pandemic, Clubhouse was another app platform that some of you may be familiar with. You might not be familiar. It has peaked. Fortunately for all of us here, it has kind of crescendoed. It's less about the channel or the specific site and more about being aware of this space, this sector as a whole, and looking at how we can always be including it as part of this larger toolkit, as you spoke to.
George: Love it. Let's hit maybe where I think the rubber meets the road is the saying that a lot of people use. The audience has been able to listen to this, the podcast listeners who are going to listen to this because we're recording it right now and they hear how funny we are and how people are laughing, the thing here is they're bought in. They're like, "Holy crap, I need to do this."
The question I really want to dive into is how do you get your company Web3 ready, what people need to be in place, what departments need to be empowered or activated?
Tony: Sure. When I work with different brands and organizations, one thing I really encourage people to keep in mind is it often and most of the time is not going to be enough for just the innovation team and/or the marketing team to be like, "Hey, let's do this new thing." We really want as many people across the board cross-functionally to have a stake in the game.
You're talking about your sales team, your technology team, your product team, and certainly some sort of executive sponsorship. I've been in that position to feel like I'm really going out on the limb and we absolutely would want everybody to feel like they have some coverage if and when they choose to explore Web3, which I definitely encourage.
George: I would encourage you to do that as well. Talk about the costs, risks, rewards, the CRR. I just made that up, by the way.
Tony: Did you? That was pretty good.
George: You liked that? That's what marketers do, we make junk up. So, talk about the costs, risks, and rewards for a company, whether it's in the direction of implementing or not implementing Web3.
Tony: Absolutely. I would look at the costs as, again, this goes back to some people will say, "Web3, where do we even start?" For example, it may make sense for your business to in addition to or instead of giving out a t-shirt or whatever it may be, to offer people an NFT.
Honestly, the first reaction might be, "Cool. Thanks. I don't know what I'm going to do with this." They might get it and be like, "I've actually kind of wanted one and I just didn't know how to get one, but now I have a wallet, so that's pretty awesome." To make an NFT, for example, doesn't have to be as time and budget intensive as many people assume it to be. Nowadays, there are quite a few agencies and platforms that exist to really make it turnkey.
When I think about the risks, I think about the reality is this is a question that more and more is going to be coming up in conversations with your clients, with your partners, with your leadership. People are going to be looking at marketing and saying, "I'm not putting any pressure on you, but have you thought about Web3 yet?" If you don't have an answer, that's not the best look. Whether it's, "Yes, and here's why I think we should make some sort of investment in Web3. Here are the different options for us," or it's, "No. At the end of the day, our business isn't aligned in a way yet that this makes sense for us." That's okay, too, but just know what you're going to say before it comes up.
When it comes to the rewards, we talked about social media earlier, I would say those that were willing to be at the forefront of that have become the thought leaders, the experts, they can write their own ticket at this point. I would guess that some of you would like to be in that position. Web3 offers that opportunity to all of us here. Because it's so new, anybody here could become the go-to resource that it's like, "Wow, I had no idea what Web3 was about, and this person really explained that well." I'm very happy if next year somebody else takes this seat on the stage. That's totally cool with me.
George: No. We have to do a part two, without a doubt. I love that you used the word assume or assumptions, because I think that's maybe why there was such a large canyon less than 20 minutes ago is we have these assumptions, which you know what assumptions do. They know the joke.
I want to do something. There's a couple of pieces that I always ask on the Marketing Smarts Podcast, so we're going to go into those two questions. One of the things is fundamentally I like to watch out for the potholes, the hurdles that people might run into. When you think of we're bought in, that amazingly dressed, cool-haired dude Tony Pham got us over the hump of Web3, they're moving forward, they're activated, they're going in the right direction towards Web3 for their company, what are some hurdles that they should watch out for so that they don't get derailed?
Tony: We all know this. Trying to change people's habits is incredibly difficult.
If you get to the point where there's an initial enthusiasm, a euphoria of yes, we are at the forefront, we're doing Web3, let's make this happen, the reality is that, like anything new, there is going to be the stumbles. Especially when sales are down and market share has decreased, all of a sudden, people are going to be like, "Should we be trying new things anymore? Do we actually want to be innovative? Maybe we need to just go back to what we already know."
That's something that I think all of us just need to go into with clear eyes.
George: All joking aside, I have been super excited to have this interview because I knew that we were going to dive into some really good stuff. One of the things that I do for all of the guests is I do some research, and I try to check out who the people are professionally and personally.
Knowing that I end every episode with this particular question that I'm about to ask you, when I got to your website and saw that it was basically two things, it was the amazing marketing, Web3, Tony Pham, and there was this other side on meditation and life. I was like, "Yes," because one of the things that we all have is a journey, we all go on a journey. You guys are about to take a journey on Web3. I can't wait until you get here next year and you tell us all of the great things that you've done with Web3. You really have done a great job, it's amazing.
Tony, the question I want to ask you is what are some final words of wisdom that you can impart to this audience and to the Marketing Smarts audience around this conversation we've had today on Web3?
Tony: What I want to offer is that one of my favorite things in speaking to fellow marketers is I believe we in general have the capacity and the drive to constantly be learning. I really want to reassure everybody that you can do this, we can all do this. When it comes to Web3 and marketing, we are constantly pushing ourselves to keep up. For me, and I think for many of you, that's the fun of it.
Another piece of this also is, yes, of course, I understand that at the end of the day it's about your OKRs, KPIs, how you're helping to drive people through the top of the funnel and to close the deal. There are many ways in which to measure success and winning. So, another piece of this, and it's a little bit of a cliché, but for now while Web3 is still so fresh, any organization that says they're announcing some sort of campaign or program around it is going to get attention, both from your customers and from media, industry publications, things like that. When we start to shift a little bit of our framing in that way, I believe it can feel a lot less risky and we can see how there's so much more that is rewarding.
George: So good. Everything I thought it would be. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to have some fun? Let's just be done. What just happened? Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to have some fun? [audience cheers]
Let's keep it simple and impactful and play a quick game of Password. Here's the idea. Tony, rapid-fire speed. As the old fart in the room, I'm super curious, I feel like there needs to be a Web3 dictionary. We're going to create one right here on stage. I'm going to give you an old-fart historical term and you're going to be like, "That's this in Web3." Are you ready?
Tony: Let's play.
George: One true to me: Podcasting.
Tony: Twitter Spaces, Reddit, Telegram AMAs.
George: This one scares the crap out of me: Website.
Tony: We're going to stick with website. I think they're still there.
George: Something we don't have to change. Thank you, Jesus.
Tony: Meme videos.
George: Okay. Business cards.
Tony: QR codes.
George: Medium blog.
George: Online games.
George: I got that at a spa the other day.
Tony: I think that's a mud mask.
George: Okay. Personalized URLs.
Tony: You can now get your own custom Ethereum domain name service.
George: Crazy. Has this been Phamtastic? [audience cheers] Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Tony Pham.
Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? That interview was so great. I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity or thing that you're going to research after this podcast? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.
I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to Mprofs.com/mptoday. You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.
We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Jim McHugh about B2B revenue, marketing, and closing the credibility gap, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.
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Published on December 1, 2022
Tony Pham, the vice-president of marketing at SuperLayer, a Web3 and crypto venture studio with investors such as Marc Andreeseen, Chris Dixon, Paris Hilton, Joe Montana, and Nas. Prior to joining SuperLayer, he led Marketing at Kadena, a scalable proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain with a market cap of over $1B USD. Tony began his career in Silicon Valley by running product marketing at Slide (founded by Max Levchin, acquired by Google). After Slide, he was the first VP of marketing at Life360, a popular safety app used by over 35 million monthly active users around the world.
LinkedIn: Tony Pham
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