An interview with Jordan Edelstein, Chief Marketing Officer at Stellar
Blockchain marketers face a very unique challenge. Not only do they have to compete with thousands of other platforms to attract a limited set of developers, but they also have to raise awareness about nascent (but powerful!) technology that the mainstream still associates with hackers and criminal activity. To top it off, they have to grow this product globally from the get-go, to keep the network decentralized. All that, without any playbook of course.
Jordan Edelstein is the Chief Marketing Officer at Stellar, an open source blockchain network for currencies and payments. Originally, Stellar aimed to create a network of microfinance institutions in developing nations and to serve the unbanked. It later shifted towards connecting established financial firms to blockchain technology.
Jordan made the list of the best marketers in Blockchain for 2020 – a list of 35 individuals whose organizations were measured by the lift in FCAS Rating, which indicates user and developer activity as well as overall market risk, and growth in Twitter mentions as measured by The Tie.
Rochelle: What were you doing before going into marketing for Stellar?
Jordan: My career has been centered in consumer marketing. For the last 15+ years, I marketed video games to consumers. Specifically, for the last 6 years, I led marketing in mobile gaming, where the balance between brand building and performance marketing is essential.
Rochelle: Do you remember the first time you learned how to market? What was it that clicked for you?
Jordan: My first job out of college was in marketing consulting. As an analyst, I was exposed to a variety of industries and business issues and began to learn the fundamentals of marketing. Understanding end users (be it consumers or businesses) was immediately interesting to me. The process of fitting together the puzzle pieces of company strengths, competitive landscape, macro-trends, and end user needs was a fun one and led to me to further my marketing career interest.
Rochelle: How is marketing in crypto different from what you were doing previously?
Jordan: Stellar Development Foundation’s (SDF) marketing is focused on getting people/companies to learn more about and to build on the Stellar network. At a basic level, the “selling” process is much longer than convincing a consumer to download and play a free-to-play mobile game. That said, the marketing fundamentals around understanding what potential customers/users need and articulating why Stellar is the best solution to filling those needs is a similar discipline to driving mobile game downloads.
Rochelle: Has your marketing strategy changed since you started?
Jordan: While our overall marketing strategy has not changed much since I started with SDF in November 2019, we’ve grown both our team and our execution efforts against it. One of SDF’s 2020 strategic pillars is to be the blockchain people know and trust and our marketing strategies align with that pillar. We’re focused on driving awareness of Stellar amongst our targets and driving more projects to be built on Stellar. Ultimately, I want our marketing of Stellar and our marketing support of the Stellar ecosystem to be a reason why people and companies want to build on Stellar.
“I want our marketing of Stellar and our marketing support of the Stellar ecosystem to be a reason why people and companies want to build on Stellar.”
Rochelle: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of leading marketing efforts for a public decentralized network?
Jordan: The most challenging aspect is the diversity of the current (and future) network ecosystem, which ranges from developers to entrepreneurs to enterprise companies. While there are some commonalities of needs across these different constituents, they also have some stark, fundamental differences in terms of what they need from Stellar. It requires us both to focus on who we’re communicating to and our messaging to those parties.
Rochelle: What was a failure you thought was really interesting about how this industry works?
Jordan: At a high-level, the concept of airdrops seems like it could be an effective tactic towards driving blockchain adoption and usage. From my prior consumer-marketing life, programs such as console video game demos were very powerful tools towards driving successful new product launches. Currency airdrops (at least, how they’ve been executed to-date) have failed to drive meaningful blockchain usage and can actually result in an uptick of scams by malicious actors. I do think, however, that with enhanced anti-fraud protections and more live, practical blockchain use-cases, airdrops could play a role in the future as blockchain networks become more developed.
Rochelle: What do you focus on to differentiate Stellar from other blockchain networks?
Jordan: How we talk about Stellar’s differentiation depends a bit on who we’re communicating to, but at a high level, we believe that Stellar’s 1) ease of technical integration (supporting different program languages, offering a broad set of tools/sdls and complete documentation), 2) fast transaction speed (confirmed in seconds, not requiring a clearing house to confirm funds or to pay additional fees for faster transactions), 3) unique compliance functionality (via our network of anchors) and 4) the ease with which any currency or asset can be represented on the network are the things that make us stand-out from other blockchain networks — particularly when it comes to financial and payment use cases for blockchain.
Rochelle: The Tie worked with us to analyze Stellar’s growth on social media. Looking at Twitter, they found that your number of mentions grew by over 51% since the beginning of 2020, from an average of 89 mentions a day to 135. What would you attribute to such growth?
Jordan: Social media certainly plays a key role in our marketing – particularly in regard to how we dialogue with the Stellar community. And while we’re certainly pleased to see growth in social media volume related to Stellar, we’re equally, if not more, pleased to see sharp increases in the amount of engagement in the social media content we’ve released. This is where there’s a key difference between social media for blockchain and other industries. While there are certainly network-specific “tribes” within the broader blockchain social media landscape, there is more overlap among all of the different communities in blockchain than in other industries. In games, for example, a game’s social media community tends to be focused on that particular game. In blockchain, there’s more overlap across different blockchain communities — sometimes for good, sometimes less so.
“there’s a key difference between social media for blockchain and other industries. While there are certainly network-specific “tribes” within the broader blockchain social media landscape, there is more overlap among all of the different communities in blockchain than in other industries.”
Rochelle: $XLM’s FCAS has also increased 3% since the beginning of the year, which reflects growth in Stellar’s fundamental data. What do you think of crypto ratings that measure the health of networks? Do you use them to measure growth? What type of KPIs do you look at otherwise?
Jordan: We certainly pay attention to crypto ratings, provided they are based on accurate, up-to-date information and leverage some forms of quantitative measurement to go along with more subjective analysis. We treat these ratings as data point(s), in addition to metrics we can follow in terms of traffic and engagement on stellar.org, as well as key Stellar network metrics, such as number of meaningful transactions.