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Welcome to E-Coffee with Experts, an interview series where we discuss all things online marketing with the best minds in the business.
This episode features Michael Pirovano, Creative Marketing Director at Reach. Watch as Michael talks about his experiences with blockchain and digital marketing, and how they are giving new age marketers opportunities like never before.
I think podcasts and especially video podcasts are some of the best marketing tools we have for Blockchain if you’re using the content efficiently.
Hello, everyone. Today we have with us, Michael Pirovano, Creative Marketing Director of the Reach platform. Hello, Michael, thank you for taking out time. It’s lovely to have you.
Well, thank you so much for having me.
Michael, I am excited about today’s interview. We have not done something like this or interviewed somebody from Blockchain so far on the show. But, before we kind of dive deep into the questions, it would be great if you could introduce yourself for our viewers.
Absolutely. So my name is Michael Pirovano. In our pre interview, we got a little question about, “What is your background? You’re kind of weird, aren’t you?” I am one of the many rogues, vagabonds and nerdy wells that have fallen into the blockchain, in that whole world because it is truly a melting pot of backgrounds and experiences. I initially went to school for biology, undergraduate degree and went into sort of medical writing and then medical marketing. From there sort of started working slowly, more towards the creative and then a brief stint in the video game world. I still do a little bit of that on the side. Now, I’m with Reach, helping them grow and build something appropriately special for the product they’re building.
Tell us a little bit more about Reach. I understand it’s a blockchain development platform, but what exactly is Reach?
Platform is such a nebulous term nowadays. It’s a programming language, compiler and a deploy tool. What we’re doing is something sort of spiritually similar to what Microsoft did in the early days where we had all these different programming languages. A lot of them were built specifically for the machine, and there was no sort of compatibility. It was all sort of very inefficient. I don’t want to say that we’re creating that efficiency, but we are streamlining the development of blockchain and decentralized apps or dApps across different chains. What Reach will let you do is compile to Algorand, Ethereum, Cardano or any number of blockchains. We are growing our partner list. You can compile those different chains with very simple code changes. The thing is, as opposed to hours and hours of manual programming tasks that most developers slowly go insane before ever completing. It poses a risk to the march of progress. Blockchain mass adoption right now is sort of how slow and manual the development is. We really found a way to streamline that, streamline auditing, being able to say this is a safe app. Right now, there’s months-long waiting lists, an army of PhDs to go over the code and find there’s no vulnerabilities. We sort of verify that your middleware, your smart contract, everything is correct as you compile. I’m getting too much of the technical details because I’m a bit of a nerd like that, but I can wake up in cold sweats and recite this stuff.
No, thank you so much. It helps us know more than what we can by looking at the website. Thank you for that. Coming to my first question, how do you see Blockchain impacting the future of digital marketing? I know there are a lot of articles being written and stuff being talked about, but I want to know from you exactly how you see it impacting the digital marketing future?
Sure. So it’s a loaded question because it’s a real fundamental shift in the potential for different approaches to marketing. But the crux of it is, it is changing the way we communicate and trust online. Part of Blockchain is that it’s largely trustless, which is not to say that one side needs to trust the other, and the other side doesn’t need to trust anybody, It is completely trustless, which is an important distinction.
Let me give you an example. Right now, I don’t care if I go on to Amazon and order a bunch of Christmas gifts and they have all my data, right? I may not have explicitly consented to giving them my data or have clicked on the thing and didn’t read it, but I also don’t care because they’re giving me a service, and I trust them not to spy on me or whatever. I’m a marketing statistic. What Blockchain introduces to that equation is, it gives the consumers back the control over their data and their identities online. In doing so, it opens up a new avenue in marketing and by letting the consumer monetize their data. So say, I’m going to charge Amazon a fraction of a Penny every web page I click, right? But, then in return, Amazon is getting a verified saying like, “This is exactly who this is. There is no misinterpretation of the conception of this metric.”
Right. It’s not about you using all these tools to analyze data and consumer behavior, but you know that it’s not 100% accurate. They are like numbers, but you know that they are not 100% accurate. But here, even though the user has complete control, whatever data you have, is accurate.
Yeah. Now Amazon can be absolutely sure that I’m a millennial male who likes to order fried ice cream at 02:00 A.M. on Wednesday at night. You have to have this information.
What do you consider as the main factors to keep in mind for crypto marketing?
I don’t want to speak to crypto marketing specifically because there’s an important distinction between crypto and blockchain. I think a lot of people sort of see them as synonymous. We fall under the umbrella of Blockchain and crypto is sort of a subsection within the broader blockchain community. Blockchain also includes NFTs. It includes all this technology. Crypto is just one small part of that. There’s something called DeFi- Decentralized Finance. It’s an umbrella term for the new way that finance is handled in a decentralized network.
Crypto marketing is so specific to being able to generate hype for a coin and get people buying into a different token and then transact with that token. We are sort of removed from that a little bit. I can tell you a little bit more about the blockchain community in general, if that helps. Right now, the blockchain community as a whole is very siloed. It’s very tribal. From a developer perspective, which protocol you invest your time in learning how to build on, that’s a huge investment of your time in most cases, not with Reach, but in most cases. So you are in this little bubble with all these other people who have chosen to make the same investment of time. But, you’re also incentivized to trash and put down every other person because that lowers the value of their coin and raises yours. There’s a lot of fighting between the different tokens. There’s some amount of navigating that chaos a little bit, but if you know, where to find these people, where they live, there’s the NFT artist groups, there’s the developer groups, there’s people who are just interested in finance of different tokens buying, selling like Wall Street traders. It’s a little bit different. So, knowing where to locate Blockchain groups and where they live is pretty key to marketing in the space.
Talking about Crypto, specific referral programs are very popular in some marketing measures. There are a lot of talks about referral programs. Like you said, the race of one coin being more popular than the other or trying to create that hype of a new coin launch, what are your thoughts on using referral programs specifically in crypto?
Personally, I’m a big fan of referral programs in certain contexts. In Blockchain and crypto, specifically, it’s kind of a no-go. They’re severely frowned upon in the community to the point that if you tell somebody that you’re going to incentivize them to buy into a coin or something like that, they will publicly shame you. They will call you out. The equivalent of saying on your job description, “Oh, we’re going to require just out of College, but 30 years of experience.” You’re going to get some Flack for that publicly.
Right. When we talk about content marketing in Blockchain, how does your content marketing strategy look like? When you talk about creating various forms of content, which forms of content work best?
So in my mind, the forms of content which work best are the ones which can be broken down and distributed across different platforms, where they may have varying levels of success. So if you were to take an hour long podcast, and you were to distribute that on Instagram or something that you could, it wouldn’t go over well. But the more you’re able to digest that content and break it up into maybe a podcast highlight, something that you can sort of streamline, publishing workflow around being able to distribute multiple forms of media, a transcript, a supplementary article, you’ve got opt-in content out of that automatically. You’ve got social sharing with highlights and stuff like that. I think podcasts and especially video podcasts are some of the best marketing tools we have for Blockchain if you’re using the content efficiently.
Right. I think videos work best. There are people who create so many blog posts on a regular basis. Having a small video which can act as a summary of that post, embedding that video, using a YouTube link embedding that video. I know it’s very small, it sounds like a very simple thing to do, but it’s easier to rank, and it adds so much value.
Agree 100%. I guess to add to that, I don’t know if you’ve published a lot on medium. I know a lot of companies, and a lot of places have a medium blog. One of the things I noticed about medium that’s kind of ingenious, and I think part of their success in the past couple of years is being able to save articles and collect sort of feel like you’re curating content because what it does is it gives you that little dopamine release that says, “Oh, I’ve read this because I saved it, but you didn’t read it.” You didn’t absorb any knowledge. You read the headline and that’s the thing. If all they’re getting is a headline, they’re not getting the brand name behind the headline. But if they get to the point where they can open up that article and the first thing they see is a video, you’ve got to fight and chance.
We talked about podcasts and podcasts doing well, especially video ones. What according to you is a good podcast strategy for somebody starting off? How many podcasts should he/she do or how often?
Well, if you’re a rising celebrity in the space, such as myself, I recommend doing as many podcasts as you can as often as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s Marc Maron or Joe Rogan or millions and millions of listeners, viewers or 13 or 14 people. Maybe they’re all friends and family. When you do a podcast, that person is creating content for you, for you to distribute and share, and that is a gift.
Right. We talked about content. We talked about video content. AI driven content is also gaining popularity. What are your thoughts on that?
Yeah. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, I’ve been in AI the entire time. It’s gotten really good. There’s a tendency for somebody who’s natively a writer because I sort of started out in writing to fear Neuro Linguistic Programming or whatever it’s called, and I am indifferent towards it. It will either be the kit to my Nightwriter, or it may take my job one day, but when it’s ready, it will come to me. If it’s truly ready, I won’t immediately recognize it as AI-driven content. The best AI driven content. It’s like a special effect. The best special effects are the ones you don’t notice, that’s AI content for you.
Absolutely. Well said. We talked about promoting content on various platforms and choosing which content to promote where and when. What are your thoughts on Tik-Tok for blockchain people to use it as a medium.
So people have varying views on Tik-Tok. A lot of people associate with the Gen-X, very young people dancing around in front of a camera, looking silly. Swallow your pride and get on Tik-Tok. It is the most easily digestible, easily distributable content I think available on social media. I’ve seen Tik-Tok videos on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, basically anywhere that allows you to post videos. I’ve seen Tik-Toks. That’s an opportunity. In the crypto blockchain space, specifically, when you’re working with bite-sized content that forces you to be concise, get to the point and be very clear in your messaging. That’s exactly what players in space need to do to educate the masses.
Right. Should crypto professionals separate their personal and professional social accounts?
I think professionals should separate their personal and professional accounts if they’re not already filtering everything in their personal account through the lens of what can be seen publicly. There are certain roles, certain things where you kind of want to have a very buttoned down social media appearance. There are some people who will say I’m going to abide by that in my public account and just put a little bit of censorship, re-contextualize the things that I’m posting. But, if you don’t subscribe to that, then there’s always a personal account option for you.
Right. Some people say that email marketing is dead. What would you say to that?
So I wrote down my answer here, let’s follow up on that via email. It might be dead in certain industries to certain people, but if you are generating the metrics to show that people are opening it and you’re relative to other content, you’re seeing that people are spending more time, they’re clicking more links than they would on an article, then why not?. The data has to be there to support it, but there’s no reason why you should assume that it’s gone.
Right. Any special tips that you would like to give our audience that they could use and benefit from?
So I guess in the blockchain space specifically, I don’t want to generalize too much, developers tend to be a little bit skeptical and a little bit contrarian, which is why we love them. But especially in the wonderful world of blockchain, you will not find a more skeptical and contrarian bunch. One of the obstacles we’ve had to navigate in our marketing is that no one believes Reach does what we say it does if we just straight up told them. If I told you exactly how much faster our platform is to traditional blockchain development, people in the space would tell you to your face that you’re lying. They have said in-person, face to face with people you’re lying, there’s no way. In our case we deal with that as we do. We’re very good about being able to say, “Okay, comparison, let’s lay out the facts.” But, I think in general, people can use that to their advantage, knowing that somebody is going to want to look for holes, look for the BS, if you’ll pardon my French. You can use that to your advantage because you know they’re looking for it, and that’s when you lead them down the path. We know you’re going to look for this, so here’s every little like a pinball, every little thing along the way that we can sort of educate you as to why we’re not joking, this is the real deal.
Well, Michael, thank you so much for your time. But before you go, I would like to do a quick rapid fire with you. A quick round of questions. Here we go. Describe yourself in three words.
Obsessive. Compulsive and creative
Oh, that was quick. If a movie was made about you, what genre would it be?
I didn’t want to say the first answer that came to mind, but let’s say romantic comedy.
I really want to know after this, what came to your mind first?
Sometimes you just think of you going to the joke first, and it’s not right.
Who is your favorite superhero?
That’s such a tough one. I’m going to say Black Panther specifically because that movie did for me what Star Wars, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones did. It opened my eyes visually to something that expanded my imagination, broadened the realm of what I thought was possible in the realm of sci-fi, introducing that sort of afrofuturism.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Does both count? I am by nature, a night person and by necessity, a morning person. I go on a walk at 05:20 every morning and make a smoothie. The dog now expects a banana. She expects a little bit of the banana. So she goes ballistic every morning once it’s banana time.
I can never do morning person. I tried doing it. I tried waking up early for walks, but I could never do it.
It’s never easy.
The last one. Your favorite automobile brand.
Well, for the sake of the blockchain and crypto world, let’s say Tesla.
Well, Michael, thank you so much. It was fun having you.
Well, thank you so much for having me.
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