Understanding the MMMarket: Grants Program Managers as a key audience

TL;DR:

  • MMM has been conducting research and built out a clear audience persona for “Program Managers”
  • This audience will be the primary audience on our upcoming suite of dapps (more on this coming soon)
  • We will be testing value props & key messages over the coming months and evaluating/iterating as needed

Introduction

Along with the upcoming launch of our Protocols and accompanying dApps, a shift in Gitcoin’s marketing strategy is imperative to ensure the successful transition toward a Protocol future.

Great marketing is about building relationships with customers and helping them understand how your product or service can solve their problems or meet their needs. To do this, we need to have a renewed understanding of our audiences and communicate key value propositions clearly to them.

Over the past 4 months, the MMM team has been hard at work learning to better understand our “Program Manager” audience–those individuals that run and lead grants programs on behalf of organizations, communities or ecosystems within the EVM–and rebalance our marketing efforts to drive toward our new (still solidifying) business objective of maximizing adoption.

What’s been going on with the marketing research so far?

Simply asking Program Managers what they want is helpful, but it would be incomplete for marketing purposes.

With the foundation of user interviews conducted by the GPC team, a number of design sessions were led to further distinguish audience motives and key messaging that would truly resonate with Program Managers.

Below summarizes our work to date, including:

  1. Macro Trends Research
  2. Competitive Landscape Discovery
  3. Value Proposition Design Sessions
  4. Customer Journey Mapping

All of this is the foundation upon which we’re building our marketing strategy. We hope that by sharing this here we can gather any questions, insights and comments that arise and in turn answer them through future discussion forums.

1. Macro Trends Research

Before diving into collaborative sessions with the GPC team, we conducted our own internal research (led by @jpepper) to better understand the grants programs landscape within Web3.

The tl;dr on Macro Trends:

  • Grants act as an ecosystem development strategy
  • Grants DAOs are rising in popularity
  • Transparency and accountability continue to be ongoing issues
  • Grants are increasingly appearing in tokenized communities (Ex: Forefront, Boy’s Club, FWB)
  • Funding underrepresented groups is growing in importance

2. Ecosystem Discovery

In addition to the Macro Trends research, a comprehensive review of the grants ecosystem and competitive landscape was completed.

Below is a quick snapshot of the current Grants Ecosystem (as of Nov 2022). This will be meme-ified and shared widely as a piece of Gitcoin content in the near future.

The “competitive” landscape was also identified and profiles were made of several key alternatives that Program Managers might consider using over our offerings.

3. Value Proposition Design

At the end of September, the MMM and GPC team began a series of design sprints to identify the “Product-Market Fit Pyramid” of both Program Managers and Project Owners.

Over the course of 8 weeks, a core group of individuals met 2x per week for up to 1-½ hours per session to discover and distinguish the must-haves, performance benefits (what makes our audience do their jobs better) and delighter benefits (what makes our audience truly say “wow”), the last of which would be used as our “unique value propositions”.

Note: at the time of our sprints, we started by distinguishing the two groups as Grants Protocol/Project Protocol, but switched to focusing on user groups by the end of the series.

Find the Miro board that was originally used here and the synthesis here.

The tl;dr on value proposition design:

  • Our easiest-to-target audience (think: low-hanging fruit) was EVM Compatible Web3 Organizations
    • Other audiences, such as Web2 organizations, will be marketed to as the product matures
  • This group’s main two jobs are:
    • Incentivizing innovation
    • Empowering community voice
  • Top 3 problems they are dealing with:
    • Ability to evaluate projects for impact
    • Ability to filter & track projects
    • Identifying & preventing fraudulent projects
  • A number of relatively unsatisfactory solutions currently exist to solve their problems, including:
    • Questbook
    • Notion + Typeform + Google Sheets combo
  • Key insights discovered:
    • Program Managers want to “be like Gitcoin” - run their own QF round (even if they don’t have/know that they need a large community to support this)
    • For now, we are aiming for parity with specialized software

4. Customer Journey Mapping

Another step in identifying opportunities to more effectively market to this audience was to conduct a customer journey mapping process alongside the GPC team.

Though this process was mostly hypothetical (as we have not yet launched the products), several insights were distinguished and helped us inform our go-to-market strategy.

Find the Miro board that was originally used here and the synthesis here.

The tl;dr on Program Manager journey mapping:

  • Program Managers want to run a grants program because they:
    • Want to grow their ecosystem
    • Have capital to deploy
  • A huge part of building awareness will be through the generation of hype and a “coolness” factor
    • One experiment we’ll conduct: is hype and “coolness” noise or a signal?
  • Impact reporting is the Program Manager’s single biggest pain point and the hardest one to address
  • Program Managers will be looking for “Best Practices” docs to maximize the success of their rounds

What’s next? Testing our Hypothesis

With this foundational work complete, we’re ready to take these insights and turn them into actions. In S17, MMM will be rebalancing our focus: spending less time marketing to donors/Regens/ideologically-aligned supporters of Gitcoin to Program Managers.

In the coming weeks, we expect to deliver a number of items (that may or may not be shared in the gov forum depending on their sensitivity) including:

  • Program manager audience profile brief
  • Our revised channel strategy for program managers
  • Grants Stack product launch plan

What’s Grants Stack? More to follow in an upcoming post…

It’s important to note: this is all an iterative process. Based on the work we’ve done thus far, we are going to treat this all as one big experiment, iterating our tactics and messaging as new insights/results of our efforts become evident to us. We intend to review the work outlined in this post each season to ensure that the most up-to-date audience information is driving our marketing efforts.

Any comments, questions or feedback you have, please feel free to drop it in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Special shoutout to these wonderful humans who have been involved in this specific work over the last 4 months: @Viriya @jpepper @nategosselin @michelle_ma @kyle @willsputra @melissa @lthrift @birdsoar @Etovardesign

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