How to Market an ICO: Action 1: Writing a compelling white paper

A 5-step action plan to launch your solution


You recognized a problem. You developed a solution suited to a decentralized platform. You have an amazing team onboard. Responses from initial users are encouraging. You’re ready to launch your coin offering. Now you need to market the ICO.

Marketing is an important aspect of marketing an ICO. Your prospective investors need information before they commit their hard-earned cash to your project.

Although the exact order in which they are implemented is secondary, every ICO marketing/launch plan needs to include five key actions:

  1. Writing a compelling ICO white paper
  2. Listing on ICO calendars
  3. Paying for advertising.

This series of posts, How to Market an ICO: A 5 step action plan to launch your solution, describes a 5-step action plan to market your ICO. The first action is to write a compelling ICO white paper and this first post explains how to write a compelling ICO white paper.

Action 1: Writing a compelling ICO white paper

An ICO whitepaper has one goal: to persuade investors to buy the tokens issued as part of the ICO. To do this, the ICO whitepaper must inform, persuade, satisfy, and reassure those investors. At the same time, an ICO whitepaper is a business plan, charting the actions of the project moving forward.

In actual fact, in marketing an initial coin offering, you are going to need two white papers: the first is the business plan and the second a technical backgrounder that contains your source code.  This post is about the first type – the compelling, persuasive document that draws investors in and convinces them to act.

Structure it to educate

The structure should have a natural flow that starts with general information and moves on to more detail and technical information. All white papers have the same basic structure. It’s okay to mix it up a bit but the following sections can be found in most successful ICO white papers.

Table of Contents

A Table of Contents that lists headings and sub-heading provides an outline of the white paper. This allows readers to see the layout and understand the flow of the story. Made interactive in the pdf/online version of the document, it enables skimming.


The Introduction does just that – it introduces the project in a way the encourages your audience to read on. This section is a summary of the white paper; briefly discussing each section. Think of your white paper as a story. In the introduction tell your audience what you are going to tell them.

The problem

This is where you explain the industry-specific problem your product will solve. Analyse the market and identify trends over time.

Your solution

Here you describe the goal of your project. Explain how your offering solves an industry-specific problem. Use reliable date presented as graphs to illustrate complex concepts.

Provide a product description that includes prototype data, any first users, and the development strategy. If there is an ecosystem and users already in place, chances of token survival on the market increase. Be sure to include these details in the ICO white paper.

The team

One of the most defining aspects of any ICO, and a hugely deciding factor in whether the project will be successful or not, is the team. Provide information about your team early in the white paper. For each team member, provide a picture, a brief bio piece, and a description of their role in the project. Include their project email address and a link to their LinkedIn profile.

Tokens and the project economy

Here you describe how the token operates, its role in the project’s business model, and the process of distributing tokens among ICO participants. Provide details on what is ready and what will be developed after the ICO.

Discuss the value of the token, how it differs from other tokens, and how it can be traded. Explain what the company will do to increase its value. Give your readers details of token distribution, including any distributed to the project team.

Think about presenting the data in the form of diagrams and graphs to help prospective investors understand complex principles more easily

Use of funds

Include a detailed plan of how the funds will be used.  Investors want to know where their money will be going and how much is needed to complete certain important project tasks..

Don’t talk about items of expenditure like networking event, professional development, or miscellaneous. The ICO white paper should clearly state that all the money collected will be spent on project development, and nothing else.

The Development Roadmap

The ICO white paper must include a development roadmap. Using visuals, a roadmap gives investors an idea of where the project is heading and assures them that you understand the marketplace.

ICO white paper

The development roadmap will contain a description of the project as well as development plans for the next one to two years. You need to convince investors that it can be commercialised and adopted.

Design it for readability

Now that the white paper is drafted, think about formatting. Remember not all your readers will read your entire ICO white paper.  Many readers (43%, according to Hubspot) admit to skimming content.  Rather than being offended by this, play to those readers.  Cater to all readers with the design of the paper.

White space

Dense blocks of text can intimidate readers. Clever use of white space – areas with no text or graphics – will lessen the stress. Put in a few pull quotes to add variety to the blog’s visual flow. 

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings help maintain the logical flow of the paper as well as providing a break from blocks of text. Skimmers can get the gist of the topic without having to read the entire paper.

Bulleted or numbered lists

Break up blocks of text with bulleted or numbered lists.  They cater to skimmers and help organize information into short concise portions.


Photos, in general, have no place in an ICO white paper. The tone of the document should be focused on education not entertainment. Infographics, however, are particularly effective in an ICO white paper. Reliable data presented in graphs, charts, and tables add visual appeal while providing in-depth analysis.

Promote it to engage

Once your writer has drafted the ICO white paper, the team needs to review the document carefully. Work with your writer to action any comments or edits. Send the final reviewed document to the graphic designer for that professional look. At this point you may want to consider sending it out for a trusted 3rd party technical review.

Once the ICO white paper is ready, it’s time to get it out there. How to promote your ICO white paper? Read on.

Landing page

A landing page is a page on your website that persuades interested readers to provide their contact details for access to the white paper. A landing page will have a picture of the ICO white paper, a brief, engaging summary of the offering, and a form. After filling in the form a Call-to-Action button gives your prospective investor access to the paper.

Project website and blog

In next week’s post, we’ll look in more detail at the project website and blog. Announce the release of the ICO white paper in the sidebar on the frontpage of the website. Include a link to the landing page.

The project blog is another place to market your white paper. Send out a post about the upcoming white paper. Follow up with one about it when it is launched. Keep posting about it with a CTA to your landing page on every post.


You may already have an email list of prospective investors. Send out emails to your list with a link to the landing page as well at a pdf of the ICO white paper. Since the recipient of the email is already on your list you don’t need to send them to the landing page. However, they may share the email and the link with new prospects.

Social media

Post a summary of the ICO white paper with links to your landing page on all social media sites. Keep the team engaged and make sure someone responds to any comments.


Next week, the 2nd post in the series, How to Market an ICO: A 5 step action plan to launch your solution, will look at the project website and blog in: Action 2: Building awareness and authority with a project website.

Are you looking for a white paper writer for your ICO?

A persuasive white paper uses simple language to explain your complex solution. I understand the technology behind your product, your solution.  I can translate that complexity into easy-to-read content for your prospective investors.

Contact me to plan your next successful ICO white paper!