Key mistakes to fix so you can become a better marketer

Any new company working with decentralized identity should be spending their precious marketing dollars delivering a clear message about the awesome power of their product to target audiences. But marketing best practices can be quite daunting, especially in a new field like self-sovereign identity.

So, which marketing mistakes should you avoid at all costs? In this post, I’ll take marketers new to decentralized identity through some of the common messaging pitfalls. Knowing these will help you set up a successful marketing strategy and avoid practices that harm your business.


Overwhelmed by all the intricacies of decentralized identity marketing and afraid you’ll still make these mistakes or others? Take a look at our marketing support, offered as part of’s business services, and let us help you!

1. Talking over the heads of your readers

Credentials, blockchain, decentralized identifiers, zero knowledge proofs, pairwise identifiers, pseudonymous keys…decentralized identity terminology gets real complex, real quick. As excited as we are about sharing the future of peer-to-peer interactions online and after five years of experience marketing decentralized technology, I’m here to tell you that most people won’t understand 1/10th of what you are talking about. 

It is your job as a marketer to keep the message as simple as possible. Who is your audience? What is the minimum amount of information you need to convey to accomplish your mission? Is your audience following along with your story? Or are they politely nodding along? Keep asking yourself “can my neighbor/spouse/grandmother understand what I am talking about?” Because if the answer is “no”—you need to adjust your content. 

2. Telling not showing  

We all want our company’s site to pop up first when a potential customer searches for us online. One thing that will help is using short, readable sentences. Keep in mind that Google employs linguists. They know what makes for quality text on a page. Longer sentences are harder to read. Too long a sentence or paragraph and it will work against the ranking of your site. 

What can you do? Everyone likes pictures. Diagrams can be incredibly helpful in explaining what it is that you are talking about. There are many helpful free resources available to design infographics, charts, graphs, and images to convey your message. 


What can you do? Everyone likes pictures. Diagrams can be incredibly helpful in explaining what it is that you are talking about. There are many helpful free resources available to design infographics, charts, graphs, and images to convey your message.

Make sure your diagrams are readable. Don’t pack everything into a single image. Keep images streamlined so you don’t make your reader struggle to understand the meaning of your image.

Nobody is going to follow a 25 point data progression. Label things. Number things. Use color.

Also remember to try not to cram everything into one sentence filled with clauses. Break a concept up into a sequence of short sentences. It will be a lot easier to follow. And for blogs, do your reader a favor and avoid references to separate glossaries and footnotes at all costs.

3. Throwing around “owning your identity”

“Owning” is a word that I implore you to use wisely. There are many reputable sources for information about this term used in identity. Heck, there are even some well-known global enterprise identity companies that freely use that exact phrase. But, if you are reading this, you probably don’t have the same legal and marketing dollars they do.

The argument against using “owning your identity” boils down to the idea that identity—like freedom—is not something you can sell. If you sell something to someone, you are no longer the owner. If you sold your freedom to another entity that would be slavery. If you sell your identity to someone—do you no longer own it? Do you no longer have identity?

Words like “control,” “manage” and “use,” all come with less baggage than “own.” Be mindful of your word choice and stay away from the landmine of ownership.

4. Not joining the conversation  

The Gates Foundation has declared secure, interoperable systems for digital financial inclusion a top priority in 2020. The World Economic Forum has identified “user centric, interoperable, digital identities” with their Shaping the future of Digital Economy project. These are only a few of the many open source projects, teams, standards bodies, community events and thought leaders doing deep analysis on the subject of global digital identity.

You may ask yourself, since identity encompases every person on the planet and so many people are doing such good work on it, the identity community should be open and inclusive to all, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel that way.

Much of this work is done on calls and events, all over the world, by a relatively small group of people with highly technical backgrounds, generous travel budgets, employers who grant significant time to these efforts, and secure childcare. They have the means to dedicate themselves to these, usually unpaid, web standards and open source identity projects. While the work they do is vital, I’ve seen many conversations on Twitter and elsewhere spiral into a never-ending loop of debates on nuances of terminology such as ID, identity, identifier, identification, credential, and more.

Eventually the usual suspects in the identity landscape jump out with aggressive citations of the latest pull requests from GitHub that only a small number of people have read or had anything to do with. This cycle of poor communication leaves many people from diverse backgrounds and experiences out of the identity conversation all together, defeating the value of inclusion that much of decentralized identity touts.

My advice is this––don’t worry if you ask the wrong questions or get a term wrong. I encourage you as a marketer to involve yourself in as many conversations as possible. Remember to not get wrapped up in nuanced arguments over semantics. It doesn’t matter whether you participated in the last standards call or were part of the most recent conversation. Listen beyond the voices and opinions that have come to dominate in the identity landscape. Reach out to the energetic startups and engineers who spend their time working on the real world, practical application of this technology.

Identity affects all people regardless of industry vertical or attendance at the last identity conference. Us non-technical folks have just as much right to join in the conversation. Each question or misunderstanding is an opportunity to welcome and learn, not ostracize.

In order for decentralized technology to truly succeed, it will depend on the success of marketing teams.

5. Not reading whats already out there

Thankfully the community is growing. And there is a TON of wonderful writing and content easily accessible there from a growing and diverse community. Use it. Read it. Share it. Ask questions. Help the community grow. Learn from those around you. It will help you find and retain more clients.


  • Tykn tech has a wonderful monthly newsletter filled with a curated compilation of great and trustworthy content about Digital Identity.
  • View past editions of the Self Sovereign Identity Incubator. This is a gold mine of identity specific news and content.
  • Politico’s morning Cybersecurity wrapup is a great way to follow the biggest stories in the information security world.


  • @kimdhamilton: Co-chair of the W3C Community Credentials Working Group
  • @windley: Chair of the Sovrin Foundation and cofounder of IIW
  • @SSI_Ambassador: EU based SSI news and content

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