Author: Ruslana Safina

4 April 2023

15 Min Read

Could-be-a-case, but turned-out-to-be-THE-Story

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The year 2020.

It was a nice October day. The sun was warm, bathing our startup-style team in its peachy light. We were sitting in our garage-style office, all like one, thinking about the future that we would skyrocket for ourselves. That’s not the irony: we were a small team with a good reputation because we already had major cases. So we could afford such dreams.

Just then, our phone buzzed with an incoming message. It was an old friend who had become a part of the 1inch project and was eager to collaborate with us. Some of us made a not-bad Obama face and thought, “Sure, why not?” After all, neither 1inch Network nor our team was considering big deals, but it sounded like a good enough opportunity to explore. It was a humble, yet very ambitious aggregator that wanted to chase Uniswap.

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The year 2023.

We became different. Solus.Agency is a 50+ people company, despite the fact that it was growing in war-torn Ukraine. Our team left the garage-style office and moved to a fancy one (although it looks a bit like a garage). We have an M&A fund, Tier 1 projects partnerships, and so on.

In a nutshell: everything changed. However, what remains the same, is an overproductive collaboration with leading crypto projects in the world called 1inch Network. From being a “no big deal” project, 1inch Network made its way into a giant of the decentralized world. The company managed to grow x100, its total volume has reached over $255B+, the total number of wallets is 3,7M+, its total trades are 24.9M+, and its name is familiar virtually to every crypto enthusiast.

As you probably tried to scroll the page down, you found yourself in the abyss. Oh, well. Not sorry, we really wanted to tell this story and omitting a lot of it for the sake of “short attention span blah blah” is not a fun decision. But we really don’t want to waste your time if this case is not for you.

So, this is case REALLY is for:

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Representatives of the companies that used to have a negative experience with marketing agencies;


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Those who think that marketing agencies are scammers;

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Those who want to build a powerful collaboration with an agency;

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Projects that want to promote a web3 project;

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Projects that are looking for a reliable long-term partner;

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Marketers that are looking for insights and inspiration.

So, are you in?
Make up your mind, we are starting any second now.

Content summary for those who are shocked by the length of this case study

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*Important note: we contributed to that results a lot, but we are not the only contributors.
1inch Network has an extremely strong source marketing team that is caring for all the digital marketing apart from KOLs. They are on our side

What about the goals of competitors overperform?

Best DeFi aggregator worldwide

1inch Network was the first DeFi aggregator. And in spite of the appearance of dozens of alternatives, 1inch still supports clear leadership

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Leader in the DEX segment

May 21, 2022, became historical for 1inch. Finally, 1inch takes leadership in the DEX segment. Overall, on May 12, 1inch's market share among dApp users reached 23.1% among all DEXes, while that of Uniswap declined to 5.8%.

Source: Dune Analytics .

*The calculations take into account direct trading volumes via the projects’ dApps

Finally, how do we make it real?

number 01

Native ads, a lot of native ads. Really a lot. More than you could ever imagine

Everything started with the idea of avoiding the “default web3 techniques of 2018” and creating a more sophisticated game while using only native content for advertising. No clickbait, no direct CTAs, just native content.



During that time, not many authoritative channels’ admins knew about 1inch, so it was quite challenging to persuade them to remove the #ad/#promo tag. But we were persistent.



And you know what? For 2 years – yes, you heard it right – we used only native ads. That native content snowballed into tons of user-generated content that multiplied the efficiency of every single integration dozens of times.

Examples:

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Ambassador board

Once we understood that some of the influencers we were working with were much more than just influencers, we decided to put a full stop to one-time integrations with worthy KOLs.



Only long-term, only hardcore. Since then, we have validated hundreds of integrations with KOLs by doing test posts and then establishing long-term ambassador-style collaborations with the best of the best.



Over time, we can say that it was probably one of the best decisions in terms of our collaboration because of dozens of factors. But if we had to single out one, we would say that the ambassador board helped us to receive tremendous media support for every single info hook that was released, which eventually made 1inch Network as popular as it is now.



1inch Network is rightly proud of its innovativeness. But no one would care about that innovation unless, at the moment of release, hundreds of authoritative media figures were doing their job.

number 02

Examples:

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Crypto-friendly GEO penetration

For sure, we started to penetrate the GEOs with which we have the most experience (CIS, USA). But at a certain point, it got tight.
So we decide to start conquering more specific GEOs that result in…read on to figure it out.

number 3

Examples:

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“KOLs” natural selection

Step by step, 1inch enticed more and more DeFi lovers and encouraged more and more people to fill the rows of DeFi lovers. Consequently, with the rapid growth of authority, the criteria for choosing appropriate KOLs had to anticipate this development.



So we started to grow not just in the quantity of KOLs, but in their quality.

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step1
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What we do: we analyze basic metrics, such as ER, CPM, also content and quality of the channel, then analyze the audience, comments and quality of the community. Also in the analytic tool, we explore schedules of views and subs.

Conclusions: After validation of new KOLs – we can delete from list:

1) Charlie Seddine (because of very high CPM > 500$)

2) Bull of Crypto (because of not suitable for 1inch content and very bad quality of channel)

3) Crypto Map (because of the small amount of members and subs, really bad engagement rate (small amount of reactions)

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**Process of launching**

What we do here: analyze the results of the campaign and every channel, analyze CPM, CPC, amount of installs/creations of 1inch wallet and volumes. Also, we pay attention to the style of communication with some channels. And the last one – we examine YouTube or TikTok analytics and make some conclusions after that.

Conclusions: After the second step we can delete from the list:

1) Kripto Sözlük (because of the high value of CPC and a small number of installs)

2) Инсайдер Crypto (high results of CPM and CPC)

3) Фармер (high results of CPM and CPC)

4) Дмитрий Ткачев | Фьючерсы (results aren’t very bad, but communication with this channel doesn’t suit us)

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**Process of launching**

What we do here: analyze results after and during the campaign (CPM, CPC, installs, wallet creations). Analyze communication and quality of working with every channel.

Conclusions: After the second step we can delete from the list:

1) Luiz Fernando (because of decreasing results after the first publication / high CPC after the campaign / and missing some deadlines during the campaign)

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And with these channels, who brought great results, and made creative integrations – we can make a new period of long-term partnership or make them ambassadors of 1inch.

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Not crypto guys’ attraction

Once again we are faced with feeling tight. At that point in time, we have already been working with almost all the crypto-friendly GEOs. But something still was wrong.



Eureka! How about starting to attract a non-crypto audience? This is where our path to mass adoption began.

number 05

Examples:

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Special Projects

Okay, we are working with KOLs worldwide, both crypto and non-crypto. But nope, we are not about to stop here. 


After brainstorming for a while, we understand that we want performance. High-quality integrations with high-quality KOLs are not our ceiling. That is why we started working on some really special projects that attract the attention of millions.

number 06

Integration for 1inch with Crypto Tomera (1)

Once upon a time, Roman Tomera, a crypto influencer, put himself under a bit of a challenge: to help a 1inch coin reach the $30 price. How exactly?



The out-of-the-box decision was in the fact that he bought a 1inch car number and was just riding, minding his business. What a way to establish an offline promotion, isn’t it?

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Integration for 1inch with Crypto Tomera (2)

Roman Tomera decided to sell the apartment and buy cryptocurrency in 1inch tokens with this money. 36 units of content – sounds good, doesn’t it?



Expect mind-blowing clicks that the first TikTok video has already brought.

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General data from media plans

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Our fuckups. Chapter for our haters.

It might sound too sweet, but honestly, we spent quite a long time remembering some major mistakes that could be highlighted. Overall, the love story between 1inch and SOLUS sounds – and actually is – quite positive thanks to the attitude and professionalism of both parties. Nevertheless, we still remember a few funny fuckups that could help you avoid making the same ones.

Promotion at Tier 1 Crypto KOLs. Fake ones

At the very beginning of our collab, we wanted to impress 1inch team in some way. We were working hard in order to establish connections with Tier 1 KOLs like Lark Devis and others. Even too hard we would rather say. Our KOLs manager decided to try all possible ways of establishing contacts with them and… success! Finally.



After finalizing all the agreements with “Lark Devis”, “Louis Thomas”, “Dan Held” and others, we passed all the data to our accountant in order to make the payment to that KOLs and finally get the ball rolling.



Somehow happened that literally a moment before the accountant planned to make payments, “Lark Devis” messaged something not really natural and something forced us to recheck the authenticity of that KOLs. And you know what? All of them were figured out to be fake.



Yeah, it was the beginning of our partnership. So do not judge the agencies after their first fuckups.

number 01

KOLs that lost a car because of 1inch?

One day we figured out a cool idea. What if KOL gonna buy 10K 1inch and announce that he is not going to sell them till the 1inch token will be equal to 30$ so that he manages to buy Lambo?



After that bear market happened. And as you could see from the charts, 1inch is as far from 30$ as Roman Tomera from his Lambo 🙂 Ok, Tomera seems to be even closer.

number 02

Own KOLs

We didn’t limit ourselves in imagination when it comes to collab with 1inch. And one says we decide that to make all our fantasies real, we need to grow our own 1inch dedicated KOLs. We were too ignited by that idea, so we neglected the first rule.. DYOR. We had little experience growing our own YT channels which is why we created unrealistic KPIs.


And then we faced reality. The reality in terms of which YT channel requires years for organic growth, while we don’t have them. So we put a label “wasted” on that idea.


P.S but who knows, maybe, one says our Bradley will become the next Antonio Pompiliano, so recommend subscribing to his channel rn BlockHouse by Bradley Peak – YouTube

number 03

Not a fuckup, but a “local meme” about the real culprit of Luna and FTX scam

Joma Tech seems to be one of the biggest 1inch ambassadors from the tech sphere. And somehow it happens that 1inch is being integrated both in his FTX and Luna videos.

Thoughts?

number 04

Notes on collaboration or how to be cherished as a client/agency

Over the course of 2.5 years working with 1inch, we’ve gained some valuable insights that we’d like to share as our “pearls of wisdom” kind of thing.



While watching how some projects want to collaborate with an agency, our feeling became much stronger.



Just remember, that you would never manage to receive the most from collapsing with the agency, unless…

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If you want to avoid being scammed by an agency, don't scam the agency yourself

Numerous projects collaborate with agencies, yet often they adopt a condescending attitude towards them.



Here’s what no one will tell you: an agency that possesses alternative collaboration options will… just treat you the same way you did. It’s understandable, isn’t it?



You may ultimately end up paying more for their services, resulting in additional fees or poorer performance. The agency won’t willingly create innovative solutions for you, leading to a loss of vital revenue. Consequently, while the outcome may seem acceptable, it falls far short of what you could achieve if you treated them with respect.

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Choose an agency based on the people you would like to work with

If you’re looking to have a long-term partnership with an agency, but you’re struggling to communicate effectively with their team or having difficulty understanding each other – due to various reasons such as mentality or personal attitude – we say you should quit that.



Just choose another maybe less fancy or fancier agency that you can communicate with more easily. After all, you can’t reach your goals if your communication turns out to be different from what you expected.

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The agency will work for you 24/7, if...

Every time 1inch has any news or updates, we make sure to spread the word, regardless of the time of day or week. We just value our collaboration with this client, and we are ready to help them, even while causing some inconveniences ourselves.



If you value the agency, if you pay invoices on time as been negotiated, you keep your promises, and show them respect, they will work tirelessly to help you, bringing you the attitude and work ethic you would never anticipate.

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It is impossible for someone who does not comprehend the field to collaborate with an agency

Clear communication is key when working with an agency, but having the wrong person in charge can disrupt the workflow. A business developer, for instance, may not be the best fit for the role. However, the worst scenario is when the person responsible for collaboration lacks a fundamental understanding of marketing. In such cases, we offer our sincerest condolences.

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Make the agency value you as a client, not short-term profit

Choose agencies that prioritize long-term collaboration with shared goals and open communication. If these conditions are not met, it is time to reconsider your partnership.

Pick those who are committed to helping you succeed through value-driven services and continuous improvement.

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Don’t spoil the concept of agency

There are numerous agencies in our industry that will go to any lengths to obtain a client’s initial budget. No one can hide this, resulting in many projects developing hostility towards agencies. This is particularly prevalent in cryptocurrency, where projects just created landing pages and labelled themselves as agencies. Of course, that can’t be good for the whole concept of agency!



So, let’s improve the industry and demonstrate to projects that agencies represent a powerful resource capable of accelerating their business.

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For loyal clients, it's worth breaking the rules

This sentence could describe our entire cooperation with 1inch. From the start, our CEO and CMO have been the primary contacts for 1inch, providing a more personal approach than a standard corporate setup. Even when it’s not the most efficient use of resources, we understand that it’s important to maintain the friendship we have. There’s no point in making communication more corporate-wise, as it will ruin everything.



In urgent cases, as we have mentioned before, we’re willing to go the extra mile to help out 1inch and don’t hesitate to work late when needed. We feel that these efforts demonstrate our commitment and appreciation and that the client will recognize and value our efforts. This is an example of a client who is worth breaking the rules.

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If you want to work on ambitious projects from a long-term perspective, you must strive for growth

Unless we had grown all this time, we wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time working with 1inch. It won’t be possible to pursue them!



If you want a love story like the one you just read, standing still won’t do. You must strive and take risks in order to grow.

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