Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth
by Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares
Traction is aimed at startup marketing, as you might expect it focuses on testing (rather than guessing), and running short experiments to find what the authors call your ‘core traction channel.’
It’s a really practical read and provides some interesting stories from successful start ups (they interviewed forty founders) including Dropbox, HubSpot, Blendtec and duck duck go.
I would have loved to hear a bit more about developing remarkable products and there’s very little covered in the book around strategy and brand building – it’s more of a detailed examination of the different tactics (traction channels) available.
The authors identify nineteen different channels and suggest using their ‘bullseye’ process for finding the first/core channel.
The Bullseye process is as follows:
“The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. If you were to advertise offline, where would be the best place to do it? If you were to give a speech, who would be the ideal audience? Imagine what success would look like in each channel, and write it down in your outer ring.”
“The second step in Bullseye is running cheap traction tests in the channels that seem most promising.”
“The third and final step in Bullseye is to focus solely on the channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel.”
The authors write that one of the big mistakes that founders make is relying on the same traction channel or the one they are most familiar/comfortable with – rather than testing them all out.
The nineteen channels that suggest examining are:
Targeting Blogs, Publicity, Unconventional PR, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social and Display Ads, Offline Ads, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Viral Marketing, Engineering as Marketing, Business Development (BD), Sales, Affiliate Programs, Existing Platforms, Trade Shows, Offline Events, Speaking Engagements, Community Building.
More advice from Traction
(all quotes directly from the book)
“Traction is the best way to improve your chances of startup success. Traction is a sign that something is working. If you charge for your product, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it’s a growing user base.”
“Traction is basically quantitative evidence of customer demand. So if you’re in enterprise software, [initial traction] may be two or three early customers who are paying a bit; if you’re in consumer software the bar might be as high as hundreds of thousands of users.”
“Traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50 percent on traction.”
“It is very likely that one channel is optimal. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. Poor distribution—not product—is the number one cause of failure. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished. So it’s worth thinking really hard about finding the single best distribution channel.”