Manual Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

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Table of contents

Ask yourself: Are they outliers? Or early adopters? Many startups make the mistake of wasting valuable marketing dollars on every distribution strategy they can think of, instead of zeroing in on the one channel that can generate the most ROI for every dollar spent. The name Bullseye refers to the framework used to identify your single most successful traction channel.

Traction -- A Startup Guide To Getting Customers (Chapters ) Free Book Excerpt

The first step to do this is to think of at least one viable idea for each of the 19 traction channels. One way to identify viable marketing strategies for your specific startup is to do some research into what has worked and not worked for other successful companies in your industry that offer similar services or products. To zero in on your one successful channel, start by experimenting with low-priced traction tests to identify those that have the most potential. The ones that generate the best results can be moved from the outer to the middle ring.

Next, continue your traction experiments with those in the middle ring to determine which channels you should focus on by answering the following questions:. Finally, Weinberg and Mares recommend focusing on the one traction channel that can bring the most growth for your particular startup phase. In order to make decisions based on concrete numbers rather than assumptions, keep track of all your numerical results in a spreadsheet and compare them before deciding on a specific channel strategy. For example, if your goal is growth rather than profitability, then an example of a traction goal could be new users per day.

Once your end goal is defined, you can then work backwards and set specific, quantifiable subgoals, along with milestones or steps needed to get to those subgoals. In the end, what you have is the Critical Path you should follow to reach your end traction goal.

One of the ways to exploit underutilized channels is to analyze each of the 19 traction channels mentioned in the first chapter of this book and determine which have been ignored by your team for whatever reason. Almost all founders have an inherent bias against certain traction channels because they believe they will not be successful, but this is precisely why this tactic can lead you to channels and tactics that are being ignored by your competition. Start by identifying those traction channels, especially the ones you know least about.

Mentors who have had success with these channels can provide advice that can lead you to a cutting-edge channel strategy. One of the best ways to acquire your first customers is to target blogs read by potential customers. Getting covered by traditional media sites like The Washington Post or The New York Times can help you not only gain significant traction, but also boost your credibility and reputation in the eyes of your users and followers.

Chapter 2: Traction Thinking

Think of The New York Times. When they decide to publish an article about you, they are doing you a huge favor. Blogs are different, as they can publish an infinite number of articles and every article they publish is a chance for more traffic which means more money in their pockets.


One way to garner attention is to experiment with unconventional PR tactics. However, if you fail to get press coverage, you still have happy customers and a stronger, more relatable brand, which significantly increases word-of-mouth effects.

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

Buying ads related to keyword searches — these ads come up along with the organic links when a word or phrase is searched for. Payment is made for each click by a user on the ad pay-per-click. The genealogy service used AdWords even before building its product to identify the most desirable product features, and then continued with it as the core traction channel to drive customer acquisition. Social ads involve advertising on sites like Facebook and Twitter, while display advertising is seen across the internet on websites.

These are not only great for creating awareness, much like conventional advertising, but can also be used to push sales and drive greater customer engagement. With social, it's word of mouth on crack. This is conventional form of advertising as done via media like TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards and direct mail.

The exact form chosen depends on the age of the target demographic, its mindset, etc. It involves use of a variety of tools to improve ranking in search engine results.

How to Get the First 100 Customers for Your Startup - Growth Talks #4

This is one of the main forms of inbound marketing. And this is a problem with a lot of startups that are essentially entering a niche where nothing had existed previously.


You can access the full audio and text summary of the Traction book here, as part of our free business starter kit:. Your email address will not be published. Next, you prioritize the three traction channels that seem most promising. In this scenario, your excitement level is an indicator of how likely you will learn enough about the channel to test its viability. With three channels chosen to be prioritized, your next step is to test them.

Weinberg suggests three questions you should answer in each test. The third question is the most interesting. When we first started consulting, for example, our target buyer was an agency who had process experience. In neither case have we focused on LTV, but rather some intangibles such as the suitability to our strengths and weaknesses. Mark Suster of BothSidesofTheTable has a great post describing the advantages of hunting deers — the right-sized customers for most startups.

In contrast, the typical unfocused approach I see funded startups looks something like this:. At a glance, the first diagram seems far more effective from the beginning, but of course it depends on your target buyers and other variables. This is a great book overall, it encapsulates a broad view of a process when others too often share a very narrow story as the only map. That said, I do note a few things that could be improved in the book.

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

First, Weinberg ignores internal strengths factors. When he describes his experience with SEO, for example, he forgets that this channel was his favorite both for his experience and his strengths. Most startup founders have some built-in strengths in themselves, their team, or their underlying labor market.

This can be uncovered in the bullseye analysis of costs, but in doing this analysis you may miss the strategic advantage.