Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and Founder of the research engine DuckDuckGo, and Justin Mares who founded of 2 startups and former Director of Revenues for Exceptional (which was acquired by Rackspace for 8 figures) both have a significant experience in knowing how to grow your business with the right marketing tools. After interviewing more than 40 successful startups, CEOs and Founders, they compiled everything they learnt for entrepreneurs to generate the explosive traction their product deserves. In this content review, we’re showcasing Traction: How To Achieve Explosive Customer Growth.

Let’s begin by defining what Traction is: 

It is the measurable evidence of customer activity towards a brand or product. In their book, authors identified 19 customer acquisition channels that can generate traction when used effectively, all of which have their separate chapter in the book.

They believe that most companies generally only use a handful of them without a concrete thought about which channel suits best for their product. They outline that successful companies use a combination of those that works for them, using three main frameworks that permits companies to know how to get more traction.

What struck them was how passionate entrepreneurs are about their product or service. However some of them focus most of their time and money on research and development, without taking the time to market their efforts to their customers.

The book suggests the 50/50 method in order to collect feedback since Day 1, and prevent excessive expenses that don't make the company grow: focus 50% of your resources on Product Development and 50% on leveraging traction.

This way, the product is marketed enough to permit potential customers to know about the product, knowing that it will improve overtime. This starting traction also permits to give context to future investors, and define where to effectively launch the product, as you get to know who you’re targeting and if they meet the audience you want to reach.

Although there are infinite ways to reach potential customers, Weinberg and Mares stress on the importance of choosing the right customer acquisition channels that fits the product or service.

To help entrepreneurs define their marketing strategy, they introduce us to the bullseye framework, which consists of a three-ringed circle consecutively outlining what might, may and will work for your marketing strategy. The outer circle defines the nineteen different traction channels available. Choose six of them that may work in the middle ring , then define the three best channels out of these  to pin-point what forms the best marketing strategy in the centre circle. Defining which traction channel is acquiring the most customers for less expenses is very important at the early stages of a startup.

After explaining the best practices for knowing how to market your product, authors elaborate on the importance of defining what they call a Critical Path:

Entrepreneurs need to define a quantifiable traction goal they can achieve by mapping the different steps they have to focus on. The need to critically stick to what the path says, and use limited resources and money on essential matters is the most important part of this winning strategy. If something is not on the path, don’t do it. Simple but effective!

Truly a must-have for product managers and entrepreneurs eager to learn the best practices in framing an efficient marketing strategy! I highly recommend you to read the full book and especially the chapters defining the different channels you can get traction out of! I like the way it teaches not to be biased about the constantly evolving marketing strategies there is on the market, and to have a different approach of beginning your own business and launching your product. If you want to build a product and start a company, Traction is the guide you definitely need!

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