Start-ups: Want to optimise the traction of your business?!!

Start-ups: Want to optimise the traction of your business?!!

Want to optimise the traction with customers of your start-up business?

    The work of Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares is exceptional in its proposal of a new way of thinking and a new process for validating your start-up business model and for continually and sometimes explosively acquiring new customers.

    Importantly, they recommend that a start-up spend 50% of their effort on Product Development and 50% on Customer Traction -- this is a radical idea, and in their book, Traction,  they provide many actual examples where this has resulted in impressive results.  

    They identify and describe 19 different channels for this Customer Traction -- some channels are obvious, some are channels that you might poo-poo initially, and some channels that might surprise you.  

    I encourage you to keep an open mind to all of these channels -- and pay particular attention to the process for evaluating whether these channels will be relevant and helpful to your business.   As a sneak preview, the process advocated is the "testing" of each channel and the periodic review as to their effectiveness.  Importantly, some channels, for example, initially prove very effective and productive in getting you your outcomes, but then become saturated -- so you need to "pivot" to another channel!  

    Although some "experts" might promote certain channels, the actual experience of many organisations is that one must continually apply this "experimental method" to find which channels are most effective.   Remember -- sometimes the actual channels which are effective can be counter-intuitive!

    The 19 channels are: 

  1. Targeting niche blogs
  2. Media mentions
  3. Unconventional public relations
  4. Paid search
  5. Social and display ads
  6. Offline advertisement
  7. Search Engine Optimisation
  8. Content marketing
  9. Email marketing
  10. Widgets, microsites and free tools (Engineering marketing)
  11. Cutomer referrals/viral marketing
  12. Strategic partnerships
  13. Sales
  14. Affiliate programs
  15. Existing platforms
  16. Trade shows
  17. Offline events
  18. Speaking engagements
  19. Community building 

Let's now explore each of these!

Please keep an open mind -- some channels you might want to immediately discount as not being appropriate, but over time many organisations have found that counter-intuitively some channels have been enormously helpful in acquiring new customers and obtaining the traction they need to grow the business. 

So keep an open mind!  

Also, you are encouraged to arrange a free initial consultation to explore how these channels apply to your startup.  Contact 

The 19 channels

Here are the 19 channels that need to be evaluated and tested in order to get the most effective traction in validating your start-up business and in acquiring Customers.  (Again, this information comes from Weinberg and Mare's book, Traction).

targeting niche blogs

1. Targeting niche blogs

Many organisations have successfully got their start by targeting blogs.

Popular start-ups like Codecademy, Mint, and reddit all got their start by targeting niche blogs.


2. Media mentions/publicity

Publicity is the art of getting your name out there via traditional media outlets like newspapers, magazines and TV.

There are suggestions about pitching media outlets, how to form relationships with reporters, and what most startups do wrong when it comes to publicity.  There are various ways that startups can leverage today's rapidly changing media landscape to get traction.

unconventional public relations

3. Unconventional public relations

Unconventional PR involves doing something exceptional like publicity stunts to draw media attention.

This channel can also work by repeatedly going above and beyond for your customers.

paid search

4. paid search/search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM) allows companies to advertise to consumers searching on Googl and other search engines.

Some organisations have relied primarily on SEM for their growth.

social media

5. social and display ads

Ads on popular sites like reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and hundreds of other nich sites can be a powerful and scalable way to reach new customers..

Some startups have very successfully gotten track with social and display ads, e.g. Adaptly.


6. offline advertisement

Offline ads include TV spots, radio commercials, billboards, infomercials, newspaper and magazine ads -- as well as flyers and other local advertisements.

These ads reach demographics that are harder to target online, like seniors, less tech-savvy consumers and commuters. Few startups use this channel, which means ther's less competition for many of these audiences.


7. search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of making sure your Web site shows up for key search results.

There are definitely some "best practices" for getting traction with SEO, and there are interesting examples of how start-ups use SEO to cheaply acquire lots of highly targeted traffic.


8. content marketing

Many startups have blogs, but most don't use their blogs to get traction.

There are some interesting examples of how certain startups have used blogs to transform their businesses.


9. email marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to convert prospects while retaining and monetizing existing customers.

There are ways for startups to get the most out of this traction channel.

engineering marketing

10. engineering marketing (e.g. widgets, microsites, free tools)

Using engineering resources to acquire customers is a significantly underutilized way to get traction.

Successful companies have built microsites, developed widgets, and created free tools that drive thousands of lead each month.

customer referrals

11. customer referrals/viral marketing

Viral marketing consists of growing your customer base by encouraging your customers to refer other customers.

There are common viral techniques that have led to viral adoption in major startups, e.g. from 100,000 users to more than 4 million in less than a year.

12. strategic partnerships/Business development

Business development (BD) is the process of creating strategic relationships that benefit both your startup and your partner.

There are interesting examples of how to structure deals, find strategic partners, build a business development pipeline and approach potential partners.


13. sales

Sales is focused primarily on creating processes to directly exchange product for dollars.

Many of the best software startup companies are creating sustainable, scalable sales processes, and there are ways to find early customers and have winning sales conversations.

14. affiliate programs

Companies like HostGator, GoDaddy, and Sprout Social have robust affiliate programs that have allowed them to reach hundreds of thousands of customers in a cost-effective way.

There are many examples of how a startup can leverage this channel and how affiliate marketers choose which products to promote.

existing platforms

15. existing platforms

Focusing on existing platforms means focusing your growth efforts on a megaplatform like Facebook, Twitter, or the App Store, and getting some of their hundreds of millions of users to use your product.

Various examples show on focusing on this channel can result in millions of customers, e.g. Apple's app store.


Berlin, Germany - March 10, 2016: Various exhibitor booths seen during the ITB Berlin 2016, one of Germany's biggest travel fairs held in Messe Berlin in Berlin, Germany. Visitors can be seen walking around the aisles.

16. trade shows

Trade shows are a chance for companies in specific industries to show off their latest products.

One example cited in Weinberg's book is how a startup sealed a partnership that led to more than 20,000 sales from one trade show and its approach to getting traction at each event.

17. offline events

Sponsoring or running offline events—from small meetups to large conferences—can be a primary way to get traction.

There are ways of preparing and running fantastic events!

public speaking

18. speaking engagements

Using speaking engagements can help startups hit the best-seller list in a timely manner!

There are ways to leverage a speaking event, give an awesome talk, and grow your startup's profile at such speaking gigs.


19. community building

Companies like Wikipedia and Stack Exchange have grown by forming passionate communities around their products.

There are interesting examples of how startups have built substantial communities.

So here are the main takeaways:

  • Consider all 19 channels -- even those that you at first discount; effectiveness of the channels is not always intuitive!
  • Put in a process of periodic review as to the top 3 channels -- sometimes channels saturate and new effective channels arise!

You may be interested in other relevant business posts:  Please feel free to check out my  Blog

Also, you are encouraged to arrange a free initial consultation to explore how these channels apply to your startup.  Contact 

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