“A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of ‘exit.’ The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.” In other words, traction is growth. The pursuit of traction is what defines a startup.
Startups get traction through nineteen different channels;
We discovered two broad themes through our research: Most founders only consider using traction channels they’re already familiar with or think they should be using because of their type of product or company. This means that far too many startups focus on the same channels (search engine marketing, public relations) and ignore other promising ways to get traction. It’s hard to predict the channel that will work best. You can make educated guesses, but until you start running tests, it’s difficult to tell which channel is the best one for you right now.
Each traction channel has worked for startups of all kinds and in all different stages.
- Viral Marketing (Chapter 6) Viral marketing consists of growing
- Public Relations (Chapter 7) Public relations (PR) is the art of getting your name out there via traditional media outlets like newspapers, magazines and TV.
- Unconventional PR (Chapter 8) Unconventional PR involves doing something exceptional (like publicity stunts) to draw media attention.
- Search Engine Marketing (Chapter 9) Search engine marketing (SEM) allows companies to advertise to consumers searching on Google and other search engines.
- Social and Display Ads (Chapter 10) Ads on popular sites like reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and hundreds of other niche sites can be a powerful and scalable way to reach new customers.
- Offline Ads (Chapter 11) 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.
- Search Engine Optimization (Chapter 12) Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making sure your website shows up for key search results.
- Content Marketing (Chapter 13) Many startups have blogs. However, most don’t use their blogs to get traction.
- Email Marketing (Chapter 14) Email marketing is one of the best ways to convert prospects while retaining and monetizing existing ones.
- Engineering as Marketing (Chapter 15) Using engineering resources to acquire customers is an underutilized way to get traction. Successful companies have built micro-sites, developed widgets, and created free tools that drive thousands of leads each month.
- Targeting Blogs (Chapter 16) Popular startups like Codecademy, Mint, and reddit all got their start by targeting blogs.
- Business Development (Chapter 17) Business development (BD) is the process of creating strategic relationships that benefit both your startup and your partner.
- Sales (Chapter 18) Sales is primarily focused on creating processes to directly exchange product for dollars.
- Affiliate Programs (Chapter 19) 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.
- Existing Platforms (Chapter 20) Focusing on existing platforms means focusing your growth efforts on a mega-platform like Facebook, Twitter, or an App Store and getting some of their hundreds of millions of users to use your product.
- Trade Shows (Chapter 21) Trade shows are a chance for companies in specific industries to show off their latest products.
- Offline Events (Chapter 22) Sponsoring or running offline events – from small meetups to large conferences – can be a primary way you get traction.
- Speaking Engagements (Chapter 23) Eric Ries, author of the bestselling book The Lean Startup, told us how he used speaking engagements to hit the bestseller list within a week of the book’s launch, how he landed these talks, and why he chose to use this channel to generate awareness and book sales.
- Community Building (Chapter 24) Companies like Zappos, Wikipedia, and Stack Exchange have all grown by forming passionate communities around their products.
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.
Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers