By Hanna Ronish
Traction provides an in-depth look into how startups can be successful using specific business strategies and tactics. The authors explain how business owners can achieve almost exponential growth through their first few years by examining 19 different traction channels. When these traction channels are applied correctly, they can improve the startup rate, and in turn, gain business within the market. The book references getting “traction.” This is a sign that the channel chosen for your business model is proving to be successful. A company can gain traction by doing experiments and testing multiple channels until there is a channel that shows to be the most successful. For example, if a company like Uber was advertising through offline events (conferences and meet-ups) the company would not be able to reach the targeted market. Instead, for a mobile app, it was beneficial to advertise through social media while people are already scrolling through their phone. The first six chapters start with an analysis of the traction channels and two overarching themes, which are: choosing familiarity instead of creativity and the importance of anticipating which channels work best for your business by testing and experimenting. The next 19 chapters examine each marketing and distribution channels in depth, as to get a better idea of what works best for particular startups.
To help you spend your time effectively and efficiently, they also recommend some rules to go by and avoid ruling out any single channel. They recommend using the bull’s-eye process to find the traction channels you might take an interest in initially. To do this, you first start by brainstorming how you might utilize every single traction channel. You create a spreadsheet and then rank each of the channels (1–5) on how well each channel might work for your business, based on the cost, ease of implementation and acquisition of customers. You then rank the channels into three circles/categories where the inner ring has the most opportunity. Next, out of the best possible options, narrow it down to the three channels that are predicted to drive the startup. You can then test your inner circle ideas to see which of the three has the highest potential. Lastly, depending on the outcome of the experiments, you choose a primary channel that works best with your business model. This primary channel is liking to change depending on the stage of your business/ startup. Weinberg and Mares also recommend using the 50% rule. This determines the balance between two critical processes; product development and getting traction. They state that by allotting the same amount of time, energy attention into both these processes you and your business can grow as whole because you gain valuable skills when you focus on both methods as a whole.
Traction is a significant book in the scheme of business. First, most of these tools given are not only for startups, but any business owner can also utilize as many of these tractions channels as possible. For example, in today’s business model, businesses must use SEO and SEM to have traction on the web. Due to today’s market being so dependent on the internet, if companies do not utilize these channels, they are missing a huge market and could potentially cause them to fail. Not only does this book provide helpful tips and pointers to establish traction, but it also gives the reader rules and framework to implement/develop. Even if a business does not follow that specific rule, it is still relevant to learn for future references. This book is essential because each traction channel brings a new opportunity to your business and with each opportunity, there is a unique chance for success. Considering that’s the overall goal of most companies.
I understand, with the broad range of knowledge and narrow focus of Traction, that if a product is failing or a startup is not seeing the amount of business it was intending, the fault may not be in the product itself. Instead of jumping ship, marketers need to focus their attention on the channels being used to reach the target market. Startups should be flexible and utilize A/B testing and other experiments to determine which channels will drive the business within their market.