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Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers [Kindle Edition]

Gabriel Weinberg , Justin Mares
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Most startups end in failure. Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don't have is traction -- real customer growth.

This book introduces startup founders and employees to the "Bullseye Framework," a five-step process successful companies use to get traction. This framework helps founders find the marketing channel that will be key to unlocking the next stage of growth.

Traction is a guide to getting customers, written for startup founders, marketers, and those interested in how today's startups grow and get traction. This book shows you how the founders of several of the biggest companies and organizations in the world like Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), Paul English ( and Alex Pachikov (Evernote) have built and grown their startups. We interviewed over forty successful founders and researched countless more growth stories to pull out the repeatable tactics and strategies they used to get traction.

"Many entrepreneurs who build great products simply don't have a good distribution strategy." -- Mark Andreessen, venture capitalist

Too often, startups spend months (or years) building a product only to struggle with traction once they launch. This struggle has startups trying random tactics - some ads, a blog post or two - in an unstructured way that leads to failure. Traction shows readers how to systematically approach marketing, and covers how successful businesses have grown through each of the following channels:

Viral Marketing
Public Relations (PR)
Unconventional PR
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Social and Display Ads
Offline Ads
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Content Marketing
Email Marketing
Engineering as Marketing
Target Market Blogs
Business Development (BD)
Affiliate Programs
Existing Platforms
Trade Shows
Offline Events
Speaking Engagements
Community Building

This book draws on interviews we conducted with the following individuals:
Jimmy Wales, Co-founder of Wikipedia
Alexis Ohanian, Co-founder of reddit
Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup
Sam Yagan, Co-founder of OkCupid and CEO of
Jason Cohen, Founder of WP Engine
Chris Fralic, Partner at First Round Capital
Rand Fishkin, Founder of SEOmoz
Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo
Jason Kincaid, Blogger at TechCrunch
Alex Pachikov, Co-founder of Evernote
Ryan Holiday, Exec at American Apparel
Andrew Warner, Founder of Mixergy
Garry Tan, Partner at Y Combinator
and many more.

Editorial Reviews


"This is a must-have, essential book if you want to be good at growth."
- Aaron Ginn, Growth at StumbleUpon 

"Traction is an absolute must. The Bullseye Framework Gabe and Justin layout is probably the greatest tool in my catalog over the past year. Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or just getting started, Traction offers a framework that creates efficiency, clarity, and focus. With startups as crazy as they are, I strongly encourage you to take the time to make your life a little easier. Traction is equal to and should be read alongside The Lean Startup."
- Adam Kearney, Founder & CEO, Saunter

"Traction is a critical guide for entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale their businesses." 
- Patrick Vlaskovits, bestselling author of The Lean Entrepreneur

"I've read quite a few books about startups over the years, and this was the only one worth keeping."
- Chris Stucchio, Data Scientist

"Traction belongs on every startup founder's bookshelf. I'm buying copies for the CEOs of my current Angel Investments."
- Kevin Dewalt, Angel Investor

About the Author

Gabriel Weinberg is the Founder & CEO of DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you with over a billion searches in 2013. He is also an angel investor in early stage startups. Weinberg has been featured on CBS, FOX, the Guardian, the Washington Post and many more. Previously he was the Co-founder & CEO of Opobox, which was sold to United Online in 2006. Weinberg holds B.S. in Physics and an M.S. in Technology and Policy from MIT. He is based on Valley Forge, PA with his wife and two boys.

Justin Mares is the former Director of Revenue at Exceptional, a software company that Rackspace acquired for 8 figures in 2013. He has previously founded two startups (one acquired, one bust) and runs a growth meetup in San Francisco. You can find his writing on marketing and personal-development on his blog,

Product Details

  • File Size: 5900 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: S-curves Publishing (August 23, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00N06Y2DW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weinberg and Mares beat me to it! September 29, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was outlining a book proposal when I found "Traction." My proposal first explained that product development gets easier, faster, and cheaper every year, so startups no longer fail because they can't build their product. Instead, startups fail when they hit the marketing wall.

According to The Economist (2014 Sep 13), "marketers say they have seen more change in the past two years than in the previous 50."

According to the Harvard Business Review (2014 July-August, p. 56) "In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition....we can't think of another discipline that has evolved so quickly."

It can seem like marketing is getting harder each year, but actually in some ways it's getting easier and cheaper, e.g., Facebook's targeted ads. What's needed is a guide to how marketing is changing.

Unlike the zillions of e-books about Facebook marketing, Twitter marketing, etc., my book would cover and compare all marketing channels. Unlike the e-books, my book would include case studies of real companies. Unlike the marketing textbooks, my book would focus on tech startups, not on dog treat bakeries and corner grocery stores. Unlike the books that say you'll get rich if you follow their formula, my book would say that marketing is changing rapidly now, and the marketing plan that worked even a few years ago won't work now. I proposed teaching entrepreneurs instead to make small-scale experiments, see what works and what doesn't, and continuously evolve their marketing.

I scrapped my book proposal because "Traction" is that book.

There are some things I would add (and perhaps Weinberg and Mares will in a second edition).
Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Missing Piece of the Puzzle August 25, 2014
In a world where startup advice tends to be a lot of the same garbage repackaged in fancy new clothes, this book is something different. It focuses on the part of the startup process where most companies go wrong -- getting customers.

A concise, actionable framework from some of the most successful founders in the world. Don't miss it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They recommend considering a lot of different options August 30, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Traction is one of those books that makes you wonder, “Why didn’t anyone write this before?” Gabriel and Justin have done a marvelous job outlining a strategy for solving the #1 challenge facing EVERY new business today: how to get traction – what Naval Ravikant (AngelList) defines as “quantitative evidence of demand”.

The book begins by explaining why getting early customers is so critical for startups today and outlining a high-level strategy for doing it. They recommend considering a lot of different options, systematically testing them, and then focusing like hell on the 1 or two that are working.

The meat of the book – and the reason it belongs on your bookshelf – is the 19 chapters dedicated to each one of the traction channels:

Viral Marketing
Unconventional PR
Social & Display Ads
Offline Ads
Content Marketing
Email Marketing
Engineering as Marketing
Targeting Blogs
Business Development
Affiliate Programs
Existing Platforms
Trade Shows
Offline Events
Speaking Engagements
Community Building
A marketing resource for startup Founders

This is a book that could have only been written by startup founders for startup founders. As founders, we never have the luxury of becoming an expert in any marketing strategy. But we have to know enough about all of them to get started and fill our teams with experts.

There are hundreds (e.g. Content Marketing) or thousands (e.g. Sales) of books on each of these strategies – more than any Founder ever needs to absorb. But I’ve never encountered a resources that gives a comprehensive overview of each of them.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely practical August 26, 2014
I was lucky to get access to a copy in advance of the release and I'm happy to report that this is one of the most practical books about marketing I've read (not just online marketing, but in general). It is easy to digest and highly actionable. Kudos to the authors.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A practical guide to startup growth August 27, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This short book attempts to explain, in detail, how and why tech businesses grow.

It divides the world of startup marketing into 19 traction channels (things like viral marketing, PR, search engine marketing, business development, trade shows and so on). Then it lays out the tactics available in each channel, using real-world stories from popular tech companies.

The book also talks in detail about how to organize your time and balance the demands of a startup. The two key concepts here are the critical path (i.e. focusing only on what will move the needle at your stage of business) and the bullseye framework for prioritizing your projects.

It's a quick read with great examples. Many of these tactics will be new to you even if you're an experienced entrepreneur and have read a lot of the startup literature.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High level but pretty good September 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just wish it went a bit deeper into tactics. Overall it's a great read for any founder though. Just don't expect to get anything very advanced.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read for anyone with a startup
I try to read 3 - 4 business books per month and this book is one of my favourites for online marketing. Read more
Published 3 days ago by tjgroove
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Topic is excellent, but could add better examples and more how-to's for startups.
Published 4 days ago by Steven Beau
3.0 out of 5 stars For beginners
Fairly basic information here. Might be useful for those new to these practices but I did not learn a single idea to implement in growing my company.
Published 4 days ago by Artem Lapitski
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Marketing Book. Not what you'd expect...
This is not what you'd expect. It does not focus on any one form of marketing.

This book covers something like 21 different forms of marketing. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for all startup founders
One of the reasons my last startup fizzled was because we didn't spend enough time focusing on gaining traction. Read more
Published 9 days ago by eric martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read !!!
Great resource for someone who wants to get an all round view on how to get to their customers. A must read for all startup founders.
Published 10 days ago by Maninder Gill
4.0 out of 5 stars Very practical and methodical
Justin and Gabriel give it to your straight and with great case studies. It's about time for a book with such practicality and calls to action. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive with actionable tactics
Traction is really comprehensive. It covers every channel you can think of for marketing both online and offline. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, pragmatic read.
Helpful for any start up. Good practical advice from successful founders who have built successful businesses. The best read this year.
Published 15 days ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must-read for internet startups just starting to plan their marketing.
Published 16 days ago by D. Grossman
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