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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 (132 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $4.99
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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: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,691 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 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).
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15 of 16 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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15 of 16 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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8 of 8 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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10 of 11 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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5 of 5 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Online marketing myths debunked
This book is really an undercover exposé! Having worked in a PPC marketing agency, I witnessed firsthand how a "one-size-fits-all" online marketing formula is force-fed to... Read more
Published 3 days ago by AB
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for marketing focus? Here's your book!
A must listen / read for those looking to find a focus for there marketing efforts and seeking some direction for there team!
Published 8 days ago by Michael Bowers
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good list of possible traction channels - not much new insightful information.
Published 11 days ago by Steve Konieczka
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book about getting customers. Recommended. Not for expert.
Published 13 days ago by Giovanni
4.0 out of 5 stars great quick read
The book stands on the contributions of real entrepreneurs and there lies its value. Other than that if you are an entrepreneur you've heard at least some of what you'll read here... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Sandra Navarro
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This is a fantastic book offering a simple framework for obtaining traction. Cuts through all of the fluff by outlining each possible traction channel with solid examples and... Read more
Published 17 days ago by James Valladares
4.0 out of 5 stars FilmNeverDie
Good intro to gaining traction high recommending reading it no matter if you are a startup or a giant company
Published 21 days ago by Gary wong
5.0 out of 5 stars "Traction" Insists That Success Only Arises From Planning,...
I am 24, starting work at my second start-up. Due to tight budgeting (at least until we get more funding! Read more
Published 22 days ago by Starcraft2formerfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Get your sh@& Organized!
Get your experiments aligned and accountable using the Traction framework. Nice to get some order to the mess and chaos of experimentation.
Published 23 days ago by mijael feldman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great for beginners
Published 28 days ago by Goncalo
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