Your Garage Best Books of the Month Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer roadies roadies roadies  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis UniOrlando Best Camping & Hiking Gear in Outdoors STEM

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on September 29, 2014
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). My proposal included case studies of both success and failure. "Traction" only has successful case studies, leading to a sense that every marketing strategy leads to success. Including both successes and failures would lead to a framework for what channels work for what types of companies. E.g., viral social media likes may work for a microbrewery, but not for colonoscopies!

Points I like about "Traction":

- Entrepreneurs should spend 50% of their time on product development and 50% on marketing, but product development sucks up all your time. It's more satisfying to add a new feature to your product than to spend your limited capital on a marketing test that completely fails. We feel comfortable developing our products but feel clueless marketing them.

- Integration with Lean Startup. That was the book I proposed a few years ago, and Eric Reis beat me to it!

- How much traction (downloads, press coverage, sales) investors want to see before they invest increases every year, as marketing gets faster and cheaper to some startups.

- Every entrepreneur has to hand sell the first few customers.

- Building a viral marketing campaign will take one or two engineers three to six months! I.e., viral marketing doesn't magically happen just because your product is so cool.

Stuff that's missing:

- Celebrity endorsements is a 20th channel.

- A chapter about market research, e.g., why you should ask open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions.

- The PR chapter needs a section on finding journalist contacts, se.g., whether to use the Meltwater or Cision databases.

- Tradeshows are about having outgoing, enthusiastic salespeople, not about having a flashy booth.
44 comments|62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 30, 2014
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.

As I scan back through my notes I found a few places where I wrote, “Yes, yes YES!” Justin and Gabriel make a few key points that hit home with me.

**Begin marketing in parallel with Product Development**

I constantly meet entrepreneurs in our online courses & workshops who plan on worrying about getting customers “after the product is built”. This is a big, big mistake.

**Phases, goals & patience**

The startup entertainment industry loves fairy tales about magical, one-time tricks that instantly take a startup from obscurity to growth overnight. Traction provides a refreshing view of what it actually takes to succeed:

+ Set near-term, achievable goals like “Grow from 100 to 500 paying customers"
+ Pick a strategy appropriate for the phase of your company (e.g. Don’t start with email marketing before you have a message).
+ Be patient – most entrepreneurs give up way, way too early.
+ Test different options

Most entrepreneurs I meet have just 1 plan for getting customers – whatever they’re already familiar or comfortable with.

Content Marketing worked for Buffer. A viral video worked for Dropbox. Neither may work for you – the only way to find out is to model and test them. Traction shows you how.

**Where Traction falls a bit short**

I don’t have many criticisms of Traction, certainly not enough to prevent me from recommending it or giving it 5 stars. But here are a few comments from my notes to help set your expectations.

Although Traction outlines a process in the beginning, it isn’t a step-by-step manual like Ash Maurya’s Running Lean. For experienced Founders, the process they describe is probably good enough – it is actually almost identical to what we’re doing at my startup. But I know from experience that many entrepreneurs will need mentors and help to apply the broader strategies they outline.

I wish Traction focused a bit more on which of the 19 strategies are most applicable at different Phases. I’m probably overly-sensitive to this issue because all of my time is currently spent on helping entrepreneurs with Traction Phase 1 – getting started from nothing. For instance, I constantly encounter entrepreneurs who are trying tactics like PR or SEO way, way too early.

**Buy a copy for your next flight**

I know … you’ve already got 10 other unread books sitting in your Kindle. Go get a copy anyway.

Traction is an easy, enjoyable, fun read. You can plow through it on your next flight to Silicon Valley and reference later as you need it.

Better yet, update your pitch deck – talk intelligently about growth strategies and you’ll stand out as a good bet for investors.
0Comment|39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 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.
0Comment|26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 29, 2014
Traction. Ah, just the sound of the word alone makes my spine tingle. Traction, it seems, can forgive all sins. With enough of it, investors will commit even if you haven’t figured out your team or how you will make money. So why is it that so many founders sit on their hands and just hope that their product takes off?

Ignorance. Most founders don’t know how to get traction for their startups and so they blindly double down on building a great product. They don’t know what investors mean when asked for a “Go-to-Market” plan so they skip that slide.

“Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have are enough customers.”

Ignorance for how to build traction is not an excuse, and Justin and Gabriel have created a definitive guide to stepping you through the 19 channels that every entrepreneur has access to today.

I don’t care if you are a food cart or the next Instagram, you will learn valuable techniques for building your business if you buy this book.

After reading this book and implementing their “Bullseye Framework”, you will absolutely be able to create a killer Go-to-Market slide for any investor. The Bullseye Framework solves the fundamental problem that:

“Some traction channels will move the needle early on, but will fail to work later […] What moves the needle changes dramatically.”

This framework will guide you to quickly figure out which 1 of the 19 channels you should focus on first. It will also help you shift gears when that one no longer serves you any more. The worst thing you can do with traction is forget to shift into 5th gear while merging onto the freeway.

It is about time that someone create this definitive guide. One of my favorite parts of it is that whether they are talking about radio ads and billboards or search engine marketing and Facebook ads, they give you ballpark estimates for what everything costs. If you have never put up a billboard before (P.S. I have) you might not know that you can space on one for about $8,000. Gabriel Weinberg doubled DuckDuckGo’s (the search engine) traffic with a well placed billboard.

My second favorite thing about this book is that there is a fantastic example of a real pitch email for press used to get coverage from TechCrunch. When I was starting AppFog, the whole idea of pitching press seemed completely foreign to me and seeing an example like this would have helped me immensely with my public relations strategy.

My only criticism of the book is that they defer heavily to lean methodologies for you to determine the content of the message you are trying to convey within these distribution channels (whether it be blogs or social media, etc). I understand that they won’t be able to put as much detail into content direction as the Lean Startup does, but I would have liked them to spend a little more time explaining how to put out the best quality content on these channels in order to get the best ROI for your traction efforts. They cover A/B testing, but spending more time on how to use empathy to write highly effective copy would have been ideal.

Overall, do yourself a favor and just buy this book. It’s great. It’s is a must-read for startup and small business owners alike. Even if you have a knack for marketing, reading this book will help you think in a more well rounded way and create more structure to your go-to-market plan.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 20, 2015
The book puts all the emphasis on the different 20 traction channels and how to take advantage of them, but the reader is left sorely wanting for more discussion (beyond terse mentions) of how to actually brainstorm the right channel, then choose a traction channel and how to grow a business's traction over time.

The actual growth of my marketing through traction is what I expected & the stages of growth I should expect. Unfortunately, what I got was a laundry list of things I could probably google.

The book chapter layout was opposite of what it should have been: it should have had 20 chapters of material on how to develop my business from 1 client to 1 million clients, outlining the different challenges during each stage of growth & then 1-2 chapters on all the different traction channels & how to implement them.

Perhaps this should have been 2 books, one simple discussing growth in stages & one about traction channels? I was frustrated by the lack of a single path.

I know there is no one path, but I expect at least one laid out initially for me all the way from failure to success to relate to, before discussing the options I have. It would make it easier to understand the rest of the book.

That said, the book's commitment to traction is tremendous & I massively appreciate the new inquiries that this book has created in the world. This is a rich discussion & more people should be paying attention to this topic. Thank you for speaking up!
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 30, 2015
I was disappointed in this book even though it came highly recommended by a personal contact and by many of the reviews on Amazon. The authors present nineteen channels for gaining traction for your startup business. The marketing strategies described for each channel consists of information that is readily available on the Internet, and through many other books on marketing. The authors use examples of start-up companies who have used these marketing channels and have gained huge success Contrary to the title of the book, it would be delusional to believe that any startup can achieve explosive customer growth by following the examples described in this book, especially for many startups with limited resources. The authors do not give clear information about how to select marketing strategies that best fits a particular situation. Bottom Line: This book does not provide information that is more helpful than what is already available through online resources.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 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.
0Comment|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 12, 2015
Traction was extremely helpful for me as a budding entrepreneur and author. In the book, Weinberg and Mares lay out 19 different "traction channels" everyone looking for their next client should consider. Furthermore, they challenge you to give a hard look to some of the channels you would normally dismiss without a second thought. Why? Sometimes the channel you least thought would work turns out to be highly effective.

Something I appreciated about this book was how much objective research went into it. The list of traction channels wasn't something they pulled out of their backside, but rather something that resulted from extensive interviews with entrepreneurs and business people who have experienced real-life success with them.

The only reason I didn't give Traction five stars is because many of the sections lacked the practical advice needed to put these strategies into action. To that extent, I felt like it left me hanging in quite a few areas. Not every reader is going to know who to contact for a PR campaign, how to get started with SEO, or the best way to setup a sales process/team. If you are looking for very specific information like this, realize that this book won't deliver it to you.

Now to be fair - each of the 19 channels probably deserves its own book to describe such detail, and I don't think this book was intended to be an encyclopedic guide to implementing every channel. This book was surely intended to be more of a top-level overview. To that end, it was great for calibrating one's understanding (from a leadership/executive perspective) of each channel. It inspired me to think outside the box with my own business and projects, and I still found a lot of value in it.

Anyone new to the startup world or who plans to start their own business deserves to read this book - and probably also the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Some have said Traction and the Lean Startup go hand-in-hand, with Traction focusing more on customer acquisition and Lean Startup focusing more on product development. The build-measure-learn concept is present in each, however, and is a clear theme for all new business owners.

Once again, would certainly recommend to anyone new to the startup world or entrepreneurship. It's a quick and easy read with many good ideas.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 27, 2014
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.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 25, 2014
We had Justin on our podcast, The Entrepreneurs Library, to give a full run down of Traction. Justin is sharp, intelligent and it clearly shows in this book. IF you would like to hear a review of the book from Justin himself check out episode 35 on The EL podcast.
11 comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse