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Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares (August 25, 2014) Hardcover Hardcover – 1800
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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.
I thoroughly recommend you buy it, read it, read it again, then write/blog about it. Book also comes with support forums which helps with continuing learning and lets you share ideas with others.
My chief complaint is that the explanations are a bit simplistic and give the impression that certain channels are easier to use than is the reality.
The bulls-eye logic pattern is exactly what we needed to crystalize our efforts and quickly ascertain what tactics we needed to test to understand how to ramp our business.
This is the closest thing you will get to an in-house growth expert, a must read from the CEO to the manager level across departments.
Stop reading other reviews and buy the book, your traction is waiting.
The book is excellent if you want a good framework on how to choose the best promotion channel for your company.
The book is very useful if you are looking to expand your horizon about new, untapped, channels of promotion.
Unlike most books who rehash the same few concepts over hundred of pages, every chapter of this book is packed with actionable ideas and suggestions to explore.
It never pretends to offer a silver bullet. Instead you get out of there with a ton of small experiments that have worked at least once for others.
I'm at the early stage of my startup and I can't wait to test the ton of ideas I've generated while reading this book.
Kudos to Gabriel and Justin for a fantastic book.