Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

S Curve Publishing
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Most startups end in failure.

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

Traction Book changes that. We provide startup founders and employees with the framework successful companies use to get traction. It helps you determine which marketing channel will be your key to growth.

"If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business." -- Peter Thiel, billionare PayPal founder

The number one traction mistake founders and employees make is not dedicating as much time to  traction as they do to developing a product. This shortsighted approach has startups trying random tactics -- some ads, a blog post or two -- in an unstructured way that will likely fail.

We developed our traction framework called Bullseye with the help of the founders behind several of the biggest companies and organizations in the world like Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), Paul English (, Alex Pachikov (Evernote) and more. We interviewed over forty successful founders and researched countless more traction stories -- pulling 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

Traction will show you how some of the biggest internet companies have grown, and give you the same tools and framework to get traction. 

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About the author

Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you. He is also an active angel investor and writer, based in Valley Forge, PA. Previously he was the CEO & Co-founder of Opobox, which was sold to United Online in 2006. Weinberg holds two degrees from MIT, a B.S. in Physics (2001) and an M.S. in Technology and Policy (2005).

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,
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Additional Information

S Curve Publishing
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Published on
Aug 26, 2014
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Best For
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Business & Economics / Marketing / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The 21st century business environment demands more analysis and rigor in marketing decision making. Increasingly, marketing decision making resembles design engineering-putting together concepts, data, analyses, and simulations to learn about the marketplace and to design effective marketing plans. While many view traditional marketing as art and some view it as science, the new marketing increasingly looks like engineering (that is, combining art and science to solve specific problems).

Marketing Engineering is the systematic approach to harness data and knowledge to drive effective marketing decision making and implementation through a technology-enabled and model-supported decision process. (For more information on Excel-based models that support these concepts, visit

We have designed this book primarily for the business school student or marketing manager, who, with minimal background and technical training, must understand and employ the basic tools and models associated with Marketing Engineering.

We offer an accessible overview of the most widely used marketing engineering concepts and tools and show how they drive the collection of the right data and information to perform the right analyses to make better marketing plans, better product designs, and better marketing decisions.

What's New In the 2nd Edition

While much has changed in the nearly five years since the first edition of Principles of Marketing Engineering was published, much has remained the same. Hence, we have not changed the basic structure or contents of the book. We have, however

Updated the examples and references. Added new content on customer lifetime value and customer valuation methods. Added several new pricing models. Added new material on "reverse perceptual mapping" to describe some exciting enhancements to our Marketing Engineering for Excel software. Provided some new perspectives on the future of Marketing Engineering. Provided better alignment between the content of the text and both the software and cases available with Marketing Engineering for Excel 2.0.
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Most startups don’t fail because they can’t build a product.
Most startups fail because they can’t get traction. 

Startup advice tends to be a lot of platitudes repackaged with new buzzwords, but Traction is something else entirely.
As Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares learned from their own experiences, building a successful company is hard. For every startup that grows to the point where it can go public or be profitably acquired, hundreds of others sputter and die.
Smart entrepreneurs know that the key to success isn’t the originality of your offering, the brilliance of your team, or how much money you raise. It’s how consistently you can grow and acquire new customers (or, for a free service, users). That’s called traction, and it makes everything else easier—fund-raising, hiring, press, partnerships, acquisitions. Talk is cheap, but traction is hard evidence that you’re on the right path.

Traction will teach you the nineteen channels you can use to build a customer base, and how to pick the right ones for your business. It draws on inter-views with more than forty successful founders, including Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (reddit), Paul English (Kayak), and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot). You’ll learn, for example, how to:
·Find and use offline ads and other channels your competitors probably aren’t using
·Get targeted media coverage that will help you reach more customers
·Boost the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns by automating staggered sets of prompts and updates
·Improve your search engine rankings and advertising through online tools and research

Weinberg and Mares know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; every startup faces unique challenges and will benefit from a blend of these nineteen traction channels. They offer a three-step framework (called Bullseye) to figure out which ones will work best for your business. But no matter how you apply them, the lessons and examples in Traction will help you create and sustain the growth your business desperately needs.

From the Hardcover edition.
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