What could be more satisfying than seeing your company taking off?
Any startupper is pursuing this objective.
But why some businesses are failing to reach customers while others just get rapid and constant traction?
One could think it’s just “black magic” or chance, but the reality lays in strategy and test… that’s what traction is all about!
First, it’s always good to start with a definition. According to Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, traction is “basically quantitative evidence of customer demand. So if you’re in enterprise software, [initial traction] may be two or three early customers who are paying a bit; if you’re in consumer software the bar might be as high as hundreds of thousands of users.”
Most of the startups are in the traction phase and are craving for growth (or should be).
Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares wrote an incredible book called “Traction” where they identified that startups get traction through 19 different channels. They basically are customer acquisition channels: viral marketing, public relations, unconventional PR, Search Engine Marketing, social and display ads, offline ads, Search Engine Optimization, content marketing, email marketing, engineering as marketing, targeting blogs, business development, sales, affiliate programs, existing platforms, trade shows, offline events, speaking engagements.
This framework is here to help you find which traction channel you must focus on.
Weinberg and Mares noticed two interesting facts:
- Most startups focus on the same traction channels and overlook the others. Indeed, founders may be biased and only consider channels they are familiar with or channels they think relevant according to their type of product or company.
- Testing is king. Educated guesses don’t count more than crystal ball gazing. You need to run tests to determine which channel works best for you.
That’s where the Bullseye Framework comes into play. This framework is here to help you find which traction channel you must focus on. Let’s discover how to implement a traction strategy following a five-step process:
1. Brainstorm: you need to come up with at least one reasonable idea of using each traction channel, but of course you can list several.
2. Rank: sort your brainstorming efforts by adding each traction channel into one of the following columns, representing a circle of the Bullseye Framework:
- Column A (Inner Circle): the channels that look most promising right now (it’s important to know that the most promising channels may vary according to the periods)
- Column B (Potential): the traction channels that could possibly work
- Column C (Long-shot): the traction channels that seem long-shots
3. Prioritize: get more specific on your inner circle! You must come up with the three most promising traction channels. If you have more than three, you need to cut off some of them. If you have less, pick up one that leads interest from the other columns, even if there is a drop-off in excitement. This will probably be the third channel of your inner circle. The aim of having more than one channel in the inner circle is to run tests on the different channels in parallel.
4. Test: Let’s narrow down and find out THE channel you need to focus on. Those tests need to answer the following questions:
- How much will it cost to acquire customers through this channel?
- How many customers might be available from this channel?
- Are the customers that you are getting though this channel the ones you want right now?
Remember that for now your main concern is to gather data to determine which traction channel works best, not getting a lot of traction from a channel yet.
5. Focusing: if the process went well, one of the channels you tested proved promising results. That’s where you should go and allocate your resources!
I know this seems very theorical and will probably need more work than you think.
If you feel like you need more guidance to make this step a success, I can only recommend you to apply to the Opening Band, the second cycle of our acceleration program at nyuko. It was designed for startups that have a MVP and are looking for clients. The Bullseye Framework is part of the themes you will get trained about.