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Traction

A Start-Up Guide to Getting Customers

By Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
15-minute read
Audio available
Traction: A Start-Up Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Traction (2014) explains why the success of every start-up depends not only on its products, but on the customer base it builds. Weinberg and Mares present proven methods for gaining customers, and help you choose the best for each growth phase of your company. With a bit of Traction, you’ll win – and develop – the audience your product deserves.

  • Founders and business owners
  • Anyone thinking about launching a start-up
  • Marketers and public relations professionals

Gabriel Weinberg is the founder and CEO of privacy-oriented internet search engine DuckDuckGo. Justin Mares is a start-up founder with expertise in mobile health and 3D printing. Both have been directors at start-ups that sold for eight-figure sums.

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Traction

A Start-Up Guide to Getting Customers

By Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Traction: A Start-Up Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
Synopsis

Traction (2014) explains why the success of every start-up depends not only on its products, but on the customer base it builds. Weinberg and Mares present proven methods for gaining customers, and help you choose the best for each growth phase of your company. With a bit of Traction, you’ll win – and develop – the audience your product deserves.

Key idea 1 of 9

Start thinking about traction early on by growing customer demand for your product.

Countless start-ups launch every day, but only a fraction succeed. Why? The answer lies in traction: the growth of customer demand for a product.

Traction is crucial because the defining metric for any start-up is its growth rate, and this growth can only be driven by a corresponding growth in consumer demand.

However, the amount of traction your company needs depends on the stage it’s reached. Early on, even a handful of new customers count as traction, but by the time you have a customer base of 10,000, only increments of thousands will work.

Another key to understanding traction is that it isn’t just about a good product; it also depends on solid marketing strategy. Many mistakenly think that a great product is all that’s needed to attract customers. However, this is almost never true. Your product needs to be marketed to the right audience in the right way.

Nonetheless, what you’re selling is still important. Split your time 50/50 between product development and traction. By devoting time to traction early on, you’ll also get valuable feedback that will help you further develop your products.

For example, when Dropbox started out, they tested search engine marketing but quickly realized it was too expensive: gaining a single customer cost twice the amount they made from a subscription! Luckily, they had time to experiment with cheaper and more effective viral marketing strategies.

A final advantage of thinking about traction early on is that it builds useful experience and allows you to grow quickly once the product is ready. For example, marketing software company Marketo started blogging about their product long before it was fully developed. This led to a better product thanks to the feedback they received, but also resulted in a ready-made customer base of 14,000 buyers on the day they launched.

So how does your start-up build traction? Read on to learn about proven techniques.

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