ABC of Scale: Traction. The book for startups every brand owner must read
by Charlie Mathews (@CharlesLeeZA) How did DuckDuckGo grow from a few thousand queries a day to a search engine that today manages some 16bn queries daily? Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth answers this question, and a whole lot more, in a book for startups that everybody who works with brands should read.
Why? The top challenge facing marketers today is generating traffic and leads. After polling thousands of marketers annually for the past nine years, Hubspot’s State Of Inbound 2017 report shows that converting leads to customers, growing website traffic and increasing revenue remains the biggest challenges that marketers face.
One of the top takeaways that brand owners and managers will get from Traction is how to think like a startup whose very survival depends on getting customers. Another is how to think analytically and to consider channels that likely live outside of your brand’s marketing purview.
Given how digital has forever fragmented and changed media channels, the 19 means of connecting with, and converting, customers explored in #Traction deserve close examination.
Written by Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, and Justin Mares, the former director of revenue at software company, Exceptional, the book includes interviews with a constellation of DotCom rockstars. These luminaries include Colin Nederkoorn, CEO of Customer.io; Nikhil Sethi, founder of Adaptly; Dan Martell, CEO of Clarity.fm; Alexis Ohanian, who cofounded reddit; Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia; Sandi MacPherson, who founded Quibb; and more.
Among the 19 channels you should be using to scale your customer base?
- Targeting blogs: Here the big story is how Noah Kagan, former marketing director of Mint, used blogs to acquire the first 40000 users for the personal financial management company before launch.
- Publicity: In this section, former TechCrunch writer, Jason Kincaid, reveals what to do and what not to do when trying to forge relationships with journalists to get editorial coverage.
- Unconventional PR: Here the authors list two types of unconventional PR, stunts and the often-overlooked tactic of personal appreciation that make customers feel valued.
- Viral marketing: This chapter considers how to ensure that each new customer you onboard brings at least one other customer with them.
Other channels the authors advocate include search engine marketing; social and display ads; sales; affiliate programs; trade shows; offline events; speaker opportunities; existing platforms like websites and apps; offline ads; search engine optimisation (SEO); content marketing; and email marketing. Engineering as marketing is also considered a channel — this means building the resources and tools that are useful for people and, subsequently. drive reach. The last channel is community building, which Wikipedia has done particularly well.
Weinberg offers this advice in a blog that examines these tactics for acquiring customers: “When considering these 19 traction channels, try your best not to dismiss them as irrelevant for your company. Each traction channel has worked for startups of all kinds and phases. The right channel is often an underutilized one. Get one channel working that your competitors dismiss, and you can grow rapidly while they languish.”
One of the unfortunate problems with scale is what happens once you’ve achieved it. There’s nothing like having no customers to light a fire in your belly. But, once you’ve achieved growth, it’s likely that you won’t still be the same hungry entrepreneur you once were. This book reminds you of the best part of what it is to be a startup, which is all about using smart and calculated thinking to drive growth.
Thanks for reading this, my first column on #GrowthHacking and the art of scale. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover in future, please email me at charlie [at] charlesleemathews.com
- Gabriel Weinberg on Medium: 78 Takeaways from Traction Book
A serial entrepreneur who founded, and sold, two marketing companies, Charlie Mathews (@CharlesLeeZA) has grown brands for Naspers, Shoprite Checkers and Absa, and helped a number of tech startups go to market, raise VC funding, and grow. The former co-founder of Idea Engineers, Mathews grew the business into a multi-million rand agency before exiting, and also helped establish one of the fastest-growing offices for global tech PR company, Text 100, winning the Chairman’s award for growth. These days, Charlie is a growth hacker at WorldBrain.io and Continuon.co. “ABC of Scale” is a MarkLives column focusing on growth-hacking and -marketing.
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