Traction: Book Summary and Review
Business Entrepreneurship Ideas

Traction: Book Summary and Review

Sahil Thakkar

Once you found a startup, you might think you’ve reached the end of a long journey, all the way from envisioning it to hiring people to making it a reality and so on. But the truth is that this is only the beginning of the journey! After establishing a startup, the next step is to get eyes on it. To get seen. In a word, to get traction. Once you can get the ball rolling and start gathering traction, you will well and truly be on your way to success!

“Though media outlets are increasingly on the lookout for good stories, there are still challenges to getting exposure. Tens of thousands of companies are clamoring for media coverage. Jason Kincaid, a former reporter at TechCrunch, told us that he got pitched over 50 times each day. What gets a reporter’s attention? Milestones: raising money, launching a new product, breaking a usage barrier, a PR stunt, big partnership or a special industry report. Each of these events is interesting and noteworthy enough to potentially generate some coverage. Jason advises bundling smaller announcements together into one big announcement whenever possible. Breaking a usage barrier is great. Releasing a new version is noteworthy. But releasing a new version and breaking a usage barrier in the process is even more compelling.”

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares distills insights from many successful founders and CEOs, especially in the software realm.You will learn the exact secrets that Kayak, HubSpot, Reddit, and even Wikipedia used to establish and position themselves in a powerful way so as to gain traction.

“There are four common situations where you could build something people want, but still not end up with a viable business. First, you could build something people want, but for which you just can’t figure out a viable business model. The money isn’t adding up. For example, people won’t pay, and selling advertising won’t cover the bills. There is just no real market. Second, you could build something people want, but there are just not enough customers to reach profitability. It’s just too small a market, and there aren’t obvious ways to expand. This occurs often when startups aren’t ambitious enough and pick too narrow a niche. Third, you could build something people want, but reaching them is cost prohibitive. You find yourself in a hard-to-reach market. An example is a relatively inexpensive product that requires a direct sales force to sell it. That combo just doesn’t work. Finally, you could build something people want, but a lot of other companies build it too. In this situation you are in a hypercompetitive market where it is simply too hard to get customers.”

Traction stresses that you must start thinking about marketing the second you start working on your startup. It is not an additional step along the way, but it is in fact the core step. It should also inform how you develop the product so that the product and marketing can work in perfect synergy with each other. These quotes sum it up:

“Waiting until you launch a product to embark on traction development usually results in one or more additional product development cycles as you adjust to real market feedback. That’s why doing traction and product development in parallel may slow down product development in the short run, but in the long run it’s the opposite.”

“Traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50 percent on traction.”

“Having a product or service that your early customers love, but having no clear way to get more traction is a major problem. To solve this problem, spend your time constructing your product or service and testing traction channels in parallel.”

“Traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50 percent on traction. Building”

Another key insight from Tractionis that budgets should be carefully managed and balanced for maximum effectiveness.

“In particular, your tests should be designed to answer these questions: How much does it cost to acquire each customer through this channel strategy? How many customers are available through this channel strategy? Are the customers you are getting through this channel the ones you want right now?”

It also emphasizes that you should experiment at a rapid pace and keep trying new things to get powerful results fast. You should also track your results very extensively to be able to know what to tweak and when.

“The faster you run high quality experiments, the more likely you’ll find scalable, effective growth tactics. Determining the success of a customer acquisition idea is dependent on an effective tracking and reporting system, so don’t start testing until your tracking/reporting system has been implemented.”

These are the key lessons that we gleaned from Traction. It is without doubt a must-read for anybody who has founded or is thinking of founding a startup. It will be your roadmap to getting eyes on your startup and taking it to the next level! We rate Traction4.5/5 stars!