Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares AMA Takeaways on Growth and Traction

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Gabriel Weinberg is the Founder & CEO of the search engine DuckDuckGoJustin Mares is the former Director of Revenue at Exceptional, a software company that Rackspace acquired. They are the co-authors of TRACTION: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth

Some basic theses that underpin the book are:

  • you need to do traction development in parallel with product development
  • you need to test multiple channels in parallel
  • you are biased against certain channels and that could be holding you back

The best growth goals are aligned with an inflection point in your company. For many companies, the first one is getting the amount of traction necessary to raise funding.

The book mentions a 50% rule. 50% of your time and company resources should be focused on traction. If you’re unable to focus on traction as much as on product, you should consider getting additional resources.

In their book they cover 19 channels to gain traction. They are:

  1. Viral Marketing
  2. Public Relations (PR)
  3. Unconventional Public Relations (anything else that would bring publicity)
  4. Search Engine Marketing
  5. Social and Display Ads
  6. Offline Advertising
  7. Search Engine Optimization
  8. Content Marketing
  9. Email Marketing
  10. Engineering as Marketing
  11. Targeting Blogs (Outreach)
  12. Business Development
  13. Sales
  14. Affiliate Programs
  15. Existing Platforms
  16. Trade Shows
  17. Offline Events
  18. Speaking Engagements
  19. Community Building

Go through the process of thinking about all 19 channels. They may be new advantageous ways of acquiring customers that your competitors are not using, or are not using effectively.

Virality doesn’t make sense for all products. It works for products that involve people communicating such as social media, messaging, and email. An article was shared on designing your viral loop.

“Engineering as Marketing” is unique method of gaining traction that stood out. This is when you make products that are completely separate but complimentary to your product.
Examples include:

Growth teams they’ve seen at Lyft, GitHub, Facebook and others are independent but work closely with product and engineering. An article on why marketing should have its own engineers is shared.

6 common traction mistakes and how to avoid them

  1. Not seeking traction early enough.
  2. Not setting an explicit traction goal.
  3. Not considering all 19 traction channels.
  4. Not doing fast and cheap traction tests.
  5. Not focusing on one core channel.
  6. Not using a structured approach.

Growth hacking is a term that is being misused and overused. However, data driven and technical marketing are not fads. They are the real deal.

3 main components that make a successful entrepreneur

  1. focus
  2. determination
  3. “willingness to slog away at something”

Check the full AMA here.

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