This book is suitable for people who have a business idea or they have a good product but they don’t know how to get it in front of their buyer persona. Any marketing (inbound or outbound) specialist will not find much value in the book.

It’s not that it does not provide value but you will only learn a little bit of everything and this is not enough to move the needle. The book will just help you understand what channels are suitable for promoting your business. You will have to read more books and dig deeper in those channels.

After reading the book you won’t regret it but you will have the feeling that more information should have been provided for each traction channel.

Gabriel Weinberg is the founder of DuckDuckGo the underdog “search engine that doesn’t track you“. You will find out the main traction channels he used to launch this startup but you will also get find out how other successful startups achieved traction.

The following people shared their traction stories and tips in the book:

Jimmy Wales: Cofounder Wikipedia

Alexis Ohanian, Cofounder Reddit

Rand Fishkin, Founder of MOZ

Dharmesh Shah, Founder of HubSpot

Paul English, CEO of Kayak

Ryan Holiday, Exec at American Apparel

plus other 30+ startup founders or book authors such as Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup.

After interviewing all these successful founders the author concluded that most startups achieve traction through nineteen different channels. Moreover, most of them try out several of them until they figure out the one that works best for them and invest most of their resources on that one.

Gabriel calls these customer acquisition channels traction channels. These are marketing and distribution channels through which your startup can get traction: real customer growth.

Gabriel advises to consider all traction channels and not just dive straight into the ones they’re already familiar as these are usually saturated and expensive. You should never ignore underutilized channels that your competitors dismiss as they may move the needle in your industry. That traction channel can help you grow fast while they languish.


Before going through all 19 channels let’s find out more about the strategy Gabriel advises us to use. The framework is called Bullseye  and it will help you find the channel that will get you traction – the core traction channel.

1. Brainstorm (The outer ring: What’s Possible)

The first step of Bullseye consists of brainstorming every single traction channel. Try to establish what success would have each channel and think of an idea for each channel.If you were to advertise offline, where would be the best place to place an ad? If you were to give a speech, who would be the ideal audience? etc

For each traction channel, you should identify at least a decent strategy. For example, social ads is a traction channel and running ads on Facebook, twitter or Reddit is a channel strategy.

2. Rank

Organize your brainstorming efforts by placing each of the channels into one of three columns:

• Column A (Inner Circle): which traction channels seem most promising right now?

• Column B (Potential): which traction channels seem like they could possibly work?

• Column C (Long-shot): which traction channels seem like long-shots?


3. Prioritize (The middle ring: What’s Probable)

Choose 3 traction channels that you think could help you get traction for your business.

4. Test

In this step, you should run cheap traction tests in the channels that seem most promising.  You should go around your outer ring and promote your best traction channels to the middle ring.

For each traction, you should create a traction test in order to determine if the idea really is good or not. The tests should answer the following questions:

  • How much will it cost to acquire customers through this channel?
  • How many customers are available through this channel?
  • Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the kind of customers you want?

Don’t invest too much time in marketing during this step. You are simply trying to determine if this channels could move the needle for your business.

5. Focus on what works (The inner ring: What’s Working)

The final step in Bullseye is to focus solely on the channel that will move the needle for your startup: the core channel.

You can use the following print-ready framework to establish your core channel. Click on the picture to download it in high resolution.



Traction Channels

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

To find out more about each chapter and the framework you should buy and read the book.

The 50% Rule

Most startups that fail have a pretty decent product but what they lack is customers. It’s quite frustrating that early customers love your product but you are not getting traction. To address this frustration, spend your time building product and testing traction channels – in parallel.

In other words, traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50% rule: spend 50% of your time on product and 50% on traction.

Personal Takeaway:

I found quite useful the following advice from the “Public Speaking” chapter. When you start a keynote or just a public speaking engagement your audience is usually thinking about two questions:

Why are you important enough to be giving a talk?

What value can you offer me?

These questions will be burning on everyone’s mind and you should address them as soon as you can.

The next step is to keep the attention of the audience with a gripping story. All successful talks tell a story.