Traction for a business is a sign that it’s growing, that it’s taking off. If you have traction you are headed in the right direction.

So does traction only apply to start ups? Short answer, no it doesn’t, traction can apply to any business or organisation at anytime. You just have to spot the signs that you need it.
The tell tale signs for an established business are lack of growth, stagnation, high turn over of staff and a decline in sales.

You might have heard the term ‘traction channels’. If you haven’t that’s fine I hadn’t until a few years ago, I knew what marketing channels were and how they were used but never traction channels.
According to the book Traction: A start up guide to getting customers written by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares there are nineteen traction channels for your business to exploit and they are:

  1. Viral marketing
  2. Public relations (PR)
  3. Unconventional PR
  4. Search engine marketing (SEM)
  5. Social display ads
  6. Offline ads
  7. Content marketing
  8. Email marketing
  9. Engineering as marketing
  10. Email marketing
  11. Targeted blogs (niche)
  12. Business development
  13. Sales
  14. Affiliate programs
  15. Existing platforms
  16. Trade shows
  17. Offline events
  18. Public speaking
  19. Community building

You should be able to attract your niche target audience through a combination of at least any three of these traction channels. My one piece of advice would be, experiment, don’t stick to the ones you know and use already as it will mean you are missing out on some fantastic ways to attract new members to your audience or community.

The other point to consider is that your competitors could be using the same channels in what could be a very crowded marketplace already. Better to try a few new ones and see what happens. Testing is always good and its productive in the way that it can open your eyes to what else is out there and could work.

This method of finding new and exciting channels has served me well over the years.

If you’re a start up
So you’ve found your three traction channels and you are ready to get serious. Where do you start? This is what stops most businesses before they’ve even begun.
The problem can be that they focus so much on the product or service they are building they forget to promote it. I keep hearing and reading that we should have our product ‘nailed up good and tight’ before even considering promotion. Rubbish!!
Look at it this way, if you build an app if you don’t get feedback from the very people you are hoping will download it how do you know that what you have built they will want? You won’t. Its far better to include them through a blog on your website or Medium or a Facebook group than it is risk building something you think is fantastic and they don’t.

I would rather get the concept sorted and a development strategy in place and then speak to my audience to find out if I am on the right track than concentrate on features that I think they might want or need. Better to get it from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

There is nothing more frustrating than letting your idea loose on the world for nothing to happen, nobody downloads it because they have never heard of it.

Think 50/50
This process follows 50% production and 50% promotion, the benefits and possibilities are endless for the following reasons:

  • Incorporate knowledge gained from your audience feedback
  • Great traction development brings with it good data and that’s key to making sure you are on the right track
  • Which of your messages, blog posts and updates are resonating with your audience/community?
  • Which customers are the easiest to attract, this customer will be with you for the long haul if you get it right and become your brand ambassadors
  • You will find out which, if any, obstacles you might come across.

Think change
You have to be prepared to ‘pivot’ or change course as you gather data and feedback, but its far better to do it at the beginning than it is half way through or at the end.
The other problems you could run into are, if you do build it and then promote it you will have to make revisions to the product at the end cost more time and probably money. If you have all the information at the beginning this will make the final product not only a better product but a product that people want, because you’ve already asked them. Does this make sense?

In the long run you will have a better product that more people want, why? Because you have taken all the guess work out of it.

The other reason you should employ the 50/50 rule is you get to experiment with the different traction channels and this gives you a head start when you get to the end of the production cycle as you will already know which ones work. Admittedly this way takes longer to get your product to market but in the long run you will have tried and tested what works with your target audience. A sure fire winner in my book.

If you’re an established business
The same principals can apply to you every bit as much as they apply to a start up, why, because that is what you might have to become.

Let me explain, lets say you have a dozen products currently available a few offices scattered around the country and just less than 1000 staff, all seems great until you realise that the bottom line is suffering, you are not the leader in the game you once were. It sucks!

The first thing you should look at is the products you offer and are they fit for purpose, do people actually want them? Once you have decided that maybe 2 or 3 of them can go what do you do with the rest? Well lets imagine that you flagship product is still performing well, let’s keep that as it is and maybe use it as a lead magnet for other less well liked products. This is an easy short term fix but it’s not going to save the company.

Think like a start up!
Now instead of thinking like a large organisation, think like a start up. Look for new and exciting products and service that people actually want only this time ask your audience what they would like and how they would like it served up to them, you could be missing a trick here to launch a really innovative and exciting product. I realise we are getting into digital transformation territory here but throughout the whole NLT process you will see how it all fits together, trust me 🙂

So what do you do if you recognise your organisation and what’s currently happening to it? Easy scroll back up to the start up section of this post and read it again, employing what we’ve already gone through in your new or existing products or services.

What do you think are you ready to give it a chance and maybe think in a totally different way to how you currently do? Fantastic… you’re on your way.

NLT is a concept by Keith McMean to help you break out of the old way of thinking when it comes to your business and how to grow it successfully. If you have any questions or thoughts on traction we can talk them through in the comments, this way if you have a fantastic idea I can give you the credit you deserve and if I use it in a future post you’ll be right there with me.

You can keep up to date with the whole series by subscribing to my free newsletter here

Traction book on Amazon
Photo credit: Andy Kaiser

Keith McMean

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