If you are involved in the startups world, it is likely you have read or at least heard about Traction, a popular book written by the CEO of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg. It frequently features on ‘must read’ lists for startup founders, alongside books like The Lean Startup and Zero to One. In short, this awesome book – buy it, if you haven’t already – tells how a startup can discover which marketing strategies work best to grow their business.
Traction features 19 marketing channels – one chapter for each – covering everything from search engine optimization and content marketing to trade shows and speaking engagements. The book makes many suggestions for each channel and backs its ideas with case studies from other successful startups.
But the key idea, in my view, is that of the ‘Bullseye Framework’. The book describes this method as a way to find the single optimal marketing channel for a startup (perhaps working alongside an additional, complementary channel). Broadly speaking, the idea is to select a few promising marketing channels, generate a lot of ideas and filter out the best ones and test a hypothesis with a small budget (if any). Once a startup finds its best channel, it can fully dedicate its resources to exploit it.
Soon after reading Traction, I wanted to apply the ideas to Sweet Pricing. Using the Bullseye method as a guide, I created a Trello board to start testing new marketing ideas. Spurred by a recent Reddit conversation, I have decided to open up a copy of this Trello board for everyone to use and adapt.
Bullseye Trello Board
The public Bullseye Trello board organizes the 19 marketing channels into 3 columns – ‘Outer Ring’, ‘Inner Ring’ and ‘Bullseye’. The basic idea is to get a card into the Bullseye column, using the book’s framework. This marketing channel is the one that your startup should dedicate most of its resources to exploiting.
Every marketing channel starts in the Outer Ring. Each card in this column has the key points for each marketing channel in its description, taken from Gabriel’s blog. Depending on your startup, a few of these marketing channels could be promising; many or most will not be. For each card, populate the ‘Ideas’ checklist with as many marketing ideas you can think of.
After you have generated ideas for every channel, review your Outer Ring and select the 3 or 4 most promising cards. Move these cards to the Inner Ring column, where you will begin to run experiments and define success criteria for each channel.
Within each card in the Inner Ring, add two additional lists: ‘Experiment’ and ‘Outcome’. Under ‘Experiment’, specify the test you will run. Remember you are only using a small budget; enough to get the data you need. In the example card, I am sponsoring a small mailing list for $60 to test my idea. You should then specify what the success criteria are – breaking even on an experiment is a very good signal, so be realistic.
Next, run your marketing experiment over 2-3 weeks (depending on the channel). At the end of your experiment, record the test’s outcome in the ‘Outcomes’ list. Your interest will be in the number of signups or sales. To be objective, make sure you compare your experiment’s outcome directly with its success criteria.
Moving the Needle
It goes without saying that growth is important for any startup. Whether you are an enterprise solution needing leads or a freemium app relying on downloads, securing traction in the most efficient way is critical.
At the end of the Bullseye method (and of future iterations), you will have found a single marketing channel that truly moves the needle for your startup. By exploring all possibilities when it comes to gaining traction, your startup may discover a cheaper (or, in some cases, free) way to grow faster.
Really, the key idea of Traction is that you should not focus on diversifying your marketing channels. Yet many startups fall into this trap. Once you discover your single best traction channel, it is logical to exploit that channel to its full saturation. A startup should dedicate most of its marketing resources and budget to it.
Once you have bought Traction, I hope you find the public Trello board useful. It is my best interpretation of the book’s ideas, although the book explains a lot better than I do. In any case, I have found the Bullseye Trello board immensely useful so I hope you can try it out, too.