|Targeting Blogs||Niche blogs that you can leverage to get your product known to a very targeted audience.||– Highly targeted audience||– Limited reach||– Partnering with a niche fashion blog to promote a clothing brand.|
|Publicity||Public Relations (PR) to get the word out about your business and product.||– Builds brand credibility||– May require significant resources and time||– Issuing press releases about a product launch.|
|Unconventional PR||Creative and out-of-the-box strategies to amplify your product’s reach, such as billboards or unique campaigns.||– Unique and memorable campaigns||– Risk of campaign not resonating with the audience||– Airbnb’s “Floating House” stunt to promote listings.|
|Search Engine Marketing||Leveraging paid campaigns on search engines to ensure your brand appears prominently in search results.||– Immediate visibility||– Costs associated with paid advertising||– Google Ads for a travel agency’s vacation packages.|
|Social and Display Ads||Using targeted social and display advertisements based on demographic information to reach your audience.||– Precise audience targeting||– Ad blockers may affect visibility||– Facebook ads targeting young adults for a new mobile game.|
|Offline Ads||Traditional offline advertising methods to reach an audience beyond the online space.||– Wide audience reach||– May be costly and harder to track ROI||– TV commercials for a national restaurant chain.|
|Search Engine Optimization (SEO)||Optimizing your online presence to improve organic search engine visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find your brand.||– Long-term organic traffic||– Requires ongoing optimization and patience||– Optimizing a website for “best fitness equipment.”|
|Content Marketing||Creating valuable and relevant content to build a trusted audience and establish your brand’s authority.||– Builds brand authority and trust||– Requires consistent content creation||– A blog offering cooking tips and recipes for a kitchen appliance brand.|
|Email Marketing||Building and engaging with a trusted audience through email campaigns and newsletters.||– Direct communication with subscribers||– Risk of emails being marked as spam||– Sending weekly newsletters with product updates and offers.|
|Viral Marketing||Utilizing creative and often low-cost methods to create viral content that amplifies your brand’s visibility.||– Rapid brand exposure||– Uncertainty of virality||– Creating a viral video challenge related to a product.|
|Engineering as Marketing||Offering free tools or product features that prompt users to become paid customers, effectively marketing the product itself.||– Attracts users with valuable tools||– Costs associated with tool development||– Offering a free mobile app with in-app purchases.|
|Business Development||Building distribution channels and partnerships to scale the customer base and expand the product’s reach.||– Accelerated growth through partnerships||– Requires relationship-building and negotiations||– Partnering with a retail chain to sell products.|
|Sales||Building a customer base through one-on-one interactions and obtaining valuable feedback for product improvement.||– Personalized customer relationships||– Time-consuming and resource-intensive||– Sales representatives selling software solutions.|
|Affiliate Programs||Creating programs that allow customers and affiliates to earn commissions from product sales, increasing brand exposure.||– Amplified product promotion||– Requires management and tracking||– Amazon Associates program for affiliate marketing.|
|Existing Platforms||Leveraging existing platforms and networks to bootstrap your brand’s presence with limited resources.||– Immediate access to established audience||– Limited control over platform changes||– Selling handmade crafts on Etsy.|
|Trade Shows||Participating in trade shows to connect with your target audience and establish a deeper connection.||– Face-to-face networking||– Costs associated with booth setup||– Showcasing new tech products at a tech expo.|
|Offline Events||Hosting or participating in offline events to extend your brand’s presence beyond the digital space.||– Brand exposure in physical settings||– Event planning and logistics||– Sponsoring a local charity event.|
|Speaking Engagements||Presenting at conferences or events to establish yourself and your company as thought leaders in the industry.||– Thought leadership recognition||– Preparation and travel time||– Speaking at a marketing conference.|
|Community Building||Fostering a community of like-minded individuals aligned with your brand’s mission and values, serving as loyal supporters.||– Loyal and engaged customer base||– Requires ongoing community management||– Building an online community for gamers.|
In the book “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth,” Gabriel Weinberg (DuckDuckGo Founder) and Justin Mares identified 19 channels for growth also known as traction channels:
- Targeting Blogs: niche blogs that you can leverage to get your product known to a very targeted audience.
- Publicity: or PR to get the word out about your business and product.
- Unconventional PR: things that you can do outside the box to amplify your product. Perhaps DuckDuckGo used billboards as a cheap and yet effective strategy to amplify its brand.
- Search Engine Marketing: thus leveraging paid campaigns over other search engines to make your brand show on top.
- Social and Display Ads: to target your audience based on demographics.
- Offline Ads: to find your audience beyond the online experience.
- Search Engine Optimization: to enable potential customers to find your brand through search.
- Content Marketing: to build a trusted audience through great content.
- Email Marketing: to establish a trusted audience that is highly engaged with your brand.
- Viral Marketing: as a cheap way to amplify your brand.
- Engineering as Marketing: using free tools or product features to amplify the product (perhaps via free features that prompt users to become paid customers).
- Business Development: To build the distribution channels to scale the customer base.
- Sales: to build a customer base, one by one, and get proper feedback on improving the product fast.
- Affiliate Programs: to amplify your product and enable customers and affiliates to make money from its sales.
- Existing Platforms: by using the network offered by the existing platform, you can initially bootstrap your brand with limited resources.
- Trade Shows: to meet your target audience and create a deeper connection.
- Offline Events: to enable your brand beyond the digital space.
- Speaking Engagements: to establish yourself and your company as a thought leader.
- Community Building: to foster a group of people in line with your mission and as your most trusted supporters.
Yet each of those channels has to be tested. How do you determine whether a channel is suited for growth? Gabriel Weinberg‘s answer relied on the Bullseye Framework!
The growth of DuckDuckGo didn’t happen in a day but it took more than six years. After launching in September 2008 Gabriel Weinberg spent the next two years refining DuckDuckGo. As he admitted in his Forbes’ interview in 2016,
I launched DuckDuckGo at the end of 2008, and in March of 2009 my first son was born and I decided to stay at home with him for at least the first two years. Through those two years I just kept at it and tinkering with it. At the end of 2010 all the iterative work on the project became better. Something clicked and people started to switch to it. Then in 2011 I started to treat it as more of a real thing, and at the end of 2011 I went and raised $3 million from Union Square Ventures.
After raising the money it was time to think about business. As we saw, from his previous ventures, Gabriel Weinberg had learned that if he wanted to launch a successful enterprise he had to take care of the distribution side. He also figured that for a startup the growth process isn’t too linear.
In short, for each growth stage, there are channels that work and channels that don’t. Often to hack the growth of your startup at a certain stage you have to try several channels. At the same time when reached a threshold of growth, some channels stop to work and you have to experiment with new ones. Those ideas matured in his book, Traction.
What is the Bullseye Framework?
The bullseye framework follows three simple steps, with the aim of hitting one target: traction!
The first layer is about what’s possible. In other words, this is a brainstorming phase in which the team starts to gather at least a strategy per channel that may be used to start “moving the needle of growth.”
The second layer is about what’s probable. In short, this is the phase where you start experimenting and testing the strategies that were brainstormed in the first step. Here it is crucial to start with cheap tests. That is not the phase where you have to go all in. Look at it as a testing phase. Where you start testing the market to see what works and what does not.
The inner ring is the bullseye. That is where you identified the channel or channels that are fueling the growth. Therefore, focusing on them at least until they will bootstrap your startup to the next growth phase. Eventually, you’ll restart the process to identify which channel or channels will work for the next growth stage (to dive more into it go to Medium).
- Targeting Blogs:
- Leveraging niche blogs to reach a highly targeted audience.
- Mint: Frequently guest-posted on personal finance blogs to establish authority and drive traffic.
- Buffer: Started as a blog before it became a product, building an audience through consistent content.
- Using PR to spread the word about the business and product.
- Fitbit: Gained attention by being featured on TechCrunch after its initial launch.
- Airbnb: Garnered significant media attention when they offered unique accommodations, like the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
- Unconventional PR:
- Burger King: Introduced the “Whopper Sacrifice” campaign, where users had to unfriend 10 people on Facebook to get a free Whopper.
- Tesla: Elon Musk released all their electric car patents to the public, gaining significant PR coverage.
- Search Engine Marketing:
- Booking.com: Used aggressive AdWords campaigns targeting hotel-related keywords to drive bookings.
- Zappos: Utilized Google Ads extensively to dominate shoe-related search queries.
- Social and Display Ads:
- Casper: Ran innovative Snapchat ads to target younger audiences for their mattresses.
- Blue Apron: Used Facebook and Instagram ads with appealing food images to attract new customers.
- Offline Ads:
- Squarespace: Ran a Super Bowl commercial, dramatically increasing its brand visibility.
- Pepsi: Collaborated with celebrities for billboard ads to promote their beverages.
- Search Engine Optimization:
- TripAdvisor: Capitalized on user-generated reviews to rank for numerous travel-related terms.
- Backlinko: Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique helped his SEO blog rank for competitive keywords.
- Content Marketing:
- HubSpot: Created a vast library of resources, blogs, and tools to establish itself as an inbound marketing leader.
- Red Bull: Produced high-quality, adventurous content, including a space jump.
- Email Marketing:
- Sumo: Offered valuable tools and resources in exchange for email sign-ups, then nurtured these leads with valuable content.
- Groupon: Gained traction by sending daily deal emails to subscribers.
- Viral Marketing:
- Dropbox: Offered free additional storage space for users who referred friends.
- Hotmail: Added “Get your free email at Hotmail” at the bottom of every user’s email.
- Engineering as Marketing:
- HubSpot: Offered a free website grader tool, attracting users and then upselling them on their platform.
- Mailchimp: Created the “Email Design Guide” to help users and promote their service.
- Business Development:
- Spotify: Collaborated with Facebook for easy sign-in and sharing, dramatically increasing user sign-ups.
- Netflix: Partnered with device manufacturers to pre-install the Netflix app.
- Salesforce: Deployed a direct sales team to onboard big enterprises.
- Oracle: Used aggressive sales strategies to dominate the database market.
- Affiliate Programs:
- Amazon: Launched one of the earliest and most successful affiliate programs.
- Bluehost: Offered substantial commissions to bloggers promoting their hosting services.
- Existing Platforms:
- Slack: Built atop existing enterprise systems, facilitating easier adoption.
- Candy Crush: Utilized Facebook’s platform for user acquisition before transitioning to mobile.
- Trade Shows:
- GoPro: Showcased their cameras at action sports events, attracting a dedicated user base.
- Tesla: Exhibited at auto shows to showcase their unique electric vehicles.
- Offline Events:
- Apple: Hosted product launch events that fans and media eagerly anticipate.
- Shopify: Organized “Shopify Meetups” for entrepreneurs and store owners.
- Speaking Engagements:
- Tony Robbins: Established his authority in personal development through numerous speaking engagements.
- Gary Vaynerchuk: Used speaking engagements to promote his personal brand and businesses.
- Community Building:
- Harley-Davidson: Fostered a tight-knit community of brand loyalists.
- Reddit: Built a platform where communities on countless topics can thrive.
- Traction Channels for Growth: The 19 traction channels identified by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares for achieving explosive customer growth in their book “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth.”
- Targeting Blogs: Leveraging niche blogs to reach a highly targeted audience.
- Publicity: Using PR to spread the word about the business and product.
- Unconventional PR: Employing outside-the-box strategies to amplify the product, such as billboards.
- Search Engine Marketing: Utilizing paid campaigns on search engines to increase brand visibility.
- Social and Display Ads: Targeting the audience based on demographics through social and display advertising.
- Offline Ads: Expanding reach beyond the online experience through traditional offline advertising.
- Search Engine Optimization: Optimizing content for search engines to enable potential customers to find the brand.
- Content Marketing: Building a trusted audience through valuable content.
- Email Marketing: Establishing a highly engaged and trusted audience through email communication.
- Viral Marketing: Employing tactics to encourage word-of-mouth sharing and amplify the brand.
- Engineering as Marketing: Using free tools or product features to promote the product and convert users to paid customers.
- Business Development: Building distribution channels to scale the customer base.
- Sales: Acquiring customers individually and gathering feedback to improve the product.
- Affiliate Programs: Amplifying the product and driving sales through affiliates who earn commissions.
- Existing Platforms: Leveraging the network offered by existing platforms to bootstrap the brand with limited resources.
- Trade Shows: Meeting the target audience and establishing deeper connections at industry trade shows.
- Offline Events: Extending the brand presence beyond the digital space through offline events.
- Speaking Engagements: Establishing thought leadership by speaking at events.
- Community Building: Fostering a community of supporters in line with the brand’s mission.
- The Bullseye Framework: A strategic approach to determine the most effective traction channels for a startup’s growth.
- Possibility Phase: Brainstorming and gathering strategies for each channel that could potentially drive growth.
- Probability Phase: Experimenting and testing the brainstormed strategies to identify what works and what doesn’t.
- Bullseye Phase: Identifying the most effective channels that fuel growth and focusing on them to bootstrap the startup to the next growth phase. After reaching a threshold, reiterating the process to identify channels for the next growth stage.
Visual Marketing Glossary