Book – Traction

bookThe book gives interesting insights in a startups world, which in many cases are very similar to larger organizations in a variety of industries. ¬†Very good points to ponder ūüôā

Many startups use marketing tactics with which they are already familiar, or tactics that they think should be used because of their type of industry or organization.  (The same issue is found in an enterprise marketing.)  However, the underutilized channels are less crowded and can be more beneficial.    It is beneficial to find a marketing channel that your competition dismisses.

Tactics mentioned in the book:

  • Targeting Blogs (usually part of content marketing and social media channel)
  • Publicity (PR)
  • Unconventional PR (PR and experiential marketing)
  • SEM (PPC)dollar
  • Social and display ads (usually part of advertising)
  • Offline advertising (usually part of advertising)
  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Engineering as marketing (usually part of content marketing; in the book it is distinguished as requiring technical resources)
  • Viral marketing (usually referrals; authors mention the network effect and building into the products that can benefit from the network effect features to¬†make referrals easier)
  • Business Development (usually partnerships)
  • Sales
  • Affiliate programs
  • Existing platforms (utilizing Apple App Store, Salesforce App Store, etc.)
  • Trade shows
  • Offline Events (meetups, etc.)
  • Speaking engagements
  • Community building

Good points on channel evaluation:

  1. Cost per acquisition
  2. Availability of potential customers in the channel
  3. Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the kind of customers that you want right now?

Interesting point on resource allocation: many startups are not paying attention to marketing at the same level as product development.  Authors recommend to split efforts 50/50 between product development and marketing (which can also be used as part of market research).  Using this approach will speed up the creation of the final version of the product itself, as it will provide necessary market feedback and reduce number of product iterations (per Lean Startup approach).

Tracking of success for any experimentation is considered vital, what is completely understandable.

Determining the success of a customer acquisition idea is dependent on the effective tracking and reporting system, so don’t start testing until your tracking/reporting system has been implemented.

Using tactics that don’t scale are considered best opportunities to get first customers for startups (and also considered effective in Account Based Marketing, or can be sued for finding customers for new products in larger organizations).

Insightful examples:

  • (b-to-c) Mint: as part of the signup process, users could embed an “I Want Mint” badge on their personal blogs, etc. Users who drove signups through these badges were rewarded with VIP access before other invitations were sent out.
  • (b-to-c) Mint: emails with subject “Can I send you $500?” were sent to popular bloggers suggesting they share the useful for their audience product on their blogs.
  • happy(b-to-c) (genealogy data company) used PPC before the product was created to evaluate which features would be most valued by the future customers. ¬†The landing pages had specific calls to action to determine if people were more interested in finding hundreds of ancestors, or go as far back as possible, or quickly find relations to any celebrity.
  • “People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads. ¬†As effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality.”
  • “If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid advertising behind that piece of content the magic happens. ¬†Paid is fundamentally only as good as the content you put behind it. “
  • The most effective approach to Twitter is to turn on paid advertising around real-time events that your audience cares about (b-to-c sports, b-to-b conferences).
  • (b-to-c) InstaCab hired cyclists to bike around San Francisco and hand out business¬†cards to people who were trying to hail taxis.
  • (b-to-b) Unbounce started blogging before the product has been built. ¬†This blog-from-the-beginning approach allowed Unbounce to launch with an email list over five thousand strong (the company collected email subscription on its blog). ¬†However, it took 6 months for Unbounce to see results from its blog.
  • (b-to-b) Unbounced found that Infographics are shared about 20¬†times more often than a typical blog post and have a higher likelihood of getting picked up by other online publications.
  • How to build an email list – one of the options is to create a short free course on the industry topic.
  • Content marketing tools (graders, etc.): beside obvious points to make the tool free, valuable, and interesting to your target audience, it is important to “demonstrate value as quickly as possible.”
  • Partnership with an enterprise: the most important thing is to find out who is in change of the metric your product can improve. ¬†If your product will help your partner get more satisfied power users, be sure to talk to the person ¬†responsible for pleasing power users. ¬†Just because you are offering a web site widget doesn’t mean the web site team is the ideal set of stakeholders.


Marketing’s job in working with sales people is twofold:

  • To arm – which means to give the reps all of the sales collateral they will need to effectively win sales campaigns, ¬†this includes presentations, ROI calculators, competitive analysis, and so forth.
  • To aim – with means helping sales reps figure out which target customers to focus on. ¬†It is about helping weed out the non-serious leads from the urgent ones.

How to pitch a presentation topic to conference organizers: contact them first and ask about ideal topics they want to have. ¬†Ah – brilliant! ¬†ūüôā

Book – Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!

bookThe most insightful point of the book, I think, came at the very end, when the author wondered if Yahoo could be saved in general.  Could it be that Yahoo solved the problem that existed at one point in history?  The internet was difficult to use, and it made it easier.  Then, the problem was solved by many other companies in many different ways, and Yahoo lost its appeal.  Historical situation changed, and what company used to do so well was not longer needed.

During time of fast technological change, more businesses can find themselves in the same situation. ¬†What is the solution? ¬†Trying to find “something else profitable to do” or sell out for the satisfaction of shareholders? ¬†I am also wondering what would be preferable on business and societal level.

Another interesting point was a decision to concentrate on product rather than move the company into a media business.  Product direction prevailed, and current CEO was chosen.  The general debate between product-centric approach and other approaches is also quite insightful.

Yahoo culture went through an interesting evolution during its history, though I was surprised that Yahoo used stack ranking system for employee evaluation, which is known to reduce employee engagement and innovation.

This is insightful and very entertaining book; pleasure to listen.