Knowing the AARRR framework back and forth is great, having lots of Ideas in your Growth Process is also amazing, and the last key 🔑 for Growth success is having a clear idea of where to be in order to communicate with your Personas.
Gabriel Weinberg wrote an amazing book called “Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers”, where he defines 19 channels that will give you initial traction.
DISCLAIMER: Gabriel defines that these channels are good for Acquisition, but at GHS we consider that each of these channels can be used in different steps of AARRR Framework.
By having the capacity of trying different stuff and combining different frameworks and strategies, we believe that we can provide real innovation, that’s why we consider that combining Traction with AARRR is perfect for businesses that want to achieve growth in untapped markets!
So, based on this methodology GHS tested all of these channels with different businesses. Lots of the strategies failed, but the ones that worked helped businesses growth.
Not everything is going to work
You need to make sure that you test, test and test until you achieve a win.
You need to have buy-in from your team to understand that not everything works at first and that failure is part of the process.
Lots of businesses start communicating only at one channel and never try to broaden their horizons.
This is the main reason why lots of businesses arrive at a plateau and stop there.
So trying different channels is always a good thing.
What are the Traction Channels?
Let’s go Channel by Channel, but before we go just a quick intro:
Some channels will be more broad than others, but in a general way, these are categories that fall into these 19 channels.
Here is a table of contents that will help you to navigate through all of the channels:
Blogs have had lots of ups and downs.
Today they are hyping, next year they are boring.
Targeting blogs is always a good idea to find niche audiences that talk your language and are part of your tribe.
Niche audiences can cost more to communicate, but they offer higher Conversion Rates.
Think of this strategy like this: instead of focusing on big lakes with lots of different fish, just go to the small pond that has 2 or 3 types of fish.
This is a great strategy that can be used at the Retention stage.
There are some brands that started like this, one of the most well-known brands is Mint. Noah Kagan, started Mint’s marketing strategy by targetting niche blogs early on.
Publicity can be general applied to every advertising campaign that we will be running.
But this channel is generalized for more traditional media outlets.
Newspapers, magazines, TV, Radio or Billboards are all considered here.
These publicity campaigns tend to be fishing for broad audiences, that will guarantee you volume, but not that the right message is always going to get to your audience.
But if you happen to do a well targeted and easy to understand campaign, you can appeal to everyone, even the ones that didn’t knew that they needed your solution in their lifes.
There are two types of Public Relations (PR), the common publicity has we mentioned before, and there is Unconventional Public Relations.
Has we mentioned before, Publicity tend to appeal to broader audiences fishing for the ones that will like the bait.
In Unconventional PR, you are looking at more smaller, niche audiences, that will appreciate your actions and tend to generate press coverage.
For example Guerilla Marketing campaigns tend to fit on this channel, mainly because they are nichy and used to call attention to specific things.
Search Engine Marketing
As soon you’ll start discovering the power of online campaigns you’ll need to think of Search Engine Marketing.
It’s clearly different from SEO campaigns, and if you don’t know how to differentiate, please read this amazing article at Backlinko.
Exploring different search engines will give you differente audiences, and knowing your Personas will definitely help to know when you need to be on Bing, Google or any other platform.
You can be in all of them, but that would just be a waste of time and money.
Social and Display Ads
Social and Display Ads could be easily two different channels, but they all are based on the same purpose, Display Campaigns.
You have different types of usage of each Ad platform, but all based on the same concept, so that’s why they tend to be merged together.
Here you can consider all of the Social Media platforms there are, and where a huge part of advertising money is being used.
When creating a strategy you should generally talk about Social Ads, then further on refining your strategy you’ll choose the ones that you will be targeting.
Initially think of this has a way of putting everyone on the same page, you are doing Social Ads and not Publicity or SEM, so passing this information is already valuable.
When working on your Growth Process strategy you can start broad and then when you start to define your NSM, and broadening down your strategy you will opt-in for the Social Media or Display Platforms that best suits you.
From 2018 onwards the Digital Ad Spend surpassed the Offline Ad Spend, but prior to this there were more Ad Spend on Offline Ads.
This means that more and more businesses are turning towards Online plataforms and giving up space on Offline Outlets and also that the Digital space besides becoming crowded is also growing.
Even though the Digital Ad Spend will keep growing you should write off the opportunity that you can find in Offline Ads.
In this Traction Channel there is a thin line between Publicity and Offline Ads, but consider has Offline Ads everything that is not Digital such has: Print Newspapers, Magazines, Direct Mail, Road Billboards.
When working in Offline Ads for small communities, locations or regions you can still find huge opportunities at reduced costs.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engines are used at every second and the trend is to keep growing their usage, mainly with voice search.
By knowing how to position your product or service to give higher search results (SEO), you can easily increase your organic exposure.
This takes time and lots of effort, but after getting initial traction on it, it’s really hard to go back to zero.
But before choosing this channel as an opportunity for your Growth Process, make sure that you know enough about it and what you are getting into.
Having Content is really important, mainly because after having it ready to use, you can extract so much value from it.
It is hard to start and to keep consistency, but if you do, just think of the long term benefits.
What happens when you go to a website and you look at the blog posts and figure out that the last time they posted was three years ago?
Probably your first tough is if they still exist.
Or if they are real.
Or even if they have any strategy at al..
Then you have the opposite, the website that posted everything at the same day at the same time and never posted anything else from that date onwards.
Content Marketing can be a blessing or a curse.
Choose wisely when working a Content strategy.
Email Marketing has being deemed as dead, resurrected and now is between life and death again.
The thing is, Email Marketing it’s always going to be trendy, just like Targeting Blogs.
When people get tired of having thousands of Emails to read and subscribed hundred weekly Newsletters they will stop using Email Marketing.
One day everyone is going to find a tool that helps to clean the inbox and Email Marketing will be alive again.
The best way to have Email Marketing working for you is having a clear strategy.
Choose it was your NSM when you really need it and focus on it at only one step of your AARRR Framework and you will be just fine.
Spam everyone with your emails and no one will care about your brand.
Make it personal, easy to read and understand and no one will think of it was spammy, or promoting anything and you’ll see your open rates will skyrocket. (Compared with market benchmarks).
Well, Growth Hacking without Viral Marketing is not Growth Hacking right?
Viral growth is not the only way of achieving Growth and Growth Hacking should not depend on this channel.
Of course its amazing to have viral growth and to get buzz around your product or service but once it’s done, you’ll achieve a plateau that if not manage properly it will not grow again.
If you want to understand how to calculate if you are getting Viral there is a simple formula called the K-Factor.
The simple explanation is that each user/customer that you get brings at least another user. And that keeps growing, in a exponential way.
This is exponential growth and if you manage a way to hack this, well congrats, you’re a Growth Hacker.
But remember, this is not possible to sustain long-term.
That’s why we insist in having a clear strategy that will unblock growth from other sides.
Engineering as Marketing
This is one of the most forgotten and hard to understand channels.
Engineering as Marketing is what Weinberg refers to building useful tools or resources that will reach to more people that are related with your market.
This is pretty vague right?
That can be anything!
Let’s go a bit deeper on this.
These tools and resources is anything that will bring enough value to your Personas that they will use this without even knowing that this tool can be yours.
There are several businesses that even started with these tools as internal stuff, such as Slack.
One of the best examples that we can give you is this one from Microsoft with How-Old.net
Microsoft developed an A.I. tool that analyzes a picture and tells you how old you are on that picture.
Right now, this is something that other brands and apps already explored but when they launched this service this was unique.
Other example is a calculator that can help you understand how much you need to build an app or an website.
Or even the Google Page Speed Insights that takes you to other Google Services afterwards.
These are all great examples of how you can leverage your business with Engineering as Marketing.
And look at this channel as a whole and don’t narrow down your vision looking at this channel as been good only as an Acquisition channel.
Developing strategic partnerships that will benefit you and your partners is what is called Business Development (BD).
Companies that work together to improve on specific markets are the ones that benefit the most here.
One example is when Google bought Fitbit to get into the fitness market. With this they could also develop the fitbit watch alongside their smartphones to offer more competition to Apple.
Of course that these kind of opportunities don’t come up very often and that not everyone will have the possibility of being acquire by 2.1 billion dollars.
Looking this at a smaller scale, making a strategic partnership with local services that will help you to acquire services at lower margins that will benefit both is a perfect BD strategy.
Never forget that the primary source of income of big companies are Sales teams.
Even Apple with their amazing stores uses their employees as their primarily Salesforce team.
Being a sales guy is not seating in an office making phone calls every day.
So to nurture a real team that can sell your product for money is always a good strategy.
You just need to make sure that you have a good PMF that will get traction.
To have a fully functional sales team, you cannot be a bottleneck for them, so make sure you apply the same thinking that you are applying to your Growth, by building a sustainable, scalable and clear process.
Affiliate Programs are great if you have a big market and set of users.
Companies like Amazon or Ebay create Affiliate Programs so their users can become advocates of their brands and sell using their platforms.
Right now everyone is doing other type of Affiliation Programs, also known as Influential Marketing.
You contact and Influencer, give them a promo code or an affiliate link and off they go to sell your product.
By making sure that your affiliates are talking to your target prospects you can easily leverage this channel.
But when most of them don’t have the same character as your brand you can quickly lose traction and credibility.
Be sure that you know how to use this channel alongside your strategy, and you can make growth become easy.
Connect with the wrong audience and you’ll be spending money for nothing.
Leveraging your business by being on others platforms is also a great way of growing and Existing Platforms alongside Engineering as Marketing is easily forgotten.
The best example that we can think of is about Farm Ville that was developed by Zynga and used Facebook Game plataform and millions of users to launch the infamous addicting game.
Other excellent example is when you go to Mailchimp integration area and you can find lots of third-party integrations available.
Lots of MailChimp users start by discovering other services this way.
Not using this as a channel is definitely something that you never forget.
Going offline again, trade shows are perfect to show case products or to meet previous customers or prospects.
That’s why thinking of a tradeshow only as an Acqusition channel is not accurate.
Also having a clear strategy for when presenting your solution there is utterly important.
Do you know many brands that have different Areas for different prospects? Imagine how you can break the market with this!
Tradeshows are great to discover new prospects because they tend to bring industry insiders and foster interactions between different markets that can lead to innovation.
Other big think that can happens at trade shows is big announcements or launches of certain products.
This channel is often misunderstood with Trade shows. But Weinberg talks about offline events in a broader way.
Sponsoring, Creating or running offline events are all part of this.
Creating your meetup communities and grow them to large conferences can be a primary way of getting to know early adopters and turn that into your tribe of users.
Also promoting or sponsoring small events that are still on their beginning is also a great way of targetting these Offline Events.
This can give you the opportunity to talk with potential customers or leverage the BD Channel with other businesses.
Also it’s a great place to meet prospects that already have been in touch with you!
Being able to present and speak in public is not for everyone, but appearing as an expert about something is also valuable to get traction into your brand.
This works particularly well when you’re giving classes for specific groups of people and pitch your product or service in the midst.
Normally, this channel is more used by Book Author’s that do road trips to present their book and do meet and greets with their fans.
The last but not least is one of the most difficult channels to harness.
Community building could work as a great Acquisition channel but to reach this stage you will always need to already have customers on your side, that’s how you could build a community around your product.
Reddit has one of the best and most loyal communities out there, and that’s how they keep growing with more than 330 million DAU’s.
Looking at all of this information can be overwhelming, but don’t forget that what works for ones could not work for others.
That’s why we don’t use a one size fits all strategy when working with your Customers!
Each channel strategy should be designed for specific purposes and each set of Personas that you define.
If you want to better understand what you can do with all of these metrics, visit our Growth Process post.