Startup traction channel: community building



Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “community building” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

Community building involves investing in the connections among your users, fostering those relationships and helping them bring more people into your startup’s circle. These people are known as evangelists – passionate users who tell others about how awesome a product is.

Chris McCann (of Startup Digest) talked about the types of companies that will benefit from community building: “Companies whose core function is the connecting of people are best set up to take advantage of the community. Whether that’s a trade show thing, an investment thing, whatever: when a company’s underlying value is in bringing people together, and where people matter in the system, that’s where this community stuff can really take off.”

Key to a strong community is cultivating and empowering evangelists. You also want to foster cross-connection among evangelists and community members in general (through forums, events, etc.). Community building can give you traction by magnifying your essential purpose, building a core asset, creating evangelists for your service, contributing to product development and even giving you a hiring pool.

The simplest and most valuable thing you’ll get from a community is highly engaged customers or users. This high engagement leads to the rest of the benefits…

Thing # 1: How to successfully build a community around your startup

A community doesn’t have to be as concrete as you think it is. It doesn’t have to be a forum, discussion board or comments section, or a social network. It doesn’t even have to be on your own site. It can be very informal. A great example of that and one we’ve all witnessed has been Ryan when building Product Hunt. It’s been talked a lot before, but it came down to Ryan personally engaging with Product Hunt’s users on Twitter and inviting product makers when their products appeared on the site. You can turn a following like this into a community. The advantage to a community is that it sticks a lot longer than press coverage. And if you keep your community engaged, and they remain interested in what you’re doing, it’ll stick. And that community can be turned into users for whatever product you want to push at that moment. That’s the magic of it. Read this article to know how Nomad List was launched and build using community building.

Thing # 2: Why Slack is Exploding as a Community-Building Platform

There’s no question that workplace communication is Slack’s sweet spot, enabling faster and easier internal collaboration between groups of all sizes. But there’s another use case Slack empowers, one that’s gaining traction and helping drive growth: hosting communities. Rather than host a forum or digital community themselves, or use social media platforms to engage, many community managers are turning to Slack as a place to quickly and easily build tight-knit communities. Slack has emerged as a powerful tool to host and build communities and this article will tell you how you can also do it.

Thing # 3: An Unfiltered Look at How to Launch a New Community

This article brings you a journey of mapping out the strategy, testing assumptions and launching what will hopefully be a thriving community. The first step in launching a new community is to define your assumptions and put together your plan. To do this, a tool – Community Canvas, a framework is used as step one when putting together a community strategy. It’s like a business model canvas, but for your community. Like a business model canvas, the community canvas too has 9 blocks. And once the plan is put together to get this community off the ground, you start testing your assumptions through research, and by actually launching the thing to see how members respond. An interesting framework to launch and build a community, using lean startup principles! Anyone wants to try it out?

Do you want to explore using this traction channel – community building, for your startup? I would be happy to help out, drop in a line to start a conversation about it.




Startup traction channel – affiliate marketing

affiliate mktg

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “affiliate marketing” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions (like making a sale or getting a qualified lead). Affiliate programs are frequently found in retail, information products, and lead generation.
Some of the advantages of using this channel are:

  • You only pay for results – unlike traditional advertising methods, affiliate marketing is the most cost-effective one. If your affiliates don’t perform and bring leads, they simply don’t get paid.
  • You don’t spend time on advertising – let others do the work for you so you can worry about other, more important issues, or issues that you have skills for. You don’t need to be a marketing expert, neither you have to learn any marketing methods to run an affiliate program.
  • Get lots of traffic and improved SEO – lots of affiliates generate lots of backlinks.
  • Find Super affiliates and you’re golden – you don’t need hundreds of affiliates to successfully run an affiliate program. In general, most of the businesses have 3-5 Super affiliates who generate more than 50% of the revenue from their whole affiliate program.

Thing # 1:  Why Affiliate Marketing Is a Great Option for Startups

Affiliate marketing is great for a startup or someone who wants to grow faster, who doesn’t want to take the risk and spend money on marketing. If you want other people to drive sales for you, and you only pay them for results, it’s a great deal. There’s little to no risk.  Read this article on why affiliate marketing is a great traction building channel for start-up businesses.

Thing #2:  Affiliate Programs-Traction Channel

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer.”  This article gives more insights into affiliate marketing channel.

Thing #3:  Affiliate Marketing with David Quiec

In this video, David Quiec, Customer Acquisition & Demand Gen, Distribution Hacker in Residence for 500 Startups talks about affiliate marketing foundations – pay for performance, Types of affiliates, types of programs, pros & cons.  In the context of startup businesses, he talks about what success looks like in this channel and gives you tips on the best practices for affiliate programs.

I would love to hear about your experiences and challenges in using “affiliate marketing” as a traction channel.  If you have some success stories in using this channel, they will be great stuff to share with others trying to explore this.

Startup traction channel – targeting blogs

traction - targeting blogs

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “targeting blogs” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

Targeting blogs your customers read is one of the most effective ways to get your first wave of customers.  In this phase, you need to identify the holes in your product by gaining a steady stream of “cold” customers who will give you honest feedback.

Mint identified targeting blogs as their core channel in their early days. Mint gained initial traction by targeting mid-sized blogs in their niche. They chose blogs whose followers would likely be interested in their product. They gave bloggers VIP access to their service in exchange for a badge posted to the blogger’s web page. The badge linked to Mint’s service, which gained the startup even more customers. Mint also sponsored blog posts to gain influence with readers and formed content partnerships with major sites like The Motley Fool to provide unique content for their readers while promoting their product.

The playing field is not limited to blogs. Link-sharing communities such as Reddit are also great places to build traction. There are lots of forums on the internet that might share or promote your product or service to its members.

Welcome to the Influencer Economy is an amazing article that takes you through the stages in which “influencer economy” has developed in past few years and also give some insights on what to expect here in coming days. The influencer economy has its roots in the blogging movement. This got accelerated after the sites such as Blogger, WordPress were founded. From this, the influencer marketing has evolved considerably in recent time. Many influencers today run their own TV shows, fashion magazines, and newspapers. Trends suggest that consumers are replacing traditional media with these newly democratized influencers and creators.  This is a “must read” article to gain the perspective of influencers if you wish to use this traction channel.

Now that you have an idea of influencers,  The Definitive Guide to Influencer Targeting is a great snapshot of a guide on how to use this traction channel.  This guide covers everything like – Where do you look for influencers for your product?  What defines an influencer for your product? How to engage with them? How do you compensate them? This is a great guide as a starting point for your experiments with this traction channel.

Finding the right kind of fellow bloggers is a crucial step in this traction channel.  There are a variety of tools you can use to uncover relevant blogs including YouTube, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Twitter, search engines, Google Alerts and Social Mention. You can run tests on a variety of smaller blogs to see what type of blog and blog audience resonates best with your product and messaging. The best way to find and get to know bloggers is to talk to them or through their writing. You need to get a measure of them, make a connection, find things in common, see how they think. Read more on this in this article  – Finding and Connecting With Bloggers and Targeting Blog Audiences to get better at using this traction channel.

I would love to hear about your experiences and challenges in using “targeting blogs” as a traction channel.  If you have some success stories in using this channel, they will be great stuff to share with others trying to explore this.



The 3 Things This Week: 5th April, 2018


Happy Thursday! How are you doing this week?

Before we get into this week’s three things, I must tell you that starting from this edition, there are some changes in the structure and format of 3Things This Week. One noticeable change Is an absence of images. Yes, we are back to simple list format, because I believe, if there is a value in the content that comes to you, the absence of images should not matter.  Deeper than this, from this edition, the theme that we start with would stick with us for several weeks or months till many aspects of the theme are covered in the newsletter.

So, the theme of today’s (and also for the next few weeks) 3Things This Week is traction for startups.

Traction is a measure of your product’s engagement with its market, a.k.a. product/market fit. Traction is a general term and acquires a different parameter depending on your business building stage.  In order of importance, it is demonstrated through profit, revenue, customers, pilot customers, non-paying users, and verified hypotheses about customer problems. And their rates of change.

Thing # 1: The 19 Channels You Can Use to Get Traction

In all probabilities, this article – “The 19 Channels You Can Use to Get Traction” must have been read by many of you by now. Its an article by Gabriel Weinberg, CEO & Founder, DuckDuckGo and Co-author, Traction. This article gives a snapshot of 19 traction channels that one can work on and is quite a useful resource to quickly check anytime if you are missing on any potentially good channel option in your marketing.  In Traction (the book), there is one chapter on each of the 19 customer acquisition channels you can use to get traction, and if you haven’t yet acquired this book copy, is high time to go for it.

Things #2:  Zero to Hockey Stick Growth: How to Get Startup Traction

In a free-flowing conversation, Scott Britton spends time with Justin Mares, the other Co-author of Traction, touches a lot many aspects related traction in a specific context. If you want to have a clarity on things like what is a traction, whether should you go for product development or channel building, this is a conversation that you must listen to. You also get some insights on some specific strategies for some specific channels.

Thing #3: How do you pick a lead generation channel?

Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, in the book Traction, recommends working on 3 or 4 traction channels at any point of time and through some days or weeks, you figure out which channels are working for you at this point of time and based on the learning you go for a quick change if needed. In a short video, Alex Berman answers this question in a different way.  Should you use SEO to grow? Social media? Cold email? Webinars? In this video, he tells you a simple framework you can use to pick marketing channels that you want to work with. I am not spoiling this for you by describing it here.  Check this yourself, you will not regret!

That’s all folks for this week of 3Things This Week.

From the next week, we will focus on each of these 19 channels in more details. If you are looking for some insights for any specific channels, do write back and I will try to put that channel in a priority position.


I  would love to hear your feedback on 3 Things This Week.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks again for the privilege of emailing you!

Wishing you lots of happy reading,






P.S. –

1. The 3 Things This Week” is a free, short, curated list of useful articles, tools and other resources for building startup businesses. These 3 things would deal, in a random way, with different aspects of startup building – validation, traction, growth, funding, team, founders.

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