I recently posted about how we can grow our business by choosing different and better marketing channels.

The crux of the approach is to think carefully about your marketing channels in relation to what you have used and what other people use in your industry – and then add different marketing channels to your mix.

This was based on ideas from Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, in their book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth.

They introduced the “Bullseye Model”:

Traction - Bullseye Model

To improve your marketing:

  1. Identify all the possible marketing channels that you could use
  2. Test the most promising marketing channels
  3. Optimise and scale the marketing channels that worked best

This post is about how to think a little more deeply about the model and get better results.

Applying the model more deeply …

The Bullseye model is solid. But there are some things we can focus on to get even better results.

Add more channels to the mix …

The list of 19 “traction channels” provided by Weinberg and Mares is a good starting point.

But there are also other viable channels.

For solopreneurs and small business owners, who are starting out, a big one to put on the list is is Networking.

Networking includes:

  • Live networking at live networking events
  • Social networking, on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter

There may also be new channels emerging as a result of new technologies, innovations, or entrepreneurship.

There may be other channels specific to your industry or locale.

If you think you can add good new channels to the mix – add them in!

Brainstorm all the marketing channels you can think of while you are working on the “outer ring” of the Bullseye.

Dig deep and get very specific …

Think about each of the 19 “traction channels” as categories of marketing channels, not as the final marketing channels themselves.

For example, if you pick the traction channel of “Existing Platforms,” then there are many existing platforms you could use – like Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, iTunes, Appstore, Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, and so on … you could probably name dozens of them.

If you pick the traction channel of Offline Ads, you have everything from billboards to fliers in mail boxes to streaming a message from a zeppelin to radio ads to TV ads – and more.

So go deep into brainstorming channel ideas within each of the categories.

And don’t stop just one level in.

If you choose “Existing Platforms,” for example, and you are looking at Facebook – don’t stop there. Ask: “how can I use the Facebook platform as a traction channel?”

You might identify multiple strategies or ways to use the Facebook platform, like:

  • Facebook groups
  • Facebook pages
  • Posting on the Facebook timeline
  • Social networking on Facebook
  • Facebook lives
  • Facebook events
  • Facebook advertising
  • Facebook apps (like quizzes)
  • Use the Facebook API to develop a custom interface

Each of the above stems from particular features of the Facebook platform. And I’m sure this list does not exhaust the possibilities.

The strategies I listed overlap with the other traction channels.

This is OK. The point here is not so much to create a precise taxonomy (definition) of all the possible channels, but to help you brainstorm original and useful channels that might help you grow your business.

These channel categories are starting points for channel ideas. But don’t stay at the surface – dig deep into each channel category to discover multiple possible channel possibilities.

This is time for your creativity and lateral thinking to shine, as you come up with new ideas and possibilities.

Brainstorm the possibilities …

Be creative and list as many channels and channel strategies as you can.

If you think of networking, are there different places that you could network, like while on plane flights, or at high-end events?

If you think of offline advertising, think about what other people aren’t – like remnant media ad buys.

Be creative as you look for ideas in each of the traction channels – and beyond.

Break up the channels by stages of the marketing funnel

We often think of marketing and sales activity in terms of a sequence or “funnel” of steps:

Marketing Funnel Sequence

  1. Contact
  2. Connect
  3. Engage
  4. Enrol

Contact is where people come across you for the first time. For example this might be when they do a Google search and your page comes up, they meet you at a networking event and find you interesting, or they go to a live event and hear you speaking on stage.

Connect is when people decide to hear more from you. This can be, for example,

  • Opting in for email updates,
  • Connecting with you on social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, or
  • Registering (opting in) for a webinar you were advertising on Facebook.

Engage is when you provide valued content to the people who are connected with you, and deepen the relationship.

Enrol is when you make appropriate and relevant offers, and people accept – they become customers.

With this frame in mind, not all of the “marketing channels” are the same.

When we are considering marketing channels, we need to have a mix of channels that covers off all four stages – starting with Attraction.

To elaborate for a moment, consider the following four marketing channels:

  • Email marketing,
  • Viral marketing,
  • Two different “community” channels: A “closed” group on Facebook built around a topic of shared interest, and a “closed group you created in a Facebook group, made up of clients who have all brought a product or service from you.

Traction Channels By Marketing Stage

These channels are all different, when we consider the stages of marketing and sales activity.

Email marketing does not bring any new people into your orbit – unless you ask them to refer a friend, or send link or invitation to a friend. And if that’s the case, it’s viral marketing.

Email marketing is really focused around the Engage and Enrol phases of the marketing and sales process.

Viral marketing, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It is primarily about getting new people to see your content or product and then connect, as a result of being referred by a trusted friend. It is true that if people forward a link to an inexpensive product with a sales page then it can lead directly to enrollment. But by and large, viral marketing is focused on the Contact and Connect phases.

If you have a “closed” Facebook group, say a Facebook group around a healthy lifestyle, relationships, or growing a business, you can create an engaged community. But Facebook also recommends your group to other people on Facebook who it thinks might be a good fit for the group, and those people can then apply to join the group. A closed Facebook group therefore covers off Contact and Connect phases as well. And, while you continue to add value in the community, you can also announce offers or product launches or other activities that lead to sales – the Enrol stage.

If you create a Facebook group that is only open to people who have enrolled in a program or bought a product or service from you, this can be very effective for Engage activity. It can also set up Enrol activity for a next level of service offering. But since the group is specifically restricted to people who are already buyers, it does not bring new people into your world.

All four of these stages of the marketing and sales process are important,

But if you want traction, you need Contact. You have to find a channel for Contact that “fills the funnel” with the right people.

And that’s worth doing some experimentation to achieve.

Find Your “Clusters”

If we look at a long list of 19 (or more) marketing channels categories, it’s tempting to think of them individually, one at a time.

In real life though, several of these channels “cluster” together.

For example:

  • Targeting blogs, content marketing, SEO, existing platforms, and email marketing all tend to hang together and reinforce each other
  • Speaking, live events, community building, business development (JV partnerships), and exhibiting at trade shows also tend to reinforce each other

If you are going to create a presentation for speaking, then it’s not that big a jump to

  • Speaking to an audience at a trade show at which you also exhibit
  • Delivering a webinar, teleseminar, or interview to JV partners’ audiences
  • Putting on a live event where you are the speaker and the host.

If you are already writing content for content marketing, it’s not a big jump to

  • Generating SEO traffic
  • Targeting blogs with guest posts
  • Collecting email addresses from opt-in boxes from the blog, and doing email marketing

Think about your marketing channels in terms of a set of related, mutually reinforcing, activities.

Then come back to the stages of the marketing and sales activity, and make sure you’ve got them all covered off as well.

Put It To Work For Your Business

If you can add something else to your marketing mix that works great, and your competitors haven’t thought of yet, you’ve just given yourself a big advantage.

You can take this in other directions as well. For example, thinking about your marketing channels in relation to the current level of market maturity can be interesting.

Nothing will work until you apply it. Put aside a couple of hours, and apply this!

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I focus on the areas of strategy, alignment, and full-expression – turning your ideas and expertise into messages that cut through and programs, services or products that make a difference.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/

If you own or run a business, or you do any marketing, you probably know how hard it can be to cut through and get attention in a competitive market.

So how do some companies get their market raving about their product or service?

Guy Kawasaki was the chief evangelist for Apple, back in the early days of the Apple Mac. He is chief evangelist for Canva.

Kawasaki knows a thing or two about cutting through the noise and creating a cult following for a product.

So what is the secret?

In his book The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, Kawasaki shares a strategy for breaking through.

Kawasaki said he learned that it’s easy to evangelise a great product – and hard to evangelise a bad one:

“I’ve tried to evangelize people with great stuff, and I’ve tried to evangelize people with crap.
Evangelism is much easier with great stuff.”

So, choose great products or services to promote. Kawasaki puts it this way:

“I call this ‘Guy’s Golden Touch.’ It doesn’t mean that whatever I touch turns to gold. I wish. It means, ‘Whatever is gold, Guy touches.'”

If the starting point is a great product, what does that look like?

For Kawasaki, that means find a product that is both:

  • Differentiated in the market (it’s not just the same as what everyone else is doing)
  • Valuable (it delivers a real and valued value proposition to an audience)
Guy Kawasaki Evangelism Diagram
  • If you have high differentiation in the market and high value, you are in the zone for cutting through and creating value – and evangelising to build a cult following.
  • If you have high value and low differentiation you are in a competitive space – and it will be harder to cut through and to evangelise.
  • If you have high differentiation and low low value to a market, it will be hard to sell – and perhaps it’s time to pivot to a new market focus where your differentiation can add greater value.
  • If you have no value and no differentiation, it’s time to rethink the business.

The underlying principle here is:

  • Being highly differentiated helps with marketing – you stand out more easily, there is less competition
  • Being highly valuable helps with your sales – your value proposition is clear and compelling, and aligned to the buyers’ needs.

Put the two together, and you have a very compelling combo.

Put It To Work For Your Business

Whether or not you want to evangelise a product, this is a good strategic lens to keep in mind.

Let me know how you apply this – I’d love to hear your feedback!

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I help these leaders sharpen their ideas and messages to cut through and be heard.

And I work with strategy so that have clarity, the right plan, and the right action steps to get to where they want to get to.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/

If you are in business for yourself, you do marketing – in some form or another.

So do your competitors.

But what gives you a competitive advantage in your marketing?

One answer is provided by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, in their book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth.

Weinberg is the founder of DuckDuckGo, a multibillion dollar privacy consultancy and the creator of the DuckDuckGo browser. So he has a track record on starting a business and getting traction.

Weinberg and Mares teach a way to think differently about your marketing to grow your business faster and gain a competitive advantage.

The crux of the approach is to think carefully about your marketing channels and find and focus on the ones that work best for you.

The book was originally written for startups, but the ideas apply for any business.

The Short Version

To grow your business and get “traction” in your marketing, apply the Bullseye model:

  1. Identify all the possible marketing channels that you could use
  2. Test the most promising marketing channels
  3. Optimise and scale the marketing channels that worked best

Traction - Bullseye Model

Weinberg and Mares identified 19 effective marketing channels that startups use – and you can use too.  They are listed below.

A Deeper Look …

How exactly does the Bullseye model work?

Can the bullseye model be extended and improved?

And what are the 19 marketing channels used by startups?

Read on to find out.

What Are The 19 Marketing Channels?

The 19 marketing channels used by startups, identified by Weinberg and Mares, are:

  1. Targeting blogs
  2. Conventional PR
  3. Unconventional PR
  4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  5. Social and Display Ads
  6. Offline Ads
  7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  8. Content Marketing
  9. Email Marketing
  10. Viral Marketing
  11. Engineering as Marketing
  12. Business Development (BD)
  13. Sales
  14. Affiliate Programs
  15. Existing Platforms
  16. Trade Shows
  17. Offline Events
  18. Speaking Engagements
  19. Community Building

Many of these are obvious from the title, but some require a little elaboration. Here we go:

Targeting blogs is contributing on other people’s blog through guest posts, articles, sponsorship, and so on.

Conventional PR is distinguished from Unconventional PR in that the first is the usual things like radio and TV interviews, editorial content, and so on, while the latter is activities like publicity stunts or developing a tribe of superfans.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is Google search ads.

Social and Display Ads is essentially all other forms of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising such as FB, LI, Twitter, and YouTube, advertising; Google display ads; and other ad display networks.

Offline Ads is advertising through channels such as radio, TV, billboard, and direct mail.

SEO is developing unpaid traffic from search engines to a blog or website.

Viral marketing includes word-of-mouth referrals. Its ideal objective is to raise your average referral per client or customer to greater than one, so that you achieve “virality.”

Engineering as Marketing is developing a mini-product or training that attracts people and generates and qualifies leads. This could be, for example, a quiz that tells them which type of business they have or which stage of business they are at, a 5 day challenge or 5-part home study course.

Business Development (BD) – is “the process of creating strategic relationships that benefit both your startup and your partner” In the internet marketing, coaching, or transformational leadership worlds, this is what we would call Joint Venture (JV) partnerships.

Sales means direct sales outreach – reaching out to key people in key target companies. and commencing a conversation that progresses down a sales pipeline.

Existing Platforms is “focusing your growth efforts on a megaplatform like Facebook, Twitter, or the App Store, and getting some of their hundreds of millions of users to use your product” YouTube, Amazon, and podcasting can all fall into this category. The book particularly emphasises a strategy of getting in early on new platforms, and riding a platform as it grows.

Offline Events is live events, like conferences, workshops, or meetups.

Community Building is building communities of people who interact with each other around your product, or around a topic of relevance for your business. This could be done for example on Facebook groups.

Where Did The Idea Come From, Anyway?

Weinberg and Mares were interested in startups.

Which startups succeed?

Which ones don’t?

What makes the difference?

Weinberg and Mares found that product development is well understood by startups, with tools like market research interviews and “minimum viable products”:

“If you’re starting a company, chances are you can build a product. Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.”

Those startups who delayed finding and developing marketing channels until after the product was developed struggled to get traction –  real customer growth.

So, Weinberg and Mares zeroed in on marketing channels.

In addition to leaving developing marketing channels until it’s too late, they identified two common issues:

“First, most founders consider using only traction channels with which they’re already familiar, or those they think they should be using because of their type of product or company. This means that far too many startups focus on the same channels and ignore other promising ways to get traction. In fact, often the most underutilized channels in an industry are the most promising ones.

Second, it’s hard to predict the traction channel that will work best. You can make educated guesses, but until you start running tests, it’s difficult to tell which channel is the best one for you right now.”

Their research found that there are 19 specific marketing channels that startups used:

“After interviewing more than forty successful founders and researching countless more, we discovered that startups get traction through nineteen different channels. Many successful startups experimented with multiple channels until they found one that worked. We call these customer acquisition channels “traction channels.” These are marketing and distribution channels through which your startup can get traction: real customer growth.”

Successful startups experimented with different marketing channels.

Of course, marketing channels aren’t the whole story – market research and product development both matter. Weinberg and Mares suggest that marketing channels and product development should each be 50% of the story for startups.

The Bullseye Model – What You Need To Know

The challenge for startups – or any business – is to find which marketing channels will work best for you.

If you are in a competitive market environment, it is even more important to find a mix of marketing channels that allows you to tap into your market in a way that competitors do not.

Weinberg and Mares proposed a model for this: the Bullseye model.

“With nineteen traction channels to consider, figuring out which one to focus on is tough. That’s why we’ve created a simple framework called Bullseye that will help you find the channel that will get you traction.”

The Bullseye model consists of three stages:

  1. Identify all the possible marketing channels that you could use
  2. Test the most promising marketing channels
  3. Optimise and scale the marketing channels that worked best

The Bullseye is shown below.

Traction - Bullseye Model

Let’s look at each of these stages in turn.

1. The Outer Ring: What’s Possible

“The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. If you were to advertise offline, where would be the best place to do it? If you were to give a speech, who would be the ideal audience? Imagine what success would look like in each channel, and write it down in your outer ring.”

2. The Middle Ring: What’s Probable

“The second step in Bullseye is running cheap traction tests in the channels that seem most promising.
Go around your outer ring and promote your best traction channel ideas to your middle ring.”

Now you bring your ideas for the best marketing channels down to say three or four channels.

There are two rules for testing out a channel in the “middle ring”:

  1. Test one marketing channel at a time
  2. Don’t spend too many resources on it – it should be cheap and quick

For initial testing they suggest spend less than $1,000, and do it in less than a month:

“These first channel strategy tests are often very cheap and short. For instance, if you spend just $250 on AdWords, you’ll get a rough idea of how well the search engine marketing channel works for your business … you shouldn’t be spending more than a thousand dollars and a month’s time on a middle ring test, and often significantly less.”

When you see something is working, you can invest more and scale it out.

3. The Inner Ring: What’s Working

“The third and final step in Bullseye is to focus solely on the channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel.
If all went well, one of the traction channels you tested in your middle ring produced promising results. In that case, you should start directing all your traction efforts and resources toward this most promising channel. You hit the Bullseye! You’ve found your core channel.”

Put It To Work For Your Business

There’s a good chance that the 80/20 rule will apply … if you try 5 strategies in your Middle Ring, one may be much better than the others.

Be creative.

And be original.

If you can add something else to your marketing mix that works great, and your competitors haven’t thought of yet, you’ve just given yourself a big advantage.

Nothing will work until you apply it. Put aside a couple of hours, brainstorm your “Outer Ring” in the Bullseye model, and schedule trying out one or more of the channels you identified.

Applying the Bullseye Model in more depth …

There is more we can do to make the Bullseye model work for us. I explore this in Growing Your Business With The Bullseye Model.

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I focus on the areas of strategy, alignment, and full-expression – turning your ideas and expertise into messages that cut through and programs, services or products that make a difference.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/