Traction: The Ultimate Guide

Traction screenshot on a laptop.

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Targeting Blogs

TRACTION – the startup’s guide to achieving explosive customer growth.  Author’s Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares provides digital marketers with the tools necessary to increase startup growth potential for their company. Our team here at Pintler Group took on the task of dissecting each of the 19 traction channels. We did this because 1: we wanted to gain a deep understanding of how the traction channels worked together. And 2: we wanted to walk-the-walk. In each of the examples below, we used real stories from clients and our own experience growing a personalized software: GeoFli. What worked and what didn’t.

The following article is a summary of Traction, including a brief description of each channel and media (articles, podcasts and YouTube videos) crafted by our Missoula Montana based digital marketing firm, Pintler Group to provide a greater understanding of each 19 channels. Click on any of the podcasts, videos, or links to our blog posts below to engage and learn more.

Before running through the 19 channels, let’s take a look at a simple marketing framework for any business to operate with. Coined famously by Dave McClure of 500 Startups: this is the AARRR method. Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue.

The important piece to pay attention to in this framework is the acquisition piece. For any new business, the acquisition component of the framework will be the most challenging, especially when starting out. And how’s this for a transition: this is where the traction channels come into play!

1. Targeting Blogs

In the first traction channel, we jump headfirst into targeting blogs. This is a tactic that’s been around a while, so we changed the language to “targeting attention.” This means targeting blogs that can help lift up your product. Are you launching a photo-editing app, targeting experts in the photography field might be a good option. Use tools like Buzz Sumo, and Google’s keyword research tool to find what blogs and what people are considering experts in a specific vertical.

Does finding a pre-existing, captive audience of people already interested in things similar to your product or service seem too good to be true? Well, when you begin targeting blogs and other influencers it becomes a lot easier to find an audience like this.

Want to learn more? This podcast covers targeting blogs and social media influencers in greater detail.

targeting attention

The following article highlights targeting attention in the new age.

Here is a YouTube recording of this first traction channel – targeting blogs.

Below: Kassi walks through three tips for “Targeting Attention.” Our spin on the targeting blogs traction channel:

2. Publicity

Sure, getting traffic to your website is important, but publicity can help get the word out and fast. Public relations (PR) relates to the messaging a company addresses publicly. You can get published in a news story, you could be featured in a magazine or you could have a product announcement that solves a problem in a fun way: this is all kindling for a potential PR fire (in a good way).

This episode (above) covers the Amazon press release strategy: any idea brought to the table of Amazon includes a press release to think about how the company would, if the idea takes flight, release it to customers. We talk about the difference and evolution of press releases ten years ago to today!


Here is a blog post that shares five tips to modernize your press release for a fresh appeal.

Above: the podcast video

Below: Shawn Nicholls helps explain Publicity in 2020:

3. Unconventional PR

Make a splash. This common saying could be found squarely in the unconventional PR category. Stand out from the crowds with something big and, well, unconventional. While most companies direct their attention to traditional publicity, success can be achieved using unconventional ways to create viral messaging. Publicity stunts and customer appreciation are two types of unconventional PR and will be explained in greater detail below.

Michelle and Shawn discuss two types of unconventional PR: publicity stunts and customer appreciation. From storming Area 51 to sharing your customer’s photos on Instagram, listen to this episode to learn more about using unconventional PR in your business.

press release

Here are five unconventional press release campaigns in the real world that worked!

This video (above) will provide a greater understanding of what unconventional PR is and how you can use this channel to elevate your marketing strategies.

4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing: where marketers go to spend a bunch of money without knowing the results, right? WRONG! Search Engine Marketing is one of the few places you can strategically spend money and outperform the big-players. With small budgets, you can make a big impact for your business.

Bidding on keywords in search engines like Google and Bing is what is referred to as search engine marketing (SEM). We attempt to take a look at how anyone, regardless of technical background, can launch a successful campaign.

Michelle and Kyle answer questions about key words, Google Ads, search engine ad possibilities and much more on this episode!

search engine marketing

Search engine marketing also relies on utilizing Google trends. The following blog post will describe this process in greater detail.

Here is a video on one of our favorite (but least used) metrics for measuring the impact of a paid search campaign: Search Impression Share.

5. Social & Display Ads

Online marketing is noisy. The Facebook newsfeed, your local news website: it’s crowded with ads. It’s hard to ignore those pop-ups and banner ads that appear throughout your online activity. Social ads appear within your social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These ads are aimed towards signing up for contests, buying a product, or subscribing to a newsletter. Due to their popularity in terms of selling products or services, social ads are constantly changing and influencing the way consumers interact with a company’s brand and their messaging.

In this episode, Michelle and Shawn talk about strategy behind social and display ads. They discuss how to use them most effectively, when to use them and why they are important to your business!

compelling content

This blog post provides a road map with how to create compelling ads for your products and services.

The following video discusses the advantages of using paid social and search across popular social media platforms.

Here’s an inside look at our internal paid-search framework:

6. Offline Ads

Offline advertising: busses, billboards and coasters: still very much has a  place in the digital world.

The traction channel offline advertising can often be overlooked in today’s digital age, but Michelle and Shawn dive into how digital marketing efforts and offline events can come together to make a very successful marketing campaign.

eye catching

Next, this article will provide insight on how to design eye-catching offline marketing events.

Here is a video (above) that provides you with five tips on how to manage offline events and campaigns for your company.

One of our favorite podcast episodes to date is all about offline ads: Billboards, Busses and Coasters!

7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Everyone uses search engines. Don’t believe me, Google it! Providing answers that best suit their query is what search engine optimization is all about. Being a credible source for information online allows your company to stand out from the rest. SEO of course deals with organic search position, but it also encompasses the way anyone learns about you online. It could be through your YouTube channel or a directory site.

Kassi and Michelle dive into the traction channel Search Engine Optimization and share tips for using your blog and video content to increase the SEO of your website.

graph results going up

This blog (above) highlights how readability extends beyond words to achieve a high search engine optimization rating among search engines.

What is SEO? This short YouTube video describes what search engine optimization (SEO) means and how it can be effectively applied to your business.

Interested in learning about how to use Google Search Console to find blog and content opportunities: check out our video here that walks through our advanced tactics you can implement today!

8. Content Marketing

This traction channel provides a chance for your company to express its expertise through a variety of platforms including blog posts, video and podcasts. The goal of creating fresh new content is to get interactions like shares, reposts, comments and likes. This type of engagement translates to growth. All these forms of content combined can create a very nice array for website visitors to choose from. Moz, Unbounce and OkCupid are all great examples of how content marketing works so well – just look at the number of comments on all these good articles.

Content about content. Meta, we know. In this podcast, Shawn and Michelle walk through how to cut through the noise when it comes to content. What works. What doesn’t. Curious about what length of content performs best? We’re here to help.

thought bubble

This blog post helps outline how much your company should be paying for (i.e. money and time invested) content marketing.

Podcast video time (above). All about content marketing and what you should do next to create fresh, new content.

Below: How to build out your content marketing strategy.

9. Email Marketing

Email marketing is still to this day one of the most powerful forms of outreach. If done correctly, no other traction channel will drive as much referral revenue.  This traction channel is personal. Email marketing is a delicate process made up of segmenting, subject lines and setting up conversions. With this in mind, email marketing is most effective when it’s personalized to each of your customers or prospects.

Listen to this episode to learn more about how to get started with email marketing, how to get the most out of your efforts and why we think it’s essential for all businesses.

email marketing

Check this article out for ways to sharpen your email marketing skills.

This video outlines the email marketing framework to aid in any successful business campaign.

10. Engineering as Marketing

Providing tools and resources for your website visitors to engage with will not only generate leads, but expand your customer base as well. With your team’s engineering skills at hand, creating useful tools like landing pages, microsites, virtual tours and calculators will put your company in the forefront of potential customers.

In this podcast, Shawn and Kyle discuss the traction channel: engineering as marketing.


This blog post provides additional info on how to tie together engineering skills into your marketing strategies.

(Above) Successfully navigate engineering as marketing as a traction channel!

11. Viral Marketing

Getting your message out to as many people possible – every business wants this, but how can this be achieved? Viral marketing creates referrals to your products by word of mouth, social shares and press releases. “Going viral” means your existing customer base is sharing the good word about your services.

In this episode, Shawn and Michelle talk about the traction channel, viral marketing. They discuss what it is, who it is for, how to make it work and much more.

viral bubbles

The following blog post tackles the first steps to creating viral content for your business.

Above: Our podcast video!

Here are two videos related to viral marketing and how it can be incorporated within your business.

12. Business Development

Much like with sales, business development shares many of the same facets with the addition of exchanging value through partnerships. With sales, the primary focus is exchanging dollars for products and services. Sales are a direct focus with the customer, but with business development the goal is partnering to reach customers in beneficial ways.

Kassi and Michelle discuss the different types of partnership models in this episode. Specifically, Kassi talks about a few of her ventures and some of the possible partnership opportunities she’s explored within them.


The following article relates to finding the right partner in a business development situation.

Podcast video!

13. Sales

To fit “sales” in a traction channel is casting a wide net. In the acquisition channel, sales could be your entire strategy… and your only strategy! We look at using sales both online and offline to grow your business. Sales is such a key component of any company that in some form, every business or non-profit must sell. The question is, what percentage of your resources will you devote to the channel? We have some key resources for you to discover the answer to that question.

In this episode, we look at the traction channel of sales. Many books have been written on sales, and sometimes time spent doing is better than time spent reading how to do. Shawn and Kyle talk about the sales funnel, sales cycles and what to do after a lead is submitted on your website.

confirming leads

This blog post is all about how to gather leads that convert to paying customers. Read this post to learn more about finding quality leads for your business.

The Psychology of Sales (below):

Podcast video (above):

14. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing is a paid arrangement made between your company and someone (individuals or a business) to develop content, make a sale, or drive qualified leads. An example of this is a YouTube influencer recommending your product in their video. The influencer is paid a commission on any referral traffic they drive resulting in a sale.

Michelle and Kassi discuss in the ins and outs of affiliate marketing. They dive into the different components that make a successful affiliate marketing campaign, why it is such a powerful channel, who should give it a try and much more!

affiliate programs

This traction channel blog post for affiliate marketing covers the do’s and don’ts when creating a successful marketing campaign.

Want to learn how to get started with affiliate marketing? Kyle has the answers you need in this video.

15. Existing Platforms

By leveraging existing platforms like websites, apps, or social networks with a large user-base your business can get traction. What the heck do we mean by existing platforms? Learn more in the content below:

Kassi and Shawn dive into what existing platforms are and how they are used to build brand awareness.

megaphone social media

How to use existing platforms to cut through the noise and grow without spending money.

How can you build better brand awareness? Check out this podcast video.

Existing Programs: The Early Days of Instagram Stories!

16. Trade Shows

The ageless trade-show! A staple in getting out and showing your product or service to the world. Does it make sense for your business to take your show on the road? Find out below:

Trade shows help generate interest in what you’re currently developing and provides a stage to showcase your business on a large scale. As your business builds more traction, trade shows can be a great resource to make big announcements, generate sales from larger clients and develop community-wide partnerships.

In this podcast, Kassi and Kyle talk about the three prongs of trade shows and specifically, they talk about geotargeting your trade show before and during the event. Whether you’re an attendee or a vendor, this episode is sure to be valuable for you.


Want to learn how to attract more customers at trade-shows? Look no further, this article helps clear the air with this traction channel deep dive.

Learn more about how to successfully geotarget before and during trade shows with this video insight. GeoFli is a great software tool to provide effective geotargeting search results to new and existing customers.

Geofence your next trade-show: here’s how:

17. Offline Events

Sponsoring or running offline events – from small meetups to larger conferences – can be a primary way to get traction and interest in the acquisition and activation stages of marketing. Offline events are particularly effective for startups with long sales cycles, as is often the case with enterprise software.

The traction channel offline events can often be overlooked in today’s digital age, but Michelle and Shawn dive into how digital marketing efforts and offline events can come together to make a very successful marketing campaign.

eye catching

The following article can provide inspiration for creating your next eye-catching offline event.

How to market your offline events!

18. Speaking Engagements

You can win business with speaking engagements. What better way to show thought leadership than by showcasing, well, your thought and your leadership! Small conference breakout session are a great place to start. Share a case-study, work collaboratively with a client or a customer to tell about a success story.

Above: Shawn and Michelle talk about the traction channel speaking engagements, if they’re right for your business and how to get the most out of your presentation.

press conference

Want to be successful in your next speaking proposal? Look no further – this article has it all wrapped up for you. Starting with the basics, up to winning your next speaking engagement. Here are some tips for success!

Podcast Video!

How to leverage your speaking engagements:

19. Community Building

Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, forums and message boards: these are all examples of community building. Can you be a leader or a group-thread contributor? Can you start your own community through Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups? Learn more about all the different ways you can use these tactics to grow your business in an organic way.

Kyle and Michelle discuss the final traction channel community building in this podcast. Covering communities like Google Tag Manager and Facebook Groups, learn about how creating a community for your startup can foster relationships with your customers, instill trust in your brand and keep customers coming back.

Community building thumbnail

This article provides five helpful tips on where to start with community building online.

Kyle and Michelle take the seat for this final traction channel and discuss ways to develop stronger relationships within the community for your business by utilizing online and social platforms.

Listen. Grow. Execute.

Phew! That’s a lot of marketing knowledge to process. Are you ready to hit the ground running? If the answer is “maybe?” then you’re in a good place. That uncertainty is an itch that can only be scratched by doing. So, pick, three-five traction channels above to test, and devote yourself and your team to testing those five and only those five.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the framework: it’s time to tackle the method. Roll up the sleeves and get in the weeds. Track results and iterate.

When you discover your core channel – hone in and put it on the board as viable. Then find the next viable option to grow your startup. We hope you enjoyed the series on Traction Channels. We sure enjoyed putting them together for you. What should we cover next? Let us know by shooting us an email or leaving a comment. We look forward to talking soon.

Pintler Group is based in Missoula, Montana. We’re a performance-based marketing shop with expertise in paid search, paid social, email marketing management and retargeting. Our superpower is designing customer marketing solution for mid-size clients looking to grow.

Community Building Online: Five Places to Start

Students sitting in a circle on the lawn.

The final traction channel in the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares is community building. Many of the traction channels in this book seem to overlap and build on each other. But this is a channel that more often seems to stand alone. Community building is when you are purposefully fostering relationships and connections with your customers. This encourages them to bring others into your circle. An easy ma and pop, brick and mortar type example could include hosting an offline event, or opportunity for your customers to get together, bring their friends, and talk about how much they love your product, but what happens when you are an e-commerce or tech company that would like to take advantage of their community and help it flourish? Here are five online locations you can implement community building in a tangible and impactful way.


Reddit is an enormous and ever-growing collection of forums where users can post about news and other content as well as comment on posts made by other people. The world of Reddit is huge and easy to get lost in. But, when used strategically, it can be a powerful community builder, especially through subreddits specific to your business.

In case you aren’t familiar with the platform, subreddits are the individual forums within the larger site. Subreddits are free to create and can play many purposes for businesses. For startups, creating a subreddit can help customers give feedback and connect with each other, helping the company grow and gain traction. For existing businesses, subreddits allow customers to connect with each other and members of your team, enter giveaways hosted by the business and simply chat about what they love (or hate) about the product or service. With over 330 million users, Reddit is sure to be a place where you can build a community for your business. 

Community on Reddit
Blog Comments

Similar to Reddit, popular blogs provide an online space for people to discuss specific topics that interest them. As mentioned in our blog post about SEO, writing quality blog articles can help your website show up higher in search engine results, ultimately leading to higher amounts of organic traffic, but this is not the only benefit of a good blog. Once a business establishes a blog that provides meaningful information to its readers and brings traffic to the website the blog can become a very powerful tool for community building. If users are finding value in your blog they are more likely to interact with you by leaving comments. These comments can then create conversations with different customers and with your team. Getting engagement can be difficult at first, but here are a few tips to hook your first few commenters: 

    • Ask questions in your article. Readers are much more likely to comment when there is a question for them to answer. 
    • Use social media to share your blog posts. Then encourage your followers to comment on the article instead of the social post. 
    • Talk about your readers or customers in your post. If something that is shared interests you and the community talk about it on your blog.
    • Respond to all comments when they first start to be made. This will provide value to those who are commenting and encourage future comments.
Pioneer Woman Blog

While most millennials grew up being told that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for scholarly papers, it still proves to be a site that is read by many when searching the internet for an answer to a question. It might surprise you that Wikipedia actually doesn’t have any employees. Any knowledgeable person with access to the computer can create the content. This is the exact reason many teachers advise students to avoid using the site as a reference. The lack of proof that professional research has gone into a Wikipedia article is concerning to academia, but, for your business, this open-source information is a great opportunity to encourage community building. Having a Wikipedia page specific to your business can allow your current customers who are subject matter experts on your business to share information and encourage discussion of your product or service.

Trader Joes Wikipedia Page

Topic Specific Forums

Even though it’s hard to believe, forums still exist outside of Reddit! Creating a forum that allows your current and prospective customers to discuss, ask questions and give advice about your product, service or other topics pertaining to your business is a great way to create community. Hosting a forum allows you to directly interact with the people who post on it similar to how you could reply to a blog article, but it also allows for readers to communicate with each other on an even higher level. Another way to leverage forums is to comment and interact with customers in an existing one. Find a forum that has a topic that resonates with your brand and start a conversation with participants.

Amazon Community
Facebook Groups

Facebook is arguably the most popular online community and can easily be leveraged for your business, especially through the use of Facebook Groups. Here at Pintler Group, we love putting all aspects of Facebook to use for our digital clients, including the groups feature. Creating a group for your business is easy. It allows you to share posts, images and other pieces of content with the group’s members. You can decide if the group is private and invitation-only, or open to any interested parties. Consider your intended audience and create a group that creates value specific to these individuals. If you have multiple audiences you would like to reach, create multiple groups. This way you can cater even more directly to individual audiences.

It is also important to remember that these groups do not need to be all about your business. Try creating an open space where members can talk about various topics that relate to your business. Cast a wide net to catch anyone interested in the topic rather than only people familiar with your brand.  

Instant Pot Facebook Group

For more on community building and the other 18 traction channels, check out our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise and our YouTube channel.

Geofencing: Attracting Customers at Trade Shows

Map on wall with pushpins.

As we discussed in a recent podcast, the marketing strategy geofencing, or delivering advertising messaging to people in certain locations using cities and zip codes, has many applications. It can be especially useful when trying to use digital to influence physical activities, such as a trade show or conference. How can we impact attendance at a booth or panel in a huge conference center? What are the ways to get the word out about awesome things you’re doing as a company? 

It’s crucial as marketers that we go to where prospective customers are rather than assuming they will come to us. When operating within the trade show traction channel you’ve already identified where those customers exist. You’re halfway to the finish line. You certainly can try and talk to everyone individually. Or you could use geofencing to make sure everyone in the conference center or hotel sees your messaging! We recently ran Facebook geofencing advertising campaigns for two clients with different goals, but similar results.


Geofencing on Facebook

Case Study #1: Trade Conference Awareness Advertising

One of our clients, a Montana chapter of a national organization, was preparing to attend a yearly conference. Given chapters from around the country would be attending they were interested in getting the word out about the great stuff they were doing. Think of it as a bragging campaign.

For the targeting, we geofenced the convention center where the conference would take place. We ran the ads starting the morning of the first day, turned them off for non-show hours and ended as the conference ended.

As for the creative, we gathered the most appealing imagery we had, knowing that even if someone didn’t engage with the Facebook ad the visual would leave a lasting impression. Our text was very direct, highlighting what sets this chapter apart from others.

The results were impressive. At a very small budget, we were able to reach over 11,000 people and drive 700 ad engagements over a three day period. As an added bonus it drove additional likes on the Facebook post.

Finally, an offshoot of the campaign came in the form of one of our core values: delight. The members of the chapter who attended saw their own ads. That brought the campaign to life for them and validated our work!

Case Study #2: Driving Traffic to a Booth at a Trade Conference

This example is where digital truly meets the physical. One of our clients was new to their industry and looking to have a big coming-out party at a conference. They spent a lot of time and energy building out a flashy booth and printing brochures to give away. Being the little fish in a very big pound, though, they needed to get foot traffic.

We took a multi-faceted approach to the campaign. First, we geofenced hotels affiliated with the conference and offering blocks of rooms. These ads started in the days leading up to the conference, knowing many arrived early. The creative specifically urged people to visit the booth.

Once the conference started the targeting switched to geofencing the convention center itself. Again, the call to action was to visit the booth. Additionally, simultaneous to this ad set we were also running Google Search ads in the city of the convention. The hope was that people who were exposed to signage or Facebook ads would want to Google what the company was all about.

The results: a stellar amount of foot traffic to their booth (which can, of course, be attributed to many factors) and triple the number of website visitors during the conference compared to the previous period.

Facebook Ads

Setting up a campaign

The nice thing about incorporating geofencing into your advertising strategy is that it’s easy to set up and can be launched with a small budget. In the planning stages these are the key pieces of information you need to focus on:

    • Location: Where are the people you are trying to reach?
    • Timing: When will they be there?
    • Interests: Are you targeting everyone in the area or only people in the area that resemble an identified persona?
    • Action: Is your action online or offline?
    • Tracking: Put in place ways to accurately define success or failure

Enjoy your first geofence!


Check out this video for step-by-step geofencing instructions.

For more information on trade shows and the other 18 podcasts check out our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Stand Out By Leveraging Existing Platforms

Neon sign that says #tweettweet

The term “platform” returns a surprising number of definitions. In marketing, it can refer to social media, podcasting, video, web, and more. The traction channel “Existing Platforms” alludes to how startups can leverage traction by integrating with platforms that already have a massive following.

The short explanation of this channel is that startups should represent their business on these platforms to get their content in front of existing audiences and be able to identify their ideal audience with better precision. The following is already on the platform. Take advantage of that pool and explore integrations with platforms that make the most sense with your business. This article highlights the platforms your startup should consider leveraging marketing efforts on.

Social Media Platforms

The History of Social Media Platforms

As of 2019, it is estimated that 3.5 billion people are online. When you compare that number to the total world population of 7.7 billion, it has quite an impact. Breaking that figure down more, studies have estimated that two-thirds of internet users are on social media. For those of us who can remember the early 2000s, the world first saw social media make its presence known in the form of MySpace. What started small in the early 2000s but rapidly grew created an explosion of new opportunities in marketing. 

While MySpace paved the initial pathway of social media, it was the introduction of Facebook to the general population that sparked immense growth in this industry. Originally available only to college students, Facebook allowed users to connect via digital space and share content with one another in a new way. Today, Facebook is a must-have platform for businesses to advertise on. In 2019, there are a reported 6 million businesses that have their own Facebook business page. With 74% of Facebook users checking in daily, there are minimal cons to integrating with this platform.


Staying Ahead of the Competition

However, startups should consider the stage of a lifetime the existing platforms are in. To really gain traction, Businesses only marketing on Facebook will not succeed. The ones who identified and were first to adopt new platforms are the ones who see massive growth. Early adopters are those who are early users of new technologies, products/services, or platforms before the majority of the population catches on. 

With this in mind, keep updated on growing platforms. The earlier your business integrates, the more you can stand out. Just keep in mind who your audience is and whether the platform makes the most sense. A business whose target market is restricted to an older demographic might not want to consider TikTok, a short-form mobile video sharing platform popular with a more tech-depended demographic.

App Platforms

Additional existing platforms to consider are app-focused. App stores like Apple and Android allow businesses access to an impressive pool of potential users. If your business has an app, consider the free strategy: feature a free version of your app to increase the number of users, then monetize those free users with in-app purchases or paid upgrade to a premium version. It’s important to get your app to appear somewhere on the charts, so push for users to share ratings of their experience.

Web or App Extensions

Another example of integrating with existing platforms is through web or app extensions. With web browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox, users can improve their browsing experience by downloading extensions. Usually free, these extensions create a direct portal to a business. Plus, they provide some kind of value to the user as a means of personalizing their browsing experience.


Grammarly is a free browser extension that analyzes in real-time your text to correct grammatical mistakes, provide clear messaging, and improve the quality of messages. It’s a built-in spell checker useful for all messages that are created within a web browser. Grammarly gains a lot from this extension. It receives access to the web browser’s existing audience, provides a useful feature, and drives users to its services, which include premium services.


Slack, a cloud-based instant messaging platform popular with organizations, features a similar type of method with its app extensions. Allowing for seamless integration with services such as Zoom, Google Drive and Obie, Slack has created an opportunity for businesses to tap into its existing user pool in a simple and easy way. An app extension with Slack is perfect for services that seek to make collaboration between teams easier.

With so many platforms existing to take advantage of, what are you waiting for? Take the time to research trending social media or brainstorm how to convert your services to a value-added tool. Finding the right platform can be time-consuming. But once tapped in, you won’t regret the time invested to continue gaining traction.

Check out this video to learn more about existing platforms.

Want more traction channel tips? Follow our YouTube channel and listen to our Cutting Through The Noise podcast for more content on these topics!

The Cutting Through The Noise podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Affiliate Programs: What to Do and What to Avoid

Woman taking selfie.

Part traction channel, part revenue stream, part lead gen tool, affiliate programs can be extremely effective for everyone involved. When done correctly, that is. By definition, affiliate programs are arrangements in which a company pays a commission to affiliates for delivering conversions. Sales and leads are the primary conversions used, but some companies will pay for web traffic.

Amazon, of course, is one of the leaders in the affiliate space. Coined Amazon Associates, the e-commerce behemoth pays percentages and flat fees on sales generated from a company’s website or social media account. Say you review baby products on your blog. You can apply (and hopefully get accepted!) to the program, attach a tracking code to links to the product page you are reviewing and you’re set. In this example generating a sale of a car seat would net you 4.5% of the sale price. A bonus? Commissions don’t just apply to the product you are linking to. Any purchase from a customer you drive there counts!

Keeping with the baby theme, recommend your readers signup for the Amazon Baby Registry and you get $3 as soon as someone adds one item to the list.


Affiliate Marketing Revenue

Do Your Research

Just like anything on the web, some services are better than others. And when it comes to affiliate programs there are a lot of shady operations. Does it seem too good to be true? Well, it’s probably not. Look out for clumsily put together websites, a lack of terms and conditions and an unorganized fee and payout explanation. You should never pay to join. Anything that says “Get Rich Quick” should be avoided. And make sure the products you would be recommending are legit. The last thing you want is to get scammed out of commission AND your readers or followers scammed as well.

Bottom Line: Do your research, read reviews and talk to associates.


Staying True to Your Brand

It’s important to keep in mind that while you’re driving revenue and making a living that you are still a trusted source of information for your readers. So you certainly don’t want to be mentioning products you don’t recommend just because they have a high price tag. Further to that point, the best affiliates are transparent, noting on their site or in the article they are making a commission over referral purchases. The New York Times does a great job at that when they publish their books bestseller lists.


New York Times Bestseller List


Why Should I Engage in Affiliate Marketing as a Big Brand

Because it’s noisy out there and you can use all the help you can get! Similar to business development it’s a relationship that is a win for you and a win for the partner. You can almost consider an affiliate network your own paid street team. You just don’t have to pay them until there is money in your pocket.

In terms of who, let’s extend the street team analogy. Who better to market your product than your loyal customers? They are already educated on your brand or service and the promise of occasional discounts in addition to a commission could be a powerful motivator. You’ll, of course, need to vet them and make sure they have a platform worth your effort, but the impact of a team of influencers could be huge.

One place to start would be with your analytics. Who has purchased the most from your store or who opens the most amount of your emails? Is there someone who is always liking, sharing and commenting on social media? Isolating these super users and then vetting them prior to reaching out can save a lot of time.

Looking for some simple tips on setting up your affiliate marketing program? Check out this tutorial!


Want to learn more about affiliate marketing and the other 18 traction channels? Check out our YouTube channel and our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise.




Qualifying Leads: How to Gather Leads that Convert

Welcome aboard life saver hanging on a palm tree on the beach.

Generating sales leads is getting easier. With so many marketing platforms catering to this objective, it’s satisfying for marketers to watch the leads roll in. From there, leads are given to the sales team to establish contact, evaluate the needs and how the business can meet them, negotiate and hopefully seal the deal. In a perfect world, sales would close every lead that came through the marketing pipeline. However, this is often not the case. Often more frustrating is spending time working with information of an unqualified lead, resulting in no sales and a waste of both time and resources on the wrong audience.

So how can marketing help convert those leads to sales? Get smarter about the who, the how, and develop strategies designed to improve the experience for all. Focus on fine-tuning your inbound marketing rather than outbound. Inbound marketing efforts are already improving the quality and volume of leads received by many businesses. In fact, only 18% of marketers in 2018 reported that they gathered high quality leads contributed to outbound efforts.

Whatever your lead generation process is, here are some tips Pintler Group employs to improve the quality of leads.

Target Leads
Research Your Target Audience and Know Where to Reach Them

Okay, so this one isn’t so much a strategy but a reminder to marketers. Know your audience! Sometimes your service or product may call for you to cast a wide net, but be prepared that qualified leads will be lower. Sheer volume of leads isn’t enough to justify ad spend if the leads don’t convert. Research what worked in the past and consider replicating those efforts. What platform did you use? What language was shown in the ad? How many points of contact occurred before the sale closed? These types of questions can help narrow down an audience more likely to convert.

Develop a Shortlist of Questions to Ask

When responding to a lead, you need to have questions ready prior to the interaction. Keep these questions short and simple. Always ask what the lead is hoping to achieve. Ask why the lead showed interest in your business. Nothing is more frustrating than having a long conversation that ends with both parties realizing that neither can help the other. For marketers hoping to automate the process, consider sharing these questions in a survey format. Our next tip can help achieve this.

Qualify Leads with Email

Set Up an Email Automation

Email marketing is a powerful channel to incorporate into your lead generation efforts. When a user opts into your email subscription, take advantage of this interaction to provide value to the user and encourage lead generation.

For those using lead generation ads, setting up an automated email campaign that fires off when a lead is submitted can really speed up the vetting process. Using a service that connects multiple platforms, such as Zapier, can really eliminate the pressure to reach out in a timely matter.

A simple email automation campaign could consist of 2 emails:

#1: The first email is sent at a time delay of 30 minutes after the lead is sent, thanking the user for their interest and inquiring how the business can meet their needs.

#2: A second email is sent a few days later, encouraging the user to explore the website or provide the user with additional information, such as a downloadable PDF with sales information.

As mentioned previously, you could consider adding to the first email your lead qualifying questions in a survey format. Make your emails as useful to the user as you can. Consider including testimonials in text or video format or a FAQ section as well.

Facebook Advertising Custom Audience

Retarget Audiences

In marketing, timing is everything. Take advantage of the data you have and build data-driven retarget audiences. This information can be gathered from your website, email marketing software or from ads. Develop different paths based on actions taken and target users with lead generation ads. “Actions taken” could refer to any website visitor that has visited more than twice in 30 days, subscribers of your blog that have an open email rate of 50% or higher, or even users who have clicked on your awareness ad. Use this type of targeting to give prospective leads a push in the right direction and establish contact. By retargeting those who have already demonstrated some interest in your business, chances are better than they will turn out to be more qualified.


Discuss the Process with Your Sales Team

We’ve all worked in an environment where communication between departments may not be the best. Make an effort to improve those communications between sales and marketing. Ask the sales team what efforts have led to success for them and share what you have found successful on the marketing end. For marketers and sales teams, only good things can come from working together to improve lead generation efforts.

Learn more about sales and the other 18 traction channels in our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise on Spotify, Apple Podcast or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Watch this video to learn more about the psychology of sales.

Engineering as Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven

Woman sitting at desk with three monitors.

Engineering? In marketing? From first glance, the two terms don’t appear to invoke thoughts about being complementary to one another. For digital marketers, it’s a powerful combination and can be an incredible asset to any agency. “Engineering as Marketing” is building and using tools to reach more people and gain traction by providing value to users.

Creating tools that your target audience finds useful can do wonders for your business in the long-term. Ideally, making this tool free for your users is best for businesses looking to grow rapidly. 


A good engineering as marketing case study comes from the marketing automation software company HubSpot. They used the traction channel to improve the quality and quantity of its leads. In the early years of HubSpot, the founder Dharmesh Shah spent quite a bit of time manually scanning through websites to check on the quality of its inbound marketing. Tired of this process, Shah decided to create an application to automate it. Then he made it public as a way to gather emails. Since the app’s launch, Marketing Grader has been used by well over 4 million websites. Also, it can be credited for a large percentage of the leads HubSpot receives monthly. Talk about a win!



The key with the engineering as marketing traction channel is to really pinpoint what service will provide the audience value that you can build off your existing services. It serves as a first step to getting your customers to look into what your business can offer.


Another example to consider is one that’s close to home. In fact, it’s an example taken from within our own agency.

Over the past five years, there has been a steadily growing interest in marketing strategies focused on targeting users based on location. As customer data continues to provide more value to marketers, knowing a user’s location has sparked some innovative and clever strategies in marketing. Such strategies fall under a variety of names: geofencing, geotargeting, geomarketing, location-based targeting, etc. This method of targeting users within a certain geographic radius is applicable across advertising platforms. For example, marketers can serve ads to regions with region-specific ad copy or adjust organic content based on a user’s location.



Taking note of this trend early on we realized there could be a marketing tool engineered to fit this need of marketers. Enter GeoFli, a software as a service (SaaS) product that complements the digital marketing work we do at Pintler Group. GeoFli is a website personalization tool built for marketers (by sympathetic developers!) looking to surface relevant content that lives on their web pages to specific geographic markets. This tool allows marketers to create geotargeted content on their website that adjusts to the viewer’s location.

Say you are a recruiter at a college. With GeoFli, a web visitor from Boston will see different content than a web visitor from California. GeoFli takes away the confusion of coding and web design. Additionally, it makes it easier for those looking to market their content more effectively to different markets. 

GeoFli is a complementary tool that we offer through our digital marketing services. However, we do offer visitors the ability to try GeoFli as a free trial in hopes to receive more qualified leads and reach an audience that truly benefits from its value.


Final Notes

Still unsure about how to develop your own engineering as marketing tool? Just remember these parting notes.

    • Look within your site and think about what tools or widgets would improve your experience.
    • Keep it simple and user-friendly.
    • Always keep your target audience in mind. Provide a tool that is useful to that audience.


Want to learn more about engineering as marketing? Check out our podcast and video on this topic and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

How To: Go Viral in Three Easy Steps

Three women talking.

When we say the word virus, what do you think of? Probably that sickness that kept you home from work for a few days last year so you didn’t pass it on to your co-workers. Just like a virus spreads and bounces from person to person, a viral marketing campaign is one that is spread from person to person where everyone impacted by the campaign brings at least one person to conversion for the business.  The conversion might be a sale, a website visit, an email list sign up, or whatever else is important to your business at this time. Wow, sounds like a great, easy way to market your business, hu? Well, that isn’t necessarily the case. Let’s dive into the 3 steps associated with this unique traction channel and figure out what it really takes to create a successful viral marketing campaign.

Step 1: Awareness of Your Business

In order for a virus to spread, someone has to be its first victim. This same thing has to happen in viral marketing (except, let’s call them customers instead of victims). In order for your viral marketing campaign to be successful, you need to have early adopters who aware of and interested in your business. 

Here are a few ways to increase awareness of your business:

    • Create great content. From blogging to creating podcasts or infographics, engaging content can help people recognize your brand as topic experts and ultimately who they choose to purchase from.
    • Establish partnerships. Working with other businesses (both local and digital) can help you reach a larger audience. Try to promote your products together, host connected giveaways or even just trade social media posts about each other. You can also partner with local non-profits or other organizations that align with the morals of your company. Giving back to your community is a great way to gain positive press.
    • Advertising your business. From Google search ads to billboards, there are many new and traditional ways to advertise your business and increase awareness of your business. Check out this video on offline advertising for some more tips and ideas.

Step 2: Customers Tell Their Friends 

You might have customers who love your product, but if they don’t share with their friends, family and acquaintances then it’s not viral marketing.  

Here are some tips for encouraging your customers to tell their friends:

    • Offer a referral program. Try offering your customers or clients a special deal if they refer a new customer or client to your business. This might just add the small push they need in order to make a recommendation.
    • Make it easy and fun to share social media posts and emails. With fun content that can be easily shared with a click of a button, your customers and clients will be quite likely to pass your name on to their friends.
    • Branded gear. Let your customers become walking billboards by offering clothing, stickers and other gear with your brand on it.

Ask for reviews or customer engagement in social media. Studies show that potential customers trust what other people similar to them so give your current customers an avenue to share their love for your product or service by collecting feedback, reviews and other types of engagement. For example, you know how many grocery stores and fast food services hand you your receipt and say, “fill out the survey on the back for a chance at $1,000?” Well, that is because they know the value of customer satisfaction, quality control, and reviews.

Step 3: New Customers Participate

Word of mouth can be extremely powerful, but it doesn’t always equal conversions. Once someone hears about your business from their friend they need to decide whether or not they will purchase anything. Here are a few ideas for encouraging new customer participation:

    • New customer discounts. Give your new customers an incentive to purchase right away by offering them a first purchase discount.
    • Have an easy to find website and social media pages. Additionally, make sure that information about your product or service is easy to find. While referrals from friends (step 2) help, people often do their own research once they get a referral.
    • Moral mission that people want to get behind. Many people like to purchase products and services that do good in their communities and the world. Therefore, if your business has a community-focused mission be sure to share that publically. It might just end up being the factor that creates a conversion for you.
    • Create a sense of urgency. Do you have a limited time product? Do you book up quickly? Don’t be afraid to let your customers and potential customers know this to create a sense of urgency. When people feel like there’s a time constraint on their potential purchase they are more likely to purchase than if there isn’t anything pushing them. 

Want to learn more about viral marketing? Check out this video and be sure to follow our YouTube channel.

Visit our blog and listen to our podcast for more information on the 19 Traction Channels.

Eye-Catching Offline Marketing Campaigns

Coach brand billboard on street corner.

In the noisy world of digital marketing, innovative strategies and ideas are mainly focused on, well, digital mediums. And yet, the presence of offline mediums including billboards continue to exist all around us.

While not as easy to track as online mediums, offline campaigns are still making quite an impact on marketing. In fact, outdoor advertising remains successful even in 2019. While some means of traditional marketing appears to be declining in growth, billboard advertising continues to report growth in revenue year over year. And the industry is predicted to grow to a $33 billion industry by 2021. 

Its impact extends to the digital space as well. Specifically, its been linked to positively affect an online presence simply by leaving an impression on those who view the boards. The messaging is aimed at encouraging people to seek more information online. According to a 2017 Nielsen study billboards can lead up to a 54% increase in search traffic. Not to mention increases of 38% in Facebook engagement and 47% in sales interaction.

Offline Marketing Can Go Viral Too

Like digital campaigns, offline campaigns need to be carefully planned, developed and executed to get the most return. When you take the time to combine strategy with engaging content big things can happen. While the term “viral” tends to be mostly associated with digital, don’t write off offline campaigns. Analyze the information you learn about your audience from digital and translate that into an offline campaign. Take a more realistic approach and run a campaign humanizing your brand. The following case studies from 2018 are prime examples of creative offline campaigns that generated quite a buzz for both existing and potential users.

Kendrick Lamar Billboard

Spotify “Wrapped” Campaign

Many companies have been in the media spotlight lately regarding their use of user data – Facebook, anyone? While the handling of data ethically is a legitimate concern, Spotify found a way to capitalize on data in a harmless fun manner. 

Every December, Spotify rolls out its end of year “Wrapped” campaign. It’s a nicely presented and wrapped up summary of each user’s listening habits of the past year. In 2018, Spotify cleverly built off its annual campaign by pairing it with a billboard campaign. And it caught the eyes of everyone, even those not using its services. Spotify crunched the numbers to discover fun trends listening behavior and conveyed the info in a fun way.

Offline Advertising: Ed Sheeran Billboard

This campaign turned anonymous listener data into a talking point. Subscribers and non-subscribers alike could enjoy and relate to the quirky insights plucked from the massive pool of 2018 listening data. When the campaign concluded, Spotify surpassed 100 million premium subscribers.  Additionally, it grew Monthly Active Users (MAU) from 207 million in Q4 of 2018 to 217 million by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Offline Advertising: Kendrick Lamar Billboard

Nebraska “Honestly It’s Not For Everyone” Campaign

Imagine you are planning your next vacation. What destinations come to mind? Someplace warm near the ocean? Maybe a cabin tucked away in the woods near towering mountains? Regardless, chances are pretty low that the state of Nebraska exists on this mental list of vacation spots. The Nebraska Tourism Commission tackled this problem in a creative way.

Billboard in Nebraska


Enter the “Honestly It’s Not For Everyone” campaign. They took a raw, bold stance to promote the state. Specifically, went with a self-deprecating type of humor with the offline campaign instead of the “Nebraska Nice” messaging. The “Honestly It’s Not For Everyone” campaign ran in print and on billboards. It paired statements — collected from both Nebraskans and neighboring states in a poll about their opinions of Nebraska tourism – with contrasting images. The result was a campaign with a playful tone. 

Like Spotify, these billboards stood out and sparked a viral reaction online. The campaign drove an increase in website traffic, tax collection and requests for travel guides. As of summer 2019, the campaign continues to run in out of state markets.

Nebraska Billboard

When it comes to choosing what channel to run campaigns on, it is important to select the traction channel that makes sense for your client. While it’s easy to blast your message across digital channels, offline has its advantages!

For more content on offline marketing, check out our podcast on Billboards, Buses and Coasters and this video on managing and tracking your offline ads.

Search Engine Marketing: Using Google Trends

Screenshot of Google Trends.

Search engine marketing, or paid search, is a powerful, and heavily invested in, traction channel. But looking at a blank campaign and wondering where to start is equivalent to watching a blinking cursor on the blank first page of the next great American novel. Where to begin!

Luckily there are a lot of tools out there to get you out of the gate and headed towards the finish line. One that we love is Google Trends. After all, who knows more about Google than Google!

After identifying your goals and KPIs it’s time for the keyword research portion of your campaign. And Google Trends is a great place to start. The platform is to SEM what Google Search Console is to SEO. It allows you to identify keywords that are trending, research volume of searches over time or even just browse for new keywords.

While it’s understood that keywords with higher search volume are going to cost more on average, you also don’t want to invest in keywords that aren’t being searched for at all. Or ones that are sharply declining. Or invest in regions with very little activity.

So let’s run through an example. Say you’re a clothing company releasing a new line of tank tops and are looking to support with a paid search campaign. Here are three simple ways you would use Google Trends.

Identify Search Volume By Time of the Year

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that search volume for “tank top” is going to ebb and flow with changes in the weather. But the beauty of Google Trends is that you can get even more specific than just spring, summer, fall or winter. The following chart illustrates search volume over the past 12 months.

Search Trends Over Time

It, of course, confirms our hypothesis. But it also shows that search volume starts to drop off earlier than you might expect and identifies the peak towards the end of June. That makes sense given Independence Day. Using this data you can schedule your campaigns appropriately but also consider increasing or decreasing your max CPC bids accordingly.

A by-product of gathering this data for your ad campaigns is that it can inform business decisions. Knowing when the search volume starts to increase for tank tops could be a factor in your new product release schedule. It can also inform when you run promotions or incorporate other traction channels into your overall marketing strategy.

Geographical Relevance

As with any ad campaign, you only want to pay to surface messaging to people who are most likely to convert. Again using “tank top” we ran a geographical analysis to determine what states are producing the most searches.

Given the company has a limited budget we wanted to drill down as far as possible to really optimize our spend. So we filtered by cities rather than states.

Searches By City

As with the timeframe chart, the numbers on the right are indexes, not the total volume. The number 100 means that location, New York in this example, is the location with the highest frequency of searches as a percentage of its overall search usage. That’s important to note has it pertains to the overall population. A smaller city or state that has an above-average amount of searches for “tank top” is going to rank higher than a bigger city with an average amount of searches. But that doesn’t mean the volume is higher.

While the timeframe analysis tells us when this tells us where for our ad groups. We can either target cities and states specifically, or flip the list and exclude areas that aren’t going to net the results we are looking for.

The Keywords You Didn’t Think About

Google Trends is not only a good resource for researching and testing out keywords you have identified but also discovering ones you may not have thought of thanks to the “related queries” feature.

Related Searchs

Once again using “tank top” the tool was able to tell us whether more people as a fraction of overall searches are looking for women’s versus men’s, or which color people most frequently search for.

There are a lot of powerful keyword research tools, including SEMRush and Google Ads Keyword Planner, that you will want to employ in your campaign planning, but starting with Google Trends is never a bad thing.

While these are three high-level uses, there are a ton more ways to use the platform. And it’s not just limited to standard searches. You can filter by images, video and more. We encourage you to spend some time there experimenting. Just be forewarned, it can be quite the rabbit hole!

To learn more about search engine marketing check out our podcast and this video.