[Best Of] Traction Class (Or how to end up on the cover of Time, forget who made you and then be looked at as a corporate sell out )

[originally posted May 10th, 2006]

O.K. Class!

Today we’re going to talk about traction.

Everybody wants it.

But some folks seem to have problems getting it.

You in the back! Pay attention…

One of the main lies about traction is that your product has to be better.

That’s not true.

Need proof?

Microsoft vs Apple.

VCS vs Betamax

P. Diddy vs ?uestlove

No, getting traction is all about execution kids.

But you gotta bring your A game to play.

Now remember, your goal is not to please everybody.

Fuck that.

Your number one goal is to only please your core users.

You treat those core users to your site, those who make comments, those who send suggestions, those who drop you an email to say you suck, like they are freaking gods.

They can make you.

Or break you.

Which makes them pretty omnipotent.

Number two is to Upgrade Constantly.

Everybody is reverse engineering everybody else’s shit.

Expect it.

If they are not, then your product sucks and you should be reverse-engineering your competitors shit.

That’s why you gotta keep upgrading. Listen to what your fans want to make the experience better.

Then every so often surprise them with something cool.

Cool is very viral. And the chicks dig it.

Which brings us to number three:

Help your fans get laid.

Give them the tools to introduce others to your stuff.

You know. Email. T-Shirts. Discounts for friends. Anything to make it easy to pass the word on about the great experience they had.

Got it?


Just remember those things and you’ll have all the traction you need.

Then you’ll end up on the cover of Time, forget who made you and then be looked at as a corporate sell out.

But we’ll work on that later.

Class dismissed!

Explore posts in the same categories: best of, blog networks

22 Comments on “[Best Of] Traction Class (Or how to end up on the cover of Time, forget who made you and then be looked at as a corporate sell out )”

  1. jeff marks Says:

    Love it! Great Post! Big up to ?uestlove!!!!

  2. Mark Says:

    It hasn’t happened in a while, but this is something I agree with you on 110%.

    It’s about meeting the need, making the connections, throwing in the unexpected surprise and execution.


  3. Andy H Says:

    You cite MS vs. apple, but then a core rule is “Your number one goal is to only please your core users.” ?

    Then why didn’t Apple get traction vs. MS?

    MS tries to do everything and does nothing well, whereas Apple DOES please their core users (and they do everything else you list, too)

  4. chartreuse Says:

    Traction and popularity are different.

    American Idol is popular, 24 has traction.

    Get it?

    Traction (in my eyes) is having a rabid fanbase which follow whatever you do, spreading your version of the truth as if you’re Jesus. (O.K. maybe not Jesus, but you get the point.)

  5. chartreuse Says:


    Then why didn’t Apple get traction vs. MS?

    Apple DOES have traction.

    MS has a group of users…completely different.

  6. candice Says:

    People use Windows because they have to, and people use Macs because they want to.

    Apple had a rabid fanbase even back in the bad old days. So did sgi, and amiga, and countless others. (The current version of apple seems to be pulling all the tricks of the old sgi, so let’s see if they can actually run with it.)

  7. Mark Says:

    “…People use Windows because they have to, and people use Macs because they want to…”

    How so? When I go to my local Best Buy (which sells both systems) I don’t see anyone being “forced” into one or the other.

    If you’re referring to the corporate environment…you got to go with the system they use. Creative departments tend to go Mac, while the business side goes PC. But then again, nobody is making you “have to” work anywhere on any system.

    As far as Apple as a corporation having friction — you sure about that Char? I would think Apple is hyperplaning without Jobs.

    And no…I’m not an Apple hater. I use the best tool for the job and actually have one of each.

  8. chartreuse Says:

    I just spent 2 weeks in L.A.

    Know what the big story was?

    Ipod Theft

    That is traction 🙂

  9. candice Says:

    Mark, what I was referring to is that “the PC” is the default.

    Of course we should use the best or most common tool for the job, because you won’t find a design house running all on pc’s, but for the average company or home? It uses windows, because someone needs software on it. You run one or the other because you “have to” be able to run something, whether it’s Final Fantasy or NetNewsWire.

    (And for the record I’m a unix junkie, and decline to pick sides in that debate. I’m actually not even sure how many computers I have right now. Fifteen would be a good guess.)

  10. Mark Says:

    Well, Forbes reported yesterday that the most stolen car for the 4th consecutive year was the Cadillac Escalade. (source)) Yet according to many, GM is on the verge of collapse, or at least heading toward a very bad way.

    Apple apparently is looking at developing a cellphone. Everything I’ve seen indicates that phone gets it looks and functionality very heavily from the iPod.

    That doesn’t sound like traction to me. It sounds like foolishly banking the whole shooting match on the success of one product. That, to me, is acting more like the one hit wonder of the businessworld, than it is of indicating traction.

  11. Robert Bruce Says:

    Man, you can’t even run a three month old post in peace anymore…

    That’s traction 🙂

  12. Robert Bruce – Outta the park with that one.

  13. Ever since site security left Chars side – sniipers are evrywhere.

  14. By the way – Mark. YOU ARE SO WRONG.

    Tell the shareholders that have made billions in the stock the last few years that Apple doesnt have traction

    It is Traction cubed.

    Microsoft is FRICTION 🙂

  15. range Says:

    Then I say that Lost has traction as well. Interesting concept.

  16. Brian Says:

    Char, where you at? Call the Bat Cave…

  17. Liz Strauss Says:

    Keep this up and everyone is getting homework!

  18. chartreuse Says:

    Thanks Liz.

    They need it!

  19. rafi Says:

    You can’t spell “chartreuse” without “reuse”

  20. Liz Strauss Says:

    Hey, Chartreuse,
    You don’t need site security when there’s a teacher in the building. 😉

  21. aNtónio Says:

    Nice post. In fact, when I got to the paragraph on “treating fans as freaking gods” I scroolled up and finnaly notice the original date of the post.

    That must be traction 🙂

  22. […] We all know what they need to do. Unfortunately Technorati seems like one of those bands that refuses to play the hits after the fans paid 50 bones for a ticket. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: