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Most companies acquire 70% or more of their customers from one marketing channel. This is contrary to popular belief that diversifying customer acquisition across many marketing channels is the best approach.
You probably won’t have a bunch of equally good distribution strategies. Since people don’t know what works, and they haven’t thought about it, they try some sales, business development, advertising, and viral marketing — everything but the kitchen sink. That is a really bad idea. It is very likely that one channel is optimal.Peter Thiel – PayPal Founder, Venture Capital Investor, Billionaire
This article dives deep into a marketing framework called The Bullseye Framework, why and how you can use it to identify your best customer acquisition channel, and how the framework is integrated the Growth Method system.
Who invented the Bullseye Framework?
In 2015 Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares released Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth. The book sold tens of thousands of copies worldwide, and received praise from many titans in the marketing and business world.
“Anyone – founders, managers, and executives – trying to break through to new customers can use this smart, ambitious book.”Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup
“Here is the inside scoop, the latest, most specific tactics from the red-hot centre of the internet marketing universe. From someone who has done it. Twice.”Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
The book describes 19 traction channels (or marketing channels) businesses can use to acquire customers, and a framework to discover the best marketing acquisition channel for your business. This framework is called The Bullseye Framework.
Why use The Bullseye Framework?
There are 4 main reasons to use the Bullseye Framework:
1. Fish where the fish are
You need to fish where the fish are. The bait (your ad, content, offer) doesn’t matter nearly as much as where you’re fishing (your acquisition channel). If all your customers are active on LinkedIn and you are running ads on Facebook, you are not going to succeed. You can have the best bait in the world, but if you’re fishing in the wrong pond, you won’t get anywhere.
No marketing team has unlimited budget and resources, there are always trade-offs. It is therefore important to make tough decisions about what a team should work on, and what they should ignore. The goal of any marketing framework is to give focus in order to provide the best return on investment based on the resources available. A lack of focus leads to mediocre results.
Distribution follows a power law. For early-stage marketing teams (and companies), 80% of time should be spent on a single acquisition channel. Don’t take the shotgun approach. Tackle one (maximum two) channels at a time in pursuit of your power law channel.
Additional channels can be added over time as the company matures and grows, but even large marketing teams still acquire the majority of their users from one or two (usually one) acquisition channel.
HubSpot grew exponentially for over 10 years almost entirely through inbound marketing and organic search. Similarly, Dropbox and Hotmail focused almost entirely on viral marketing to scale.
3. A Scientific Method
There are a lot of traction channels to choose from, with new ones emerging all the time. The choice can be overwhelming, it can feel daunting to put all your eggs in one basket and it’s hard to avoid unconscious bias (such as familiarity and recency) resulting in poor decisions.
The Bullseye Framework is a tried and tested approach to help with exactly this. It is a scientific method for marketing experimentation, a process to prioritise acquisition channels that have the highest potential for your business.
Growth has nothing to do with tactics, and everything to do with process.Brian Balfour, VP Growth, HubSpot
4. Continuous Testing
Once you have doubled-down on a core acquisition channel, the work doesn’t stop there. Growth Marketing is a process of continuous testing, experimentation and proving your strategy over time.
All marketing tactics have a half-life, channels become saturated and unprofitable over time. A huge part of growth is in understanding when channels are not working, when you are hitting a growth ceiling, and when it’s time to move on. Your best acquisition channels will change over time, as your marketing, and your business grows. Additionally, if you become dependent on a channel which uses an algorithm outside of your control, such as Google or Facebook ads, channel diversification is often advised.
Bullesye Framework Channels
There are 19 traction channels you can use to grow your business, these are:
- Targeting Blogs
- Public Relations
- Unconventional PR
- Search Engine Marketing
- Social & Display Ads
- Offline Ads
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Viral Marketing
- Engineering as Marketing
- Business Development
- Affiliate Programs
- Existing Platforms
- Trade Shows
- Offline Events
- Speaking Engagements
- Community Building
How do you test them to understand which will drive the next phase of growth for your business? That is where the Bullseye Framework comes in.
How does The Bullseye Framework work?
The Bullseye metaphor is used in the framework to indicate aiming for the Bullseye – the one traction channel that will unlock your next growth stage.
1. The Outer Ring (what’s possible?)
The goal is to brainstorm and come up growth ideas for each of the 19 traction channels in the outer ring. Gather inspiration from your team, your stakeholders, other people in the business, and look at what other companies in your industry are doing.
You can write them all out on paper, or use a Growth Marketing System, such as Growth Method. You must ensure you have at least one growth idea for each traction channel – a minimum of 19 growth ideas in total – it is critical that no channels are dismissed at this stage.
2. The Middle Ring (what’s probable?)
Pick 4 or 5 of your most promising acquisition channels, the ones that have the best chance of moving the needle. Pick the best growth idea you have for each channel, and run a low-cost test for it. The aim is to zoom in on the best ideas as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Aim to answer the following questions with your tests:
- What is the cost of customer acquisition with this channel?
- How many potential customers can I reach with this channel?
- Will this channel provide the right type of customer for the business?
These tests should be low cost, and run simultaneously. Refrain from doubling-down on any single channel until you have sufficient data from all of your tests.
3. The Inner Ring (what works?)
Once you know which traction channel and strategy perform best, you should invest nearly all of your growth resources into that area. Focus entirely on that one traction channel and maximise results by going all-in.
If none of your traction tests produce a clear winner, repeat the process until you find an effective channel.
The Bullseye Framework & Growth Method
Growth Method helps companies adopt the exact same marketing process that companies like HubSpot, LinkedIn, Slack and Amazon used to scale. The software takes many of the Bullseye Framework concepts and makes them easy to use and scale within a business, with stakeholder management, reporting, team functionality and more.
Growth Method software helps customers to:
- Brainstorm growth ideas in all 19 channels
- Accurately score ideas using a prioritisation framework
- Define tests, or experiments, for your most promising 4 or 5 channels
- Focus on your best performing acquisition channel
Bullseye Framework Course
The Traction book has been turned into an official online course which includes:
- Complete book content (theory + deep-dive into the 19 channels)
- Interview transcripts
- 14 bonus videos
- Lifetime access