The W.W.W.W.H.W. of Traction

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

By Adam Kleinberg

At Traction, our consistent organizing principle is around the idea that to be effective, marketing should meet the needs and desires of today’s digital consumer.

This is a consistent thread that drives all of the work we do from the videos we produce to omni-channel experiences we create to emails we develop to the keywords we buy.

I wanted to articulate how this thread weaves its way through the who, what, where, when, how, and why of Traction.

The Who of Traction

Who are we? Traction is a full-service digitally-focused, interactive agency built for the needs and desires of today's consumer. We describe ourselves as "full-service, digitally-focused" because we know clients want to put agencies in a box and 85% of the work we do is digital. We include the words "interactive agency built for the needs of today's consumer" because we use whatever channels make sense to create an interaction that aligns those needs and desires with our clients' goals.

The What of Traction

We create content and experiences that deliver impact. I'm aware that "content" and "experience" are fairly broad terms used by agencies and agency-like-beings to describe everything and everything under the sun. We focus on creating work that delivers impact.

That content might be a video that provides value through "edu-tainment," it may be visual content developed around a unifying insight about the consumer, or it may be something else. We often use that content in advertising, but our approach is always to try and create marketing that people actually want to consume.

That experience might be any digital customer experience: an app, a website, an email, a message on your Apple Watch, or a platform that incorporates all of the above. Again, the unifying principle is to do what we do in a way that is designed for the consumer.

The Where of Traction

We believe everything is interactive so we look to the customer's journey to tell us where it makes sense to meet that consumer. People move in and out of their day in a seamless flow potential "media moments" for brands to meet them. The content and experiences we design, build, and distribute need to meet people where they are in their journey—both mentally and physically.

The When of Traction

We tend to have two types of clients. The first are large brands. They call us when they are looking for digital support through our lens of customer needs and desires. The second are challenger brands. They engage Traction when they are looking to make an impact. If you're one of these, drop us a line.

The How of Traction

Our organizing principle influences how we approach each of our core competencies.

Strategy. We leverage data and we talk to people to develop insight about the human beings at the other end of your marketing. Our fundamental approach is to triangulate on audience, brand and cultural factors to identify the "One Thing" (yes, we capitalize it) that represents the value we deliver. We call our planning process Engineered Marketing (more caps) and it allows us to clearly articulate a plan to align your goals with your customer's journey.

Creative. We have two phases of our creative process, regardless of the tactic. Concept and Design. Both are tied back to our organizing principle. In the Concept phase we are working off of a tight brief that clearly identifies the One Thing that will drive our work. Great creative starts with strategy, which is why we have structured our agency so that both groups are highly integrated. The Design phase is where we apply design and writing across tactical elements of an Engineered Plan. We take it very seriously because we believe deeply in the power of words and design to imbue trust and human connection.

Media . We approach media with an eye on three principles. First is that the integration of media and creative creates opportunities for greater impact. We believe that brands need to not just focus on counting impressions, but on making them. We look to distribute content leveraging partners, tools and data that will help us achieve that. The second principle is meaningful measurement. We work hard in strategy to make sure we understand the customer journey so that when we get to media planning we are focused on delivering results that actually provide meaning to brands. The third principle is transparency. We are thoughtful in our application of tools like programmatic when we use them so we have an understanding of where your ads are running, what kind of user experience they are providing to customers, and that a human being actually saw them. We also are sensitive to the needs and desires of our clients because you are our customers, so we offer transparency in how we structure the fees and never hide profit in trading desk arbitrage.

Technology. Our in-house developer team codes for the needs of today's consumer as well. We have deep expertise in the development of rich, multi-channel experiences. We choose technologies that are known for high-performance. We are fanatics about the quality of our code. We are pixel perfect. We do all this because we know consumers have choices. A better built experience downloads faster. A more delightful experience is more engaging. A multi-channel experience will not be ignored if it's opened on the wrong device. Being able to bring ideas to life has been at the core of how we've built Traction for the past 15 years because we are keenly aware that a great idea is only as strong as the execution of that idea.

The Why of Traction

We believe it's the experience that matters. We started Traction because we wanted to work with great, talented people doing work we could proud of—and we wanted to have a good time doing it. The experience really does matter. The experience we have as a team; the experience our clients have partnering with us; and the experience our clients customers ultimately have with the work we create. That is the why that Traction exists.

About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and and a founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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