The Proven Way To Build a Winning Go-to-Market Strategy

It’s pretty uncommon to talk to a business owner or executive that doesn’t want their company to grow. Most went into business intending to turn a profit and drive revenue growth. And if the business is going to grow, it will require a solid well-thought-out strategy that provides direction on what needs to be done and when. These strategies are more important than ever if you are trying to break into the market with a new product.

Go-to-market strategies are not a luxury to have when building a larger marketing strategy. In an increasingly complex and competitive business landscape, go to market strategies have become a necessity. A GTM strategy can guide your team and help your product launch meet its deadlines. Bringing your products to consumers in a timely and efficient manner will help you gain market share and grow your business.

What is a Go-To-Market strategy?

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is built for when a company plans to bring a new product or service to the market. More specifically, it’s the end-to-end process of how companies utilize their sales, marketing, and channel partner organizations to target prospective customers with a differentiated value proposition, move them through the buying process until those customers convert, and then go on to secure loyalty in the customers so that they will come back for more.

Perhaps an easy way to think of your GTM is as an expansion or superset of your marketing plan. A GTM strategy should ideally precede the formulation of a marketing plan and be laser-focused on a specific product. One of the hallmarks of a good marketing strategy is the ability to adapt to changing conditions while still providing a thorough roadmap for the organization. Your Go-To-Market strategy should be no different. GTM strategies shouldn’t be a set of directives that are set in stone; rather, they should be a sort of living document, able to be updated as your team gathers new data and insights.

The benefits of a Go-To-Market strategy

Developing an all-inclusive GTM strategy will be an investment in time and resources, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. Taking the time to do it right will illuminate and ensure the most effective path to success. A go-to-market (GTM) strategy has numerous benefits, including the following:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Higher win ratio on new business and expansion in current customers
  • Successful product launch
  • Proactive path for growth; avoidance of costly missteps
  • Reduced costs from failed product launches
  • Increased ability to adapt to change and leverage of innovations
  • Internal alignment of resources producing better results and employee satisfaction

The high-level elements of a Go-To-Market strategy

If you wish to create a compelling, effective, and results-driven GTM strategy for your organization, you will need to create a detailed and comprehensive plan with the following six elements:

  1. What markets do you want to pursue?
  2. Who are you selling to? Who is your target customer? What influences purchases?
  3. Where do your target customers buy? How will you reach your customers throughout their buying process?
  4. What product/service are you selling? And what unique value do you offer to each target customer group?
  5. How much will you charge for your products for each customer group?
  6. What are your exclusive value proposition and primary differentiation? How will you connect to the things that matter most to your target customers and position your brand?

Who should be involved in the development of your Go-To-Market strategy

Your company’s product marketing manager (PMM) should be leading the GTM strategy formulation and development, and later the tactical execution plan. Others to involve for input include your product management colleagues, sales enablement team, sales leadership, field marketing, corporate strategy, finance partners, and other marketing resources including those responsible for demand generation, marketing communications, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, advertising, PR, analyst relations, event and trade show marketing, etc. And don’t forget you partner sales and marketing organization as they are all too often engaged after the GTM plan has been baked rather than early in the process.

When to create your Go-To-Market strategy

Development of your GTM strategy should not wait until after your product has come off the assembly line. Instead, this should start while the product or service is in the development phase and as early as possible. In fact, ensuring that you start developing your GTM plan in the early phases of development will mean that you can create a better product that will better align with the needs of your target customers. This will help to alleviate potential implications to ecommerce, usability, documentation, user training, support, operations, finance, and other departments later on.

Getting started on your Go-To-Market strategy

As with any plan or strategy, you will need to conduct some research and dig in a bit before you can start documenting. Your strategy will need to cover a significant amount of information in a short, digestible manner. So before you start writing page after page of content, consider starting with the most important elements first, and this means understanding your target customers.

  • Understand your primary customers – Design and conduct both qualitative and quantitative research of your target customers to make sure you have a solid understanding of their needs and characteristics. If your product does not meet those needs or align with one of their priorities, it will be very difficult for your business to grow and thrive.
  • Conduct secondary customer research – Read and study industry analyst reports, user groups, forums, social media sites, etc. where your prospective customers go for their education and support. Remember that most consumers today can be found online. In fact, it is a relatively well-known fact that the typical internet user spends at least nine hours per day online, and at least two of those hours are spent on social media channels. Some of that usage and activity might be visible to you as you seek to understand your target buyers.
  • Consult your sales team – Your sales team are in the field talking to your prospective customers each and every day. They know what excites them and what will have those customers turning their heads in the other direction. Therefore, your sales colleagues are perhaps your best source of what’s working and not working in selling/marketing to prospects and in upselling to existing customers. Survey your sales team with the same rigor you would apply to customer research. Find out reasons for wins/losses. Ask your colleagues about most common sales objections from prospective customers, who the top competitors are, how customers go about making purchase decisions, what resonates, and what does not. Ask them why they win and why they lose to competitors or inertia.
  • Consult your professional services team – Equally important to consulting your sales team is to take time with your professional services or field sales engineers (SE) team that is actually in with your other customers every day, helping to plan and implement the product that you sell. These colleagues can likely provide great insights into installation challenges or other challenges tied to get your product or service implemented in an organization.

The critical components of your Go-To-Market Strategy

A GTM strategy should include, at a minimum, the following content and should address the listed questions.

Business goals and metrics

How do you measure success? Consider revenue, profitable growth, number of new customers, repeat business, renewal rate, reputation, win rate, industry recognition/awards, etc.

Market segmentation & competitive advantage

What are the customer segments that exist within your target audience? Do you have unique personas that might be interested in your product but for different reasons? This is important information to consider in your GTM plan and marketing plan as it will require potential adjustments to your strategy. Include customers you would target and not target so that it is clear where you will focus. Document the thinking behind the criteria you use to delineate segments.

What are your target customer’s choices when addressing the specific pain points or business/technical challenges they are seeking to address? This should include approach to dealing with a most formidable competitor: “doing nothing” or remaining status quo. But if you don’t have a differentiator or a key niche that sets you apart, you will have quite the uphill battle to be successful.

Understanding your customers

  • Ideal customer profile (ICP) – This describes in detail your ideal customer. This would include firmographics such as industry, size of company in terms of revenue or number of employees, geography, product/service category or category subclassification, as well as details on the situation the target customer is facing or the problem that they are trying to solve, such as the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, or  infrastructure such as what kind of IT infrastructure is deployed, challenges faced such as a mandate to improve margins, improve competitiveness, implement digital transformation, and more.
  • Target persona – Who are the people (roles) involved in the purchase decision of your product? This may include the decision-maker, the approver, the influencer, and the gatekeeper in your traditional B2B organization. Many functions play an important role in purchase decisions, including the CFO, CIO, HR, Security, Compliance, Legal, Procurement, etc. (and these are the people for which you should be developing personas for). Besides the apparent role, take time to describe the individual’s key responsibilities, pain points, priorities, and the role they play in the decision-making process. What events, people, publications influence each of these people?

Your marketing plan for your Go-To-Market Strategy

A key element or derivative piece of your GTM strategy will be your marketing plan. How will you create awareness among the key decision-makers and influencers in your target customer base (ideal customer profile)? How will you build awareness among prospects and move them into the consideration phase and from there to the evaluation phase and then to the purchase phase? What will you do to generate loyalty so that your customers will want to purchase again, and equally important, advocate for your business as a positive reference? What trade shows, events, social media, search marketing, and content marketing (whitepapers, case studies, videos, infographics, blog, etc.), analyst/press relations will you need to do to support the customer’s buying process? What sales enablement/tools/training will you need to support your selling process, whether by your direct sales team and/or channel partners’ sales organization?

  • Distribution channel how will prospective customers learn about and ultimately buy your product or service? For example, is to primarily marketed, sold and delivered by channel partners (distributors, value added resellers, agents, manufacturing reps, solution providers, service providers), is it some combination of your direct sales/marketing team and that of your channel partners, is it 100% done by your digital marketing efforts and online ecommerce platform so there are no channel partners or direct sales reps involved?
  • Financial projections – Be sure to develop a 3-year unit and sales forecast and revenue scenarios for best case, worst case, and most case scenarios. Within your plan, cite assumptions that drive the sensitivity of the forecast.
  • Pricing and packaging – is your offering structured as good, better, best offerings? Is it a one-time purchase or monthly/annual subscription service? Do you offer bundles which include products and services such as support from your professional services organization? Do you have a “land and expand” product structure that encourages customers to buy with an easy-to-buy and deploy entry point solution and the ability to add more capabilities as they expand? What are your pricing objectives such as market share acquisition through price leadership, or are you a premium player with a higher price than competitors?
  • High level product roadmap – How does this particular product/service fit in your company’s overall portfolio of offerings? How does this product/service evolve, so customers see the increasing value, or you are able to reach additional market opportunities and geographies?

Other important elements of your Go-To-Market strategy

Your GTM strategy must encompass all of the critical information that is necessary to make your product launch a success. Thus, additional components that you can benefit from will include:

  • Solution definition and value proposition – Describe your product/service in a language that everyone can understand. Clearly articulate the capabilities that the product has to offer and the benefits that will be derived from its usage. How exactly does your solution address the customer’s pain point/challenge better than all other options, including do nothing or status quo?
  • Business proposition to eco-system partners – Most likely, your solution will require some collaboration with other vendors who are selling/delivering into your common customer base. If so, articulate your business value proposition or the what’s in it for me (WIFM) statement so that such partners will validate or add to your distinctiveness and customer value-add.
  • Operational implications – What infrastructure such as ecommerce, reporting, sales/marketing automation systems, sales operations, security, compliance, HR, IT servers/networks, etc., must be in place to support the sales, marketing, and channel efforts necessary to achieve the business objectives?
  • Resource requirements – What headcount, formal budget plan, and other internal dependencies such as IT, legal, human resources, support, and ecommerce are necessary in order to execute the strategy? Express these requirements in a quarterly time frame and document assumptions tying back to the most likely or best-case scenario noted in the forecast section.

The right Go-To-Market strategy will help you grow your organization

Running a business doesn’t have to be such a struggle to win in the marketplace. In fact, if you put the appropriate time and thought into a solid go-to-market strategy leveraging the guidance outlined above, you should be able to grow your company much faster and more efficiently. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to work hard. But, it does mean that your hard work will be more effective. 

For help building your go to market strategy, contact Aventi Group by clicking here.