You’ve got the idea, you’ve got the business buy-in and you’ve even got the product...but what you’ve not got is interest from the people who’ll hopefully be buying it. So, how do you let your market know your product exists and start selling it? With a killer GTM (go-to-market) strategy, that’s how.
What’s a GTM strategy?
A GTM strategy is the marketing phase used to get your new product or service in front of your target audience, spark interest and, ultimately, encourage prospects to buy. Generally speaking, achieving this involves two stages:
- Mapping out a market problem, and
- Explaining the solution your product or service provides.
Every product and market’s different which means every GTM strategy is unique, but although there’s no such thing as a blanket template, there are a series of steps every product marketer should follow before, during and after the process.
And remember, GTM strategies aren’t just for new products or services, they can also be used for things like:
- Acquiring other businesses,
- Changing your business’ focus, and
- Announcing a new feature.
Building your GTM strategy
Step 1: understand your customers
The first stage, which will shape all subsequent ones, is getting under the skin of your decision-makers and personas.
According to Harvard Business Review, there are 6.8 people involved in B2B purchases - needless to say, that’s a lot of people to convince for one sale. Making up that group are:
There are a few important things to note with this though:
- Some of the job titles might have more than one role. For example, your approver could also be the user, the initiator could also be the buyer, etc.
- These positions aren’t gospel from product-to-product and industry-to-industry.
- If you’re in a B2C setting this principle won’t really apply. However, when you think about it, the customer ends up filling all seven roles - they hear about your product, they’ll be the ones using it, they convince themselves they need it, they decide whether to buy it, they’re in charge of their spending, they push the final button and they can talk themselves out of the purchase.
- Get everyone around a table and thinking about which job titles could be relevant to your product and market.
- Once you’ve got a list of roles take it one step further by researching what they do, what their goals are and their current pain points. All this will help you touch on each issue and ensure your GTM strategy resonates with what they’re after.
Let’s pretend your new product is a cloud phone system, by the end, you should end up with something a bit like this:
Then, all those goals and pain points can feed directly into your messaging and overarching GTM strategy - more on that next.
For a closer look at how to create buyer personas, check out our dedicated blog on it here.
Step 2: map out your messaging
So, you’ve got your buyer personas and a good idea of their aims and problem areas, now it’s time to take each persona and convert all the information you’ve got on them into marketing messaging. Like this:
And then repeat this process for each of your personas.
Don’t be tempted to rush this stage. It’s the foundation for the rest of your strategy and one wrong message could hamper 100s of sales.
And remember to keep this in mind throughout (we’ll not take credit for it, we pinched it from Hubspot, but it was too decisive not to!):
People will take a painkiller to cure a headache but are much less likely to take a daily vitamin to prevent the pain in the first place. The value your product brings should solve the pain, not act as a vitamin.
Step 3: test your messaging
Once you’re happy with your personas and messaging it’s time to put them to the test and start some sample advertising. It’s up to you how and where you begin (i.e. a video on Twitter or a PPC ad), but it might be a good idea to kick-off somewhere you know you’ve had success in the past.
Be mindful of letting previous victories overshadow future opportunities though. There are lots of different ways to market your product and one small change could have a huge impact on your results, so explore different:
- Channels (i.e. in-app, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Ads, guest posts, TV, radio, press, etc.),
- Target audiences,
- Messages, and
- Content types (for example, on social media, you might want to test videos vs plain text vs images).
Keep on top of the numbers
There’s no use ploughing money into a channel you’re not seeing any return on so stay hot on the pulse of your numbers, and if a certain channel’s not working for you, pull it. That said, make sure you wait a meaningful amount of time before making any hasty decisions - half a day’s hardly enough time to come to a concrete conclusion.
And finally, remember to make the most of targeted audience settings where you can. With LinkedIn, for example, you can go really granular and drill down into job title, job function, company size and geographic location.
Step 4: understand the journey
This includes both the buyers’ and yours - we’ll start with the former though.
The buyer journey’s pretty simple and, generally, goes a bit like this: buyer uncovers problem, buyer researches solution, buyer shortlists contenders, buyer discusses contenders with relevant teams, buyer makes decision.
From your side, things can get a bit more complicated and most businesses use the marketing funnel as guidance:
(Also known as the top, middle and bottom of the funnel).
Here’s a brief overview of what each is about:
- Create a funnel that’s tailored to your business’ lead generation and sales qualification process.
- Start thinking about how you can maximise your opportunities at the awareness and consideration stages (more on this shortly).
- Map out how you’ll communicate with your sales teams to ensure the conversion stage is optimised.
Step 5: put a strategy together
Now it’s time to put this whole puzzle together.
As with almost everything we’ve touched on so far, there’s no such thing as a one size fits all for your strategy and there are a few things that’ll determine which direction you go, like:
- Your budget,
- The cost of your product/service,
- The size of your market, and
- How your sales cycle works.
So, iron out your budget, look back at everything you’ve learned so far, have your product positioning to hand and work your way through questions like:
- Which channel was most effective during testing?
- Were some messages more impactful than others?
- Which channels didn’t work?
- Did certain target audiences get more traction than others?
- When in the cycle does a prospect qualify as a lead?
- How do prospects prefer to be communicated to?
- How can we help the sales team get more conversions?
- What can we do to remove the ‘gatekeepers’ uncertainty?
- What assets do we need to produce to target certain stages of the funnel?
If you’ve done everything up to this point right, you should come away a clear idea of:
- Which marketing channels you’ll be using,
- What message you’ll be sharing on each,
- Who you’ll be targeting,
- Whether they prefer to be spoken to in-person, over-the-phone, via email, etc.,
- What the sales team need from you, and
- Which pieces of content you need to produce.
To keep everything in order and running smoothly, it's a good idea to document all this in a bit of a timeline. It doesn’t need to be complicated, something simple will do:
Step 6: create your content
Whether it sits within product marketing or marketing, get to work on creating all the content assets you need to fulfil the tactics included in your GTM strategy.
Tip: if you’re creating blogs, webinars and guides for your site, remember to incorporate relevant keywords and factor SEO into your efforts. It might not be your primary reason for pulling the content together, but organic’s a great and cheap way to secure long-term leads.
Step 7: define and measure success
Before you put your GTM strategy into motion sit back and work out what success will look like. Again, this will vary from business-to-business, but some common KPIs include:
- Number of leads,
- Number of new customers,
- Customer acquisition cost,
- Customer lifetime value and/or
- Selling time.
We can’t stress the importance of regularly checking in on your numbers and optimising as you go - it really can make or break your success.
For example, let’s say your overarching KPI is the number of new customers. You’re hitting the predicted level of leads you need to make that target, but a higher than expected number is dropping out between the consideration and conversion stages.
Could there be a problem with your middle-of-the-funnel tactics? Are your sales teams misaligned? Are they getting feedback that could factor into your strategy?
The more you look at your numbers, the quicker you can act and the sooner you can start converting more leads.
Work in SaaS? Here's a Q&A on some key metrics and OKRs you might want to measure.
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