Let’s assess your current situation: you’ve had your eureka moment, your killer idea’s smashed through the confines of your mind and landed in the lap of your stakeholders.
You’ve presented your business case, and luckily for you, they’ve bought into the idea, and want to take it to market.
But you’re missing a key piece to the puzzle - an awesome Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy to drive interest amongst your target audience.
So, without further ado, let’s unravel the finer details of GTM strategy, and set your product or service on its merry way to becoming a hit.
What’s a go-to-market strategy?
In simple terms, a go-to-market strategy is the marketing phase used to bring a product or service to the market.
No frills. It’s that simple. 🤷♂️
Consider it as the quintessential platform to make your target audience sit up, take notice, and pop their hands in their pockets.
But don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched; first, you’ll need to:
- Map out your market problem, and
- Explain the solution your product or service provides.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, every product and market is different. Therefore, every GTM strategy is unique and there’s no such thing as a ‘blanket template’.
Take the Nintendo Switch, for example. It’s a hybrid games console, aimed at gamers interested in on-the-go gaming, who also wanna enjoy a session of button-bashing in the comfort of homes. Therefore, its designers put together a Transformers-Esque product users can take on the bus, or link to their TV and play at home.
On the other hand, an Xbox One is heavily marketed towards the online gaming community, and the company included features such as Xbox Live to cater for their needs. Sure, the product isn’t portable, but Microsoft assessed their customer requirements and mapped out the GTM strategy, accordingly.
Our point? While these products are both offering computer entertainment, they address different needs and offer different solutions for their respective audiences.
GTM strategies aren’t reserved for swanky new products or services. Not by a long shot; they’re also used for:
- Acquiring other businesses,
- Changing business’ focus, and
- Announcing a new feature.
Why do you need a go-to-market strategy?
Putting together a go-to-market strategy doesn’t happen overnight, and we’re sure you’ll want to know the reasons as to why you need to do it in the first place.
It all boils down to two things: time and resources.
In business, time and resources are both valuable commodities; if you don’t invest the time in completing a GTM, you’ll waste a ton of cash, and waste your own time, and that of a lot of other people.
Simply put, your name will be scrubbed from everyone’s Christmas card list.
GTM strategies pull your eyes open, heighten your market awareness, and prevent you from releasing a product that isn’t necessary. If you don’t plan, you don’t know:
- Who your market is,
- Whether you’re too early or late to the market,
- Whether the market is already saturated with products similar to yours.
We’ve said it before, we’re gonna say it again: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
End of story.
Go-to-market strategy ingredients
Building a GTM strategy is like building an F1 racing car. You need all the parts to make it fly out of the pits; if you cut corners and rush the job, you’ll go up in flames.
So, invest time and effort in creating an effective GTM strategy, and consider these five essential elements:
- Market definition: Which markets will you be targeting when selling the product or service?
- Customers: Who is the target audience within these markets?
- Distribution model: How do you intend on delivering the product or service to the customer?
- Product messaging and positioning: What is being sold and what is its unique value or primary difference when compared to other products or services in the market?
- Price: How much should the product or service cost for each customer group?
We’ve outlined the essential features, let’s put them into action, shall we?
How to build a go-to-market strategy
Step 1: understand your customers
Suffice to say, before you do anything at all, you need to understand your target customers, i.e. your decision-makers and personas.
Ultimately, if you don’t know their problem they’re trying to solve, it’s impossible to provide a solution; you’ll be as useful as a chocolate fireguard.
The folks over at Harvard Business Review said per B2B purchase, there are 6.8 people involved in the purchase process. Needless to say, it’s a pretty hefty number for one sale, but if you plan properly, you’ll charm them into buying your product in no time.
Let’s check out each person involved in the cycle, and their respective role:
Grab a pen and paper, you’ll wanna remember a few key points:
In some instances, job titles may have multiple roles. For example, your approver could also be the user, the initiator could also be the buyer, etc.
These positions aren’t set in stone and can vary from product-to-product and industry-to-industry.
If you’re in a B2C setting, take a breather for a sec, because this principle won’t 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.
Sometimes, you’ve gotta grab the bull by the horns and take action - and that’s what you’ve gotta do next.
Call a team meeting and discuss which job titles apply to your product and market.
When you’ve identified those who hold particular relevance, it’s time to dip even deeper and get a more thorough understanding of what they do, what their goals are, and perhaps most importantly, what their pain points are; ultimately, your product or service will be addressing what they perceive to be shortcomings in the market.
So, be sure to complete this research in-depth; if you do a half-assed job, you could miss key information and create a GTM strategy that doesn’t address the full extent of their requirements.
Let’s put some meat on the bones and check out an example, whereby your product is a cloud phone system. After considering the role of each person in the cycle, it should look something like this:
Using the goals and pain points identified, you’ll be able to create the grand-daddy of messaging and strategies, and we’ll be treating you to an explanation of how to do this next.
In the meantime, if you’re unsure how to create buyer personas, don't lose sleep over it. We’ve popped together a handy blog article for you that’ll explain everything you need to know.
Ideal bedtime reading.
Step 2: messaging
Buyer personas? Check. ✅
Understanding of aims and pain points? Check. ✅
Now, you’ve gotta take your juicy info and turn it into market messaging - a little like this beauty:
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to do it again for each of your personas.
Granted, it may seem a little repetitive, but you must get this spot on, so don’t rush it. Get one message wrong, and you could put the spanner in the works for 100’s of sales.
Step 3: message testing
Happy with your messaging? Great! It’s time to put it to the test and roll out some sample ads. You might decide to post a video on Twitter or run a PPC ad campaign.
Whatever may tickle your fancy, now isn’t the time to dabble with the unknown; use something you’ve had previous success with.
At the risk of completely contradicting ourselves, it’s also important not to hamper future opportunities by focusing on your previous successes. There is a wealth of options available when marketing a product, so by all means explore, but only when the time is right.
Making a minimal change to how you deliver your messaging can have an overwhelming effect on your results. Consider:
- Platforms - In-app, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TV, YouTube channels, etc.
- Target audiences,
- Content types - Video, text, images.
The possibilities are endless.
Irrespective of which methods you decide to introduce, it’s essential you track your progress. If something’s bombed - pull the plug. If something’s going through the roof, wrap it in cotton wool.
When you’re tracking metrics, patience truly is a virtue. If something isn’t working 24-hours in, don’t be tempted to have a knee-jerk reaction. Stick by your guns and ride it out. However, if you’re getting mediocre results, don’t wait too long, as your time could be spent better elsewhere.
It all boils down to common sense.
You can gain more traction by targeting your material to specific audiences, focusing on job titles, genders, job roles, and so on.
Step 4: understand your journey
If you were driving somewhere you’d never been before, would you use your navigation system, or go cart-Blanche and see where you ended up?
Chances are if you opt for the latter, you’re not going to reach your destination, and the same can be said for the journey in this context.
You need to understand both the journey of the customer and your path to be sure you’ll end up at your destined location.
But because we’re courteous folk, we’ll focus on understanding the buyer's journey, before moving on to how to understand your own.
The buyer journey’s straightforward and the majority of the time will look like this: buyer uncovers a problem, buyer researches solution, buyer shortlists contenders, buyer discusses contenders with relevant teams, the buyer makes a decision.
However, complications can arise when we look at the journey from a non-consumer perspective, with many orgs using this marketing funnel as a guide:
Let’s have a look at how things work at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.
Create a funnel that’s tailored to your business’ lead generation and sales qualification process.
Consider how you can enhance your opportunities at the awareness and consideration stages.
Plan how you plan to communicate with your sales teams to ensure the conversion stage is optimized.
Stage 5: strategize
We have all of the pieces needed, it’s time to put them together and create our very own GTM masterpiece.
During this stage, there’ll be certain things dictating your strategy including:
- Market size,
- How your sales cycle works.
Count your pennies and see how much money you have to play with, revisit the points made so far, have your product positioning as a reference point, and answer the following key questions:
- 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?
- Providing you do everything right (and answer honestly!) this will give you a clear-cut indication of:
- Ideal channels to use for your marketing
- Messaging you’ll use across each channel,
- Which people you should be targeting,
- Whether they prefer to be spoken to in-person, over-the-phone, via email, etc.,
- The resources and contingencies you need to put in place for your sales team,
- Content you need to generate.
There’s nothing worse than having different people pull in different directions. So, create a timeline to keep a reign on things and prevent anything from slipping under the net. Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be a work of art. Here’s a little something we planned earlier if you need some inspiration:
Step 6: write your content
Irrespective of whether it’s going to be sitting within the product marketing department itself, or marketing, you need to create a bank of content to help you deliver your GTM masterplan.
Step 7: always measure success
So, there you have it! You have your GTM strategy in place.
But before you go flying out of the traps like a bull in a china shop, you need to indicate what success will look like. After all, what’s the point in putting in all this hard work and having no idea if it’s been worthwhile?
Have a set of high, yet attainable goals in place to ensure you can track your performance consistently. If things aren’t working, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate.
Look after the numbers, the numbers will look after you.
Ignore them, and they’ll turn your dream product into a nightmare scenario.