4 min read

How to Build a Go To Market Strategy

How to Build a Go To Market Strategy

An effective go-to-market (GTM) strategy should be a subset of your overarching marketing plan. Your Go-To-Market strategy will cover some of the same areas as the marketing plan, but overall will be much narrower in scope. Its specific use should be to identify a program for entering a new market or introducing a new product, service, or company.

A well thought out go-to-market strategy will help clarify the plan and direction across your entire organization, which in turn can provide the following benefits:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased opportunity for strategic optimization
  • Establish a defined plan for growth (i.e., what next?)

Like all planning activities, the principal requirements are time and effort. As the saying goes, what you put into it is what you get out of it. However, a trick to streamlining the process is to keep the needs of your customers front-and-center. Doing so should focus your approach and limit distractions.

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4 Approaches to Building Go-To-Market Strategies

How will your business connect with prospects and customers? What unique value that you will bring to your audience? What does the relationship look like as you move your audience from interested prospect to loyal customer? Your Go-To-Market strategy should answer these critical questions and tie all of the key elements of your organization together.

Generally, there are four strategic approaches to a go-to-market plan:

  1. Penetration

Sell more of your product/service to the existing market. This approach offers the lowest risk, and potentially the lowest reward, for growth as your audience knows you and your product or service already. When this is the case, a significant media spend is required to change existing opinions.

  1. Expansion

Sell your existing product/service to a new market. Success with this strategy requires understanding this new market and how to attract them without alienating your current market.

  1. Innovation

Introduce a new product or service to your current market. For this strategy to be successful, you need to fully understand your customer personas, including the threats, opportunities, and value delivered from your new offer.

  1. Aggression

Sell new products or services into new markets. This approach offers the highest risk, as we have now introduced two known-unknowns to the equation. However, it also provides the highest potential reward as it's an entirely new revenue stream for the organization without risk of cannibalization.

Once you have alignment on your approach, it’s time to build the pieces of go-to-market strategy.

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Building the Go-To-Market Plan

Regardless if you're entering a brand new market, or expanding your offering within an existing one, your role of a marketer is to guide consumers to the best purchase decision. To do so, you need to understand their needs.

Step 1: Define Your Target Market

No product is appropriate for every market. Clarifying your ideal target market is a crucial element of formulating your go-to-market strategy. This clarification should include an understanding of the current market landscape. Who is your competition? What are their strengths, weaknesses, and how do they position themselves? What segments of the audience is currently being served, and are they loyal to the brand serving them? Consider the following as a way to learn about the category:

  • Competitive analysis
  • Market research
  • Secondary research
  • Trend analysis

Step 2: Define Your Target Customer

With a target market in mind, you now must understand audience personas (demographics, psychographics, pain points, and needs). Pull insights from a variety of sources such as:

  • Quantitative surveys
  • Qualitative focus groups and customer interviews
  • Retail shop-a-longs
  • Third-party research

Step 3: Define Your Positioning

With your knowledge of the market and audience, you can now focus on uncovering the right positioning for your brand, product, or service that will resonate with the target personas that you have identified.

This step is the core of your planning because it should tie step one and two together and result in an 'ah-ha' moment that fuels the rest of your planning and execution. It's too easy to take a kitchen sink approach to positioning and try to be all things to all people–especially if you have a large number of internal voices weighing in. However, proper brand positioning defines what the brand/product is not, as much as it defines what it is.

Step 4: Define Your Offering

At this stage, you can begin to establish your unique value proposition – the key features and benefits. Throughout this exercise, keep your personas close at hand, as you must ensure that your features and benefits align with the needs, wants, and use case of your key personas. Your unique value proposition will serve as the building blocks of your messaging framework.

Step 5: Define and Prioritize Your Channels

A holistic go-to-market plan will include many channels – paid, earned, and owned – however, what you're looking for in this stage of your go-to-market strategy is channel alignment and prioritization. Only after achieving this can you begin to align budgets in a meaningful way.

Customer experience is where many go-to-market efforts either win or lose. Your prospects and customers expect a consistent brand experience at each touchpoint. Whether it's your website, mobile app, call center, or an outside, customer-facing partner, your customers demand a good experience or else they will look for it somewhere else.

Step 6: Establish Your Marketing Strategy and Measurement Plan

In this final steps, all of the pieces should fit together to create a clear path to market. If you're introducing multiple products or entering more than one market, it's important to have a specific marketing strategy for each one, even if they ultimately don't differ significantly.

Lastly, but of equal importance, your go-to-market strategy should include a plan to measure and optimize on both a weekly and monthly basis. Rarely should you make strategy adjustments based on daily or weekly information, but should be a plan in place around timing for optimization and what metrics will serve as a trigger for optimizations. Without a plan, you risk knee-jerk reactions that can torpedo an excellent go-to-market campaign and damage your presence and reputation in the market.

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