How to create a Successful Go to Market Strategy?
Why do you need a Go to Market Strategy?
Even if you have found the ideal market segment and you created the best product to solve their main problem, your product won’t sell itself. It needs promotion. This is where a Go to Market Strategy comes in. You need a G2M plan as the go-ahead for the marketing and sales team to bring the product to the market.
You need a Go-to-Market Strategy because it:
- gives clarity to marketing and sales, thus giving them laser focus.
- significantly speeds up time-to-market.
- means the difference between success and failure. This is especially important in a startup environment where you may only have one shot at the moon.
What is a Go to Market Strategy?
A good GTM-plan is actionable, hands-on, and clear. It answers the elementary questions needed for marketing to set up their first campaigns with confidence. And it sets a clear framework to create a killer set of sales collaterals to enable them to actually close the deal.
Gartner has a more academic definition. Interesting about this definition is that Gartner makes the clear difference between product rebranding and product introduction to a new market. In both cases, a good Go-to-Market plan comes in handy.
The 6 components of a successful Go to Market Strategy
1) Target Audience: "Who are we selling to?"
When crafting your Value Proposition, you have researched a specific customer segment. This is the group that will most benefit from your solution. But are they also the buyers of your product or service? Not by definition. Therefore, it is important to study your target audience again to see who will actually is in the position and has the budget to pay for your solution. An example: a manager (buyer persona) may decide to buy a project planning tool (product) that benefits all team members (user persona). As a rule of thumb, the more specific you can be in targeting your audience, the more likely it is that you are successful to create a message that resonates. The more general you are, the more unlikely it is for someone to identify with it.
How to define your Target Audience:
- Segment your market into logical, homogeneous groups. Think of: same job profile, same tasks to perform, problems to solve, same budget available, etc.
- Estimate the market size
- Map the groups on two axes: market size and budget available.
- Choose. Choose which segment to target FIRST.
2) Brand Positioning: "Why do our prospects need this?"
Unless you have no competition (which is unlikely), you have to make clear why your prospect should buy from you. A good exercise is to write a brand positioning statement that explains what your brand stands for, the benefits of your brand, and what makes your brand unique. Keep it short and to the point. Rely on your own strength and describe what you are unique in and what you do very well. Don’t be tempted to write your brand positioning statement around your competitor’s weaknesses.
Your brand positioning is where you make your big promise to the market. Do you promise cost savings? How many percent? A time saver? How many hours per week/month/year? More turnover? you get it. The more specific you can be, the stronger your message will resonate. Especially if you prove it with research results.
3) Product/Service: "What are we selling?"
This part is the easy part of your Go to Market Strategy if you already have a well-crafted value proposition. Be specific in the product or service you offer. “Less is more” when you put together your offer. It may be tempting to offer your prospects a scala of possibilities to choose from. You might think that in this way, there is always something that meets their needs. However, in reality, this works the other way around and scares prospects off because they feel overwhelmed and unsure which option is best for them. So, “don’t make them think” and just offer them the best solution for their problem.
4) Channels: "Where can we reach them?"
To be successful, you have to communicate through the right channels to your prospects. You can have the best product and the right message, but if you don’t communicate through the right channels, you won’t have much success. How to find the right channels?
A good way to explore online channels is through paid ads. Use a small budget to test which channels convert best, then eliminate the worst converting channels and scale up the best converting channels. Why paid ads? Because with this approach you have instant and measurable exposure to your target audience. Don’t expect a lot of new leads coming in. The main purpose is to test which channel works best, not to have a ton of conversion (yet).
Finetune your message with simple A/B tests in several iterations. Still use small budgets in this phase. The conversion rate should rise now. The absolute number of conversions is still low.
Next, when the conversion rate flattens after a few iterations, you have reached the optimum and it is time to scale up! So, scale up your budget and enjoy the leads coming in. You’ve nailed it!
The exploration of offline channels is pretty much the same. Start with a small budget and scale up when successful. So, if you want to explore for example trade fairs as a channel, first attend the trade fair as a visitor with a box of business cards and some fancy flyers in your pocket instead of a custom-made booth.
5) Marketing & Sales Plan: "How will we reach them and close the deal?"
This part of the Go to Market Strategy is where you orchestrate all the activities for the sales and marketing team. A good practice to structure your sales and marketing efforts is to map out a buyer’s journey. Usually, a buyer’s journey is divided into different segments of awareness, interest, and willingness to buy. Whether you use the AIDA model, the Pirate funnel (AAARRR), or The Flywheel, choose a pragmatic model that best fits the customer experience.
Distribute your budget over the touchpoints and map out what content or actions you take to help your customers reach each touchpoint. Very rarely this is a linear process. Customers choose their own path, so be flexible in your approach. Start with a basic customer journey and test step by step in practice what works best. The ideal customer journey is never finished. Accept it is a permanent work in progress.
6) Timing: "When should we launch?"
Choosing the right timing boils down to two main aspects: is it the right timing from the perspective of your product or service and is it the right timing from the perspective of your target audience? To start with the last one. From a market perspective in a B2B context, imagine that you offer a solution for a yearly recurring event. Let’s say some process to support the annual reporting. What should be the right time for your target audience to launch your product? Right after they have finished their annual reports? Maybe not. Probably best if you launch your product right before they start their annual process. If there is a start-up time on your product, maybe a little earlier.
The same is true for choosing the right time to launch from a product perspective: launch as soon as possible, but not too early. It is okay if you launch only a limited set of features or only a limited service. But make it worth it. Don’t ship buggy software and make sure that what you deliver really solves one of your customer’s problems. At least a small problem.
Prerequisites for a successful Go to Market Strategy
Before you start implementing a go to market strategy, it is very helpful to have a the following prerequisits in place:
If you have a well-documented Value Proposition that is tested and proven, you have already done half of the work of a successful Go to Market Plan. In your Value Proposition, you already have a clear description of the user persona’s, your product/service, and key messaging on how to address the persona’s pains and gains and how you help them with your product or service. Want to learn how to create a winning Value Proposition? Follow this step-by-step guide.
Having a well-documented Persona helps you to execute your GTM plan with confidence. Most likely, you will have multiple persona’s: in all situations, you have your Buying Persona. In many cases, in a business-to-business environment, the decision-making unit is more than one persona. The Buyer Persona, in that case, is the budget owner and most of the time decision-maker. Other possible personas are:
- Initiator Persona: can be on every level of the organization. Most likely a combination with one of the other persona’s
- User Persona: key persona that uses your product or service and should at least experience some of the benefits of your solution
- Influencer Persona: an important one to keep an eye on and know how to deal with in the process.
- Sponsor Persona: you definitely need to map out how to serve the sponsors in the customer journey. A sponsor at C-level is an important indicator to be successful in an organization. This Persona is not an easy one, but priceless if you know how to reach them in the right way.
- Blocker Persona: also pay attention to how you can deal with the “yes, but…” Persona. Help the other personas with the right content to unnerve their objections. Help them to be successful in order to succeed yourself.
Proven Product-Market Fit
A hard bet to make: launch too early, and you burn all your money on sales and marketing without selling anything. Launch too late and you have no time and money left to sell anything. A well-known quote by Reid Hoffman is: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”. So, make your best bet in the evidence you reasonably can find at low costs before your initial launch and scale up from there. Want to learn how to improve your Product-Market Fit? Read this step-by-step guide.