You can’t argue with the idea that planning is essential for successful businesses. Having a good plan can help you accomplish your goals and avoid making common mistakes. That’s especially true if you’re doing something for the first time, whether it’s opening a business or releasing a new product. That’s why go-to-market (GTM) strategies are so crucial for brand new releases.
But what is a go-to-market strategy? That’s a good question. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about GTM strategies, what they do for your business, what they should include, and when you need one.
What Is a Go-to-Market Strategy and Why Does It Matter?
A GTM strategy is a comprehensive plan for how your business will find and win customers, enter new markets, and meet its goals. It’s your strategy for “going to market” with a new idea. Whenever you want to introduce something new to the business world, you bring it to market. A plan can help you accomplish that without wasting time, money, or effort on preventable problems or ineffective processes.
GTM strategies are used in a variety of different situations. You can use these plans to open a new business, release a new product, enter a new market, or expand into a new customer base. The most successful companies use GTM strategies for all of these situations. Businesses like Apple understand that having a plan makes all the difference in how successful a new release will be. You can do the same by using GTM strategies to guide your release processes.
What Should You Know Before Creating a Go-to-Market Strategy?
Creating a GTM strategy is a critical step for your business, but you can’t go in blind. You need to understand the elements of GTM strategies before you develop one. Without a firm grounding in your actual business, customers, and goals, you can’t build a GTM plan that actually works.
A GTM strategy is supposed to be comprehensive, so you’ll need to answer some questions before you get started. Here’s what you should figure out about your business before developing your first GTM plan.
WHO ARE YOUR IDEAL OR TARGET CUSTOMERS?
The most important question for any business is who will buy its offerings. A company or product isn’t worth anything if no one cares about it. The first step to creating a great GTM plan is to determine your ideal customers and the people you’re targeting with your new offerings.
Figure out demographic and personality details of your ideal customer, such as:
You should also consider your ideal customer’s pain points, which are things that bother them that your offerings can solve.
The more specific your description of your target customer is, the better. Many markets are already saturated, so you can’t develop a vague offering and hope to stand out. Building a detailed understanding of your target market and using customer segmentation will help you establish a GTM plan that’s tailored to your ideal customers, making you stand out to the audience you care about most.
WHAT DOES YOUR BUYER PERSONA LOOK LIKE?
Once you’ve figured out your ideal audience, it’s time to get even more specific. Develop a buyer persona for each customer segment you’ll target. A buyer persona is a brief bio about the hypothetical “perfect” customer. You can use this bio to create specific marketing messages built to appeal to your audience. Buyer personas should be one or two paragraphs explaining all the details of your ideal customers, plus a little personality.
For example, if you’re selling candles online, you might use a buyer persona like this: “Ben is a mid-thirties professional living in an urban area. He’s friendly, funny, and a little nerdy. Ben is looking for a gift for his fiancée to make her day a little brighter and wants something that will get to him quickly.”
Even that brief blurb gives you various ideas for marketing plans that might appeal to the fictional Ben. By creating personas like Ben, you can better understand your customers’ personalities — which makes it easier to develop a GTM plan that will appeal to them.
WHAT ARE YOUR BUSINESS GOALS?
Look toward the future. What do you want your business to accomplish? What does a successful release look like to you? Developing a mission statement that answers these questions will guide your GTM plan.
Beyond your mission statement, you can determine goals for your release in specific numbers — such as these examples:
• Achieve 100% ROI on the new location
• Increase client base by 20%
• Increase revenue by 35%
• Sell 10,000 units in the first quarter
• Win 500 new contracts in the new audience segments
Develop goals that make sense for your business. Make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). When you know where you’re trying to go, it’s much easier to create a plan to help you get there.
WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESS MODEL DO YOU WORK WITH?
How does your business work? There’s a big difference between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. There’s an even bigger difference between companies that rely on online direct marketing and those that use brick-and-mortar retailers to sell their products.
Make sure you understand your business model and how you will make sales. Your business model is the vehicle that will take you to your goals. Your GTM strategy needs to account for your business model just as it needs to consider your target audience and objectives.
WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY LOOK LIKE?
The customer journey is the path your ideal customers take, from learning about your business to becoming loyal clients for life. When you map out the customer journey, you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and discover the points where you’ll need to make contact to continue their journey. The typical customer journey looks something like this:
• Awareness: You’ve made the customer aware that your brand exists through social media advertising or your appearance in search engine results.
• Acquisition: The customer has visited your business and made their first purchase.
• Onboarding: The customer is given reminders about your brand that convince them to return and make additional purchases.
• Engagement: You’ve given your customer a reason and a way to regularly engage with your brand, such as purchasing a subscription or getting a loyalty card.
• Advocacy: Your customer is so pleased with your brand that they actively recommend it to others, perhaps because of a referral program.
Of course, no two customer journeys are identical. Refine your ideal customer journey to fit your business model, target markets, and goals.
What Should You Include in Your Go-to-Market Strategy?
You can start creating a GTM plan now that you’ve answered some basic questions about your business. There’s no single “right” way to design your go-to-market strategy. However, there are a few things that every GTM strategy template should include. Here’s what your GTM plan should include and why.
Product-market fit is a critical detail for GTM plans. The first component of an excellent GTM strategy explains how your product fits into the market and what need it solves. You should name your value proposition and clearly explain the “why” behind your offering.
Why does your offering matter to people? Why do your customers need it? Make sure you have actual data to back up this need. Just because you believe people need something doesn’t mean your target audience agrees. If possible, cite research with focus groups that test your ideas with real people. You need to be filling an actual need if you want your new release to succeed.
For example, you could develop the best snow shovel in the world and your product launch would fail if you tried to sell it in the jungle. Explaining your product-market fit helps you clarify how your product will slot into the market and guide your product marketing efforts.
You’ve already determined your target markets. Now, you can write about it. List all the details you came up with when choosing your ideal customer. You can also include your buyer personas. You can go a step further and specifically explain how your product solves the needs of your target audience.
For example, considering the hypothetical candle-buying Ben would involve writing something like, “Our brand offers appealing candles in beautiful packaging, making them perfect for gifts and pick-me-ups. In addition, our same-day shipping policy makes our brand an excellent option for last-minute presents.” This further clarifies your understanding of and approach to your customers’ needs.
Next, you should examine your competitors. Every new business or product has competitors, whether these are highly similar offerings already on the market or different products that meet the need the new offering is intended to address.
Analyzing your competition helps you understand the biggest hurdles you’ll need to overcome to win market share. A competitive market analysis should name your closest competitors, then explore those companies’ current offerings. You should your competitors’ details, such as:
• Greatest appeal to your target audience
• Greatest flaws according to your target audience
You should also address how your brand differentiates itself from the competition and what your brand will do to mitigate the advantages competitors have because of their strengths. Consider how to take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses and flaws, too.
CHANNELS OF DISTRIBUTION
Your new brand or offering will need to make it to market somehow. The channels of distribution you use are how you get your offerings to consumers. Your business model will determine the distribution channels that make the most sense for your business. In this section, you’ll name the specific channels you’ll use and explain why they support your GTM goals. Make sure you’re specific about your channel strategy.
For instance, if you’re selling online, explain how you will host the site and ship products to customers. If you’re performing services, explain how those services will be provided. For brick-and-mortar businesses, explain your stocking processes and how you’ll keep your storefront running.
This specificity is critical for a good GTM strategy. After all, your distribution channels are literally how you bring items to market. You need to have a clear idea of how you’ll actually get your offerings into the possession of your customers, or the rest of the plan is irrelevant.
KPIS TO MEASURE SUCCESS
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are specific metrics you track to understand how you’re doing concerning your goals. For every business goal, you should name and monitor one or two KPIs. Naming these KPIs in your GTM strategy gives you the tools you need to track your adherence to the plan and your performance overall. A KPI should be directly correlated with the goal to which it’s connected.
For example, if your goal is to achieve 10,000 sales in the first quarter, your KPI might be the number of sales achieved since the start of the quarter. This is why it’s so important to have SMART goals in the first place. Without a specific and measurable goal, you can’t track your performance with KPIs.
When Should You Create a Go-to-Market Strategy?
When should you go through the process of developing a Go to Market strategy? These plans are best used in situations like the following:
• Starting a new business or brand: The most fundamental use of a GTM plan is guiding the start of a new business. A good GTM strategy gives you the basic outline of the actions you’ll need to take to help your business thrive.
• Releasing a new product: Established businesses can also use GTM strategies. If you’re releasing a new product, you can develop a GTM plan centered on that specific offering.
• Entering new markets: Similarly, if you’re opening a new location or entering a new market, you can use a GTM strategy to help you address the unique concerns of the new place or industry you’re approaching.
• Targeting new market segments: You can even use GTM plans if you’re not changing your business or offerings. If you’re planning on expanding your target audience, you can develop a GTM strategy for it. If you want to begin marketing your offerings to a new customer segment, outline how you’ll approach this potential client base in your GTM plan.
What Are Marketing Factors To Consider When Creating a Go-to-Market Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy shouldn’t be a vague overview. You can make your plan more robust by considering the nitty-gritty details alongside your target audience and products.
For example, a significant focus of your GTM strategy is connecting with customers. Paying attention to your specific product marketing approach can help you build a go-to-market strategy that will stand up to real-world considerations. These four marketing factors are valuable things to explore while writing your plan.
Your customer personas are there to help you build marketing strategy messages that will appeal to your ideal audience. When writing your GTM strategy, consider the specific marketing messages you’ll use to appeal to those audience segments. You can and should develop different messages for different segments and personas.
For example, a candle company could target married men with messages about how its product makes an excellent gift while it also targets young women with messages about self-care and home décor. Considering these messages in advance will help you tailor your offerings as it improves your marketing.
A crucial element of modern marketing is the content you release. Your content strategy will depend on your business model. Online brands, in particular, benefit from robust content strategies that help them appear higher in search results and bring users back to their sites repeatedly.
Think about your content strategy while writing your go-to-market plan. Your content should support your mission statement and value proposition. Developing both content and GTM strategies at the same time lets you create content to be shared simultaneously with product launches.
Social media is an integral form of modern advertising. Even if you already use Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to think outside the box.
Modern social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat are underutilized resources for getting the word out about new brands and products. They put you in front of valuable audiences, too. There are 26.5 million active TikTok users in the U.S., and 42% of them make more than $100k annually. Similarly, Snapchat has more than 200 million active users and primarily reaches the new generation of influencers.
When writing your GTM plan, keep all social media platforms in mind as potential marketing platforms.
DIGITAL MARKETING TOOLS
What marketing tools do you have available to you? What tools seem like they would be a valuable addition to your brand? If you don’t already use tools like email marketing automation, it’s time to start. These tools help you support your GTM goals more effectively and manage the customer journey from start to finish.
Post Launch: What Comes Next?
Once you’ve launched your brand, product, or service, you might wonder, “What’s next?” Now is the time to follow the strategies and tactics you outlined in your GTM plan and monitor the KPIs you named. You’ve put in the hard work of planning, so your next responsibility is to follow through on it.
If you’re ready to get started on your go-to-market strategy, you don’t have to build it alone. Disruptive Marketing can help. Get in touch today to get your free marketing strategy proposal and learn how Friday Communications can help you create a GTM strategy that will make your next launch as successful as possible.