A plan that helps you launch your new business, product, service, or brand to your customers. It usually includes target audience research, the key differentiators in your market, and a planned approach for marketing and distribution.
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A go-to-market strategy is a plan that helps you launch your new business, product, service, or brand to your customers. It usually includes target audience research, the key differentiators in your market, and a planned approach for marketing and distribution.
Whenever you’re launching a new element of your business, it’s crucial to have a strategy in place. Whether it’s a new product, service, or rebranding, having a go-to-market strategy is critical for success.
A go-to-market strategy acts as a manual for your business as you prepare to enter a new market. It features detailed information that will help your team navigate the first days of product launches.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at what a go-to-market strategy is and why it’s necessary. We will also outline 5 steps for you to create your own. The end result is that you can be better prepared for your next product or service launch.
What is a go-to-market (GTM) strategy or plan?
You know you need a long-term marketing strategy to keep your business going. A go-to-market strategy is different: It has a fixed timeline tied to a specific launch. Think of it as a guide to bringing your new business, product, service, or brand to your target customers.
A thorough go-to-market plan includes target audience research, a list of key differentiators in your market, and concrete ideas for marketing and distribution.
For clarity’s sake, throughout the rest of this guide, we’ll refer to your launch as a “product launch.” This term is interchangeable with an actual product, a service, or a brand. Regardless, the steps you take will look the same.
Types of go-to-market strategies
There are two main go-to-market strategies for you to consider: product-led and sales-led. In a product-led strategy, you take advantage of the ability of the product to sell itself. The features of the product or of an upgrade to the product entice the customer to make the purchase. For example, many companies offer free basic products, but have a number of enhancements that improve the basic product, which the customer will want to purchase.
Alternatively, a sales-led strategy will rely on the ability of someone to sell the product. This type of strategy will involve developing demonstrations and marketing campaigns to make potential customers aware of your product and how it will benefit them.
Difference between go-to-market strategy and marketing plan
When it comes to your GTM strategy, it is important to understand how it differs from a marketing strategy. A go-to-market strategy is a plan that your company will follow to launch a new product or to expand your products into a new market. By following the steps outlined in this guide for establishing and implementing a GTM strategy, you will be able to develop a specific plan for a specific product.
A marketing strategy, on the other hand, is a broader plan for how you will make potential customers aware of an existing product or draw them into your brand. While marketing can be a part of the go-to-market strategy for a specific product, a more general marketing plan will typically encompass all that your company has to offer.
Why is having a go-to-market strategy necessary?
If you already have a marketing strategy in place, why do you need a go-to-market strategy? What’s the purpose?
According to CB Insights, an incredible 35% of startups fail because there is no market need for their product or service. Another 19% fail because of flawed business models, and 15% are beset by pricing issues.
The research that goes into your go-to-market strategy reveals potential problems before launch. If you find that you have a saturated target market, you won’t have wasted money on a product that’s likely to fail. You’ll also have the opportunity to rethink the product itself, the market you’re trying to get into, or your approach.
Product launches require collaboration across your entire team. Having a go-to-market plan ensures everyone is on the same page by breaking down responsibilities and time frames.
Keep in mind that while you’ll hammer out a lot of the details upfront, your plan should remain flexible. You’ll need to adjust your strategy as you gather new data during the early stages of entering the market.
How to create an effective go-to-market strategy
A well-planned go-to-market strategy can help ensure the success of your next product launch. The following steps will guide you through the planning process.
1. Identify your target customer
The first step in creating a go-to-market strategy is to identify who your target customer is. Who will buy your product, and why are they interested in it?
To flesh out your target customer, try creating buyer personas—fictionalized models of the people you’ll be marketing to. To get to know them, ask yourself questions like:
- What need am I solving for this person?
- What are the demographics of this customer: age, gender, average income, family structure? Keep in mind that you can have many buyer personas with different demographics.
- What are my customer’s values and interests?
- Where is my customer most likely to search for my product? Will they use a mobile device, desktop, social media, or search engine?
For example, if you were getting ready to launch a new organic dog treat, one of your personas might be:
Millennial Madison: Between the ages of 25 and 40, Millennial Madison is a woman with an annual income of $60,000 to $100,000. Millennial Madison has no children and considers her dog her family. Her chief concerns are about the quality of her dog’s food and about making environmentally conscious choices. Madison most often searches for new dog treats online via her mobile phone. She cares about convenience and speed of shipping and online reviews influence her.
You might want to consider hiring a user experience (UX) team or a marketing team to help refine your target audience with customized research.
You may discover a market primed and ready for your product or you may find that you don’t have an audience for your product. But it’s better to know that when you can still pivot, rather than launching a product that’s a flop.
2. Define your unique selling proposition
With your target customer in mind, you need to look for ways to differentiate your product from others out there. This process is your unique selling proposition, also referred to as a unique value proposition.
For example, if you’re bringing a new skincare product to market, you’ll have a lot of competition. What will convince your target customer to purchase your skincare product over other products and brands?
The first thing you need to do is take a deep dive into your competitive landscape. What businesses are already selling something similar? Create a detailed list of your competition and its products. Make sure to include any similarities or overlaps in your product.
Next, think through what makes your product a better choice than the rest. Look back at your target customer. What might your product or brand offer to that target customer that your competition is not? For example, if you were selling an organic dog treat to Millennial Madison, your unique differentiator might be the sustainable ingredients you use, which align with her values.
This is another area where you can discover critical issues before launching. You might find that your value proposition is weak or, worse, nonexistent. If so, you’ll need to rethink your product. You could look for new angles to create a product unique enough to sell in a crowded market space. Or, you could differentiate your brand in another way.
In other cases, you might pinpoint what it is that makes your product stand out from the rest. In this situation, the goal will be to clearly outline what those differentiators are.
3. Determine your pricing
When determining how much to charge for your product, you’ll need to factor in the costs of production as well as what customers are willing to pay for your product.
- Check out your competition to gauge what prices customers are currently paying for similar products.
- Calculate the costs associated with the production of your product. This should include everything from product development to hard material costs to labor.
- Set a price based on what you can afford to sell the product for and what the market will bear. You may even find that what your target market is willing to pay may be higher than the price point you calculated.
Keep in mind that the price you decide on for your product launch might not be your final price. Being agile with your pricing can help you after going to market.
4. Consider channels for distribution
A critical part of bringing any product to market is knowing how you will distribute it. This boils down to a simple question: What is the best way to reach your target customers?
For some businesses, selling direct to consumer (D2C) is most effective. Customers can make direct purchases from your brand via your e-commerce store. Examples of popular D2C brands include Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker.
If you opt for a D2C route, you need to ensure that your plan includes building a robust online storefront as well as a system for managing your supply chain. Ask yourself:
- How will customers find us?
- How will customers order from us?
- How will we fulfill orders?
But maybe your product is better suited to other businesses as opposed to individual customers. For example, the target customer for an agency that specializes in SEO might be other small businesses. For business-to-business (B2B) sales, you’ll need to have both an online presence and a sales team that reaches out to businesses directly.
Considering many ways to sell gives you more opportunities to succeed. If you’re not sure where to begin, a few common sales channels are:
- Online storefronts
- Brick-and-mortar stores
- Social media platforms
- Third-party platforms, like Amazon or Etsy
5. Build a promotional strategy
The last step in creating your go-to-market strategy is building out a detailed marketing plan. Your marketing plan will include how you will talk about your product, what channels you will promote it on, how you will advertise, and more. You can break it down into several key points.
- What channels will we use to market our product? You could include everything from social media to direct mail such as postcards. The key is to ensure you use the channels that best match your target audience’s needs.
- What is our key messaging? Think back to your unique selling proposition. Try to hone this down into a few key points. These will be the foundation for all your marketing messages going forward.
- How will we measure our marketing success? The data you glean from analytics is the information you need to continually optimize your plan. It can even help improve your product. Establishing benchmarks will let you gauge whether you’re making forward progress. Measuring against them can help you know if you need to pivot and try a new approach.
- Who will own the key responsibilities of the marketing strategy? This might be your dedicated marketing team, an agency, or your sales department. And, in some cases, it’s a combination of all these teams. Define this in your go-to-market strategy so you can hold the right people accountable for marketing deliverables.
Go-to-market strategy template
Implementing a go-to-market strategy may seem like a daunting task. However, we have developed a template for your company that you can adjust to your specific needs. The template will assist you at each step of the process, helping you to answer the necessary questions for developing and implementing a successful GTM strategy.
Achieve a successful launch with an effective go-to-market strategy
A go-to-market strategy is an essential component of any successful product launch. Creating one will allow you to define your audience, refine your unique selling proposition, establish your pricing, decide on your distribution channels, and measure your outcomes. The steps outlined above will help you build a strategy that will propel your business forward.