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.
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 business, product, or a new business model, 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 model 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 strategy or plan?
You know you need a long-term marketing strategy to keep your business going. A go-to-market strategy or GTM strategy)is different: It has a fixed timeline tied to a specific launch. Think of it as a guide to bringing your new business model, 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.
Who needs a go-to-market strategy?
Essentially, any company that wants to succeed in its market needs a go-to-market strategy. This comprehensive approach helps you identify and understand your target audience while generating a buzz, standing out from the crowd, and driving sales. If you fail to have a well-designed go-to-market strategy, you run a gambit of risks, including poor performance, lost market share, and other missed opportunities. Scenarios when having a go-to-market strategy is paramount include:
- Launching a new product
- Entering a new market
- Repositioning or rebranding
- Scaling the business model
- Changing your business model
In either case, a robust go-to-market strategy isn't a nice-to-have — it's fundamental to your success.
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 a flawed business model, 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 to waste 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 strategy
When determining how much to charge for your product or your pricing methods, 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 strategy can help you after going to market.
4. Consider sales and marketing 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) marketing and 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 and marketing 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 marketing channels you will promote it on, how you will advertise, and more. You can break it down into several key points.
- What marketing 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 marketing 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.
6. Monitor performance
Congratulations on building and launching your GTM strategy! By now, you've done the hard work and are ready to kick back and watch success happen. Well, not so fast: your work isn't done. Instead, you must continually monitor the performance of your strategy.
Effectively monitoring the performance of your GTM is the key that unlocks the door to your business and marketing goals. Most importantly, monitoring performance can deepen the understanding of pain points, identify the most opportune segment of the buyer's journey, and make more data-driven decisions around optimizing the campaign. Use the following guard rails to monitor your go-to-market strategy:
- Set goals and define KPIs: Establish clear goals that align with your business objectives. These goals should be clearly stated and measurable, such as KPIs. While there are many KPIs, you should track customer acquisition cost, revenue growth, conversion rates, length of the sales cycle, and customer retention at a minimum.
- Gauge performance: Continually evaluate your performance against your goals and KPIs regularly. Identify where you do well and the places you can improve.
- Make data-driven strategy adjustments: With the performance data, you can tweak and enhance your strategy with surgical precision.
Go-to-market strategy example
Until now, we've discussed the GTM strategy in theory. Let's look at a hypothetical example of a GTM strategy put into action for a new mobile app, Daily Hydration. This innovative app tracks the individual's water intake throughout the day.
The target audience for the Daily Hydration app will include those who would most benefit from the solution, such as:
- Health-conscious individuals are likely to monitor water intake. Daily Hydration will make it easier and address one of their core pain points.
- Individuals with medical conditions must monitor their fluid intake, such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Daily Hydration will simplify the process and allow the user to share data with healthcare providers at the click of a button.
- Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are physically active and require adequate hydration to perform at their best.
- Busy professionals may forget to drink sufficient water throughout the day. Daily Hydration can offer timely reminders.
- Individuals with weight loss goals understand the role of staying hydrated with healthy weight loss.
- Parents and caregivers need to ensure that they are drinking enough water.
- Environmentalists are interested in tracking their water usage and reducing their overall water footprint.
In addition to helping improve the health and well-being of users, Daily Hydration provides personalized suggestions based on the user's biometrics, goals, and pain points:
- Body type
- Activity level
- And more
With an easy-to-use interface, Daily Hydration makes it easy and intuitive to track and share performance with healthcare providers, friends, and support groups. Best of all, Daily Hydration makes water intake fun, rewarding, and engaging. Through gamification, users can compete with friends, other users, or the broader community in a race to the top of the leaderboard for badges of honor. Daily Hydration will also provide personalized educational content to help users understand the impact proper hydration has on their health and the broader environment. It encourages users to drink tap water instead of bottled water, reducing plastic waste and promoting a more sustainable lifestyle.
The best channels of distribution for Daily Hydration will be based on the audience and where they are in their buyer's journey. Some of the most prevalent include:
- App stores: Ensuring the app is available to download on popular app stores like the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore is paramount.
- Direct access: In addition to app stores, we will make Daily Hydration available to download from the website while linking back to all app stores.
- vPush notifications:__ Daily Hydration will utilize mobile push notifications to nudge users, offer personalized suggestions, update leaderboard status, and more.
- Social media marketing: We will leverage platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to generate buzz, promote the app, share user reviews, and drive downloads.
- Influencer marketing: We have shortlisted some of the top fitness, environmental, and wellness social media influencers. We will use these relationships to drive awareness and increase reach.
- vEmail marketing:__ As users sign up and enroll in Daily Hydration, we will leverage email marketing to educate them and continue to engage.
- Press and media coverage: We will leverage press releases, local news stations, and online blogs to generate awareness and drive downloads.
- Consider partnerships: There is ample opportunity to partner with employers to create contests to nudge participants toward a healthier lifestyle.
This combination of distribution and marketing channels will help build and nurture a strong base of users.
Our promotional strategy is centered around the actions and offers that will influence our KPIs. Here are some of the promotional strategies we will use:
- Incentivize downloads: We will offer limited-time discounts, free in-app currency, and promotional codes to encourage downloads.
- Event sponsorships: We will sponsor relevant health and wellness events to get in front of audiences with pain points our product alleviates.
- Run a social media campaign: We will use paid social media ads to address customer pain points, move targets along their buyer's journey, and engage with potential users. We will strategically use hashtags, run contests or giveaways, and collaborate with influencers to create buzz around the app. We will incentivize social media engagement along with app downloads.
- Content marketing: Based on our target audience analysis, this audience thirsts for information. To address their pain points, we will create blogs, infographics, and other materials. While it will include a healthy dose of information about the app, most of the content marketing strategy will be on education, such as the benefits of hydration and the importance of tracking water intake. All content will drive users to download the app and move them along their buyer's journey.
- App store optimization: Our app store listing will be optimized with relevant keywords, compelling descriptions, and high-quality screenshots to improve visibility and attract more downloads.
- Embrace the power of word of mouth: We will create a referral program where existing users can invite their friends and family to download the app. We will offer referrers specialized incentives, such as in-game currency and bonus points for referring friends. and receive rewards or discounts.
To determine the effectiveness and identify opportunities for improvement, we will monitor several KPIs and metrics, including:
- Downloads: As the driver of performance, downloads are the core success metric. We will track downloads over periods of time, identify trends, and learn how we can leverage the trends to drive success.
- User engagement: Once users download the app, how active and engaged are they? To gauge, we will track daily active users, retention rate, and time spent in the app.
- Revenue: Daily Hydration will offer in-app purchases, subscriptions, and affiliate links to revenue-generating products. We will continually monitor this monetization strategy to understand what works well and what areas for improvement.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC): We will measure the customer acquisition cost on day one to set the benchmark for different sales and distribution channels. In addition to working to lower customer acquisition cost, we will identify the most effective channels and model scenarios of increasing investment to project results.
- Conversion rates: We will define three different conversion rates:
- CR1: The number of impressions to downloads
- CR2: The number of people who download and become active users, and
- CR3: The number of people who download and make in-app purchases.
- Customer feedback: We will actively solicit feedback via all channels and extract anecdotal and empirical data to drive improvements.
- Competition: We will also monitor the competition to stay one step ahead.
Go-to-market strategy template
Implementing a go-to-market strategy may seem like a daunting task. However, we have developed a go-to-market strategy template for your company that you can adjust to your specific needs. This easy-to-use go-to-market strategy framework will assist you at each step of the process, helping you to answer the necessary questions for developing and implementing a successful GTM strategy.
Benefits of using a go-to-market strategy framework
As you can imagine, there are endless benefits to having a robust, well-planned go-to-market strategy. A few of the top benefits are:
- Clarity: Your GTM strategy should clearly describe the target audience, their needs, and how your service or product will meet their needs. This can create crystal clear clarity across the organization, including your sales team.
- Alignment: With greater clarity comes greater alignment. Your GTM strategy can synchronize everyone throughout the organization on the value proposition and positioning.
- Improved Customer Experience: By understanding your customer preferences and needs, you'll be more likely to establish and build lasting customer relationships.
- Increased Sales: At the end of the day, having a GTM strategy is all about increasing sales, and it can do just that for your sales team. By identifying your target market and their needs, you will have a clear strategy for engagement.
- Competitive Advantage: Your GTM will differentiate your company and product from the competition. You will have identified a unique niche and gap in the market you can enter with minimal resistance. Armed with your value proposition, your sales team can make your product stand out.
- Streamlined Product Launch Process: Simply put, the GTM gets everyone's ducks in a row and everyone on the same page. This leads to an easier, less cumbersome product launch.
Achieve a successful launch with an effective go-to-market strategy framework
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 strategy, 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.