5 steps to build a winning Go-To-Market strategy
Whether you’re in the early stages of building a new business or considering branching into a new product line for the business you already have, a lot of your success will depend on the work you do before the launch. Entrepreneurs are often the type to get excited about ideas and can be inclined to ride that excitement forward without stopping to make a plan. But sometimes a product that seems like a great idea on the surface, turns out not to make much sense once you really dig into the research.
When CB Insights performed a recent analysis of why startups fail, they found 42% were selling a product for which there was no market need. That’s the kind of problem you can solve before you start, if you take time to do your research. To determine if your business or product idea makes sense, you want to create a go-to-market strategy.
What is a Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is the process of clarifying the purpose of your business or product idea, and how you’ll go about marketing it to your audience. When you take time to develop a GTM strategy in advance, you ensure that you know exactly where your product fits into the larger market. And you can work out the best strategy for promoting it—one that highlights its unique benefits to the right audience.
5 Top GTM Strategies to Improve Your Marketing
There are five important phases to developing a solid GTM strategy that will help you confirm your product idea and create a winning marketing strategy.
1. Do industry research.
If you’re starting a new business or branching into a new product space, you need to understand the industry you’re entering into. Luckily, the combination of the internet and widely available market research tools makes this step easier than it once was.
Get to searching. Find all the resources you can about the industry—relevant associations, trade journals, industry publications, and research reports about the industry’s size and growth. Find out what you can about who the industry’s primary customers are and any industry trends experts predict.
If possible, supplement what you learn from market research tools by reaching out to experts working within the industry now. Try to find a good consultant to hire, or a colleague you can set up a meeting with. A person with direct experience will be able to fill in gaps in your initial research.
2. Do competitor research.
Your industry research will likely give you a good look at who your main competitors are. Now go deeper. Spend time learning about their products:
- What features do they have?
- What are their main selling points?
- What’s their pricing model?
Analyze how they’re marketing the product:
- What’s their unique positioning?
- What target audience(s) are they focusing on?
- What are the main marketing channels they’re using?
- What keywords are they targeting?
Spend some time on their websites getting familiar with how they talk about their audience’s problems and how their products solve them. Your competitors have (presumably) already done the work of doing industry and audience research before they launched. And if they’ve been around for a while, they’ve also been trying out different approaches and strategies and measuring what works as they go.
You can learn a lot about what your audience cares about and what kind of approach works in your industry by paying attention to what other businesses are doing. And in the process, you’ll learn what solutions are already out there, so you can make sure the product you bring to market has something unique to offer.
3. Create buyer personas.
In order to meet the needs of your future customer, you need to understand who they are, what problems they have, and what they care about. A buyer persona is an exercise in sketching out what your target customer looks like. It can include details such as:
- Demographic information like age and gender
- Geographic location
- Common interests and hobbies
- Websites they spend time on and publications they follow
- Their wants, needs, and priorities
For B2B brands, you’ll add a few additional categories:
- Job title
- Business function
- Role in the buying process
- Business needs and priorities
You’ll likely have more than one buyer persona, especially for B2B products where buying cycles regularly include multiple stakeholders. For each persona, you want to know who they are outside of their need for your product in order to better understand where your product fits into their larger lives and priorities.
4. Create a messaging framework.
Now take all that research you did and use it to create a messaging framework that pulls out the most important takeaways for your brand. A solid messaging framework will include:
- A simple explanation of your main vision and mission for the product
- A description of the brand personality and voice you want to achieve
- A one-sentence value statement for your product
- A one-sentence positioning statement that clarifies where you fit into the larger market
- A listing of your main buyer personas and their pain points
- Value points for your product that address the specific pain points for each of your personas
It takes a lot of work to get to the point of creating a messaging framework, but the document itself should be relatively short. You want it to be a summary of what you’ve learned, one that pulls out the most important takeaways as they relate to your product.
Explaining in brief why your product should exist and has value to your audience is harder than providing a long explanation. Once you can do so, it’s a sign that you truly understand your product’s messaging and are prepared to make the case to your target audience.
5. Develop your product marketing and sales strategies.
This is obviously a big step on its own, but you’ll do a much better job of developing an effective sales and marketing strategy once you’ve done your research and have a messaging framework in place.
Use what you’ve learned about what your audience likes and where they hang out to decide what channels you should focus your advertising and marketing promotions on. Consider the marketing tactics and strategies you discovered in your competitor research as inspiration when working on your own. And use what you’ve learned about how the industry typically works and how your customers make purchasing decisions to figure out the right sales strategy to go with.
Go to Market Prepared
So many of the decisions you make in your first year will determine whether you make it to year two. If you’re basing those decisions on solid research and a well thought out strategy, your odds of success increase considerably. Creating a GTM strategy encourages you to slow down and really think through who you want to reach and why your product will matter to them. That alone can put you ahead of many of the startups that don’t make it past their first year.
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