Launching a Go-to-Market Strategy: Common Questions Answered
Developing an effective go-to-market (GTM) strategy is one of the most common and important jobs product marketers are tasked with. But it’s not a concept everyone has a clear grasp on, and even those with some familiarity with what a GTM strategy is may still have some questions about what it typically looks like in practice.
If you could use some help understanding what a GTM strategy is yourself, or explaining it to a colleague that still has questions, our guide to launching a GTM strategy has the answers.
What is a GTM Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a plan, usually put together by the product marketing team, that clarifies how best to reach and appeal to a product’s target audience. While that sounds simple on the surface, in practice building a GTM strategy is a expansive exercise that involves doing extensive research and crafting a plan that touches on many parts of the business, including sales, pricing, and marketing.
While GTM strategies are most often associated with launching new products, they can also come into play in a number of other scenarios, such as targeting a new audience for a product, changing the company’s overall positioning in the market, or preparing for the release of a new version of a product.
GTM Strategy FAQ’s
That provides a broad overview of what a GTM strategy is, but could still leave you wondering what one really looks like and what its purpose is. To flesh out your knowledge further, we’ve got answers to five of the most common questions people have about GTM strategies.
1. Why is a GTM strategy important?
A GTM strategy is how you make sure you have a full understanding of who your product is for, how it will help them, and why they should choose yours out of all the options available to them.
For new products, it does the essential job of confirming that there is a market need for your product before you make too big of an investment. No company wants to realize after spending untold sums on product development, materials, and labor that they’re selling something nobody wanted to begin with.
A GTM strategy is also where you gain an understanding of precisely where your product fits into the larger marketplace. How does it differ from other options your audience has for solving their problems? And how will it make their lives easier or better? Those are questions you can’t just guess at (or you can, but you won’t necessarily come up with accurate answers that way). They require taking the time to really do the research to understand the context your product belongs within and the people it’s meant to help.
2. How is a GTM strategy different from a product launch?
Because a GTM strategy often plays a key role in the preparation for a product launch, the two things sometimes get conflated. But they’re not the same thing. A product launch is a set event, with a clear time frame around it and an obvious goal of letting the right people know about your new product.
When a GTM strategy is developed for a new product, it starts long before a product launch date and continues into the months (or even years) after the product is on the market. And notably, a GTM strategy isn’t only used for new product launches. If you’re considering taking a product you already sell to a new audience or implementing new features that change how your customers will use it, creating a GTM strategy is just as useful as with a new product.
3. What do you need to get started with a GTM strategy?
An effective GTM strategy must be based on accurate, relevant knowledge. Before you get into creating the deliverables typically included in a GTM strategy, you need to establish a foundation based on solid research.
This should include three main areas (that may have some overlap):
- Audience research – The most important ingredient in the success of any business is the customer. You have to create something that a specific audience will need, want, and spend money on if you’re to have any chance of surviving. For everything else in your GTM strategy to fall into place, you need to understand who your product is for. What does their typical day look like? What are their main problems and needs? What are their top priorities? Answering those questions requires doing thorough audience research.
- Market research – You also need to understand the industry you’ll be stepping into. How big is it in terms of annual spending? How crowded is the market now, and is there room for growth? What are some of the main trends and market updates people are talking about?
- Competitive research – The purchasing process rarely starts and stops with hearing about one product. Most of your customers will research multiple products and weigh them against each other when making a decision. To make sure yours stands out from the pack, you need to know what they’ll learn when looking into your competitors. Competitive analysis is crucial both for determining positioning for your product that sets you apart, and for gaining more data on what your audience responds to based on competitors’ campaigns.
4. What’s typically included in a GTM strategy?
Based on the knowledge gained in the research stage, the GTM team then develops important materials to inform a number of business areas. This often includes:
- Customer personas – Good audience research is broad and comprehensive, but to turn that wealth of knowledge into something teams across your company can effectively use, you need to boil it down to the most important points. Creating customer personas that help people understand your target audience at a glance accomplishes this.
- Competitive positioning – Both marketing and sales teams need to understand how your product compares to others your audience will consider in order to craft effective messaging and pitches. A GTM strategy will often include resources that clarify how the product compares to similar options, such as competitive battlecards.
- Product positioning – Product positioning relates to competitive positioning but is more focused on your product specifically. What’s the main thing you want to emphasize about your product? What makes it the best option for your customers? Try to summarize that within a line.
- Pricing strategy – Part of market and competitive research will involve gaining an understanding of what people are typically paying now for the kinds of solutions your product provides, as well as what kind of spending power your audience has available to them. As part of the GTM strategy, create a pricing plan that establishes both the best pricing model to use and the amount to charge.
- Value matrix – A value matrix takes a lot of the insights from these different categories and puts them side-by-side into a format that’s easy for colleagues to absorb. Within a value matrix, you create a line for each customer persona you created and add bullet points that outline their main pain points or needs, the way your product provides value for them specifically, and the best messaging to use for them.
- Buyer’s journey – The typical buyer’s journey is the common series of steps your audience goes through before making a purchasing decision. For high-price items and business-to-business products, the buyer’s journey can often be complex, and understanding it is important for providing the right messaging and marketing materials to customers at the right time. Your GTM strategy should offer insights into what the typical buyer’s journey looks like for your audience, so your marketing and sales teams can plan accordingly.
- Marketing strategy – Now that you know all about your audience and what messaging you want to provide them, figure out the details for how. What marketing channels should you focus on? How should your messaging be applied in each channel? And who will you target in different channels and at different stages of the buyer’s journey? Include room in your marketing strategy to test out your messaging, and adapt based on what works best.
- Sales strategy – The GTM strategy will often address what type of sales strategy to employ. For high-cost, complex B2B products, you’ll likely want to hire an experienced sales force to work directly with your target audience to make sales. For more affordable business-to-consumer products, keeping the sales process self-service (e.g. a customer can go through the entire sales process themselves on your ecommerce website) may suffice. Figure out what makes the most sense based on the type of product you’re selling and the audience you’re trying to reach.
5. What questions should a GTM strategy answer?
If you complete the full GTM planning process and tackle each step thoroughly, by the end of it you should have clear answers to all of the most important questions needed to successfully sell your product. That includes:
- Who is our target audience?
- What are their primary problems or needs?
- How does the product solve them?
- How does the product compare to others on the market?
- How will we reach our target audience?
- How do we convince them to choose our product?
- What is our product worth to them?
With that information, you’ll know whether you have a winning product that can gain a competitive edge in the market. You’ll understand how best to market it to the people it can help most. And you’ll be able to craft a full marketing and sales strategy that gets the right messaging in front of the right people.
A GTM Strategy Increases Your Odds of Success
Anytime you start a new business, create a new product, or make a big change in an existing product or business, you’re taking a big risk. But bold moves are a lot less risky when they’re based on thorough research and a well-thought-out plan. A GTM strategy is how you take a (probably) great idea and confirm it’s viable, then sketch out how to ensure it makes a big splash in your industry and becomes the go-to solution for the people you want to reach.
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