What Startups need to build a Go-to-Market Strategy and Plan
Every startup needs to figure out how to create a sustainable revenue stream for their product or service. Having a great business idea isn’t enough to make it into a commercially viable opportunity. The aspiring entrepreneur needs to develop a go-to-market strategy to do this, even before the need to create a go-to-market plan in their investor pitch deck for potential investors arises. A scalable go-to-market strategy will often make the difference between success or failure for a startup in the long term.
What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?
A Go-To-Market strategy describes your startup’s action plan for delivering your products or services to your customer. Its objective is to achieve a product market fit for your great business idea and your company’s presence in your target market.
The startups’ focus should always be on the customer and the big problem your big idea is trying to solve. Imagine how your products and services will help your customer succeed. Reframe your thinking. It is not about how great your product or service is, but identifying the challenges your potential customers face and the opportunities where your solution can help.
What do you need to know to write your Go-To-Market Strategy and Plan?
1. Determine your Product Market Fit
Clearly articulate the solution your product brings to the customer. It has to meet a valid customer need. It may seem simple, but it is not always easy to ascertain market demand.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How did you identify this need?
- What were the product testing and validation results? Were focus groups used? If yes, what were the findings?
- Identify market trends. What are the specific underserved needs of your target market? What may work in one market may not be applicable in another.
- How is your product expected to evolve to meet the consumer requirements, e.g., within the next six months to a year’s time frame?
Focus on your product’s value proposition by identifying how it solves the customer’s pain point, the benefits your solution brings to the customer, and the key differentiating factors of your product versus other competitors in the market.
2. Target Audience and buyers
Identify your buyer personas and their pain points.
Breakdown your analysis into the following levels:
- Target Markets: Ascertain the size, demographics, and interests. What is the composition in terms of affordability and market reach? Do a SWOT analysis.
- Customers: Who are the ideal customers within these markets? Identify specific target groups or segments.
Tie in the above analysis to your buyer persona, and keep it as realistic as possible.
3. Competitive landscape
Figure out your competitive advantage. It is highly likely there are already main competitors in the market, and reactions may vary depending on the strength of your new product.
Your go-to-market strategy or gtm strategy will continuously need to change and adapt to the market environment, especially as competitors pivot to meet the product launch and new entrant, i.e., you.
4. Distribution - Market Entry Strategy
You have a great product, customers need it, but you have to reach them. Determine how you will distribute your solution to interested buyers and the cost of that distribution. Depending on your product offering and your budget, you can opt for the direct, indirect, or hybrid distribution channel.
5. Sales Funnel
Develop your customer sales funnel – how will a potential customer find your product and convert into a client. A good sales funnel will attract new customers and keep them as returning clients. Decide on the strategic objectives of each tactical effort. It affects whether the startup takes a sales intensive or marketing intensive approach. For example:
- Price: A sales intensive approach is more suitable if your product is more expensive and requires a more significant economic decision from the customer.
- Market size: Direct sales would not be as effective for a wide customer base as it would be for a smaller group of customers.
- Product complexity: A marketing-focused approach would be more effective if your solution is self-explanatory enough. Then, it wouldn’t require much explanation of its features and benefits to potential customers.
- B2B or B2C: A marketing campaign would be more targeted to individual consumers, whereas sales tactics would suit companies better.
- Relationships: If your success depends on regular connections with people, a sales approach would be more appropriate.
6. Marketing Channels
Once you identify your potential customer, you need to figure out each channel’s value and how to maximize value from the marketing channels. This will help you determine your market approaches, pricing strategy, customer acquisition cost, the amount of money, and time to invest in each acquisition channel.
How to create a Go-To-Market Strategy and Plan
1. Business Case
Describe how the product roadmap fits with your overall business plan. Outline your Operating and Business Model. Explain the reasons for bringing the product to market now and how it benefits the startup and potential investors.
2. Define your market strategy
Here is where the product-market fit comes into play. Identify the market position for your new product and how you intend to market it to potential customers. A good market strategy template should include the following:
- Value proposition: List key differentiating factors for your product or service. Show why customers would opt to purchase your product over other competitors.
- Positioning: Show where your product fits in the market
- Messaging: Describe briefly the value created for the customer
- Sales and support materials: Outline the resources, tools, and support needed to sell the product
- Buyer’s journey: Design the customer experience when interacting with your product and company.
- Customer personas: Build out each customer persona
- Use cases: Walk through the different scenarios on how your product will help make each customer’s life better.
3. Decide on the Pricing Strategy
Pricing is not just a cost-based decision. It reflects the value of the solution you will provide to your customers, which will form the basis of your go-to-market plan or gtm plan, from the types of target customers to sales and marketing strategies.
The implementation of go-to-market tactics and strategy need to drive pricing efficiency and effectiveness.
4. Build out your External Marketing Plan
If your product requires an intensive marketing strategy, it would need to encompass the below for customers to find you:
- Branding: What is your brand promise?
- Lead generation: Identify the methods in which your startup will generate leads such as email marketing, trade shows and offline events, partnerships such as affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.
- Content marketing: A content strategy would help a startup educate the market on its product, build publicity, and increase its brand presence. Examples would include press releases, blog posts, videos, or podcasts.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Your customers will search for keyword phrases using search engines. Bring potential customers to your landing page by improving your content’s ranking. Then, they can find your specific product during any organic search.
- Paid media: This has the highest traction but is costly as well. An online forum includes search ads, social media ads, and banner/display ads. There are more traditional methods such as billboards, radio and TV ads, print ads, and mailers.
5. Sales Strategy and Support
If your product requires a sales-focused approach, include the below in your sales plan:
- Client acquisition: Identify the right approach to find potential customers. Options could include inbound sales, outbound sales, cold calls, or going through resellers and partners and bundling the product with others.
- Resources and tools: The sales team needs the right resources and tools to identify and sell to potential customers. The sales reps have to manage and track relationships and effectively execute product demos virtually or in-person.
- Training: Training the sales teams is vital to ensure sufficient knowledge and confidence when selling the product.
Structure: Identify the optimal configuration for your sales team and the best options to incentivize your regional sales rep.
6. Post Sales Support
It is essential to have an excellent post-sales support service to ensure the customer has a good experience with the product and your company.
- Onboarding: Be prepared to have an onboarding or training for new users to learn how to use your product.
- Tools: Identify the tools to build and manage relationships with customers, including how someone will support them (e.g., over chat, phone, or email).
- Support Teams: Identify the decision makers when it comes to issue resolution and post-sales support. How strong is your support team?
7. Performance Measurement
Decide on your Key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your product’s go-to-market strategy’s success.
8. Financial budgets and resource needs
Once the product is in the market, the gtm plan also needs to cover the go-to-market costs of keeping the existing products going as other new product launches occur. It will need to be reviewed regularly to reduce the Customer Acquisition Cost and make the business more profitable.
Go-to-market strategies and plans will have to continue to evolve and change as startups grow and gain further insights into the customers’ issues. This process becomes even more essential when the entrepreneur requires more funding and financing options for the startup.