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What Is A Go To Market Plan?

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Top Tips for How To Go To Market
I recently designed a Go To Market strategy for a fintech startup. It reminded me about the fundamental steps to tread when preparing for a launch plan. Whether the business is B2B or B2C, similar principles apply when planning for market launch, regardless of the product or service.

What is a Go To Market (GTM) Plan?
Every startup faces that moment when it’s time to go to market. It’s that phase of business growth when all the hard work in product development and preparation for launch is behind you (and your team). The opportunity to ignite your business and share with the market has arrived.

What is a Go To Market Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a tactical action plan that outlines the steps necessary to succeed in a new market or with a new customer. It can apply for a range of reasons from launching new products and services, to re-launching a company or brand, or even taking an existing product into a new market.

What’s the purpose of a Go To Market Strategy?
The purpose of a go-to-market strategy is to make sure that a product launch reaches the right audience, based on understanding how to connect with a target audience. It blends a wide range of tactics covering product positioning, sales and storytelling so those customers understand the value of the new offering.

Creating a go-to-market plan can prevent the mistakes that might undermine the success of a new product or service launch.

A poorly researched marketplace or budget under estimation means that a successful launch action plan cannot be sustained even if the product is well-designed.

How To Go To Market for Startups?
A rulebook for how to go to market has a variety of chapters and even editions. This is because a wide range of launch methods could apply depending on the business, its sector and audience.

It can also depend on what stage of business growth a founding team might be at and what product or service could be launching first. Sometimes, businesses undertake a soft launch strategy. This means a low visibility ‘roll out’ to test any challenges and drive the business into market before switching on the spotlight of high profile visibility.

Go To Market with Marketing
Having a clear marketing communications strategy in place is a critical backbone of go-to-market (GTM) plan. A transparent marketing communications plan also helps keep a startup founder or team on track in terms of focus and investment. Being aligned on what you are doing and why, will help prevent wastage and enhance success.

How to build a Go To Market plan for startups?

1. How to build a Go To Market team

A startup founder may want to consider what kind of team resource is required to help a business or product go to market. For early stage business founders without limited funds, this may be about recruiting a temporary launch team.

This temporary team of experts are likely to be those who have undertaken successful or award winning GTM plans. Nowadays it is possible to hire a consultant or temporary CMO who can lead the team to ensure the delivery of a robust plan with roles and responsibilities laid out for everyone.

As a startup or lean scale-up, the entire team will have a role and be involved in the execution of a GTM plan. In fact it’s an exciting and rewarding part of business growth that everyone generally wants to help with and be involved with.

As a rule of thumb, product managers are responsible for communicating timing and progress to internal teams, such as sales and marketing. Senior product marketing leaders set the GTM and coordinate with a cross-functional product team (made up of product, marketing, sales, and support) to implement the launch.

At this stage of the business, the startup founder team needs to be more hands on than usual. Getting product to market is an intense period of time that needs both strategic thinkers and people that get things done.

2. Define your audience
As with most everything in the success of any business, unlocking a thorough understanding of your customer needs is vital. No doubt this research work will have already been undertaken for product or service development. And the same hard work needs to apply when it comes to devising a GTM plan that will engage target customers.

Key questions need to be addressed including the definition of audience personas and just as importantly, understanding and predicting audience behaviour. A deep audience understanding will help shape your complete marketing strategy across all aspects of marketing communication including earned, owned and paid activity.

Having a thorough understanding of your audience both will help you answer essential questions like - Where do customers search for competitor product or service needs? What are their chief influences? Who else could be buying for them? This is particularly important in health marketing for example where eldery customers may not be doing the search themselves for remedies or medication and relying instead on friends and relatives. This preparation work will also signal trends and influences that may be present now but could change in the future and identify nuances across different geographic markets.

3. How to create a brand identity
It is often surprising to me that a startup brand - or even a startup name has emerged from a quick game of ‘what sounds good’. I would always recommend spending time (and money if necessary) to help get your brand identity and name right - not just for now but importantly, for future business expansion. It’s an expensive change to have to make in the future - particularly if you haven’t fully researched global name ownership and rights.

Consider running a naming workshop with people both inside and outside of your sector. Ideally bring in branding or marketing experts who can help you think about key considerations like impact, longevity and relevance. Think about the competition - what is unique about your product or service? Also look to the future - what about new add on services and products - will these all exist comfortably under your halo brand? Test your name out with your audience and listen carefully to the feedback.

A clear brand identity will help inform every part of your business - from the website - to all aspects of sales and marketing.

4. How to create a business story?
Whilst a startup brand identity starts with the fundamentals of audience understanding, it’s also the ability to define a core business description - sometimes called an ‘elevator pitch’. This is further supported by defining key messaging and tone of voice. An elevator pitch helps distill the essence of your product or service. It helps the founder team get to the core of the business and its purpose.

I often spend time with clients designing a ‘brand on a page’. This helps distill the essence of the brand and ends up with a simple diagram that shares the brand description at the centre of a wheel and the key messages, audience personas and tone of voice like spokes on a wheel. It’s an effective but simple exercise for the whole team to undertake and becomes a mobile asset that can be used in briefing designers and on-boarding new team members.

5. How to create a content marketing strategy
Time spent defining and articulating the core brand identity will help brief your content marketing strategy which includes organic SEO (search engine optimisation). Google has made it clear to all businesses that quality, relevant content with credible backlinks that support your business authority will help increase your online ranking and visibility.

At this stage of growth your Google keyword planner (located in Google Adwords) will help share some useful insights around content and SEO keywords.There are other free providers who will also give an indication of keywords relevant to your business.

Google Console will show you how well your website is performing in terms of traffic and visibility. Having a paid or organic content plan will help increase the visibility of your website. See more about how to write compelling content here.

6. How to create a marketing strategy
The answer to this question can’t be covered comprehensively in one paragraph. There are so many marketing communications levers you could activate from a high publicity PR launch to a digitally sales driven approach like PPC (pay per click). Find out the essential steps to build a startup marketing plan here.

7. How to create a sales strategy
A comprehensive sales strategy for a startup has to be tailored to individual businesses but whether B2B or B2C, there are some useful guidelines to follow. Let’s imagine you have already defined your audience targets and addressed their key influences. This will instruct your specific sales platforms.

Depending on your audience, most sales strategies are digital first and all about driving traffic and customer conversions to your website. This is where your key messages come into play and two key growth marketing principles: SEO and PPC. Within your sales plan, set a budget and an evaluation success system. Putting into place a CPA formula (cost per acquisition) is a useful task that keeps you in control of the cost to acquire each customer - and more importantly, how to manage and reduce the costs. To calculate the cost per acquisition, simply divide the total cost (whether media spend in total or specific channel/campaign to acquire customers) by the number of new customers acquired from the same channel/campaign.

Of course other sales channels and strategies exist. Perhaps your business will thrive on Amazon (see our Amazon blog) or will connect better by demonstrating its unique qualities at live customer events or trade shows.

How to measure the success of your GTM plan?
Pre-setting some KPIs (key performance indicators) is a useful system to measure how successful your GTM plan has been. Obviously key to success criteria are sales and growth figures and related to those stats are the costs incurred to achieve growth. Which channels performed the best in terms of acquiring customers? And which marketing tactics generated customer traffic (leads) to your website?

Part of any measurement framework could also be about understanding what happened when customers landed your site. How well did they convert? Is there any part of the website that may need to be improved to help drive customers to the shopping cart?

As with all best laid plans, preparation is key. Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how will help you and your team evaluate success and make rapid improvements where necessary.

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