In business, continued success usually follows careful planning. This is why if you’re launching a new product, revealing a new service or undergoing a rebrand, you’re going to need a proper go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
Many things can go wrong as you try to break into a new market and your GTM strategy is what you fall back on if they do. Without one, it’ll be difficult to avoid the pitfalls and obstacles involved with a launch.
In this article, we’ll describe what a GTM strategy is, explain why they’re so important and show you how you can build an effective strategy that will ensure success in your next business venture.
Note: For simplicity’s sake, from this point on, “product” means anything you might need a GTM strategy for, including a service, product or rebrand.
Table of contents
What is a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a comprehensive action plan that lays out step by step what you need to do to succeed in a new business venture. Your go-to-market plan should outline what your product is and why you’re launching it, who it’s for, what problem it solves and how you’ll attract and sell to customers.
A GTM strategy is vital for:
Startups launching their first product
Established businesses launching a new product
Product or brand relaunches
Businesses moving an existing product into a different market
The GTM strategy makes up part of your overarching marketing strategy. While the marketing strategy outlines how you market your brand as a whole, the GTM strategy focuses on a specific product launch.
A GTM strategy should clarify your target market, product positioning, sales strategy and marketing plan.
There’s no single GTM strategy that will work for every product or brand. No two products are the same, so each will need a specific, targeted roadmap to launch successfully. Therefore, different companies will need to prioritize different aspects of their strategy depending on their unique business case.
How a go-to-market strategy helps your product succeed
Launching a successful product isn’t easy; even big brand names often fail to get new products off the ground. There are many reasons for a new product to fail, but most of these things can be avoided with a proper launch roadmap.
Having a thorough GTM strategy helps to:
Mitigate risks involved in the launch, including wasted time, money and resources
Reduce the amount of time to get the product on the market
Generate demand and enable sales
Ensure that regulatory compliance is achieved
Ensure customer satisfaction
Maximize return on investment (ROI)
Identify future opportunities and offer enhanced products
Even the best products need thorough market research and careful planning to make sure they reach their target audience with the right benefits.
5 things to consider before preparing your go-to-market strategy
Before we dive into how to build an effective go-to-market strategy, let’s quickly outline the components you will need to understand and leverage throughout the entire process.
To create a great GTM strategy, you need to clearly define the market(s) you’re launching into. This includes how much demand there is for your product, as well as the positioning (and pricing) of your product within that market. Ask yourself the following questions:
Which market(s) are you targeting?
What pain point(s) does your product address and how does it differ from competitors?
How have you proven the need for your product?
What is your pricing strategy?
For any product or service, there are only so many people who have a need for it, as well as the incentive and means to purchase it. Knowing exactly who they are means being able to target them specifically, helping you get more out of your marketing and sales budget.
Here, you want to get as specific as possible. The more you know about your buyers, the easier it will be to sell your product to them. Find out:
Who is going to buy your product and how do they experience the problem that it solves?
Are there smaller groups within these markets that are more likely to want your product?
Are you targeting businesses or individuals?
Competition and demand
It’s vital that you understand the market you’re launching into. No product exists in a vacuum, and each product will have varying levels of competition and demand to take into account before a launch. Ask yourself:
Which other companies already offer a similar product or service to yours?
Is there a demand for your product?
Is the market oversaturated, and if so, what is your differentiation strategy?
How might the competitor react to your launch?
What market trends are occurring (or could occur) which could affect your launch?
Distribution refers to how you will get your product to either a storefront or a customer’s location. For example, you may need a third-party partner to distribute your product.
Is it a physical product or digital?
How will you sell and distribute your product?
How much demand will you have and will that affect your distribution process?
Are you going to sell from a store?
Who will your suppliers be?
Depending on your product, it may require a more sales-focused or marketing-focused approach. Some products (like digital apps) will essentially sell themselves, so salespeople may not be as important in the buyer journey. Others will require a team of salespeople, as well as all of the tools and resources they need to make sales.
How large is your market?
Do you need a salesperson or will you use a self-service sales model?
Are you selling to businesses or individuals?
How complex is your product?
Do you need to develop long-term relationships with your customers because it has a long or complex sales cycle?
All of these points will help you determine the approach that you need to take to have a successful launch.
How to build an effective go-to-market plan
With all of that in mind, it’s time to look at how to create a thorough GTM strategy.
Remember that the strategy should act as a guide and is by no means unchangeable once it’s created. It should be revised and improved as you receive feedback from your customers and as the market changes.
1. Conduct research to understand your customer
The first step in a successful GTM strategy is to identify your buyer personas. You need to know who you’re selling to. Buyer personas are useful to:
Allow your marketing and sales teams to personalize their messaging and outreach efforts, making your marketing more relevant and effective
Help to ensure that you’re reaching decision-makers
Help you separate cold from hot leads (for example, targeting those more likely to make a purchase because they have the need and budget, as well as being decision-makers)
To create a buyer persona, you need to research the types of people who will have an interest in your product. Ask yourself: Who has the problems that my product solves?
When creating buyer personas, you should include the following information about the customer:
2. Establish your messaging
Next, establish the kind of messaging that will effectively convince people to buy your product.
The best way to do this is with a value matrix. Using the buyer personas you identified in the last step, create a chart.
Each buyer persona should have a pain point or problem they face. In the next column, for each pain point, describe how your product addresses that problem. Then, reword this in the form of a message that’s targeted towards the buyer persona.
Here’s an example template (using Pipedrive’s CRM as the product):
3. Select your acquisition channels
Acquisition channels are the methods and platforms that you will use to attract new customers. There are plenty of options when it comes to acquisition channels, including:
This is where your buyer personas come in. Think about who you’re selling to and where they’re active, then choose the channels that will bring the most engagement.
There are a few things you can do to help decide which channels will be most useful for your product. First, take a look at your competitors. What are they doing? If they’re seeing success, a similar approach might work for you too.
Similarly, pay attention to where the competitors are falling short. You may be able to identify a channel that your customers are active on, but where your competitor has no presence.
No matter what approach you choose, consistently measure its success to ensure you’re reaching your goals and objectives. This way, you can optimize accordingly to ensure your strategy is streamlined and efficient.
4. Define your market strategy
Now it’s time to solidify your research into a marketing and sales plan. This plan should use the information you’ve gathered to set an agenda you can follow to raise product awareness in your target markets.
Your strategy should include consideration of:
Your branding. Ensure each brand element (logos, email headers, etc.) is consistent and reflects your company’s values. A solid brand strategy will help you build trust and establish a good market presence.
The buyer journey. Think about where your potential customers are in the buyer journey and consider using a sales pipeline to track what activities you’ll need to do to make the sale. For instance, if your audience isn’t sales-ready, lead nurturing strategies are a great tool that can help build a relationship and engage with your target market, leading to more sales.
How you will generate product demand. You need to raise awareness of your product in order to sell it. Consider whether you are going to use inbound methods, outbound methods or a combination of the two. An inbound strategy will try to pull in leads who have expressed interest in your product, while an outbound strategy will involve prospecting and reaching out to leads.
What additional resources you will use. For example, you may decide to host a series of webinars to explain your new product’s functionality and purpose. You might also run email marketing drip campaigns alerting your subscribers about the new product launch, with CTAs that lead to a product-specific landing page.
5. Develop a sales strategy
Now that you have the foundation of your go-to-market plan in place, it’s time to choose a sales strategy that will push your product into your market.
There are several commonly used sales initiatives, which one(s) you use will depend on your product and business. The four common GTM sales strategies are:
Self-service. The self-service model is when a potential customer finds and purchases a product on their own. In a self-service model, the buyers have access to all of the information they need to make a decision, for example, via FAQs, videos or knowledge articles made beforehand. Sales teams usually aren’t needed, but you will need a marketing team to attract buyers.
Regardless of which sales process you decide to use, there are a few elements you will need to incorporate into your plan. These include:
Keep in mind that each of these strategies and components can be mixed and matched and that the optimal configuration will depend on your product, market and target customer base, among other things.
6. Prepare for launch
It’s nearly time to hit the go button and send your product into the world. So, what are the final things you need to prepare?
How you will measure satisfaction. Decide on a feedback mechanism that lets you see how customers are reacting to your product, or customer support, then use the feedback to improve the customer experience.
7. Decide on your ongoing budget and resources
Your product hitting the market isn’t the same as crossing a finishing line; there’s still plenty to do. To succeed, you need to nurture your product continuously with effective marketing strategies.
You may also find that your product needs further development (e.g. fixing glitches or problems) and that you need to provide iterative updates or functionality improvements.
All of these things require budgeting and resources to ensure the long-term success of your product and brand, so keep this in mind as you launch.
8. Test and refine your strategy
Similarly, once your product hits the market, you may find that your plan needs to change. As we’ve mentioned, your GTM strategy isn’t set in stone. In fact, it should be the opposite.
As you receive feedback from the market and your customers, you need to be flexible and adjust your approach accordingly. You may need to refine your messaging, advertisements or pitches. You may also find that certain segments of your target audience just aren’t responding and identify others that better align.
Decide on a set of success metrics or KPIs that you will use to judge your growth. Consistent tracking and A/B testing will help you see if you are hitting your targets, where you’re falling short and how you can shift your strategy to make improvements.
Launching a new product is hard work, but you have a much higher chance of success with a go-to-market strategy. With a detailed plan in place, you’ll gain a competitive advantage and be well on the way to becoming profitable.
Pipedrive’s CRM can help you track and improve your marketing and sales strategies, and it integrates with some of the top marketing tools. Try our 14-day free trial today!