Great ideas are not easy to come by, but when they do, it is easy to get carried away and lose sight of the original thought. A commonly quoted statistic summarizes the success mantra a lot of us choose to ignore: 42% of startups fail because there is no market for their offerings, making it the single biggest reason for failure. So, while an idea might “seem” great – its true test lies in what the market has to say.
A go-to-market strategy is that plan that helps you see clearly whether what you perceive of the product is real or not. It is a step-by-step process that can tell you whether a product or service is truly a scalable business or not. It aligns your product with your consumer and allows you to take stock of sales, marketing, competition, and your value proposition. It also acts as a guiding light, almost like a sherpa as you get ready to climb this proverbial mountain.
The need for a go-to-market strategy
Estimating your chances of success or failure isn’t the only reason to invest time and effort in creating a detailed GTM strategy, although it is a really big one. Planning well at this stage, before launch, has other benefits like:
● Saves time, money and other resources in the long-run
● Promotes a mindset of continuous improvement and innovation in the team
● Forces to have a 360-degree view of the business
● Ensures you are thinking about customers and their needs before anything else
● Breaks down the actual product launch into smaller, granular details, eliminating surprise elements like licenses and permissions
● Aligns various teams and gives overall direction to the business
Start with the end in mind
Like any business plan, begin work on your GTM strategy by clearly defining its objectives or what you intend to know after the implementation of this 6 months to a year-long exercise. Do you want to:
● Convert your existing subscribers to customers
● Build awareness for a new product or offering
● Enter a new market
● Define brand positioning and consolidate market share
Once a clear list of objectives is defined, you can work on the right tactics that can enable you, across functions, to meet these goals.
6 Steps to nailing your go-to-market strategy
1. Know your target market
Your target audience plays a very important role in deciding your brand affinity and loyalty for the long-term. Spending your valuable marketing budget on the wrong target audience could hurt your business. Breakdown your existing customer base, if any, and get answers to questions around the following:
● Who they are and where they’re from,
● Which segment they belong to,
● What motivates them to buy,
● Who influences their purchase decisions the most
Your best tool to understand the above are surveys – make customer feedback your best friend, mentor and guide. Don’t shy away from hiring an external agency to review trend data and organize focus groups of existing and/or potential customers. Don’t get carried away with the idea of who you “thought” would be your target audience vs. who actually is. Be willing to sacrifice on notions and let the data guide you towards focusing on who matters most.
2. Define your buyer personas
So, you’ve nailed your broader target market and at the same time, you know the niche audience you’re catering to. Great start, but developing a go-to-market strategy means getting as granular as possible. Use buyer personas to get to know your customers even better.
A buyer persona is the actual profile of a business’s ideal customer which usually details not only the demographics and psychographics, but also the aspirations, desires, and challenges of the customer. A typical buyer persona will be a detailed story, similar to a “day-in-the-life of the buyer” you’re trying to target and is closest to reality. Buyer personas are different for B2B and B2C markets. Start with one segment of your target market and create individual persons out of that.
Target market: Small and medium technology businesses in the US
Persona 1: Recruitment Head
Persona 2: Director of Sales
You can use customer interviews, observe sales calls, find research reports online, even social media to enrich these profiles as much as possible. Define each buyer’s goals, frustrations, personality type (introvert, extrovert), motivations, political views. Which channels, online or offline would he/she be most active on? Which would be the top ten apps on his/her phone? What kind of content would he/she be consuming and where? The more you know your ideal customer, the more specific you can be in your creation of the product and its messaging.
3. Define your value proposition and messaging framework
Your business’s value proposition is the most important element of your overall sales and marketing message. Many marketers bury the value proposition in buzzwords, jargons or meaningless catchphrases. The value proposition is a statement that combines your company’s product values and your customer’s desires.
Often, the value proposition statement is mistaken as the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). USP is two to three unique features or values your product offers against the competitor stack. The value proposition canvas invented by Dr. Alexander Osterwalder is a good place to start to help you define the Value proposition.
It’s critical to connect the dots between Why-What-How in your messaging to establish credibility. Pick two-three key problem areas as per your buyer’s persona and treat them as topics for your thought leadership collateral. To stand out, you must own these topics and become credible sources of information.
Content creation must start before the product is launched and continue for the entire lifecycle of the product.
4. Be where they are
When Dropbox launched their MVP, they did so to a small network of early tech adopters on Digg. There was no million-dollar marketing budget and glamourous product launch, Tesla-style. And yet, it changed the way tech products are marketed forever. The “launch” was a 3-minute product demo by Drew Houston himself. In a day, the video had 10,000 views, but more than that the waiting list went up to 75,000 people, overnight.
There is merit in studying the right channels when defining your go-to-market strategy – you don’t have to be everywhere, you just need to be where your customer is. In Dropbox’s case, it was the small list of early tech adopters that became the product’s evangelists.
Not only should you identify your channels, but also ensure that every channel is seamlessly integrated and messaging is consistent across trade shows, the company website, and online communities.
5. Decode the buyer journey
According to Gartner, B2B buyers spend only 17% of their buying time meeting with potential suppliers. This leaves sales representatives only fewer windows of opportunity to influence buying decisions. Usually, there are three stages in a buyer journey—Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. From a business’s point of view, this is top of the funnel, the middle and the bottom.
Building the purchase journey into the marketing plan can help determine definite touchpoints and cater to buyers in every part of this journey. By harnessing this information, marketers can build the content funnel and create campaigns centered on the customer lifecycle: lead generation, acquisition, and retention plans.
Awareness stage content: Videos, blogs, checklists
Consideration stage content: Demos, testimonials, webinars
Decision stage content: Trials, proposals, reference checks
6. Create content and optimize it
For your product to create excitement, you need to start ahead. Once you have taken care of the steps above, there are a few more important things that as a marketer you will need to tick off from your cheat sheet.
- Increase your organic visibility
- Optimize your website speed
- Create shareable content as per the buyer journey
- Increase your personal brand visibility
- Nurture a relationship with influencers
- Build a recommendation or referral framework
- Ensure that your brand ambassadors across teams (Sales, Customer Service, Technology) speak the same language
- Get your FAQ and Customer Support Resources in place
- Implement a good email marketing and digital marketing strategy
- Track everything and optimize
KAIROS GTM Framework
We are sharing here a general framework that we follow here at KAIROS Pulse, comprising market research and analysis to provide GTM, positioning, and messaging recommendations to B2B companies.
Don’t take your go-to-market strategy lightly. Take the same care as you did when building an idea from the ground up, as you introduce it to the right audience. This is your big opportunity to know your customers in the most real way and align their needs with your offerings. It is also the right time to create a cohesive voice for your brand, and create a culture of being tuned to the customer’s needs from day one.