What is a go-to-market strategy?
Meaning, importance, examples, and how to build a GTM plan
A go-to-market strategy is an extensive plan designed to help launch, position, price, and promote a product or service to a target audience. A go-to-market (GTM) plan often includes marketing research, a full marketing and promotional strategy, and a strategy for sales.
Think of a go-to-market strategy (sometimes referred to as a GTM strategy) as the north star that guides your product launch. In the same way you wouldn’t set off on a trip without directions, you shouldn’t embark on a product or service launch without a GTM strategy that takes into consideration the competition your brand faces, the marketing and promotional strategy that will bolster the launch, and a sales plan that makes sure your message and product are distributed appropriately.
A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a step-by-step guide that helps you define, develop, and deliver your start-up’s business strategy. Its purpose is to help you plan what to do to make the launch process successful by providing a road map for the actions you need to take. Every start-up’s GTM strategy will be unique in some ways, but many of the broader steps are almost always common.
A go-to-market (GTM) strategy demonstrates that you’ve done the planning on the front half of a new product launch to ensure you have the best chance of success when you decide to execute your marketing strategy.
Specifically, a GTM strategy can help your brand understand its place in the larger industry you’re marketing within. Not only will a comprehensive GTM strategy take your competition into account, it will also look at research that helps your brand better understand its audience.
Before identifying a specific buyer, your brand should look into its customer base and what needs they’ll need to meet. Research into a customer base will help your brand understand the buyer, the value proposition you need to present to create a relevant and meaningful marketing experience, and a pricing strategy (with help from your sales team) for the new product that best fits the potential customers’ needs. If a GTM strategy isn’t created with the potential customers in mind, that target audience will likely find someone whose marketing strategy was.
Nailing down a target market can be tricky, but putting together a GTM strategy is a solid way of launching a brand into a new market or rethinking how your brand exists in a current one. While your brand understands your new product and the value proposition it can offer, better understanding your target market will help you analyze how that new product fits into the larger market. It can even reveal if there’s a better way to market your product.
By putting together a GTM strategy, you’ve effectively started the first part of your marketing plan. By understanding the audience and the market you’re entering, you are able to better identify the potential pain points you could run up against and set a more realistic benchmark for key performance indicators (KPIs) your brand hopes to achieve. Even more, it helps you figure out where you should be: Is there a need for a social media strategy? What kind of content marketing should you do?
From there, you can use the marketing plan to help build out a more robust sales strategy to take customers from interest to sales conversion, supported by your pricing strategy and sales team.
Many start-ups begin with an insight, which is usually stated as a market opportunity. The fact that this opportunity exists tends to come down to one of two factors: Either no one else has seen the opportunity, or others have seen it and tried to fulfill it but failed. If the latter is true, that may be because the opportunity was not as good as it appeared.
To establish whether there is a viable market for what you’re planning to offer, your GTM strategy must start with solid marketing research. If you are solving a problem, how much of a problem is this for the people who experience it, and what might they be willing to pay to solve it? At this stage, it's important to determine your total addressable market, serviceable addressable market, and serviceable obtainable market (TAM SAM SOM).
Secondly, you need to understand the true state of your competition, including their strengths and weaknesses, even if it appears that none of them do exactly what you will do. Never underestimate the difficulty involved in wooing a customer away from a tried-and-tested alternative, even when that alternative doesn’t work as well as what you’re offering. A strong GTM strategy understands the competition as well as your brand itself.
Thirdly, you need a solid plan for reaching your target audience. This must cover both the practical aspects of distribution, along with the strategies you will use to ensure they are familiar with your brand or product. Amazon Ads has a number of solutions that help everyone from small and medium-sized businesses to start-ups and more.
Your GTM strategy needs to include an understanding of where your customers are, the channels you will use to reach them, and the messages you will send to gain their attention.
Although each GTM strategy is unique, there can be great similarities between their different stages, so there is no harm in borrowing innovative ideas from the kinds of businesses you want to emulate. So, while there may be no perfect GTM strategy that already exists for your start-up, it is worth studying how many of the world’s best start-ups worked their own way through the stages of development.
Borrowing proven ideas is a good way to reduce the risk in launching a start-up by reducing the number of unknowns involved. The one factor that is common—and critical—is their willingness to try out many different ideas and then carefully analyze the feedback.
Another one of the techniques commonly used by start-ups is to create a minimum viable product, or MVP. This is essentially a stripped-back version of the proposed product or service, which includes enough features and benefits to attract interest, and it can be used to gather early feedback from customers.