Go To Market Strategy – What Is It And Why Do I Need One?
What is a Go to Market Strategy?
When launching a new product or business one of the most important things you need to do is assemble a properly researched, thought-through and articulated go to market strategy. A go to market strategy can also sometimes be referred to as a route to market.
The go to market strategy is your playbook – your plan for putting your new product or service in front of the right people and ensuring it appeals enough to them to get traction. Fundamentally, it comes down to identifying a market problem and positioning your product or service as the solution.
Of course, markets can differ massively and therefore not every go to market strategy is the same. But there are some common features that should not be overlooked – audience research and segmentation, competitor analysis, marketing plan, sales and distribution strategy.
What Should I Include in a Go to Market Strategy?
Generally, the fundamentals can be described as four key pillars:
- The problem – what market problem are you trying to solve? This should not just be conjecture – you should spend time researching the market and talking to people to ensure that the problem you are trying to solve is real.
- The audience – who needs a solution to the market problem you have described? How many of them are there, and how much would they be willing to spend to solve the problem? What are their pain points and difficulties that you can solve?
- The competition – who else is trying to solve this problem? How successfully are they doing it, and what will you do differently?
- The distribution – how will you sell your solution? Where will your identified target audience find you? What channels to market will you run initially?
Commonly, go to market strategies will also include a marketing plan for communicating to the target audience.
Throughout all of this it’s incredibly important to leave your pride at the door. You may be really excited about your new product or business idea, and therefore could easily fall victim to confirmation bias during your research – you’ll pay more attention to findings and data points that confirm your point of view, and ignore those that contradict it. Go too far down that road and you’ll end up with a go to market strategy that reads well, looks great, and is worth less than the paper it’s written on. Because all you’ll have done is given physical form to your ego, rather than properly analysing the potential opportunity.
A go to market strategy should really be a test of viability – you’re going through this process to try to get an understanding of whether the idea really has legs or not. By producing a thorough go to market strategy, you should gain an understanding of whether there really is demand for your solution and/or whether the market is already over-saturated.
Go to Market Strategy versus Marketing Strategy – Is there a Difference?
There are significant differences, but also significant areas of overlap between a go to market strategy and a marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy is long term, and at the company level. It is about how a company can reach its chosen market over time and grow market share. It is on-going, and can be somewhat evolving. However, it should include a lot of the same ingredients that you would include in a go to market strategy – audience research, segmentation, competitor analysis.
A go to market or route to market strategy is specifically about introducing a new product or service to the market. It’s therefore more short term and one-off.
Of course, for a start-up, these two documents may in fact be broadly the same. But as a company becomes more established the marketing strategy will become more and more distinct from any go to market strategy it produces.
How Do I Create a Successful Go to Market Strategy?
We’ve boiled down the process of creating a successful go to market strategy down to a few steps:
a) Understand your market. Research the market you are looking to enter, talk to other businesses which operate within or adjacent to it, and analyse your competitors’ products and marketing. From this research you should understand:
- The fundamentals of how the market works, the sales cycle and common channels to market.
- The strengths and weaknesses of the competition in terms of product, positioning and marketing
- The size of the opportunity if you get your product and marketing right.
b) Understand your customer. Talk to who you believe your customers to be about their needs and attitudes. Once you have done this, you should arrange the data into a set of personas which include demographic, firmographic and psychographic information for your buyer personas.
The processing of researching and defining your customer personas will help you do the following, which are all vital for a successful go-to-market strategy:
- Define the market problem
- Define your targeting options
- Write your proposition and messaging
- Design your marketing and/or sales funnel
- Choose your initial channels to market. We recommend using the Bullseye Framework to help you get to these channels.
c) Test, test, test. You should test your product idea, your positioning, your messaging and your marketing channels either with interviews, focus groups or by running low-budget paid campaigns (just make sure you’re measuring these successfully). This should give you useful early-stage data to validate or invalidate your hypotheses about the market and your product.
d) Expose your strategy to scrutiny. Once you have done your research, run small-scale tests of your thinking and written up your strategy, you should present the full document to trusted individuals. These do not have to be experts in your particular market, but they should have keen commercial minds and be willing to ask difficult questions. This process may expose flaws, it may make you change your mind about key components of the strategy, it may make you reconsider assumptions and it may even lead you to throw away the whole idea. But that’s fine – that’s why you produce a go to market strategy before diving in head first and launching a new business or product.
Writing a quality go to market strategy is massively important – it can determine the success or failure of your venture (and indeed, can tell you whether the venture is worth pursuing at all).
There is no single ‘correct’ way to do it, but in this article we’ve covered the elements that it really should include and the processes you should go through to ensure your strategy is robust, stress-tested and ready for deployment.
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