What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?

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The world of marketing is full of lingo and jargon, including acronyms like B2C and phrases like user-generated content. For the uninitiated, it can be a little bit confusing. In addition, hearing two marketers talk shop, or even reading a guide to marketing techniques, can be pretty intimidating.  However, once you have a basic understanding of some of the main marketing concepts, things start to make more sense. All these different terms act as shortcuts for talking about complex marketing concepts. So here’s another one for your marketing dictionary: go-to-market.

What Does Go-to-Market Mean?

Although people will sometimes talk about a “go-to-market,” the entire phrase is actually “go-to-market strategy.” Even if the word “strategy” isn’t included, it’s there. A go-to-market strategy is essentially a plan that details how a company, brand, or individual releases a product. It will generally include information on budget, specific advertising channels to be utilized, competing companies, and the ideal customer profile. Put another way, a go-to-market strategy is a plan for how you’ll go from a product’s planning to pre-release promotion to successfully hitting sales goals. A go-to-market strategy document will include all the details and specific tactics you plan to utilize to achieve your goals around a particular product release. To be clear, the “product” that a go-to-market strategy is planned around can be many different things. For example, you could build your strategy around a new clothing line your fashion brand is releasing, a new restaurant you’re opening, a major update for a software product, or anything else you plan to release for business purposes.  Let’s boil it down one more time in straightforward language. A go-to-market strategy is a tactical guide created by a business to make sure a new product or business venture reaches and connects with the intended audience.

What Are the Components of a Go-to-Market?

Depending on who you ask, there are anywhere from four to nine components of (and steps in creating) a given go-to-market strategy. To make it easy for you, we’re using six steps. Below, learn about what defines each of those steps.

1. Define your market and your customer

First, you want to get a clear picture of the landscape you want your product or business to exist in. If you’re opening a business, how does it fit in with the competitor landscape? Is it too similar to existing businesses? Too different? If you’re releasing a new product, what differentiates it from other products sold by your competitors? Part of defining your market is defining your customer. First, you want to figure out your ideal customer profile (ICP), sometimes known as a buyer persona. There are a couple of ways to do this.  First, do a gut check. Who do you think your customer is? Write down some notes, then contact some people that fit the bill to see if they’re willing to be interviewed. Next, figure out some relevant questions you can ask them that will help you shape your go-to-market. You can also hire an external agency or freelancer to do this for you.

2. Define your value proposition

Once you have an idea of who you’re selling to and the competitive landscape, it’s time to define what exactly you’re offering that customer and continue to determine how your product or business fits into the competitive landscape.  What about your product or business is valuable to the customer? What’s the “need to have” factor? If there isn’t one, then you might need to readjust your plan. Tweak your product or business until there’s something valuable on offer.

3. Set goals and deadlines

So now you know who you’re selling to, what the competition looks like, and why your product or business stands out—time to set a timeline for yourself. Set deadlines for items like finishing your go-to-market, creating advertisements, purchasing advertising space, and releasing the product. Add more goals specific to what exactly it is you’re doing. The main thing is to ensure that these goals are clear, attainable, realistic, and deadlined. Don’t set lofty goals that you’ll never meet — break them down into smaller, more attainable goals.

4. Define a sales process

This step may or may not be relevant depending on what you’re selling; it’s mainly relevant to businesses with a B2B model. If you have a sales team, even if it’s a team of one, you’ll care about this step.  Define the different steps of your sales funnel so that your salespeople know how to execute. This will look different depending on what you’re selling — be thoughtful about how you can convince people to buy what you’re selling. It should follow the previous steps.

5. Execute on your marketing strategy

In step three, you should have set goals and plans around your marketing efforts. Then, with all the plans in place, it’s time to start executing. First, ensure the advertising assets you planned to make are complete and up to your standards.  Then, if you haven’t already, think about what channels you want to utilize. Are you interested in a grocery store advertising service like Cartvertising? Do you plan to run billboard advertising? Maybe you’re thinking more about digital ads. The best marketing strategies use a combination of all three and more. Start running those ads!

6. Results

Everything should be set in motion by now. Now you need to monitor the progress and iterate (improve) where needed. For example, digital ads tend to have great built-in metrics that tell you who views your ads, who clicks them, where they saw those ads, and so on.  For physical advertising, it’s a little trickier. One technique is to talk to the customers who patronize your business about how they found you. Then, put a survey on your website. Do anything you can think of to see what steps of your process worked well and what did not. Next time you create a plan, you’ll be better equipped. To recap: “go-to-market strategy” is essentially marketing industry-speak, or shorthand, for “how to release a new product or business.” It’s just a method of doing your due diligence. Basically: make a plan; define that plan as specific as possible; execute that plan; and then, after executing, study what you did so you can do it better next time.

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