Go-To-Market Strategy For Startups: A Complete Guide [+Free Template]

16 Jul 2020

 

Most product launchers have difficulties when entering the market with a new offering. Only 40% of new products reach target customers. 60% manage to bring some profit, according to the Marketing Research Association. With these statistics in mind, let's explain the go-to-market strategy to ease the founder's job.

Contents 

    1. What is the go-to-market strategy? 
    2. Why do you need a go-to-market strategy?
    3. How do you write a go-to-market strategy for startups?
    4. GTM strategy template

What is the go-to-market strategy?

Go-to-market strategy (or GTM strategy) is a plan of how a product will reach its audience.

As a rule, it defines the following:

  • What specific value a product provides (Why are you creating it?)

  • Who are you targeting (Who is your ideal customer?)

  • How do you attract new customers and make them your loyal users? (distribution model, channels, and success metrics)

    Thus, we can illustrate it like this.
Go-to-market strategy - overview
Go-to-market strategy - overview

A go-to-market strategy is different from a business plan and a marketing strategy. Even though all three are critical for successful company growth, go-to-market has wider adoption. It also refers to launching a new service or entering a new market by an existing company.

Business Plan vs GTM Strategy vs Marketing Strategy
Business Plan vs GTM Strategy vs Marketing Strategy

Why do you need a go-to-market strategy?

As a startup, you plan your resources carefully to reduce risks. Resources include costs, time, and employees necessary to create and maintain your product. 

A GTM strategy may help you with it, serving as an action plan for a new product release. It assures that the offering meets the user's pain points, and has a proper distribution strategy. You can share it within your agency or with other stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

How to build a go-to-market strategy for startups?

 

1. Set your target audience and customer persona(s).

Not everyone needs your product, and that is okay. What you need to know is the target audience benefitting the most from your offer. A study reveals that 93% of agencies exceeding profit objectives use segmented customer personas. You can study and segment your audience in several methods:

  • direct customer interviews 

Having conversations with your target audience can bring you unexpected insights. Based on this, you can ask for references for further interviews and get more results.

  • surveys & questionnaires

Anonymous surveys & tools can help you reach a diverse audience and get to know their pain points.

  • available industry reports by research agencies or public institutions; 

This method takes the fewest effort, but it gives no guarantee that the data will be relevant to your case.

As you build up your customer’s portrait, specify the following points:

  • demographics
  • geography
  • job position
  • psychographics
  • problems faced
  • behavior patterns
  • devices used

Epsilon reports that 80% of users are more inclined to purchase a product if a brand offers personalized user experience. Thus, the more in-depth data you get about your customers, the easier it is to convert them with the right messaging.

Sometimes it takes more than one person to make a decision, especially if you are creating a B2B product. Harvard Business Review claims that on average 6.8 people take part in B2B purchase decisions. This prolongs and complicates the buying process. In this case, you have to know the goals, motivations, and role of every stakeholder involved. Adjust your messaging & value proposition to answer customer needs and close more offers.

2. Set your value proposition

Now that you understand your target users, define the value you can offer to them. Instead of listing the product features, identify its benefits for customers. 

You can do this with a three-column matrix, viewing how exact product features help to solve specific customer problems.

GTM strategy & messaging
GTM strategy & messaging

3. How do you reach your users?

Now you studied your target audience, created value propositions and messaging. It is time to plan the distribution.

Let's say you target real estate agents. These users may read Inman and Mashvisor to check industry news, but not use Facebook at all. When choosing a software tool, they compare the client's reviews and pricing. Thus, learn their behavior and choose your distribution channels accordingly. You can read industry reports, and follow best practices. Google Trends and Statista are efficient tools, to begin with.

Here are some of the distribution channels you may use:

  • website & blog
  • physical office
  • events & webinars
  • partnerships with influencers
  • social media & forums
  • product listings
  • Google Ads, LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads

It is worth testing your tactics and scaling on what works best for your product.

4. Marketing & sales are the components of a go-to-market strategy 

Define how much marketing and sales support you need. Even though these tactics interconnect, you should differentiate them.
A HubSpot study revealed that only 18% of B2B customers rely on salespeople when purchasing business software. 58% of them trust referrals, 42% - media blog posts, and 40% view customer reviews as an important source. It means that marketing is more effective than sales for enterprise software products.

Derived from this, set specific tools & resources you need for sales & marketing. Will you need one or several team members? What decision-makers will you reach? The best marketing experts will tell you that nurturing users on every buyer journey stage grows your conversion rates. Overall, it may look similar to this: 

Source: NeilPatel.com
Source: NeilPatel.com

Make sure you have a clear strategy to follow. Marketing & sales strategies should also align with your business goals and target customers. These are some of the digital marketing tactics you might consider for your product:

  • Partnerships

They also refer to indirect selling. By leveraging the brands and public people trusted by your audience, you can grow your conversion rates.

For example, Anaplan launched a cloud financial planning solution through established partnerships. Through the well-planned referral program, the company expanded its market reach.

“The customers are looking for a range of skills, and obviously Anaplan knows its products very well, but our partners bring so much more to the party. You hear a lot of people talking about change management and redesigning processes … - partners bring that and deep industry expertise,“ - Clarke, the CEO at Anaplan

 

  • SEO (search engine optimization) & content marketing

Content & SEO can help you nurture your cold audiences, turning them into your hot leads.

For example, a tax automation agency TaxJar benefited from content in its go-to-market strategy. Due to the lack of expert educational content, the company saw an opportunity. It built authority & trust by creating evergreen content on sales taxing for its audience. 

“Another opportunity for us was our ability to educate the world on sales tax. Therefore, we decided to build the best content we could to help people wrap their heads around sales tax, which feels like an insane problem changing all the time.

This also helped us succeed through word of mouth, which has been a tremendous lever for growth.”

TaxJar CEO

  • Paid ad campaigns

    (Google Search and Media, Twitter Ads, Quora Ads, LinkedIn Ads)

These can serve as a powerful enhancement for your content, reaching new customers.

 

  • Public relations (PR)

Press publications work best to build brand awareness and spread the word, like the Mashvisor or Inman resources cited above. They can also bring sales, with a combination of other methods.

 

  • Email marketing

This channel works best to convert problem-aware readers in your clients. By nurturing your subscribers with relevant & up-to-date info, you can build trust and develop engaging relationships with subscribers. 

Backed by the industry data and your audience research, identify the inbound or outbound marketing methods you will use. Don’t make such decisions based on guesses, as this may lead to inefficient investments and lost time.

5. Plan your budget, time & resources

Specify the amount of time & money you are going to spend on each tactic. It’s advisable to spend at least 3-4 weeks to test every distribution channel. After this time, you can analyze the first results and scale what works best. 

Go to market (GTM) strategy template

Down below, we’ve outlined how a go-to-market strategy document should look like, based on the market research and best practices in business planning.

GTM Strategy Template
GTM Strategy Template

Summary

Launching a new service, application, or software takes a lot of time and team effort. However, the go-to-market (GTM) strategy can simplify your further product growth. If you have any questions about launching your product, contact us. Get a sound technical backup for your business.

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About the Author
I’m a content manager sharing expertise-based advice & tech insights for business owners. Explore how innovative ideas change the game, or get useful advice on software development.
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