Go-To-Market Strategy

A 9-Step Plan for Commercialization and Sustained Growth

An Introduction to Go-To-Market Strategy

When I speak with entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs, they often want to know: “how can I ensure the commercial success of my innovative new product, service, or platform?” They ask this question because 95% of all innovations brought to market fail to reach any adequate level of customer acceptance or financial performance. The best answer is have a great go-to-market strategy.

When looking for an answer, CEOs often turn to trendy, one-dimensional solutions — lean startup, product-market fit, blue ocean, jobs to be done, storytelling, etc. — rather than aligning their business activities with the characteristics of a target market, and making their innovation or product more valuable.

And we all recognize that innovation by itself is never enough. People must be willing to change and use new things. Getting a new idea or innovation adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is often very difficult.

Getting a new idea or innovation adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is often very difficult.

That’s why my 9-step go-to-market strategy addresses the needs of founders, CEOs and entrepreneurs by describing all of the critical areas of value creation that must be included for commercial success. Which not only answers their question, it also gives them a tool for planning and then managing the go-to-market programs that are required for long-term success.

Go-to-Market Strategy Defined

The goal of any business is to highlight the value of their products or services for their target market, gain a competitive advantage and establish an enduring company. The most effective way to do that is by developing a go-to-market strategy.

An effective go-to-market strategy includes nine core components:

  • Analyze the Target Market: How do you describe the identifiable economic group of buyers that will be your initial target market?
  • Develop a Customer Profile: Who is the primary buyer and/or user of your product within the target market, and what motivates them to buy?
  • Define the Complete Solution: What makes the product “low risk, complete and compelling” in the eyes of your initial target customer?
  • Identify Potential Partners and Allies: Who are the necessary partners and allies required to deliver the complete solution?
  • Select Sales/Distribution Channels: How will the product or service be sold and delivered to the customer?
  • Determine an Appropriate Pricing Strategy: How much should the product or service cost in order to provide value and reward the sales channel?
  • Analyze Your Competitors: Who is your “most dangerous” competitor and how will you maintain competitive advantage?
  • Create Unique Positioning: What is your unique value or primary difference when compared to other products in the market?
  • Select the Next Target: How do you describe the adjacent niche market that extends the progress you make in your initial target market?

Though a go-to-market strategy focuses on developing a competitive edge and figuring out how to reach a target audience, it is not a specific event, such as a product launch; rather, this strategy focuses on the entire adoption-lifecycle of a product or service – from innovators and early adopters to laggards.

Our 9-Point GTM Framework

Our 9-step process for commercializing a new product or innovation is designed to help founders secure a spot among the 5% that succeeds. It is also a proven method for achieving market leadership or sustaining revenue growth with an existing product.

Read on if you are a founder or CEO looking for ways to achieve mainstream market adoption before your product or company fails.

Analyze the Target Market

Market segmentation is the process of defining the group or groups of customers who share similar needs and buying behaviors, and are more likely than others to adopt your solution. The starting point of any strategic endeavor is to select and describe an identifiable economic group of buyers that will be your initial target market or segment. If there are closely-related groups of buyers, it is essential to decide which one to focus on first.

Develop a Customer Profile

Once you have assessed and prioritized the market opportunities, the next step is to describe the characteristics of the identifiable economic group of potential customers within that top growth opportunity. Ensure that the target customer has a compelling reason to buy the new product as soon as possible and describe the specific motivation that will make your product valuable to them.

Define the Complete Solution

This step in go-to-market strategy includes determining what makes the product “complete and compelling” in the eyes of your initial target customer. The complete solution is the set of products and services the target audience requires to overcome their fear of adoption and resistance to change. Your core product/technology must be augmented with a variety of services, intangible attributes, and ancillary products to become complete.

Identify Potential Partners

It is rare for a single organization to deliver every element of a complete solution. And today’s fiercely-competitive and fast-changing markets require the development of partnerships to reduce time to market and to deliver all of the elements of a complete solution. In most cases it will be necessary to form partnerships with technology, product and service providers to accelerate the delivery of a complete solution for the target customer and market.

Select Distribution Channels

An effective go-to-market strategy describes how a company communicates with and reaches its customer segment to deliver a value proposition. Identify and prepare the best distribution channels to drive awareness throughout the market and sell the complete solution. This step could somehow overlap with the last one in the sense that you may have identified channel partners. The key to identifying the best sales channel is to evaluate their willingness and ability to sell and deliver your complete solution.

Determine Pricing Strategy

People in the mainstream do not spend money as freely as early adopters.  And, at the same time, the sales channel needs to be rewarded appropriately for selling to your target customer.  Also, the suppliers, the partners, and the sales channel need to be rewarded appropriately for selling to the target customer. Your pricing strategy needs to reflect these requirements. Help your customer perceive the high value of your product and pay what it’s worth.

Analyze Your Competitors

Analyzing your competitors, both current and potential, is a critical step in order to clearly understand your long-term competitive advantages and differentiators. Assess the competitive market and identify the “most dangerous” competitive solution. Analyze their capabilities and look for ways (in addition to trademarks and patents) to develop and maintain a competitive advantage.

Create Unique Positioning

Proper positioning allows your company to be seen as a credible provider of products and services to the target market. Always remember that you don’t position your product, the market does. And the best way to help the market understand your product is to develop a comprehensive positioning “platform” that articulates the value delivered by your key differentiators. Once a positioning platform has been developed, the market infrastructure must be educated using the market relations process.

Select the Next Target

Identify an adjacent niche market that extends the progress you make in your initial market segment. This must be a second group of highly-motivated buyers, who reference each other before making a buying decision, and their application need fits with your technology/solution.

Go-to-Market Strategy Programs

A go-to-market strategy committee is often the best way to ensure organizational alignment, manage expectations, and monitor success factors. In general, each of the following activities should have a formal program to ensure strategic success.

  • Whole product management
  • Partner management
  • Positioning and messaging
  • Market relations
  • Sales support
  • Sales channel management

 

Conclusion

This 9-step go-to-market strategy framework helps companies collaboratively plan and execute to create and sustain market leadership. It empowers teams to gain clarity regarding their product category and its stage of innovation-adoption, get consensus on product marketing strategies, explore and prioritize target customer scenarios, manage vertical market initiatives, and define or execute go-to-market programs.