Getting a healthy volume of sales with little upkeep — that is the dream.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a local business owner, a software developer, or an online entrepreneur. When you first kicked off your endeavor, you had the vision to earn passive income and live the high life while being in complete control of your time.
The fact that you went out of your way to build a business is a good sign. What ensues, however, is a series of challenges that separate the wheat from the chaff.
Remember, as a startup, you don’t just enter a competition and expect to get a fair slice of the market. You need to have a proper Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy, which is basically a blueprint for how your brand will reach its customers and be established as a disruptive force in your niche.
What is a GTM Strategy?
As the name suggests, a GTM strategy outlines how a new business can enter a market in an impactful and competitive way.
It may not be a term that most self-taught entrepreneurs encounter on a daily basis, but a GTM strategy actually encompasses several branches of marketing and sales. This includes product positioning, direct selling, content marketing, customer service, and so on.
In a way, a GTM strategy is similar to a business plan. The main difference is that the latter also covers foundational aspects such as funding, staffing, and company leadership.
Here are some of the benefits that a GTM strategy can provide your business:
- Reduce the Time to Market (TTM)
- Speed up the sales cycle
- Mitigate the risk of unsuccessful product launches
- Improve adaptability to changes
- Help establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Enable you to build brand authority and online reach
Building a GTM Strategy
Now that you’re familiar with what a GTM strategy is and its purpose, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of building one for your company.
By the end of this guide, you should have a clear understanding of the following:
- What You Offer
A good chunk of your GTM strategy focuses on defining, developing, and fine-tuning your brand’s offerings. This requires you to be more value-centered and not tunnel-visioned on the actual products themselves.
- Who You Target
Your GTM strategy should also give you clear insights on your market — who they are, what are their buying behaviors, and where they usually go to find solutions. As a result, you’ll have no problem creating unique selling points that are tailored to each customer group.
- How You Deliver
Lastly, a GTM strategy isn’t complete if you don’t include all channels that utilized in your marketing and sales processes. The experience you provide customers, be it through nurturing, post-sale service, and customer support, is also factored in when finalizing your plans.
Well, a GTM strategy usually takes several months, if not a couple of years, to be successfully implemented. It’s not a weekend project nor a short-term strategy that can generate profits overnight — rather, it’s an ongoing effort that continually improves key business outcomes.
Without further ado, here are the steps to develop a winning GTM strategy for all types of businesses.
1. Figure Out Your Target Market
Bloggers, SaaS startups, e-commerce entrepreneurs — everyone is required to unravel everything there is to know about a niche before they tackle more advanced issues, such as product pricing, distribution, and brand positioning.
But first, they need to define which particular market will give them the most legroom for brand differentiation and relevance.
In a GTM strategy, the usual start is to brainstorm a list of potential markets you can target. Work your way from a broad industry and down to smaller segmentations.
For example, as a game developer, your initial market would be the entire video gaming population. From there, you can refine your market by platform, such as console, PC, or mobile.
You can also take your segmentation a level further by specifying a genre, like RPG, platformer, first-person shooter, puzzle, and so on.
Certain businesses can also consider customer geography and demographics when defining market segments. Game developers, for example, can further narrow down their target market according to Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB ratings, which pertain to different gamer age groups.
Assessing Target Markets
When comparing markets, it’s important to grasp metrics that will determine their viability:
- Market Size
- Barriers to Entry
- Growth Rate & Trends
- Brand Alignment
During the assessment process, don’t hesitate to leverage every research method available for accuracy. One approach is to launch surveys with a tool like Google Forms or social media networks to acquire feedback from stakeholders and potential customers.
You can also consult the latest market research reports from credible sources. A straightforward tactic is to perform a Google search using a relevant keyword followed by a phrase similar to “market report” and the current year.
For the most part, larger markets tend to be more competitive. It’s up to you to find the sweet spot based on where you are now financially, technologically, and professionally.
2. Understanding Your Target Customers
The next focal point of a GTM strategy would be the customers themselves — the lifeblood of any business ever conceived.
Apprehending customer demographics plays a role when identifying the most profitable market segments for your brand. This time, however, you’ll focus on building customer intelligence by understanding their needs, psychographics, and buying behavior.
Successful businesses are built around gaps between the need for a product and the supply that existing companies provide.
This begs the question, what specific needs are you try ing to meet?
Are you trying to solve a problem that your customers are having? Do you want to eliminate issues with competitor solutions that are already available in the market?
Answering these questions will take you one step closer to fully understanding who your target customers really are. It will also help you craft compelling value propositions that lead to more conversions down the road, which will be discussed later in this post.
Aside from needs, a GTM strategy also drills down on the customers’ personalities, interests, and other constituents of their lifestyle.
It may sound trivial, but psychographic factors are actually indispensable if you want to build a brand that connects with customers on a more personal and emotional level. By understanding not only their goals but also their motivations for pursuing a brand like yours, you can write and tweak your marketing messages accordingly.
Psychographic insights will also help you foster brand loyalty by communicating with your audience in a more relatable and approachable way.
Apart from surveys that can be conducted online, here are a few additional strategies that can help you learn more about your customers’ psychographics:
- Use a Focus Group
Although surveys are much easier and simpler to execute, running focus groups yield meatier insights by allowing two-way communication. You can hire marketing research firms to expedite them at a price or plan them yourself by picking a venue, planning the talk points, and pulling in participants via printed invitations or social media posts.
- Do Interviews
The main advantage of one-on-one interviews over surveys and focus groups is the level of openness in the conversation. You can also run interviews online with video conferencing software if you lack the resources to do them in person.
- Conduct Keyword Research
Finding out what your customers are searching for online is a great way to be in tune with how they think. For this, even free content and keyword research tools like Google Trends, KWFinder, and the AdWords Keyword Planner can go a long way.
- Listen to Social Media Mentions
Another way to tap into your audience’s minds is through a social media listening tool, such as Keyhole.co and SentiOne. These allow you to track opinions, reviews, and conversations posted in the social media sphere that mentions a specific hashtag or name.
The third and perhaps the most important piece you need to obtain when profiling your customers is their buying behavior.
It’s all about mapping the decision path or journey that leads to a completed purchase, identifying bottlenecks in said path, and then optimizing all the remaining touchpoints for a more streamlined sales process.
To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at a common buying behavior in customers nowadays — the tendency to look for online product reviews and “unboxing” videos before committing to big purchases. This is the discovery phase of their journey wherein they are first introduced to your brand and unique selling points.
Statistics show that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews more than the content on a company’s website. That said, the lack of available reviews or user-generated content that talks about your brand could be a major bottleneck, which you can address with a content marketing strategy that’s designed to fill these content gaps.
Other examples of buying behaviors that you can plan for are sending direct inquiries, initiating live chats, and looking at price comparisons online before visiting in-store.
3. Defining Your Brand Positioning Statement
Only after fully comprehending your target market and customers should you look at your brand’s positioning and value offerings.
Put simply, your positioning is how your customers perceive your brand, its mission, and what sets it apart from the rest of the competition. It’s something that occurs whether or not you’re actively establishing a position, so it definitely deserves your attention when building a GTM strategy.
The curious aspect of positioning is how a single piece of information can fully change the way a certain customer group views a brand — be it an influencer review, a video ad, or a PR article.
What really has a lasting impact, however, is how your company embraces its position internally. This pertains to how employees, leaders, and partners reflect a brand positioning statement in their actions and business decisions.
A good example of a positioning statement is from BMW, which reads:
“To high achievers who see cars as a reflection of themselves and their journey, BMW provides unparalleled tools for control, comfort, and peace of mind to navigate the road ahead.”
We can then dissect this statement to elaborate the ingredients of an effective brand positioning strategy:
Your Target Customers
As it stands, BMW has two target audience personas: college graduates who are gainfully employed and middle-aged, high-earning males. Both of which are addressed in the positioning statement as “high achievers.”
BMW appeals to their target audience’s desire to leave a dent in their respective fields. It’s about the journey to invest in a vehicle that represents their fervor in pursuing success — captured in the term “the road ahead.”
Your Brand’s Promise
Now that audience and their goals are defined, the next component of a well-written positioning statement is your brand’s promise. BMW summarizes theirs as “the tools for control, comfort, and peace of mind,” which, to them, are the key benefits of driving their automobiles.
Remember, creating a positioning statement can shape the way customers respond to your marketing campaigns in the future. It’s the centerpiece of your brand’s image that also guides how your company communicates with your audience across all channels, from your content to your customer service.
4. Your Brand’s Value Propositions
Another benefit of a having a solid brand positioning statement is that it can serve as your springboard when creating value propositions.
This is the part where you need to shift your attention to your products.
Ask yourself, what customer goals does your product accomplish? What are the specific qualities that make it worth choosing?
These are the questions that your brand’s value propositions should answer. Fortunately, you should already have the information you need from the previous steps.
For your reference, below are some examples of value propositions from notable brands:
- “The conversion platform for marketers.” – Unbounce
- “A better way to manage your social media.” – Buffer
- “Get everything you need to look, feel, and smell your best.” – Dollar Shave Club
Keep in mind that value propositions are typically inserted in landing pages, advertisements, and other types of branded content somewhere in the customer journey. As such, value propositions must be punchy yet concise — making them suitable to be conveyed across every channel that your customers use.
This brings us to the next and final step of building a GTM strategy.
5. Defining Your Customer Acquisition Channels
At this point, you’re more than equipped to define your customer acquisition channels and develop the strategies that will spin the wheels of your marketing.
By definition, your channels are where customers can interact and transact with your brand — ranging from online stores, trade shows, commercial establishments, phone calls, and everything in between.
The customer acquisition channels that make sense for your brand, of course, depends on the industry you’re in. SaaS startups, for example, mostly rely on their online presence to draw in prospective customers on an international scale.
What’s important is for you to research every channel you intend to use in your GTM strategy and make sure their benefits, costs, and accessibility are duly highlighted. Only then will you be able to set the necessary marketing objectives that will ultimately start pouring leads into your customer acquisition funnel.
To give you an idea on what to expect from this point forward, here’s a quick rundown of the essential marketing strategies that any brand can benefit from:
In the digital age, a website is one of the low-risk, high-reward customer acquisition channels. A blog, in particular, can generate qualified leads by providing useful content to the online audience.
- Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms not only help new companies reach a broader audience, but they also offer lucrative advertising opportunities. Influencers in networks like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube can also accelerate your brand building efforts through their existing follower bases.
- Email Marketing
When done correctly, an email marketing campaign can reward your brand with high conversion rates and an even higher ROI. Most strategies revolve around automation workflows, such as welcome emails, cart abandonment emails, and scheduled newsletters.
So, you’ve made it to the end of this post.
Congratulations — the steps above should help you build an airtight GTM strategy that will give your brand the head start it needs. What’s next is the grind that will not only define your business but also who you are as a leader.
Have any questions, suggestions, or opinions you’d like to share regarding what you’ve read? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!