Go-to-market strategies are essential for any successful product launch or attempt to enter a new market. A solid go-to-market strategy helps your sales team connect your product or service with the right target audience by using messaging that lets you press home your competitive advantage.
In this article, we'll explain what a go-to-market strategy is, why you need one, and why they're crucial for circular business models, such as rentals, subscriptions, or recommence. Finally, we'll give you some tips on what to do after your product launch so you can optimize and improve your offer.
What is a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a thorough business plan used to bring new products or services to market. These strategies are designed to reduce the attendant risks involved with introducing new products.
A solid GTM strategy includes the following:
A marketing plan
Solid sales and distribution strategies
Deep understanding of your target customers
Research on competitors and regulations that affect the product or service
Launching any new service takes a lot of work and significant investment. No matter how helpful and innovative your product is, you still need to find a path to make it connect with customers.
A solid go-to-market strategy helps you avoid mistakes like launching into saturated markets or targeting the wrong customers.
When do you need a go-to-market (GTM) strategy?
Businesses need a go-to-marketing strategy for several different reasons. Some of the most common scenarios where you should devise and employ a GTM strategy are:
When launching a new product into a market where you are already operational: For example, adding a new product line to augment your current offerings.
Entering an entirely new market: If you are scaling or growing your business into new territories or countries.
Trialing an entirely new business model: If you decide to expand into circular business models, such as rentals, subscriptions, or buy-back-driven resales.
Each situation requires a unique approach and different types of research, marketing, etc. This process is where your go-to-market strategy comes in. It helps you devise the right way to identify and understand needs, your target audience, messaging, and delivery.
As you may have noticed, both established companies and plucky startups need a go-to-market strategy. Tastes and markets change all the time. You don't want to be surprised by a new trend or competitor. A GTM strategy can help your sales and marketing team devise the right approach and help you identify and achieve competitive advantage over your rivals.
The importance of go-to-market strategies
One of the most critical elements of go-to-marketing strategies is that they help mitigate risk. Ventures like launching a new product or entering a new market carry an inherent level of risk. While you can't control everything, there are actions you can take to minimize downsides. Establishing a go-to-marketing strategy is part of that process.
Companies invest a lot of time and effort into new products. Without good customer and competitor intelligence, you can't optimize your sales strategy.
The Components of a GTM Strategy
A good go-to-marketing strategy features a few standard components. Cover these bases, and you'll have enough ammunition to get your product or service in front of the right audience.
We'll touch on all of these points in our step-by-step guide. But for now, take them all in to get the juices flowing.
Before you start thinking about a pricing strategy or marketing, you need to answer a big question: What is your product, and what problem or pain point does it solve?
Finding a competitive advantage, target customers, and the right messaging to sell your solution will be challenging if you have a poor product-market fit.
Who is your target audience? How do they feel about their existing solutions and their pain point? What will they do to alleviate these problems? What is your value proposition?
These are just a few questions you'll need to ask if you want to launch a new product or service.
Competition and demand
If you want to break into an existing market, you need to know who your competitors are. Start by determining what their strengths and weaknesses are. Next, you'll need to gauge the demand for your solution. If your product or service is only attractive to a niche market, you need to consider if that will generate enough revenue to sustain a business.
Just as important, you'll need to consider if your market is saturated already. If so, think long and hard about why your solution offers a genuine alternative your target audience can get behind.
How are you planning on selling your product or service? Can you go directly to consumers (D2C)? Perhaps you can explore reaching them on an eCommerce platform? What about a third-party distribution model? These questions are essential elements of any go-to-marketing planning.
How existing companies can approach the subscription shift
Many established companies were caught off guard by the shift to a subscription economy. Some have adapted and thrived, while others have been left behind and might not recover.
If your business is not already in the subscription business, it might just be a matter of time. Of course, shifting to a subscription business model won't work for every company, so you must carefully consider the merits of a recurring business model to ensure it works for your firm.
There are three ways that you can pivot from one-off purchasing. We will detail them below, exploring their relative pros and cons.
Trialing the new business model
Any dramatic shift to a new model is risky. Without solid evidence that it will work for your product or market, a pivot your make could lead to a significant loss of earnings.
By nature, trials are experimental but small enough to mitigate risk. However, securing solid renewal rates can be challenging without fully committing resources from your team or onboarding infrastructure.
Subscription models take time to implement, and initial results can be underwhelming. The challenge is to give the trial a fair whack — and that means investing time and resources.
How to trial subscriptions-based go-to-market strategies?
There are several ways to experiment with your subscription model. Here are a few common approaches:
Offer all of your products or services as a subscription as an alternative to purchasing.
Package a designated amount of your entire portfolio as a subscription so that you can reach a particular audience.
Create a new subscription offering that offers extra value for your existing customers.
Any new move toward a subscription model requires offering value to your customers. You need to give them something more valuable than just making one-off purchases, such as savings, convenience, more flexibility, a curated selection, etc.
Subscription models are different from regular purchasing. It's not just about lower prices; it's about offering a comprehensive experience.
The segmented approach
Most businesses serve different customer segments. If you want to trial a subscription model, you can target your subscription at one of these segments. It could be high-generating revenue customers or the people who will benefit from specific elements of your service. Choose one, and focus your subscription marketing efforts on that segment.
Over time, you can run comparisons between the subscription and traditional models. See which model is driving revenues and profits. From there, you'll know which area deserves the full attention of your sales team, and you might decide whether or not it's time to go all in.
Running both models side by side for a while gives you a chance to gauge the market. However, once the writing is on the wall, it's time to pivot. Let's say you sell bikes. You can run monthly subscription access alongside the traditional sales model for a while but then announce a shift towards subscription rentals when the time feels right.
If your subscriptions demonstrate clear value, your customer base will make the logical choice eventually.
Is a marketing strategy and a go-to-market strategy the same thing?
A go-to-market strategy focuses directly on the launch of a) a new product and b) an existing product in a new market.
In contrast, marketing strategies are long-term plans on how to implement sales and marketing tactics. While there are a lot of crossovers between the two, they have different goals. A marketing strategy includes tactics that focus on brand building, acquiring new customers, and retaining existing customers over a long time.
On the other hand, your go-to-market strategy is laser-focused on establishing a product or service within a specific time frame. It involves a marketing strategy, but it has different business objectives.
To help you understand the difference, here is a step-by-step guide to building a go-to-market strategy that will work.
Creating a go-to-market strategy step-by-step
A strong go-to-market strategy involves working out a step-by-step plan for getting your product in front of the right people.
If you want to go to market with your product or service, you should cover each step on this journey.
Identify the pain points
You can have a huge marketing budget and all the goodwill in the world, but if your product doesn't solve a problem, no one will use it. It's that simple. The only way to build and maintain a customer base is by identifying your potential customer's pain points and solving them.
Your product doesn't need to solve the world's problems. However, it does need to make your customer's life easier by allowing them to achieve a task cheaper, faster, or easier.
Do your research to understand what bugs your customers about their current solution. Is it too slow, expensive, or complex? Find a way to reduce one of these factors (or all three!), and you'll have a product that will speak to them on a powerful level.
Define your target audience
You must define your product's target market to execute a strong marketing plan. Your go-to-market strategy won't work without understanding the target market you want to serve.
Three key questions will help you define an audience for your go-to-market plan and identify your potential customers.
Your product should solve a problem. Who are the people experiencing the pain points that your product solves?
What are the precise pain points and frustrations your product solves?
Pricing strategy: How much are your prospective customers prepared to pay to eliminate these problems?
There are a couple of ways you can approach categorizing your target audience.
Ideal customer profile (ICP)
Your ideal customer profile (ICP) has a few things in common. They are:
Conscious of the problem your product solves
They're actively looking for a solution
They can afford your product or service
Some of the things that you can explore when you are fleshing out the customer base for your GTM strategy are:
Pain points: If you rent ski equipment, your ideal customer might be sick of storing items at home or paying high air travel carriage costs.
Demographics: Does your product or service target 18-35-year-olds or a more senior demographic?
Industry: If the bulk of your business targets a specific industry, e.g. event planning and rentals, you naturally need to target participants in these sectors.
Location: Where does your target audience live and work? Ensure your business has easy access to these markets. If you rent surfboards, a location near a popular surf spot is the best way to serve your potential customers.
Market size: Does the market you are chasing have a sufficiently large size? Niche products or services are great, but there needs to be enough volume if you want your go-to-market strategy to work and move the needle.
Pricing strategy: How much money does your target market have to spend on your product? One part of brand positioning is about defining a price point your targets are willing to pay. Your prices affect the market perception of your goods too. If your prices are too low, people will have questions about the quality and durability of your solution.
Marketing channels: Any go-to-market model needs to consider what channels your target audience uses. Is your ideal customer online a lot? Or do they use local bulletin boards, word of mouth and referrals, or industry magazines?
While ideal customer personas are a great start, they can be too narrow and sell your product or service short. Building various buyer personas allows you to cater to the different ways diverse buyers engage with your service.
Use buyer personas to break down your ICP into different categories. If you're planning to start a clothing rental business, you can split your buyer personas into things like:
Mother's renting out clothes for the quickly growing children.
People who want an outfit for special nights out.
Customers who crave luxury goods but four-figure price tags keep them out of reach.
Each segment wants a different service and requires different messaging.
Understand your buyer's journey
Another central part of creating a go-to-market strategy is understanding the buyer's journey. At its most straightforward level, this journey consists of your buyer:
Understanding they have a problem (Awareness & Interest)
Considering your solution as a fix (Consideration & Intent)
Deciding that your business is the best way to go (Purchase)
When you know your buyer's journey, you can adjust your marketing plan and content around offering them help and dealing with any potential objections they might have.
How to determine your content marketing schedule based on the buyer's journey
Buyers require different types of content based on their mental state at various stages of their journey. You can build this into your go-to-market strategy by addressing different parts of the buying process with the right messaging and materials.
Top of funnel: At this stage of the buying process, your customers know the problems they need to solve. However, what they might not know is that your solution is the one to help them out. Top-of-funnel content (TOFU) content is about driving awareness and attention. For example, this blog post is TOFU content aiming to drive organic traffic to our website.
Middle of the funnel: Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) content is for customers weighing up the merits of several solutions. Go heavy on your value proposition, comparisons, benefits, advantages, and anything else that will help them pick your product over alternatives. It's also referred to as the consideration stage. This guide, for example, on how to start a party rental business, is middle-of-the-funnel content.
Bottom of the funnel: The bottom of the funnel (BOFU), also called the decision stage, is where your customer decides whether your product is the right fit for them. Push them to decide with case studies, whitepapers, or whatever it takes to knock down their final objections. For this purpose, we have created several landing pages like this one aiming to drive freemium sign-ups.
Create a sales plan
The sales process is a big part of your go-to-market strategy. So put a bit of thought into what will work best for your product or service and potential audience.
We've listed a few common sales strategies that you can use for your GTM strategy below.
Self-service models don't require traditional face-to-face sales or outreach. In fact, you can even do them without a sales team. However, your SEO, paid acquisition, and other content marketing games must be on point.
So drive customers to your website, and they'll do the rest from there. These models are highly scalable and work well for e-commerce businesses.
Inside sales model
Inside sales is a strategy that uses email, communication tools, and social media to connect with and identify customers who want to buy your products. From there, you nurture leads and relationships. These models are flexible and can work for high-ticket items.
Outside sales model
The outside sales model, often called field sales, is about closing deals that require a long sales cycle. For example, a sporting goods manufacturer could use this model to secure contracts with large outdoor resorts to provide equipment.
A channel model essentially outsources your sales to a third party. This could be something simple like having an entire affiliate marketing-driven operation or selling through a well-known provider of similar goods.
Which model you choose depends on various factors, such as audience, product, market, sector, etc.
Craft your message
A good go-to-market strategy needs a solid message to cut through the noise. You need to research how your potential customers think and talk about their pain points so you can meet them with language and concepts that will resonate with them.
Of course, customers are diverse. What pushes a button for one person will leave the next person cold. So make sure your go-to-market plan has enough flexibility to speak to everyone who will benefit from your solutions. One good option is to create a value matrix.
What is a value matrix?
A value matrix is a simple enough concept. It breaks down different parts of your target market into three categories. For example, let's use a luxury handbag rental service and see how to use a value matrix to craft the marketing message for one customer profile.
Pain points: Your customer wants to look their best at social events, but they can't always afford that new Fendi bag.
Value: Your business provides access to luxury handbags by renting them at a fraction of the retail price.
Message: Stunning looks without stunning prices
You can repeat this practice for each customer segment you serve. Where the example profile's biggest pain point is price, another's biggest concern may be environmental issues and overconsumption.
Choose your marketing channels
There is a lot of consideration that goes into selecting the right marketing channels. Finding the right times and places to connect with your audience is crucial to acquire new customers effectively.
To determine which marketing channel you use, you need to understand your customers.
Where do they go for information or to chat about their interests? What is your plan for getting customers? Can you afford the customer acquisition cost (CAC) of PPC ads, or will an organic campaign best suit your product? Or maybe a mix of the two will be best? There is no correct answer here; what works for one brand won't necessarily work for the next.
Here is a simple approach that you can use.
Match your ideal audience with the right channels
If you rent luxury fashion goods, Instagram is a must. Perhaps a specific YouTube channel will help you connect with the right audience. Spending money on LinkedIn ads, however, might not bring the ROI you're after because people use LinkedIn for different purposes.
Think about the buyer's journey
As we mentioned above, different content is best for different stages of the buyer's journey. And that's the same with ads. So adjust your marketing channels based on the different stages of awareness, consideration, and decision-making that exist in the buyer journey. SEO is great for grabbing attention. A social media platform could help solidify interest. And PPC ads can work for retargeting people who have visited your website and shown initial interest.
Set clear and measurable goals
Your go-to-market strategy needs to have predefined objectives. It's the only way to know you're on the right track.
Set metrics that act as touchpoints and allow you to test the effect of your marketing, sales, advertising, campaigns, and even offers and discounts.
Here are a few different ways that you can quantify your objectives.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs can offer you insight and guidance across different stages of the customer journey.
Relevant key performance indicators vary between businesses and business models, but here are some metrics you can track:
Ad and campaign performance (e.g., impressions, clicks, click-through rate, etc.)
Various website metrics (e.g., pageviews, average time on page, conversion rate, etc.)
Customer acquisition costs (CAC)
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Repeat purchase rate
Annual and monthly recurring revenue (ARR & MRR)
SMART is an acronym for:
Establishing these goals will help guide, motivate, and focus your team toward the objective of launching a new product or service. SMART goals are detailed, realistic, and doable — precisely the practical driving force you need to launch a new product.
OKRs stands for objectives and key results. They're a great way to visualize the milestones you need to hit. OKRs are typically defined on a quarterly basis and are meant to keep you focused on developing the right areas of your business.
There is an OKR formula that you can use to focus your plan of action.
The key is to define them before you start implemtening your go-to-market strategy. That way, you can ensure they are achievable and not over or under-ambitious.
The power of OKRs is that they help you connect the actions that are required to reach their goals.
An example of an OKR is:
Objective: Acquire 50 new subscribers every month to the subscription service by the end of the quarter.
Key Result: Increase monthly website traffic to 1000 by the end of the quarter.
Key Result: Increase website conversion rate to 5% by the end of the quarter.
If the company is able to reach the key results, it also achieves the main objective. There should always be close relationship between the objective and the key results. Otherwise, the key results may guide your work towards something else that reacing the main objective.
Create a product launch plan
Now that you know the steps involved, you need to formalize a plan to put everything together. Make sure it's as detailed and all-encompassing as possible.
A solid go-to-market strategy is built around clearly defined and delegated processes. You need to identify each objective and who is best suited to achieve these tasks.
Product launch roadmaps are a standard part of software development. However, they are useful for every type of business as a way to formalize what you are trying to achieve and how you can get there.
So build a visual roadmap with all the tasks and teams you need to utilize to get there.
Set a realistic timeline and organize your team so that they can all contribute towards the product or service launch.
What to do after the product launch?
Even after a successful product launch, there is more to do. You've got to take advantage of any gains you've made and press them home through optimization and fine-tuning your message and methods.
Any marketing strategy or campaign should be measured by KPIs and metrics. You need to set your business objectives before you launch your product or service, and once you do, you need to measure each one continuously.
The data you gather on your customer is just as important. Why do they love your solutions? Where did they hear about it? What can be improved?
Gather as much data and feedback as possible and use it to improve your product and your customer services.
Improve conversion rates
You can't ignore the importance of conversion rates on your business. Introducing a new product or expanding into new territories requires immense effort and resources. Still, if you want your business model to be sustainable, you need to increase your conversion rates.
There are several ways that you can achieve these aims, such as:
A/B test sales and marketing materials to find the most effective approaches.
Leverage feedback and reviews to improve your messaging.
Increase the quality of your marketing content to influence the decisions your customers make.
Optimize your landing pages so they reflect the pain points that your solution addresses in a language your audience understands.
Use the content that puts your product or service in the best light, e.g., video demonstrations are often the easiest way to
Reduce customer acquisition costs
When you first launch a product or enter a new market, customer acquisition costs (CAC) can be high — especially if you're aggressively trying to carve out a space. However, you should always focus on reducing the unit cost of sales and marketing when penetrating to a new market.
Better targeting, a focus on customer retention, and impactful content will help you deliver better results at a lower cost. Additionally, investing in marketing automation tools will help reach more people in a cost-effective manner. Finally, e-commerce stores can use advertising optimization tools, such as Amanda AI, to drive better ROAS and ROI on marketing spending.
Keep your customers happy
Acquiring new customers takes a lot of time and effort. So don't let that go to waste by disappointing your hard-won customer base. You can do a lot to keep your customers happy.
If you have a subscription business, retention should be your priority. Responsive service, enhanced personalization, and quality communication are excellent ways to keep your customers engaged. Running quizzes, special offers, discounts, and producing valuable content are all proven tactics.
However, to boost user experience (UX), the best approach is to make things as easy as possible. Removing friction across all your touchpoints allows customers to focus on what they enjoy about your service.
If you want to launch a subscription or rental service, you need a great go-to-market strategy. It involves a lot of research into your target audience, product, and competitors and some clear thinking about the best distribution strategy.
However, if you get it right, you'll eliminate many of the risks involved in bringing new products or services to the market. The reason most people start a business is to help people and make their lives easier or better in some way. Use that sentiment as inspiration for your go-to-market strategy, and you'll up your chances of success.