Running (and growing) a business is about more than just having a great idea. Your breakthrough vision about a product or service that’ll change the world is only the beginning.Now, you have a choice to make. Do you close your eyes and hope for the best, or plan it out in a way that builds the foundation for long-term business growth?The difference comes down to your strategy.Entire businesses have succeeded or failed based on what they've done at the market launch stage.We want to help. Consider this your go-to guide to getting started on a perfect go-to-market strategy.
What is a Go to Market Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a strategic action plan that outlines the necessary steps to succeed in a new market or with a new customer.Actually, let's break that down even further.A go-to-market strategy defines how you ensure customers benefit from your unique value proposition.Launching a proposition is not as simple as snapping your fingers.
Without a thorough plan, you can't deliver.At this point, you need to consider your audience, competitive environment, and market conditions. All of which will have a major impact on your decision-making process and is an essential part of your strategy.Sounds daunting? Maybe a little.That doesn't mean you have to go nuts. Those monkey bars are tough to scale, but definitely within reach. You just have to know where to start.
What Does Your Go-To-Market Strategy Look Like?
You'll find plenty of templates for building your strategy online. The key, though, is making that template unique to your situation. Your go-to-market strategy should include these core elements:
- A clearly defined value proposition.
- An understanding of the market backed up by research and demographics.
- Clearly defined target audience, from general (B2B vs. B2C) to specifics, like pain points.
- A value matrix that allows you to match pain points with your value proposition and derives messaging from that overlap.
- Strategic understanding of the marketing tactics required to get that message to your audience.
- Success metrics that allow you to track progress as you look to go to market and build your market share foundation.
Once you have these components in place, you're in good shape. Now, all you have to do is dig down into the details.
How Does Route to Market Play into a Go-to-Market Strategy?
Naturally, how you onboard new customers is a core part of your go-to-market strategy.Here, a simple equation holds true.
Listen to your audience and understand how they want to receive your message. If you don't, you might as well not bother.You can choose anything from direct selling to white label, partnership, affiliates and many options in-between. Rather than opting for your preferred choice, try to make your decision based on what customers would like and expect.We'll touch on the route to market concept a bit more in the Go to Market Models section below.
World Wide Domination: International Go to Market Strategies
When you go international, everything changes.
Okay, maybe not quite everything. You do have to be aware, that the environment could be significantly different. Make sure to start by conducting a thorough analysis of the market you're looking to enter.A model like Porter's Five Forces can be immensely helpful in this type of thorough analysis. It considers the five forces that shape an industry, including the bargaining power of both buyers and suppliers, the threats of new entrants and substitute products, and the rivalry among existing competitors.Thinking about each component can help you understand the potential pitfalls in the country you're looking to enter.Hofstede's Model of National Cultures takes a broader approach to gathering knowledge about your international market. It defines cultures based on factors like:
- Power distance
- Uncertainty avoidance
- Long-term orientation.
Once you know each of these factors, you’ll have an understanding of your audience and market that’s invaluable for your go-to-market strategy.You also need to be able to answer questions about the technology available in the international environment you're about to enter. Especially in the FinTech world, a market with an unreliable Internet connection could kill your project before it even starts. Whatever happens, don't treat the international market the same as you’d treat a domestic opportunity.Importantly, do your homework to check local regulations before entering a new market. Certain markets will respond differently to the way financial services products are communicated.
How to Start Building Your Go-to-Market Strategy
You might have already noticed that a good go-to-market strategy immediately blends into execution. Analysing the market, of course, is only part of the equation. Understanding the core features of your audience has to be a consideration from the very beginning.When it comes to hitting a market, your firm will need to react very differently to B2B buyers than they would to B2C consumers. Let's consider the components of each as you begin to build your go-to-market strategy.
Understand the B2B Decision-Making Process
Buying decisions don’t happen in isolation. Instead, as described by HubSpot, customers tend to form a buying centre in which several roles inevitably arise:
- The initiator or the first person in the company to show an interest.
- The user, who becomes involved because they'll use the product the most.
- The influencer, while not directly involved, they convince others of the value of the product.
- The decision-maker, usually a senior executive who makes the final call.
- The buyer, in charge of the budget and paying for the product.
- The approver, usually responsive for the C-suite buy-in of the product.
- The gatekeeper, often a sceptic or agent of the status quo who could stop implementation.
Two things are essential to keep in mind here.
- First, not every role is filled by a different person. The influencer may also be the approver, just as the buyer and decision-maker might be the same person.
- Second, any company looking for successful market entry has to have a strategy that accounts for the needs and expectations of their targeted audience.
The B2C Customer Decision-Making Process
Compared to the business environment, the consumer market looks quite different.
Remember, it's not just the number of people involved in the decision, but the process the customer goes through as they decide whether or not your proposition is right for them.That decision-making process begins with recognizing an unmet need. The consumer will start gathering information on how to solve this need, which eventually leads to investigating a variety of product alternatives. The customer then assesses the evidence and selects the best option for their needs.But it's not over.All consumers, consciously or subconsciously, evaluate their decision once they use the product.Was their need truly solved? Did they choose the right alternative?The answer can become the deciding factor between a one-time buyer and brand loyalist.In this environment, a successful go-to-market strategy focuses on your messaging at each stage of the sales process.General information is great in the initial phase, but customers then need comparative information during the evaluation period.Of course, once they buy the product, it then needs to fulfill the promises you made early.
How to Identify Your Market Position
Once you’ve found your target market, it's time to think about your market position. Your market position is often determined by your customers’ needs and unique selling proposition (USP).What, exactly, makes your product or service unique? And, just importantly, how does your USP solve your customers’ needs?If you can’t answer both of these questions, you're in trouble.
Of course, your go-to-market strategy isn’t complete without taking a long, hard look at your competition.Markets don’t exist in isolation.You need to conduct some competitor research to determine where you stand, and where you need to go.
The Thing About Pricing
You should never compete on price alone. That's an essential marketing lesson every first-year student learns at university.
Once you get into the real world, though, you learn that nothing is completely disconnected from that price.Avoid the price trap by considering cost in regards to value.What inherent value does your product or service offer? How does the price reflect that value and, most importantly, does your audience agree?Answers to these questions can go a long way towards putting the price in the right context.This is where a value matrix comes into play. For each core target audience, line up both needs/pain points and the value proposition to solve them. Now, you’ll have a better idea of overlap and can build a more coherent, value-based pricing strategy.
Create a Sales & Marketing Funnel
You've arrived at the marketing tactics point. Exciting!
Dive with us into the sales and marketing funnel and understand each stage:
- At the top of the funnel, your audience is conducting basic research. Marketing techniques here involve educating your audience through blog posts and whitepapers and establishing yourself as a credible figure in the field.
- The middle of the funnel is the evaluation stage. Here, your audience begins to look for more similar marketing materials. Case studies, tutorials, and social media ads could be a great idea.
- At the bottom of the funnel, your audience is almost ready to buy. This is when they're looking for quotes, free trials, in-depth testimonials, and reference calls. Branded search engine ads are a valuable paid tactic.
Most prospects start at the top of the sales funnel. And, through strategic marketing, you move them through the other stages till they FINALLY buy.
Build Your Go-to-Market Model
How do you plan to sell to your audience?
It's crucial to identify early on which direction you’ll take.
In the self-service model, your audience makes their own purchasing decision. This is typical for consumer-based industries, especially for online distribution systems. Simple, low-cost convenience products tend to excel here, and marketing and sales volume is absolute key.
Inside sales model
The inside sales model relies on nurturing. A prospect is not ready to buy but has to be guided through the sales funnel. You need dedicated team members to reach out to customers to support them in understanding your medium-complexity product.
Field sales model
The field sales model is the most comprehensive of the three. It's most common in large purchases for businesses, like comprehensive enterprise software. The sales cycle is long, and each potential client needs extensive personal touches and time. And, every deal makes a major difference for your company.
Finally, the channel model is indirect. You have someone else, like an affiliate, partner or white-label service provider to sell your product for you. You don't have to pay for your own sales or marketing team, but you lose control over what actually gets communicated to your audience.There is no 'best' and 'worst' go-to-market model. Instead, it depends entirely on your industry, audience, and product. You might even be able to mix and match these options, growing steadily with an inside sales model before turning it into a field sales model for larger customers over time.
Effective Go-to-Market Strategies
Every day, companies fail to successfully establish a market presence. If that sounds a bit demotivating, consider that every day, others have huge successes. Where you fall depends on your strategy, as both Huawei and TaxJar show:
Building a Billion Dollar Market in India
Apple and Google are big enough names to strike fear into any telecommunications company. And yet, Huawei established a billion-dollar foothold in India, formerly a stronghold of the two American giants.
How? Smart strategy.They used local R&D centres designed to understand the market and this research allowed Huawei to position itself as an aspirational product, bucking the traditional Chinese electronics reputation.Finally, a field sales model allowed the company to build trust and relationships with major influencers and market leaders that’s now paying off in a billion-dollar market entry.
Shifting the Emphasis to Consumer Needs
If you believe its executives, TaxJar is not tax company. It's a technology company that happens to help its audience file their taxes. That's a subtle difference, and a shift from the company features to consumer needs, that allowed TaxJar to be valued at $6 billion in an incredibly competitive industry.The key to success is educational content that appeals to consumers at the top of the sales funnel. TaxJar sees it as its mission to not just help with sales tax through its software, but all of its consumer touchpoints. As a result, it's become a trusted resource for consumers all over the world.
You're Going to Market!
Companies like Huawei and TaxJar, of course, are just two examples of companies that have successfully brought a product to market.With the right strategy, you can go from having an award-winning idea to a multi-million pound business.But, getting there requires an understanding of both your audience and your industry. You need a go-to-market model that matches both, along with tactics designed for each stage of the sales funnel.And even when you get there, the fun is just beginning. Your go-to-market lays the foundation for everything that's about to come. Next, you need to build your brand and introduce yourself to the world. Read more in our next article, which covers the creation of a product launch strategy in much more detail.
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