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How to Create a Go-to-Market Strategy for a Product Launch

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Written by: Mailmodo

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These are not easy times to launch a product. The global business environment is constantly changing to cope with frequent major global events like COVID-19, supply chain disruption, the great resignation, and a war. In a precarious ecosystem like such, how to come up with a go-to-market strategy that works for your product?

This guide will help you explore what it means to create a go-to-market strategy. We will look at what are the core elements of a go-to-market strategy and what are the types of strategies to choose from.

Table of contents

What is go-to-market strategy?

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan that outlines how a company might connect with customers in order to persuade them to acquire a product or service while also gaining a competitive advantage. It's a roadmap that assesses a solution's feasibility and forecasts its performance based on market research and competitive data.

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

Creating a go-to-market (GTM) strategy creates a clear picture of:

  • Why are you launching the product and for WHOM?

  • What value will it add to your target customers?

  • What do you plan to achieve through the product?

A good go-to-market strategy will help avoid problems like:

  • misalignment with the buyer persona

  • not able to adapt to the new tech and social trends

  • lack of vision on new feature development

  • getting budget approvals

Therefore, you will need to create a GTM strategy for any of the below-mentioned initiatives:

  • introducing a new product into an existing market

  • introducing an existing product into a new market

  • testing a new product in a new market

  • revamping the product or brand

Related guide: How to Develop a Unique Brand Voice in 5 Easy Steps

Go-to-market strategy vs marketing strategy

If you already have an effective marketing strategy in place, do you still need a go-to-market strategy for a new product launch?

Yes. A go-to-market strategy is different from a marketing strategy.

A go-to-market is a focused planning strategy to enable the one-time event of the smooth introduction of a new product or a brand into a market. It is when an existing brand comes up with a new product line, a new brand launching its products, or even an existing product moving into a new market that will require creating a go-to-market strategy.

On the other hand, a marketing strategy is to not be a one-time activity. It is the innovative task that works on a loop to achieve tangible goals within the same main elements. That means, for the same product in the same market, but to take innovative steps to bring in more leads, to increase revenue, to increase followers/subscribers.

Go-to-market strategy elements: 10 years ago vs now

There are many crucial elements in play that help formulate a successful go-to-market strategy. A few important ones are target customer, product and features, USP, business model, distribution, marketing channels, etc. Let’s take a closer look at how they have evolved over the past few years.

10 years ago Now
Customers took more gut-based decisions and were easily influenced. Modern retail customers are more informed and discerning. They do detailed research, like watching influencer videos, etc.
Customers were more loyal to preferred brands and products. Customers are more open to new products and brands.
Product updates happened once a year to once every few years. Product upgrades (hardware as well as software) are more frequent. Some businesses implement updates every quarter.
The market was not very competitive. Market domination/monopoly was easier to establish for brands. The market is highly competitive. Monopoly is not possible, which is why you need to actively work on your unique selling proposition.
Discounts, offers, and money-backs were powerful influencing factors. Discounts and cash-backs are expected, which are not very powerful in influencing purchase decisions.
The B2B purchase process was manual. B2B purchase is supported by online tools and the purchase process is streamlined by automation.
Distribution was carried out in person and in physical spaces. After the Android and cloud explosion and to cope with the pandemic, dramatic and urgent digitization changed how products and services moved about.
Marketing channels were limited to TV, radio, and print media. Most businesses are inclined towards multi-channel or omnichannel marketing strategies.

Sales-led vs product-led go-to-market strategies

Primarily there are two main types of go-to-marketing strategies- sales-led and product-led. Let’s see how sales-led and product-led GTM strategies stack up against each other?

Sales-led Product-led
Sales-led go-to-market strategy is where the sales team carries the onus of bringing in the revenue, managing customer relationships, retaining customers, and getting in new clients. Product-led go-to-market is a model that relies on the product itself as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion, and expansion.
High cost of customer acquisition Lower cost of customer acquisition
Mostly relevant in B2B Mostly relevant in B2C

There is no straightforward apple-to-apple comparison when it comes to comparing both strategies. However, a single-dimensional go-to-marketing strategy that is only product-led or sales-led is no longer sufficient to tackle this complex and evolving problem statement of ever-changing business ecosystems.

Why look beyond sales-led and product-led growth strategies?

Addressing only product and sales in your go-to-market strategy will not help create a long-term impact. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

  • It is easy for competition to match prices and unique features.

  • You may not always have the bandwidth and resources to keep innovating product features at the speed competition does.

  • You need opportunities to increase brand awareness and create some immunity against competitive new entrants offering rock bottom prices.

Product-led and sales-led growth is not sufficient to strive in today's competitive environment. That is why businesses need a value-led growth strategy.

Related guide: Building a Unique Brand Identity Made Easy in 10 Simple Steps

What is a value-led go-to-market strategy?

Value-led go-to-market strategy is when an organization reaches out to the shared values and ethics with the customers. It shifts marketing focus from product to the connection between brand and customer.

Because of hyper-exposure to social media and content marketing, the communication between customers and brands is more wholesome. Companies are not talking only about their products. They are looking to add real value to the lives of the customers, and to form long and meaningful customer relationships.

Many successful companies like Google, Whole Foods, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and Starbucks have been doing it for years. Value-led go-to-market strategy is not new, but it is more relevant now. 63% of consumers prefer to purchase products and services from brands that stand for a purpose that resonates with their own values and beliefs.

Value-led go-to-market strategy checklist

Here is a checklist of the things to tick off your list before you create your value-based go-to-market strategy.

⭕ Target customer

  • Who will most benefit from your product/service?

  • What is your ideal customer’s user persona?

⭕ Product

  • What products/services are you offering?

  • What problem do they solve?

  • How are these products linked to the core value you are adding?

⭕ Product differentiators/Unique value proposition

  • How do your products/services stand out from others in the market?

  • Is it strengthening your core value-addition?

⭕ Business model and distribution of product

  • How do you plan to deliver the product/service?

  • How are you planning to operate and make money?

⭕ Pricing

  • What kind of pricing, and how does it appeal to the target customer?

  • What kind of add-ons can be created and charged for?

⭕ Channel of marketing

  • How are you aligning your message to core value for your prospects and customers?

  • What channel are you using? Is the channel relevant to your target audience?

⭕ Timing

  • When are you planning to launch your products/new features/services etc?

  • Is there a dependency on another event?

Related guide: A Beginners Guide to Integrated Marketing

Avoid these go-to-market strategy mistakes

Make sure you don’t replicate these mistakes while creating your GTM strategy.

1. Copying another company’s GTM strategy

Creating a go-to-market strategy like another company is a mistake. Other examples do not apply to you. Your company, your reasons to exist, and the value that you add are unique to you. Therefore, trying to emulate the success stories of other companies will not help you. You have to know your customer, the best way to reach them, and the value that only you can add to their lives.

2. Overdependence on shortcuts

Discount vouchers, moneyback, and in-demand features are effective in a pivotal increase in customers/subscriptions/orders. However, these are short-term tactics. Prices can be matched easily, features can be copied, and even improved fairly fast. The cost of switching is low. If that is all you offer, your hard-earned customer base will move equally fast to another cheaper, better product.

3. Growth at any cost

Growth at all costs is no longer rewarded. VCs are telling the founders that companies now need to focus on generating revenue and profits. Creating a revenue stream needs to reflect front and center in your go-to-marketing strategy. With the increased importance of CLV over CAC, the strategy should help in customer retention as well as acquisition.

Summing up

Here is a two-point summary if you are looking to launch a product this year.

  • Creating a go-to-market strategy is an intensely introspective activity and mapping your strategy on any other product may not lead to similar success.

  • Sales-led and product-led strategies are still relevant. However, without the wrapper of a value-led strategy that aligns through all communication and 4Ps- you can lose the hard-earned edge fairly fast.

If you are a new brand or a start-up, take a look at our guide on brand positioning to learn how to dominate the market.

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