Do you have a ‘go-to-market’ strategy?

Thought Leadership on Branding/Growth Strategies presented by Catalpha Advertising & Design

How does your business connect with its customers? How do you go from the initial connection with a potential customer to the fulfillment of your brand promise?

The answer to these questions will define your “go-to-market” (GTM) strategy. A GTM strategy brings together all of the key elements that drive your business: sales, marketing, distribution, pricing, brand development, competitive analysis and consumer insights. It clarifies where you can reach your customers and marketing opportunities worth investing in.

This GTM strategy can be applied to a new product launch as well as marketing an existing product or service. It is your customized rulebook that your employees and agency can follow and use to test that they are following brand and marketing guidelines. Investing effort and resources into developing this plan provides a visible path to market success.

Numerous benefits:

  • Manage innovation challenges
  • Reduce time to market
  • Avoid the wrong path
  • Reduce costs associated with failed product launches
  • Clarifies plan and direction for all
  • Increase ability to adapt to change
  • Ensure effective customer experience
  • Ensure regulatory compliance
  • Ensure a successful product launch
  • Establish path for growth

How GTM helps your business

The goal of a GTM strategy is to improve business outcomes. One facet of achieving the goal is to align your products or services with the continually evolving needs of your customers. Creating an effective GTM strategy for your business requires writing a detailed plan for the following six key areas:

  • What key markets should you pursue?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Where do your customers buy? Where do they hang out?
  • What are you selling and what unique value do you offer each target group?
  • What is your pricing strategy?
  • What is your positioning strategy for your brand?

Answering these questions is the foundation of creating winning GTM strategy. Look around at the successful brands in your industry and others you will recognize that they have a consistent message that is flagged by their brand for recognition and provides a value that their audience responds to.

It starts by asking the right questions…

History has proven that every successful marketing strategy is requires that you ask the right questions in the right order. When we work with our clients we ask for a group meeting with people in their organization that will be key to executing the strategy. Don’t answer these by yourself. Engaging your “team” in answering these questions makes it easier to implement because they invested in the strategy.

  1. Where is your business now? What is the current business position and climate in your marketplace?
  2. Where do you want to be? Define your ultimate vision.
  3. What has to happen to get you to your end picture? What strategic options are available to you? Determine the best solution paths to realizing your vision.

Corporate strategy and GTM strategy will overlap but the GTM focuses on customer engagement through sales, marketing, branding and all your touch points.

How long will your GTM strategy take to execute?

A comprehensive GTM strategy that includes a detailed analysis of your target markets, customer segments, budget requirements, offers and positioning can take several weeks (or longer) to formulate.

Successful implementation of a new GTM strategy can take 12 to 36 months. It is important to keep in mind that a GTM strategy is a long-term approach to building profitability, decreasing customer acquisition cost, and enhancing the customer experience.

Key objectives of  your GTM strategy

Your GTM strategy has several strategic objectives, including to:

  • Create awareness of your offering
  • Convert your initial customers
  • Maximize your market share by encroaching on your competitors, entering new markets, and increasing customer engagement
  • Defend your present market share against competitors
  • Reinforce your brand position
  • Reduce cost and maximize profitabilit

7 Steps to creating a GTM strategy

Let’s take a look at the seven key steps for developing your strategy.

Step 1: Define your target markets

No product is appropriate for every market. Clarifying your ideal target markets is a vital element to formulating your “Go-To-Market” strategy. Recently we helped our client realize that they were targeting the wrong audience. Our initial category research and in-store findings showed they couldn’t compete on price and that audience would never be up-sold. We gave them a fresh perspective and that lead them to a far greater opportunity with less competition.

Factors that need to be considered include demographics, psychographics, ethnographics, drivers of need, buyer personas, online/offline, and geography. Remember you can’t profitably pursue every market so you want to determine where you can most effectively differentiate your brand and attract the most profitable customers who resonate with your offering.

Force yourself to sacrifice and focus on what matters most.

Start by brainstorming a master list of all possible markets you could pursue and determine how you will assess each market opportunity. You may use metrics like market size, growth trends, ability to compete, barriers to entry and the economics of each market.


  • Which markets have the biggest and most urgent pain?
  • Where are there gaps in the market?
  • Which markets are most aligned with your corporate strategy?
  • Which markets best match your core competencies?
  • Which markets can you most easily reach?
  • Which markets have the largest market size and least competition?

Next, assess each market for accessibility, alignment, and overall opportunity. Do what you can to test or validate each market opportunity with key stakeholders. Review feedback from current and prospective clients as well as employees on the front line. Review trend data from available sources. Try using customer surveys and external focus groups.

Finally, prioritize your market opportunities and refine them on an ongoing basis. Ultimately, you’re best opportunities will also attract your competitors so you need to do more than define your target markets. Determine how you can differentiate your offer and position your brand.

Step 2: Define your target customer

Management guru Peter Drucker reminds us, “The purpose of business is to create a customer.”

The driving force behind this step is developing consumer intelligence. You can use surveys, focus groups, one-on-one in-depth interviews, in-store interactions, and more to dig into what makes your audience “buy.”

Think about these:

  • Who is your business especially for? Who love your brand? That is, who will be your most profitable customers?
  • What need are you trying to satisfy in your target customers?
  • What problems are you trying to solve?
  • What ideal experience will convert your target customers?
  • What are the emotions you want your Brand Lovers to experience when they interact with you?

Your goal is to understand who your customers are, how they behave, and what they experience. The better consumer insights you have, the better chances you have for executing an effective GTM strategy.

Step 3: Define your brand positioning

This is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers. Taking an intelligent, forward-looking approach, you can positively influence its brand’s position in the eyes of its target customers.

Step 4: Define your offering

Now define your product or the product’s unique value proposition. Understanding your product’s key features and benefits is the first step. Then you must understand exactly how your product connects with your customers: the context of their use, the solutions it solves, and the benefits they derive.

Ask these questions to bring clarity to your offering:

  • What needs or tensions do your target customers’ need solved?
  • Which features in your offering best address these needs?
  • How will customers use it?
  • What are important attributes or benefits of your offering?
  • How is your offering differentiated in the marketplace?

Now put yourself in your target’s shoes. This will aid in determining the product’s unique value proposition and how you should present your company’s offering. Consider:

  • What do you want your customers to think?
  • What do you want them to feel?
  • What do you want them to believe?
  • What do you want them to remember?

The better insights you have about your customers, the more effective you can be at defining your offering. It’s good to obsess about your customers. Talk to them, listen to them, and get to know them. These activities will help you create more effective marketing messages later on.

Step 5: Define your channels

Link your offering to your customers through channels. Channels might include a retail store, Internet, a customer service call center, face-to-face salesperson, a trade show, a seminar, or a direct partner.

Amazon’s primary channel is its website. Walmart’s primary channel is its retail chain. BWM’s primary channel is its dealerships. LL Bean’s primary channels are its catalogs, call center, and website. AT&T’s channels include its authorized dealers (partners), independent retail stores, and website.

Your goal isn’t just to identify your channels, but to ensure that each channel is as seamlessly integrated with each other as possible. Customers should have a consistent brand experience no matter what channel you use or where they interact with you.

Analyze your channel(s) by answering these key questions:

  • Where do you reach your target customers?
  • Where do your target customers buy?
  • Where will you promote your products?
  • What is the right distribution model?
  • How do you develop the right distribution channels?
  • Does the channel fit your offering?
  • How does your offering fit with your target markets and channels?
  • How would customers desire to interact with you?
  • What level of interaction do your target customers require?
  • Can you create a competitive advantage?

Make sure your offering fits your channel. For example, it is difficult to sell complex services or certain high-priced products over the web alone

Step 6: Build your budget

Once you’ve defined your channels, you’re ready to build a budget. Here you’ll want to define your product pricing and estimate costs associate with your GTM strategy. Consider:

  • What value are you offering to your target customers?
  • Do they have existing price expectations?
  • How do you price your product relative to your competitors?
  • Is there a way to create a competitive advantage with your pricing model?

Channel economics is an important to consider. For example, most airlines, like JetBlue, charges a $25 booking fee when you book a flight over the phone while charging no fees for online booking. There’s little variable cost for web transactions, but call center representatives are expensive.

Your goal might be to develop a revenue model based on anticipated market penetration, average transaction size, number of transaction, and so on. So ask yourself:

  • Based on your market definitions (step 1), what are your primary goals for market share penetration?
  • What are your estimated margins over the next one-, two-, and three-year horizon, factoring in startup and ongoing expenses?
  • What are the human resources requirements for the first year of execution?

To help reduce risk, identify the economic, competitive, and internal risks associated with executing this strategy. Outline the biggest risks that may affect your ability to reach your goals and develop strategies to address how they can be overcome. This proactive approach will lower your stress because you have a contingency plan.

Step 7: Define your marketing strategy

Here is where you bring all the pieces together. Now you define a strategy to market to each of your target markets identified in Step 1. Yes- it is normal to have drilled down your customer profiles to be able to have focused messages for multiple targets that deliver better results than you have ever had with a broad marketing approach.

The goal is to create competitive advantages for your product offering for each identified target and leverage your brand position. How do you reach the economic buyers and influencers of your target markets? What messages will motivate them to consideration and purchase?

Keep in mind that your marketing objectives and strategy might change throughout the product lifecycle so be ready to adapt. Be sure to measure and track your key performance metrics on a weekly and monthly basis so you can make adjustments to your strategies, investments, and human resources.

Get started on your GTM strategy

As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

An effective GTM strategy is based on the art of delighting your customers and surprising your competitors. Consider how hard Apple used to work to keep the plans of their new iPhone secret until “the right moment” to go to market with their new product.

Once you start rolling out your strategy you won’t have time to plan, as you’ll be more reactive due to your deadline pressures. Thoughtfully and thoroughly walking through these vital steps gives your organization the greatest chance of success.

Need help building your GTM strategy? Just give me a call.


Catalpha Advertising & Design, Inc. image for SmartCEO

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