Ready, Aim, Fire!- Elements of a Go-to-Market Plan
In an economic downturn, one of the most overlooked pieces of business success is the Go-to-Market plan. We often hear, "we know where we want to go, let's get moving". Especially in these times, the temptation is to chase everything and come up with nothing.
Moreover, when things are not working the temptation to change direction is overwhelming. It doesn't have to be complicated but, more often than not, if you've put together a good business/GTM plan, you'll find when you review it that all you need are a few tweaks rather than radical changes in direction. Not only that, but when results take longer than expected, and you revisit the plan and find your assumptions still hold, you'll find the courage and confidence to stand your ground.
1. What is your business case?
Why did you launch this solution and what do you hope to gain from it?
The start of a go to market strategy should explain how this solution aligns with your overall business plan and strategy. This can be a short explanation of how it ties into your other offerings, or how you’re approaching a new market. Whatever your reasoning, be specific and concise.
2. Define your market strategy
Where does your solution fit in the market, how will you align with existing solution ecosystems and what's the big win?
This section covers how you plan to engage with customers, create specific value, and hit that strategic objective you just explained, the journey to value. Some of the things you should cover here include:
Value Proposition: What makes you different from the competition? Why would someone choose to buy you over what’s already available? (For example, IT has a mandate to reduce Working Capital commitment to maintenance by 25%, how do you help make that happen?)
Positioning: Where does your solution fit in the market/solution ecosystem? How do you want people to view you in relation to other solutions out there? (i.e. " a lot of AI systems enhance visibility, ours renders that information into actionable knowledge with an average return on investment of $63 for every dollar spent!)
Messaging: How do you talk about the value you create? Know your sectors. Pick 3 pain points you solve for companies in that sector and the Value Proposition(s) (supported by case studies)
Sales and support materials: What content is necessary to support and sell the solution? What resources, tools, and support do you need?
Customer journey to value: How many stages are there in your customer’s buying journey and what are the behaviors they take before and after purchasing? How much should people already know about you when they engage with the solution?
Personas: Who uses your solution, who is the signature authority? What are their specific characteristics, behaviors and personal wins?
The initiator who first comes across your product.
The decision maker.
The buyer who approves the budget.
Gatekeeper - such as the IT dept in charge of data security of vendors
Case Studies: How has your solution delivered value? Be specific, do the Value/Vision Engineering for them. If it's measurable it's believable.
Keep each of these sections as short as possible. The goal here is to simply paint a picture of where your solution sits in the market and how you’ll engage prospects in a business conversation.
3. Lock in your pricing strategy
How much are you going to charge for your solution and why?
Pricing is more than just a financial decision. Of course, your pricing structure needs to make sense based on your business model, but it also communicates the Value of the Investment. In order for pricing to be clear, you must go to the effort to correlate to Value Delivered in words the customer understands. (e.g. Payback Period, ROI, Working Capital Reduction Contribution)
Pricing reflects every other aspect of your go to market strategy, from your customer to the market and to how you use strategies like PR, marketing, and sales.
Think about the message you send with your pricing. Are you a premium enterprise solution that will need to be aggressively sold? Or are you trying to change the playing field to Value Delivered versus "cheap price" and put the current competition on the back foot and open up new customers?
4. Create your external marketing plan
What sort of marketing are you going to use to inform "self-help" buyers, make them aware that you exist? Compelling enough to engage in a new conversation about your new solution?
Marketing is important no matter what your go to market strategy is, but especially if your solution is marketing intensive (the lower the price point the higher the velocity means higher emphasis on marketing). If you’re expecting customers to find you via ads and content (versus you selling to them) then you should pay special attention to this section of your plan.
Here’s what you should be covering:
Branding: Who are you? What promises do you make as a company, both through the language you use to describe yourself and the way you present yourself visually? If you already have a strong and well-established brand for your company, is this new solution consistent with it?
Lead generation: How are you going to find people to become customers? There are many different ways to find leads and generate demand for your solution. How are you going to do it?
Content: What value are you creating for users outside of the product? Content is a powerful way to get in front of potential customers and show them that you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy. Think about what you can teach users and how your content strategy can help support your launch with things like blog posts, videos, ebooks, and whitepapers.
Marketing site: Where will the main information about your new product live? Will it be on your main site or on a micro-site? How will you explain your Value quickly and in a compelling enough way to get people to purchase?
Events, ads, and PR: What else can you do to get people interested? This could mean using paid ads, search engine marketing, hosting or presenting at events, and using PR to amplify your launch in other outlets. In a post Covid19 world what replaces events?
5. Specify your sales strategy and supporting materials
How are you going to empower salespeople to help you get a piece of the market?
If your solution is more sales-intensive, you’ll spend more time thinking through how you expect the sales process to work. Sales is the lowest paying easy work and the highest paying hard work. And you’ll want to make sure that the people going out and representing your solution have all the resources and knowledge they need to be successful.
Here’s a few things you should include here:
Tools and resources: How are your sales team going to find, engage with, and sell to potential customers? What tools are they going to use for managing relationships and helping the prospect visualize Value, the Journey to Value and Delivery of Value?
Client acquisition: What’s the right approach for targeting clients? Generating top of the funnel pipeline. Inbound sales? Outbound sales? BDR outreach? Resellers and partners?
Training support: How are you going to train the sales team so they’re knowledgeable enough and confident to engage in compelling business conversations that convert interest to agreement to proceed
6. Sync up with the Solution Delivery Team
How will you Deliver Value - support new users and customers with questions or issues?
Any time you’re launching a new solution you can expect some added pressure on your customer success team (especially if you’ve done your work with your solution roll-out and driven a ton of traffic!) And nothing sours an experience of a new solution and your company in general than poor execution on the Delivery of Value.
Nothing spoils the experience of a new solution and your company in general than poor support.
Make sure your customer success team is prepared for whatever’s coming their way by including things like this in your go to market strategy:
Tools: What tools are you going to be using to build and manage relationships with your customers? Do you have a CRM or some other tool you already use and are familiar with? Will support be done in real-time or over email?
Onboarding and support: How will new users know how to use your solution? Do you have an onboarding or training series ready for them?
Retention strategies: How will you make sure people stick around? Or identify and nurture people who look like they’re going to leave?
Satisfaction measurement: What will tell you that you’re successful? (repeat usage, NPS scores, upgrades, etc…)
7. Know where this solution fits in your overall roadmap
What priority will this new solution have over other features/products/initiatives?
Oftentimes companies invest not only in your solution but also in your vision. The responsibilities of bringing a new solution(s) to market don’t end once you've gained traction. Every time you launch something new, you’re adding another item to your list of things that need to be prioritized. When you go to market with a new solution, will it still get your attention? Or will your team move onto other projects?
There are a few different angles to come from and these should be addressed in your go to market strategy:
Priority for development team: How (and in what order) will new features or bug fixes be addressed?
Market feedback: How will future plans be communicated to customers?
Employee feedback: How will other people on your team keep up-to-date with this new solution?
8. Decide on success metrics
What is the main purpose of this new solution and how will you know if it is a success?
Every go to market strategy needs a success metric—something you can look at and judge whether or not your solution is doing what you wanted it to do. These metrics should be:
Meaningful: Is it tied to a specific business goal that most people can agree on?
Measurable: Is there a number attached to it or some way to quantify the results?
Operational: Will you be able to quickly see the effects of your changes?
Motivational: Is it something you and your team want to work on?
9. Clarify your ongoing budget and resource needs
How will you continue to support this solution?
Again, your responsibilities don’t end once this solution is out in the market. Along with all the things covered about how to get your solution out there, you need to know how you’re going to keep it there. This means budgets, resources, time commitments, and anything else that gives a good idea how everyone should expect this product to impact their day-to-day.
Running a business doesn’t have to be a battle (and in fact, we think the best companies prioritize balance, not non-stop hustle). Yet when you’re bringing a new solution into the market, it often feels like do-or-die. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
By following the outlined framework to create a solid go to market strategy you should be able to grow your company in a steady way with fewer fire drills. It seems like extra work, but by thinking about your strategy and doing the work upfront, you’ll set the new playing field while the competition is still playing on the old.