A GTM strategy helps you figure out how to sell your new or existing product or service to people who actually want it.
Think of as a roadmap that shows everyone in your company — from the people who make the product to the ones who sell it — where to go and what to do.
Without a good GTM plan, you could end up selling something no one wants or not reaching the people who do want it.
In this article, we’ll go through each part of a GTM plan step by step, so you can make one that really works for your business.
What is the mission?
Before anything else, know why your business exists in the first place. This is your mission.
It’s not just a fancy sentence to put on your website; it’s the reason you get up and go to work every day.
Your mission is the big goal that guides all your smaller decisions.
For example, if your mission is to make healthy eating easy, then every product you develop, every marketing campaign you run, and every customer service call you answer should work toward making healthy eating easier for your customers.
Without a clear mission, you’ll find yourself pulled in a hundred different directions, and you’ll struggle to make any real progress.
So take the time to figure out your mission — it’s the first and most crucial step in creating a GTM strategy that works.
The problem landscape
After you’ve nailed down your mission, the next step is to identify the problem you’re solving.
This isn’t just about finding a gap in the market; it’s about understanding a real issue that people face.
And it’s not enough to say the problem is big — you need to show it. Use numbers, facts, or any data you can find to make your point.
For instance, if your business is about making healthy eating easy, you could talk about rising obesity rates or the growing number of people with diet-related health issues.
The more concrete you can be about the problem, the easier it will be to convince people that it’s worth solving — and that your business is the one to solve it.
The brand’s unique solution
Once you’ve clearly defined the problem, it’s time to present your solution. This is where your product or service comes into the picture.
But here’s the catch: don’t just list the features. Instead, focus on what those features will do for the customer.
- Will your product save them time?
- Will it improve their quality of life?
- Will it make a task easier?
These are the benefits, and that’s what people care about.
If you’ve been in business for a while and have some success stories or milestones, share them.
It adds weight to your claims and shows potential customers that you’re not just all talk.
Your solution should align with the mission and address the problem you’ve outlined, tying the different elements of your GTM plan together into a cohesive whole.
Identifying your target audience
Knowing your product and mission is great, but it’s not enough. You also need to know the potential customer you’re selling to.
This is your target audience, also known as your buyer persona or ideal customer profile (ICP). Your ICP isn’t a broad group like “homeowners” or “parents.” It’s much more specific.
For example, if your product is a time-saving kitchen gadget, your ICP might be “busy parents who enjoy cooking but are short on time.” The more specific you can get, the better.
As your business grows, you can start to look at other groups who might be interested in your product, but for now, focus on your main audience.
By knowing exactly who you’re targeting, you can tailor your marketing, sales, and even product development efforts to better meet their needs.
Know your competition
You’re not the only game in town. No matter how unique your product or service is, you’ll face competition.
It’s crucial to know who these competitors are and what they’re offering.
This helps you hone in on a strong value proposition, especially when breaking into a new market.
As part of your market research, make a list of competitors, categorizing them as direct, indirect, or potential future competitors.
For example, let’s say you’re in the business of selling eco-friendly cleaning products.
- Your direct competitors would be other brands that also sell eco-friendly cleaning products.
- Indirect competitors might be traditional cleaning product brands that have a strong market presence but don’t focus on eco-friendliness.
- Potential future competitors could be any brand planning to launch an eco-friendly line or a startup that’s still in the early stages but has a promising concept.
Understanding your competition isn’t about fear; it’s about strategy. Knowing what others are doing allows you to find your own unique space in the market.
It helps you understand what sets you apart and why customers should choose you over others.
This information is invaluable when you’re crafting your key messages and deciding on marketing channels. Embrace it as a way to sharpen your own strategy.
Crafting the key message
Now that you know your mission, the problem you’re solving, your value proposition, your target audience, and your competition, it’s time to craft your key message.
This is the core idea or benefit you want your target audience to associate with your brand.
Your key message isn’t a slogan or a catchy phrase; it’s the essence of what you’re offering, distilled into a message that resonates with your ideal customer.
For example, if you’re selling a time-saving kitchen gadget to busy parents, your key message might be “Get quality family time back.”
This message should be consistent across all your marketing materials, from your website to social media to advertising.
Consistency helps build brand recognition and trust, making it easier for customers to choose you when they’re ready to buy.
Mapping the buyer’s journey
Understanding your customer doesn’t stop at knowing who they are; you also need to know how they go from not knowing about your product to becoming a loyal customer.
This process is known as the buyer’s journey. It usually starts with the customer realizing they have a problem that needs solving.
From there, they might search for solutions online, compare different products, and finally make a purchase.
But the journey doesn’t end there. After the purchase, how do you turn this existing customer into a repeat buyer or even a brand advocate?
Do you offer excellent customer service, a loyalty program, or regular updates to your product?
Mapping out this journey in detail helps you identify opportunities to improve the customer experience at each stage.
It also helps you spot any gaps or hurdles that might stop them from moving to the next stage, allowing you to address these issues in your GTM plan.
Technology and logistics
No business operates in a vacuum. There are always external factors like technology and logistics that can either speed up or slow down your go-to-market plan.
Maybe your product relies on a specific technology that’s still in development, or perhaps there are shipping and supply chain issues that could affect product availability.
For instance, if you’re launching a tech product that relies on a specific type of battery technology still being refined, this could delay your product launch or limit its capabilities.
On the logistics side, maybe you’re sourcing materials from overseas and facing shipping delays due to global supply chain disruptions.
These issues can affect not only when you can go to market but also how you go to market.
Being aware of these challenges allows you to plan for contingencies. If the battery technology isn’t ready, maybe there’s an alternative you can use temporarily.
If shipping is a problem, perhaps you can find local suppliers or consider air freight as a quicker, albeit more expensive, option.
By identifying them early in your planning process, you can develop strategies to mitigate the impact of such issues, keeping your product strategy and go-to-market plan on track.
Choosing the right marketing channels
Marketing is more than just putting out ads and hoping for the best.
It’s about finding the most effective ways to get your key message in front of your ideal customer.
Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses, and what works for one business might not work for another.
Maybe your target audience spends a lot of time on social media, making it a good channel for your business.
Or perhaps they’re more likely to read industry blogs, making content marketing a better fit.
The key is to match the channel to both your product messaging and your audience.
And it’s not just about choosing where to market but also how. The tone and style that work in a Facebook ad might not be appropriate for a LinkedIn post.
By understanding the nuances of each channel, you can tailor your product messaging to fit, increasing the chances that it will resonate with your audience.
Sales plan essentials
Once you’ve got your marketing sorted, you need to think about sales. This is where you turn interest into action, converting potential customers into actual buyers.
Your sales strategy will depend on your business model. Are you selling directly to consumers through an online store, or do you have a sales team closing deals with other businesses?
Each approach has its own set of challenges and opportunities. For example, selling directly to consumers might give you faster sales but lower order values.
On the other hand, B2B sales might take longer to close but result in larger, more lucrative contracts.
The key is to align your sales strategy with your overall business goals and the needs of your target audience.
This ensures that you’re not just making sales, but making the right kind of sales for your business.
Budgeting for GTM
Every part of your go-to-market plan, from product development to marketing to sales, costs something.
While you don’t need to get lost in the weeds, you should have a general idea of how much you’re going to spend and where that money is going.
Maybe you’ll allocate a significant portion to marketing to build brand awareness, or perhaps you’ll invest in research and development to improve your product.
The point is, you need a budget that aligns with your business goals and provides a roadmap for your spending.
Having a well-thought-out budget can help you avoid unnecessary expenses and focus your resources on what truly matters.
It’s not just about counting pennies, but about making each penny count.
Pricing is often one of the most overlooked yet critical components of GTM plans.
It’s not just about covering your costs and making a profit, but about understanding the value you’re providing to your customers and how much they’re willing to pay for it.
Beyond your value proposition, your pricing strategy can influence your product positioning.
For example, premium pricing can create a sense of luxury or quality, while competitive pricing can make you the go-to choice for budget-conscious consumers.
Start by researching what your competitors are charging for similar products or services. This gives you a ballpark figure to work with.
But don’t stop there — consider the unique value your product offers and how it solves a specific problem for your target audience.
This can help you justify a higher price point if your product offers benefits that competitors don’t.
It’s also important to think about the structure of your pricing. Will you offer packages or tiers? Are there opportunities for upselling or cross-selling?
For instance, if you’re selling software, you might offer a basic version at a lower price and advanced features as add-ons or part of a premium package.
This not only caters to a wider range of customers but also increases your potential revenue per customer.
Don’t forget to factor in any discounts, promotions, or loyalty programs you plan to offer.
While these can reduce your immediate revenue, they can also attract more customers in the long run and encourage repeat business from existing customers.
Lastly, be prepared to adjust your pricing based on market response and feedback. The price you launch with doesn’t have to be set in stone, and your go to market strategy should be flexible enough to evolve.
As you approach product market fit and learn more about what your customers value, you can tweak your pricing to better match demand.
Who owns the go-to-market strategy?
Ownership of the go-to-market strategy often raises questions within the marketing team.
While it’s tempting to think that this falls solely on the shoulders of the product marketing department, the reality is more nuanced.
Effective GTM strategy is a cross-functional effort that involves multiple departments within the organization.
Firstly, the product management team has a significant stake. They’re the ones who understand the product’s capabilities and limitations.
Their input is crucial in shaping a GTM strategy that is both ambitious and realistic.
Marketing, of course, plays a pivotal role. They’re responsible for crafting the key messages, choosing the right marketing channels, and executing the promotional activities that will drive customer awareness and interest.
However, their work needs to be aligned with the capabilities of the product and the realities of the market. This is why close collaboration between product development and market research teams is essential.
Sales also have skin in the game, as it’s the sales rep who is ultimately responsible for turning each target customer into an actual buyer.
Sales is typically closer to the ground in the target market and can report back on the effectiveness of the marketing plan.
Their insights into customer needs and objections are invaluable for refining the GTM strategy, particularly when it comes to pricing and sales channels.
Even customer service has a role to play, as post-sale support can provide an edge in many markets.
The customer service team’s ability to deliver on the promises made by the product manager and product marketer can be a make-or-break factor for customer loyalty.
Someone else entirely?
In some organizations, a dedicated go-to-market team or project manager may be appointed to coordinate these various functions and ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals.
This person typically reports to senior management and serves as the point of contact for all GTM-related activities.
In sum, a collaborative approach not only increases the chances of a successful product launch but also ensures that the strategy is aligned with the broader business objectives.
A go-to-market plan is not a mere accessory; it’s an essential element of your product marketing strategy.
Every section we’ve discussed — from defining your mission and identifying the problem, to choosing the right marketing channel and budgeting — serves as a building block for your business.
When these elements are carefully considered and effectively executed, your go-to-market plan becomes more than just a document; it becomes the roadmap to your business success.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a go-to-market (GTM) plan?
A go-to-market plan is a comprehensive strategy that outlines how a product or service will be sold to customers. It covers everything from identifying the target audience and setting pricing to choosing marketing channels and sales strategies.
How do I identify the problem my product solves?
To identify the problem, you need to conduct market research. Look at existing solutions, customer pain points, and gather data to clearly define the problem your product aims to solve.
What’s the difference between features and benefits in a GTM strategy?
Features are the technical aspects of your product, while benefits are the positive outcomes that customers experience. In a GTM strategy, focus on benefits to resonate more with your target audience.
How do I define my target audience or ideal customer profile (ICP)?
Defining your target audience involves market research and customer segmentation. You need to identify demographics, psychographics, and buying behaviors to create a detailed ICP.
What is key messaging in a go-to-market strategy?
Key messaging is the core idea or benefit you want to communicate to your target audience. It should be consistent across the marketing mix to build brand recognition.
What is the buyer’s journey and why is it important in a GTM plan?
The buyer’s journey is the process a customer goes through from becoming aware of a problem to making a purchase. Understanding this journey helps you tailor your marketing and sales strategies.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.