How to Set Up a Go-to-Market Strategy

Having an amazing product is not enough. You need a go-to-market (GTM) strategy to reach your customers, especially true for B2B products.

When revealing a new product, the very last thing leaders want to do is to launch it without a GTM strategy. Without a competent GTM strategy, it is impossible to know if a business is pursuing the wrong audience, entering a market too early or too late, or targeting a market with oversaturated similar solutions. To avoid these difficulties, a company must create a scalable go-to-market strategy where every team’s involvement is crafted with defined KPIs.

With the proper framework, it's easy to map out a plan. In this article, Trish Leung, Founder at emvest.ai and Strategy & Pricing EIR at First Round Capital, discusses some practical ways to set up an effective and workable GTM strategy.

What is a GTM Strategy?

A go-to-market strategy is a step-by-step plan created to sell a new product or service. It includes all aspects of the company's operations as it pertains to that product, including sales, marketing, distribution, resource availability, and customer engagement. It also covers how to grow the business in the future, such as whether product led growth is expected and measurement of success. 

A go-to-market strategy is vital to the business because it tells what leaders need to do to make sales and build their customer base. It also helps to figure out how much money to spend on marketing and what marketing tactics to use. A well-written go-to-market strategy can also help identify the best ways to communicate with your target audience, ultimately leading to more new and expansion sales opportunities.

Why do you have a GTM strategy?

A GTM strategy is critical for any business that wants to launch a new product or service successfully. Here are some reasons why you need a GTM strategy:

  1. Identifies the target market:
    A GTM strategy helps you identify the target market for your product. By understanding your audience, you can tailor your messaging and marketing efforts to reach them more effectively.
  2. Defines your unique value proposition:
    Your GTM strategy should clearly define your unique value proposition and how your product solves a problem or meets a need in the market. This will help you differentiate yourself from the competition and position your brand effectively.
  3. Guides your marketing efforts:
    A GTM strategy outlines the marketing channels and tactics you'll use to reach your target audience. By having a plan in place, you can focus your efforts and resources on the most effective marketing channels to drive awareness and generate leads.
  4. Sets goals and metrics:
    Your GTM strategy should include measurable goals and metrics to track your progress and success. This will help you identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategy as needed to achieve your business objectives.

What You Miss by Not Having a GTM Strategy?

Not having a GTM strategy can lead to missed opportunities, wasted resources, and ultimately, business failure. Here are some of the major consequences of not having a GTM strategy:

  • Difficulty in diagnosing sales problems: Without a GTM strategy and the associated tactics, it's hard to diagnose why you're not selling as much as intended. Having a strategy and the associated tactics provides data to figure out how much each piece of your strategy is impacting your conversion, enabling companies to prioritize where to adjust.
  • Missed opportunities: A lack of GTM strategy can lead to missed opportunities in the market. Without a plan, it's easy to overlook potential markets, customers, or sales channels, limiting the company's growth.
  • Wasted resources: Without a GTM strategy, companies may invest resources in marketing campaigns, sales initiatives, or product development that do not align with their overall objectives. This can result in wasted resources and inefficiencies.

Who Needs a GTM Strategy?

Any business that finds itself in one of these three situations needs a strong GTM strategy:

  1. Launching an existing product in a new market

When a business has an existing product, it wants to expand into another market. The easiest way to do this is with a go-to-market strategy that involves launching the product in a new country or region. It will allow the business to test the product against other markets and see if there is demand.

  1. Launching a new product in an existing market

A GTM strategy aims to launch a new product in an existing market, increase sales and gain market share. It targets existing customers who are already familiar with the brand and products or new consumers within the same industry as the existing customers. 

  1. Testing a new product's market for growth

Testing using the GTM strategy is something many startups do before investing their time and money into a new product or service. You’ll want to get early feedback from your target audience to ensure that the value proposition, price, and package meet their needs and budget constraints. 

Keys to a Successful GTM Strategy

A GTM plan is meant to be an evolving document. A good GTM needs regular attention, feedback, and revision. This is particularly true as businesses continue fleshing out the initial target market map and creating new ones. Even so, there are so many moving parts that it can feel overwhelming. Here are a few recommendations for ensuring your GTM strategy is effective;

  1. Customers: Define your target customer

Businesses need to define the target customer before finding an ideal customer profile (ICP). They need to narrow down customer types. The ICP will help determine what kind of messaging will resonate with customers and how it should be delivered. Identifying the type of customers the business is targeting can also help determine how to reach them and what kind of content they're most likely to engage with on the website or social media platforms. 

Businesses can start narrowing down their customers to two or three types of users and try to sell to them. With this, leaders can learn about their customers, the product's value, and how to speak to the buyers.

  1. Competition: What are they hiring/firing

Businesses must know who their competition is. That means learning the customer's pain points, what they are using, and ultimately, what they are hiring and firing to get the job done. These will come from early interviews with users and prospects. 

Interviews are a great way to uncover more information about customers' needs and frustrations that lead them to hire or want the product/service offered. They also provide insight into their business processes to show how the offering would fit in the workflow or system.

After conducting interviews, learn to uncover customer pain points and where to bring value at the right price. Businesses can somewhat ascertain the cost if the product or service reduces the time to do higher-earning work.

  1. Communication: Speak Effectively to buyers

Businesses should effectively speak to customers' pain points in the language that resonates with them. Some of the most successful companies have achieved this through effective communication.

For example, if a business sells a product or service used by people who want to lose weight, they need to communicate its message regarding how the product or service will help users lose weight and keep it off. It is accomplished through various methods, but businesses must be clear about what they're selling and why they're selling it.

There is also a need to communicate with all the customer profiles effectively. Trish explained, "As you move to huge customers, you could have up to five to seven folks to win over. But the beauty of all that is that as you learn all the ways of their pain points and needs, you can break them into a bunch of different ideal customer profiles. So that teams have what they need to bring people in and speak to them. So, it's going to be essential to recognize how big that buying center is."

  1. Value Proposition: What you bring to customers

A value proposition is about what the business will do to help customers succeed, and it's a way to attract customers. It involves the business's unique capabilities and how they can benefit customers.

The value proposition is not just about features but about how these features can improve customer outcomes. For example, a company that sells software for managing marketing campaigns has a unique capability that helps marketers manage their campaigns more successfully. The benefit of this capability is that it makes the marketer more successful than other companies because they have more control over their campaign strategy.

The value proposition must be communicated well so that customers understand what the business does and why it's valuable to them. Customers should be able to see how the product or service solves their problem or adds value to their business in some way.

  1. Channel: Find and reach your ICPs

Businesses must know how to find their ICPs - customers who value the product the most and will buy more quickly than other customers. 

The channel is the primary way a business sells its product or service. It is also the primary conduit for brand messages, product information, and critical information about the company. Therefore, businesses need to reach the right people with the right message and in the right way.

A Notable Example from Intuit's Quickbooks

  1. Customers: Intuit and its subsidiary, Quickbooks' target audience has always been SMBs, even to this day.

  2. Competition: Its competition in its early days was traditional accountants and tax preparers who were not software enabled.

  3. Communication: Quickbooks's Mission Statement: QuickBooks, the world's leading small business technology platform, helps small businesses grow and run their business all in one place, including managing their books, getting paid fast, managing capital, and paying employees with confidence.

  4. Value Proposition: Quickbooks offers a comprehensive suite of accounting tools designed to simplify financial management for businesses. The software eases the process of tracking expenses, managing invoices, calculating taxes, and generating financial reports. By providing reliable financial management, Quickbooks allows businesses to focus on their core activities – further enhancing productivity and accelerating growth.

  5. Channel: Quickbooks is sold through various channels including their official website, app stores, and in-store sales through authorized resellers. In addition to software sales, they also offer online support, training, and certification courses for accounting professionals through their website and Quickbooks University, which makes accountants a distribution channel too!

Generating the Flywheel


One of the critical steps in setting up a go-to-market strategy is to create a "flywheel" that consists of all the activities necessary to generate revenue and build a strong foundation for the business.

A flywheel is a tool that helps prioritize time, energy, and resources, so businesses can focus on activities that have the most significant impact on them.

After having all the information about customers' pain points, what matters to them, and the features and prices they care about, the marketing team will then take all these, bring awareness, and speak to people in the right way to get them in and drive them into the flywheel. They are also responsible for creating the right message and context for the product, like positioning it in the market and building customer relationships.

From the marketing team, the sales team is now responsible for talking to customers and generating leads. They should be ready to answer questions about the product, respond quickly to inquiries, and help customers understand what they are getting when they purchase the product or service. It also promotes customer success by ensuring customers are successful after buying the product.

The product/engineering team will then learn and iterate all the needs of ICPs to retain and upsell customers. They are responsible for building products that solve problems for the user since they have a deep understanding of what makes the product unique and how to improve it. They work with developers and designers to build valuable features and improve the product experience.

A lot of work goes into creating an excellent go-to-market strategy because it's essential as part of the revenue-generating function of a business. The time and effort invested in developing and implementing a strong GTM plan will pay off by attracting more paying customers, repeat business, referrals, and opportunities to transform ideas into business. Therefore, a reliable go-to-market strategy that effectively targets customers is essential to business success.

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