Last year, I helped a friend set up a tea business. She’s an herbalist and needed some cash flow. And what do people love more than fresh, local, herbal teas specific to their body type? (A lot of things, I’m sure, but it seemed like a pretty decent idea to help her garden break even.)
When we were setting up her website, choosing a brand name, and selecting the types of teas she would sell, we created a go-to-market strategy to help her successfully launch and market her business.
Whether you’re introducing a new product or service or launching a new business altogether, a go-to-market strategy is a must.
In this post, we’re answering all your go-to-market strategy questions, including:
- What is a go-to-market strategy?
- Why do I need a go-to-market strategy?
- How do I create a go-to-market strategy?
Plus, we’re sharing a free template to make creating your go-to-market strategy a breeze!
What is a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is the marketing plan developed to bring a new product or offering to a new or existing audience.
Aside from the dictionary definition, it’s the plan you need to make to launch your product into the market. It doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as your boss or partners make it sound! This strategy can be as simple as understanding your unique value proposition and creating marketing content around it.
Why build a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy serves as your guiding light for the launch of your new product, service, or business. It’s what informs your marketing plan, your messaging, and who you’re targeting. Just like you wouldn’t set out for a long hike without planning your route, checking the weather, and packing the essentials, you don’t want to invest time, money, and energy in a new offering that’s not going to be successful.
What it’s like launching a new product or service without a go-to-market strategy.
How to build a go-to-market strategy for your small business
In this post, we’ll cover all the steps you should take to formulate a go-to-market strategy. We know not all businesses have the same set of resources or budget at their disposal, so this outline is specific to SMBs.
For the purpose of this post, let’s say that you created a new way to cook pizza (humor me). This new process is better than a pizza oven, it’s faster without losing the quality of the cooked crust. You can now make and bake pizza at a faster rate than any of your competitors, which allows you to put more money in your pocket without hiring more employees or creating a bottleneck around one expensive oven.
1. Identify and articulate the market gap
First things first. Why did you develop this new offering? What gap did you see in the market and create the perfect filler for? A square peg in a square hole, if you will. If this type of product already exists, why is your new-and-improved version better than your competition?
Following our pizza example, you’ll need to tell your audience about how fast and delicious your pizza is compared to lame, slow Papa John’s.
2. Create buyer personas
As you build a go-to-market plan, you need to understand more than your target audience. You need to understand your exact buyers. Creating buyer personas helps with this. You may need to create one buyer persona or multiple depending on who you’re trying to target.
For each buyer persona, consider and identify the following:
- Background: Are there common characteristics this persona can reflect?
- Demographics: Basic information like gender, age range, income, etc.
- Identifiers: Are there certain devices this persona gravitates toward or ways they prefer to communicate?
- Goals: What is their goal for doing business with you or purchasing your products?
- Challenges: What challenges are they trying to address with your product or service?
- What you can offer them: What can you provide that competitors can’t or that can best meet their needs?
- Common objections: What would keep this person from doing business with you?
- Real quotes: Get creative and write out some quotes you could see them saying.
It’s also a best practice to name your buyer persona(s) to better visualize who you’re targeting!
While this doesn’t need to be a whole, drawn-out exercise, it’s important to create a character that you associate with your marketing and advertising efforts. Work with your product team, or whoever you would consider a product expert, to understand exactly who they are building this new offering for and what their lives look like.
3. Understand your buyers’ needs
Once you have your buyer persona sorted out, you can dig into their needs. Are your customers placing pick-up orders on their way home from work? Or delivery orders since they work from home now? Are they a parent, feeding a clan of hungry kids? Or a manager, ordering an easy meal for the team who is working late?
When you identify their pain points, you can understand how to meet their needs.
4. Identify marketing channels
This is where the actionable strategy comes in. Your team should identify the best marketing channels to leverage in your go-to-market strategy. I recommend going with a healthy cross-channel marketing mix to reach all your buyer personas and make some noise with the press.
This is easy. Research keywords around your new product and set up a new local search advertising campaign or ad group to turn on when you launch the new offering. This ensures your paid campaigns don’t miss a step and are included in your go-to-market strategy for the short and long term.
Yes, post your official statement or press release on your social channels. But your employees and advocates should post about it as well! In the past, I’ve leveraged solid networking and partnerships to promote a big product release.
Pro tip: gather a list of the partners or influencers you’d want to leverage at least a week ahead of time and set up an email campaign specific to them. Include canned copy for them to post easily with a link to your announcement or reshare your post. Even better, give them a coupon code to motivate them to share!
Partnerships and sponsored placements
While I touched on this above, it’s always good to leverage partners to get the word out about a new offering. You may also want to consider a sponsored placement in third-party publications, like a local newspaper or newsletter, ad campaigns on certain websites, or syndicate whatever content you’re writing into an aggregator or outside site like Medium.
Running any nurture campaigns? Don’t forget to add your brand new feature to the email marketing cadence. Your go-to-market strategy should be long and short-term; we’ll get into that more below.
If your new product launch is important enough to warrant a go-to-market strategy, it should be accompanied by a blog post (if you have a company blog). You may also need to create an FAQ for your sales team to answer questions from prospects or your customer service team to answer questions from customers. And if all those teams are just…you, well. Less time needed to train others!
Since the world is finally getting back to normal, it’s time to think about event marketing once again! Hosting a happy hour or a giveaway timeframe (e.g. free slice of pizza to anyone who buys a t-shirt) is a great way to get happy people in the door and promote your product as much as you are.
5. Make a launch plan
Your go-to-market strategy should hinge around the release date. When will you announce this shiny, new product or service? And what will launch day (or week) look like? Set the date, include each aspect of the launch, and work your way backward to project manage each piece.
Press releases can be a bit pricey, but worth your while if you make good use of them. Otherwise, I recommend simply putting out an official statement on your social accounts and website.
Have any customers in a pre-launch phase? Or maybe they were your test subjects when you were testing out the new pizza technology. If any of these customers are pleased enough to vouch for you, it would be a great piece of PR to get a customer quote in your press release or announcement.
Plus, get ahead of the game by obtaining a case study up-front instead of waiting months for someone to agree to it.
You absolutely should not forget to announce the new offering through an official email to your customers, prospects, and partners. Make a branded outreach to your email list. Explain the new feature or offering, why you’ve made an update, and how to reach your team with questions or concerns.
Speaking of questions or concerns, arm your employees with talk tracks and coupon codes to hand out to anyone asking questions about the new feature. Your employees are your best advocates! Put them to work in the field.
6. Plan for the long term
Remember, this product or service is here to stay. This means aspects of your go-to-market strategy should stretch further into the future than you might think.
Take some time to research keywords that will take your go-to-market plan into the next year. If your new product is dense or complicated, think about writing a how-to guide or creating a university for your users.
When it comes to writing content for SEO, you know sooner is better because Google takes it’s good old time to rank you.
This is always top of my list for launch and long-term planning. Invest in some great design assets to kick off your product launch and reuse for slide decks, website pages, landing pages, blog posts, how-to guides, and more. This also includes getting images ready for your other marketing channels post-launch.
Don’t forget about sales enablement! Arm your sales team with catchy one-pagers to facilitate their talk tracks and pitch process. One-pagers are great for investors and partners as well.
Upsell, customer support, and retention
If you anticipate this feature being part of your product stack long-term, then you’ll need to consider all different angles. How can you upsell current customers? How can you support them through this shift? And how do you expect this feature will impact the retention of your customers when it comes time to sign another contract or place another order?
Get started with your go-to-market strategy
Make your launch a success by following these steps and downloading our editable (and free!) go-to-market strategy template. This plan will set you up for success long-term and ensure your new product or service lasts a long, long time.