Creating a Go-to-Market Strategy

Develop a go-to-market strategy that is aligned with your sales and marketing efforts.

In today’s competitive market, you must have a formal process for introducing new products or product enhancements to your prospective market segments. In this article, I will define what a go-to-market strategy is and provide guidelines for developing one suited to your specific objectives.

A go-to-market strategy defines the Who, What, Where, and When of a product or service introduction. Your strategy must be thorough and at the same time unique – differentiating your offering(s) from those of your competitors. There are six steps to defining your go-to-market strategy. They are:

1. Market Research – begin your new product or product enhancement initiative by collecting information from your market, current users or non-users, and prospective customers. This is often accomplished through surveys, focus-groups, ethnographic studies, and so on. The result will be a comprehensive list of customer needs and wants that can shape your go-to-market activities.

2. Identify Business Requirements – synthesize what you’ve learned from the market into a business requirements document. This document should define the specific product or service attributes that are in demand and the functionality that is required to be successful in the marketplace.

3. Align Corresponding Capabilities – now that you know what your prospective customers want and what it will take to be accepted in the market place, you should align your corporate capabilities with the identified requirements. Is this something you can produce? If so, can you produce it independently or do you need to outsource certain functions?

4. Define Relevant Value – What is the specific value that is derived from the product or service? Knowing what the true value of the product offering is important to ensuring clear customer communications.

5. Differentiate from Competitor – How is your offering differentiated from competitive offerings? If your product or service isn’t unique, what other attributes can you compete on? (service, price, etc.)

6. Demonstrate Appropriate Proof – How can prospective customers believe your messaging without proof points? Survey results, demonstrations, testimonials and so on are effective tools that provide verification of your claims.

Once you have documented your initial product or service strategy, you need to define the proper steps introducing the new product or service, cultivating relationships, and closing sales. In this section are listed various marketing communication tools that support the sales process of creating attention and interest, cultivating relationships, and closing sales.

Creating attention and interest

Prospecting Letters/Mailers or Email – one of the most effective ways to begin the sales process is through segmented marketing. Based on pre-selecting criteria, previous campaign results, or sampling, define the segments who you would like to target first.

By sending prospecting letters/mailers/email to various segments, controlling for one variable like offer, can give you specific feedback in terms of which factors are most relevant to your target segment.

Cultivating Relationships

Once you have generated some interest for your product or service through an initial touch, its time to begin cultivating a relationship with your prospective customer. This is best done through a communications plan that incorporates sales and marketing initiatives. Some commonly used sale initiatives include:

• Coaching prompters
• Follow-up letters
• Requirements Analysis (assessment)
• Presentations
• Collateral (leave-behinds)
• Competitive coaching

Some commonly used marketing approaches include:

• Demonstrations
• Online presentations
• Direct marketing and collateral
• Advertising
• Tradeshow presence

Closing the Deal

After identifying prospect needs, providing information, and differentiating your offering from that of your competitor, its time to close the deal. The process of closure is often secured with some type of proposal, contract, or letter of agreement.

Your marketing strategy must take all of the above factors into consideration. This is essential for identifying the right market, best products and services, appropriate messaging, and sales/marketing tactics required to close the sale.

Most importantly, make sure that you document your activities. By doing so, you can review what worked and what didn’t before developing your next go-to-market strategy and plan.