GTM Strategy Guide

August 26, 2021

The Complete Go-To-Market Strategy Guide

Written by Karli Stone

You never board a plane without knowing your destination, where the exits are, or your seat number. You don’t hike up a mountain without a trail and proper equipment. You don’t embark on a road trip without knowing your route and your stops. 

In the same way, you should never dive into a new market or launch a new product without an effective go-to-market (GTM) strategy. Without a road map, even the greatest products and the most exciting opportunities can be unprofitable.

In fact, a recent survey of product managers revealed that only 11% of organizations reported that all of their new products met their internal launch targets. 

In business, we know it’s ever-important to define your ideal customer and conduct market research. When bringing your product to market, any small oversight is enough to spiral your launch. 

A thoughtful go-to-market strategy limits the possibility of failure. It uses gathered knowledge to provide your business with attainable milestones at every step of the way during your introduction to a new market.

Breaking into a new market and investing in a new product or service is exciting! It’s an opportunity for growth, expansion, and improvement. This article will not only detail what a successful go-to-market strategy looks like, but will help you capitalize on those opportunities by providing you with a guide on building a GTM strategy that is perfect for your business.

[lwptoc]

What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?

First, let’s get on the same page…

A go-to-market strategy is a comprehensive action plan that outlines how a company will deliver their product or service into a new market to reach its target customers. 

A GTM strategy is always product-driven. It’s a plan that emphasizes market penetration and utilizes buyer personas to ensure that a new product reaches its target audience. 

While dozens of variables affect exactly how a GTM plan looks, the end goal is to gain competitive advantage. 

Rolling out a new product should set you apart, not hold you back. When you prepare a thoughtful go-to-market strategy, you’re recognizing that effective product positioning can single you out from your competitors in any given market.

Marketing Strategy vs. Go-To-Market Strategy

If you’re new to go-to-market strategy, it might be tempting to confuse GTM strategy with marketing strategy. Here’s the difference…

Marketing strategy is a long-term business plan that describes how your company will keep its competitive advantage in the market for years to come. Think of it like a blueprint for reaching a prospective customer and turning them into a paying customer. 

A good marketing strategy will cover “the four Ps”: product, price, place, and promotion. It is an ongoing strategy that aligns with the company’s goals and purpose. In order to create that competitive advantage, it focuses on communicating the company’s differentiated value proposition clearly and effectively over time.

A go-to-market strategy is also focused on establishing competitive advantage, but the purpose and function of that strategy is different.

A go-to-market strategy, like we’ve learned, relates to something new. It is a short-term, step-by-step map to bring a new product or service into the market. A GTM strategy infuses a company’s unique value proposition into its messaging on a new product or service. It’s all about taking your product vision and converting it into a strategic marketing plan that propels your company forward. 

If you’re just starting your business, you will have a similar, if not identical, marketing strategy and GTM strategy. You’re completely focused on entering your markets! But after you have successfully entered, you should start expanding your business model to include separate game plans for your existing products and your new launches.

Now that you’re more familiar with the terminology, let’s get back to building that GTM strategy.

Go-to-Market Strategy Framework

Having a well-organized, easy-to-follow strategy is essential to a successful launch. The amount of information you need to gather might feel overwhelming, but fear not! We have condensed all the moving pieces of a GTM strategy into seven digestible steps:

Step 1: Define your target market

The first step in any successful GTM strategy is defining your target market. Your target market determines everything, from what you spend your marketing dollars on to how you position your product in the market.

No one can afford to target everyone. That is why it’s important to be specific and thoughtful when determining who is most likely to become a paying customer. 

Here are some pointers on defining your target market:

Look at your current customers

Who is currently interested in your product and why? Do they stand to benefit from your new product? Take a deep dive into who your current customers are by creating a thorough customer profile. It can help you target similar groups in your launch.

Research your competitors’ target market

What competitors are doing in your new market is very revealing. Check out who they are targeting and try to define your target market differently. Is there an untapped market they may be overlooking?

Analyze your new product

Get down to the nitty-gritty. Make a list of all the features of your new product and list the benefits each one provides. This list will inevitably lead to ideas about who would be interested in these benefits and help you define your target market. 

Step 2: Explain your unique value proposition

You know your product is better than your competitors. You already know the talking points and have dozens of reasons why your new product is the best. 

Now, your GTM strategy needs a unique value proposition (UVP) that is short and sweet; a simple, compelling statement that summarizes how a customer would uniquely benefit from your product or service. 

Check out this unique value proposition from Apple: 

Why there’s nothing quite like the iPhone – every iPhone we’ve made was built on the same belief. That a phone should be more than a collection of features. That, above all, a phone should be absolutely simple, beautiful, and magical to use”.

Instead of focusing on one or two unique features of their product, they decided to distinguish themselves in the gadget-filled smartphone market by iterating how the overall experience of using an iPhone is sleeker and simpler. They use what they know about their target market to create a message that tells the people, “We understand you best!”

Develop a UVP by thinking about the fears, needs, and wants of your target audience. How are those needs solved by the experiences of your product? Here is a structure we find helpful in developing a unique value proposition.

Unique value proposition

Keep this model in mind as you develop your UVP. Remember: a unique value proposition is not a slogan or a mission statement. It highlights the problem customers want to solve and why you’re the best solution out there!

Step 3: Define your product positioning strategy

The way you decide to position your product in a new market can make or break your launch. 

In this step, you decide how you want your target market to think and feel about your product. It’s all about creating positive associations to your product in people’s hearts and minds. As you define your product strategy, consider these things:

  • What you have learned about the buyer personas in your target market
  • Any openings you’ve noticed in your target market
  • Any spaces your product can uniquely occupy in the mind of a potential customer

Product positioning is not re-stating your value proposition. It’s using your UVP to determine what motivates your target audience on an emotional level, and then branding your product accordingly.

Step 4: Decide on your pricing strategy

It could go without saying: pricing can be everything. Deciding on a pricing strategy is more than a financial business decision; it communicates the inherent value that your product is going to provide a potential customer. 

We already know that there are dozens of pricing structures to choose from (value-based pricing, cost-plus pricing, price skimming, competition-based pricing, etc.), and it is important to take your pricing strategy in context with your GTM goals. 

If you’re new to a market, your pricing strategy might differ from what you currently have in place. And that’s ok!

Here are some tips for your marketing team to keep in mind:

  • Think about your target market and your product-market fit. Who is willing to pay for your product and at what cost? Are there existing pricing expectations?
  • Think about how you want your customers to pay. What payment method will they use?
  • Is there a way to create competitive advantage with your pricing model?
  • Map out the risks. Identify any economic, internal, and competitive risks that could come with your new pricing strategy. 

Step 5: Define your distribution plan

Now it’s time to think about how you’ll get your new product into the hands of buyers. 

A good distribution plan, especially one in a new market, focuses on the needs of its end-user. 

  • If your target market prefers personalized service, find a local dealer network. 
  • If they prefer to buy online, invest in a high-end online presence and e-commerce site. 
  • Connecting with wholesalers, retailers, and consultants is another good option, since they have the resources to bring your product to market quickly. 

But, most importantly, your distribution plan should match and support the objectives of your business strategy. It is important you take into consideration all of the location strategies and tactics you could utilize to sell your product in a new market.

Things for you to consider include:

  • Where your customers like to buy
  • Where your competition is selling
  • The relationship between where you are selling and your brand
  • The options for distribution channels
  • How your sales volume and profits are impacted by those distribution channels

Step 6: Decide on your messaging strategy

Despite the greatness of your new product, it can’t be purchased if potential buyers don’t know that it exists. 

Your go-to-market strategy should list the ways you’ll use target messaging to help people encounter your product. Your messaging strategy should be informed by all the information you’ve gathered in the previous steps.

You’ll need to decide on your primary communication methods. A recent study reports that buyers are spending 68% of their buying journey digitally, before ever speaking with a sales rep. 

In light of this, make sure you are infusing thoughtful messaging in your content marketing and social media presence. Remember that your messaging should unite multiple audiences and not focus too heavily on a single buyer persona.

Step 7: Decide your success metrics

Now it’s time to select which success metrics you want to measure. 

Your GTM strategy will need a lot of monitoring. You’ll need to know quickly if you’re drifting from your targets.

These metrics are helpful ones to integrate:

  • ROI for sales strategy (total revenue divided by selling cost)
  • Conversion rates on leads
  • Customer Acquisition Costs
  • Customer Lifetime Value (average revenue you receive over the life of an account)
  • Sales cycle length (average time it takes to close a sale)

Wondering how to even begin calculating and tracking these metrics? Keep reading to find out how Apollo can help!

Go-to-Market Strategy for Startups

If you’re an early-stage startup, you might be tempted to think that investing the time and money to create a thorough go-to-market strategy isn’t worth it. After all, you’ve got a lot on your plate and you’re still trying to reach product-market fit. 

But remember: if you’re not focused on growth, your product won’t sell!

Your go-to-market strategy should still follow our framework, but consider taking these few additional steps:

Marketing-intensive vs. Sales-intensive

Determine whether your product is marketing-intensive (cheap, high “fit”, large market size, B2C) or sales-intensive (expensive, low “fit”, small market size, B2B). Your product can have elements of both, but the goal is to determine where it fits best. This will shape the core of your GTM strategy.

List your Acquisition Channels

List all of your possible customer acquisition channels and channel partners. Detail what success looks like in each and rank them by priority. As an early-stage start-up you have less funding and less resources. Think about what success looks like in each channel and which will be most likely to produce the highest ROI!

Map Your Customer’s Journey

Your business is new and you might have a muddled idea on exactly what your buyer’s journey looks like. Get your pen to paper and describe what it looks like for your customer to decide and execute a purchase.

Revisit your GTM Strategy

Expertly manage your GTM strategy after implementation! Your go-to-market strategy needs constant revisiting and revision, even long after its built. Everyone with a GTM strategy should do this, but especially startups. With limited resources and smaller overhead, you should be quick to make changes and avoid mistakes.

Your GTM strategy might look a little different, but even for startups, the time and energy you put into creating an intensive go-to-market plan will pay off in dividends during your product launch. 

Go-to-Market Strategy Example

Now that you understand the framework of an effective GTM strategy, let’s look at an example of a launch that did a great job putting this into action.

Fitbit’s Smart Coach

A few years ago, Fitbit’s “Get More with Fitbit” campaign featured their new personal training technology, the Smart Coach. The Smart Coach was launched and branded as a premium personal training app and service, designed to integrate with the company’s fitness trackers.

With this launch, they were looking for penetration into a new market, and their GTM strategy earned the company around $192 million in revenue.

How did they do it?

Their strategy involved:

  • Developing a clearly defined target audience: current Fitbit owners
  • Focusing on product positioning in a relatively niche market
  • Utilizing push notification, email campaigns, and newsletter in their outbound messaging
  • Retargeting display ads towards their new launch’s landing page to generate inbound marketing
  • Prioritizing content and digital marketing with an aggressive social media push

Fitbit does have access to significant marketing dollars but regardless of your budget, with thoughtful and strategic go-to-market planning, you can have a successful launch as well.

Go-to-Market Strategy Template

You’ve gathered information on your target market and target customer, your value proposition up against your competitors, your ideal pricing strategy and distribution plan, and everything else that goes into a successful GTM strategy.

You’ve seen an example of an effective GTM strategy. Now it’s time to start plugging all that information into your own organized plan. It’s important that all of your great ideas are concise and easy to follow for your marketing team.

To ensure you don’t miss a single step, we have created a free market strategy template! Download the template below for an easy-to-use and modifiable guide to bringing your new product to the people.

How Apollo Can Help You Build a Winning GTM Strategy

A recent report shows that 76% of CEOs, across all industries, believe that their current business model will be unrecognizable in five years. 

Business is moving fast

If you’re a product manager, it’s no longer viable to rely on your sales reps’ manual input and unautomated sales processes, especially when building and executing your GTM strategy.

This is where Apollo comes in. As an all-in-one data tool that offers a 210-million-contact database, automation tools, data analytics, custom outbound personalization, and so much more, using Apollo to help you build a successful GTM strategy is a no-brainer. 

Let’s get down to specifics. You want a foolproof launch, here’s how Apollo supports you during every step of GTM strategy build:

1. Use Apollo to Define and Analyze your Total Addressable Market (TAM)

Creating a GTM strategy requires that you know your total addressable market. A total addressable market, also known as your total available market, is the total revenue opportunity that is available for a product in a given market. Determining the potential scale and stability of your market is an important part of defining your target market (step one of that GTM framework). 

Here is a visual of what we’re talking about:

TAM vs Global market graphic

Seems a little overwhelming? Good news, Apollo can help!

You need to conduct and delegate research to calculate their TAM. Go to the Apollo dashboard and navigate to Search > Companies.  Here you can research your industry. With data on 210 million contacts across 20 million companies, utilize filters like:

  • Company
  • # of Employees
  • Industry
  • Revenue
  • VC Funding

Using our 65+ specific data attributes, you can find reliable information on the scope of your market. Clicking on the Technologies filter, will allow you to look into the customers of your competitors to determine your market’s potential for growth.

This is the kind of information you’ll need when calculating your total addressable market, and Apollo’s got it!

2. Use Apollo to Find the Gaps in your Current Database

To execute a successful launch, you need accurate data. You can’t refine and analyze your product positioning strategy, distribution strategy, and pricing model with holes in your database. 

Without a tool like Apollo, sales reps are required to manually log everything into their CRM and move between a variety of unsynced tools. If that’s the case, updating your database to build a successful GTM strategy means hours of manual entry and outside research. 

In addition to Apollo’s unmatched database, our Enrichment feature keeps your CRM fresh and clean. Every lead, contact, and account is continuously optimized and updated through our platform. 

Sync your CRM to Apollo during setup to benefit from this feature.

3. Use Apollo to Find Data on Your Personas

As we learned, building a GTM strategy requires developing and researching comprehensive buyer personas to improve product marketing. 

But, without a reliable database, finding actionable information on your personas can be not only time-consuming but untrustworthy.

With Apollo, users can create, describe, and activate all of your buyer personas directly in the app. To create your first persona, head to Settings > Personas. From there, you can create a new Persona by clicking + New Persona at the bottom of the page. Then, choose the titles and seniority you want to include in this persona, and choose the titles you want to exclude as well. 

Now, you’re ready to get that data! When looking to find data on your personas during GTM building, just navigate to People in the left hand menu to start your search.

Rather than having to find data based on remembering and searching a variety of key terms (Human Resource, Talent, People, HR, etc), you can now create and save personalized personas during prospecting and data-gathering. 

Developing finely tuned, data-driven personas not only promotes transparency within your team, but allows you to effectively target your messaging. Adding buyer personas to your Apollo account also informs Apollo’s suggestions on who to prospect, who to engage with, and helps you quickly search on LinkedIn. 

Check out this video to learn how you can use personas to filter and organize your searches within the Apollo app!

4. Use Apollo to Set Up Sequences to Target Your Personas

Now that you have accurate information on your personas, you need a foolproof method of targeting them. As we learned in the framework overview, building a messaging strategy to target these personas is necessary to build an effective GTM strategy.

Sales and marketing teams are usually the ones responsible for generating pineline, and oftentimes, sending an email is the cheapest way to target personas. But, for smaller businesses, this means wasting countless hours writing and sending personalized emails to their target audience. Product managers may even resort to relying on inbound marketing, which limits their control of who they target and could throw them off of their GTM goals. 

With Apollo’s Sequences feature, what used to take days, now takes hours. Users can create their ideal messaging strategy from the ground up. 

Build a unique messaging sequence for each specific buyer persona using automated emails, calls, and task steps for your reps. 

Navigate to Sequences in the left-hand main navigation menu and click the + New Sequence button in the upper-right corner.

Sequences in Apollo.io

Next, select if you want to create an entirely new one from scratch, clone an existing sequence, or use a prebuilt sequence (Apollo has created some nice sequence outlines to utilize).

Give your new Sequence a Name, set its Permissions for individual or team viewing/usage, and add any relevant Tags to identify and filter for it in your list of Sequences.

Select an existing one or create a new sending Schedule to define the days and times you’d like your messages to be sent.

The sequences’ dashboard also offers you all the data points on click and reply rates for all of you sequences so you can continually optimize your GTM engagement strategy.

Integrating with Apollo to target your personas means prioritizing consistency and accountability in your GTM strategy. Your team can now fully plan and execute a messaging strategy that mitigates errors and wasted opportunities. Learn more about how to create your first go-to-market sequence here!

Whether or not your business is an enterprise or a startup, putting significant marketing efforts into building a go-to-market strategy can be daunting. But at Apollo, we understand that preparation breeds success. By following our framework and integrating the go-to-market tools that Apollo offers, bringing your new product to market is sure to be a success.

Get started with Apollo

Karli Stone headshot Karli Stone

Karli Stone is copy writer and content creator living in Los Angeles, CA and a proud University of Washington grad. When she’s not wordsmith-ing, you can find her biking along Santa Monica Beach, following the Seattle Seahawks, or catching a flick at her local cinema.