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How A Go-to-Market Strategy (GTM) Can Create A Competitive Advantage

Approx 6 min. read

Patrick Gallant

July 21, 2022

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You could have the best product in the world. But without a good go-to-market (GTM) strategy, your product launch will be turbulent and will most likely fail.

In 1983, Apple released the Apple Lisa. Although advanced for its time, the Lisa was a commercial failure. Early advertisements were confusing, and its high price tag ($9,995!) meant that only the wealthiest of consumers could afford it.

What went wrong? Apple failed to develop a good go-to-market strategy. Their marketing didn’t align with their launch, and, as a result, they could not reach product-market fit.

Brands that launch a product effectively use a go-to-market strategy to decide on the best way to market their product before, during, and after the actual launch. This gives them a competitive chance in their industry. Think of your go-to-market strategy as your playbook, to not only outfox your competitors but read the defensive obstacles that are in place and how to manage them. These are the guiding principles that make telling your story possible.  

If marketing is like gardening, then a go-to-market strategy is like starting with the right fertilizer, soil, and climate. If you don’t start with the right material for your flowers, they will never bloom. Similarly, a go-to-market strategy is necessary for ensuring that your product launches and grows healthily.

go to market strategy illustrated by 4 icons each a color of the rainbow

The best strategies take into account proven methodologies such as:

  • Account-Based Marketing
  • Inbound
  • Sales Enablement
  • Demand Generation

Having a marketing strategy is key. Only an estimated 25% of product launches succeed. Let’s see some impactful examples that we see driving value. 

Launch Plan vs GTM strategy

A launch plan and a GTM strategy are similar ideas. The key difference is that a GTM strategy is larger in scope.

A launch plan is just one part of a GTM strategy- the part about getting your product out in the world for the first time. It is focused on the sales and marketing for the initial launch moment.

A GTM strategy, on the other hand, will include more long-term strategies than a launch plan, such as plans for retaining loyal customers. Going back to the gardening analogy, a GTM strategy is like the long-term factors you have to consider to make your plants grow: proper soil, water, and sunlight for your plant’s needs. A launch plan would be more specifically focused just on the right way to plant the seeds.

Additionally, businesses will make a GTM strategy for occasions other than a product launch. For example:

  • Pivoting to a new audience
  • Releasing a new version of an old product
  • Repositioning in a new market.

Why is a good GTM strategy important?

A good strategy can make or break your business. Most businesses fail because they do not achieve product-market fit. They have a product, but not enough people to buy it. You need to create a competitive advantage.

With a tight marketing strategy, however, you make sure that you will have a large enough market. Sometimes, in designing a strategy, businesses find that their idea wasn’t feasible to begin with. But this is a good thing- instead of wasting a lot of money creating products no one will buy, they just lose a little bit of money writing and developing a plan.

In gardening, there are certain baseline variables you can set to ensure healthy growth. You can set the type of soil or fertilizer, the amount of sunlight your plants receive, and a watering schedule. Similarly, with marketing, you can set certain variables to ensure growth. This includes pricing, the way you communicate with your audience, and how your sales team operates.

4 Different Marketing Strategies

Good GTM strategies don’t have to have any particular shape. There are many different go-to- market strategies, and it takes a lot of experience, intuition, and good judgment to decide what will work best for your product.

Let’s take a look at a few practices you can use in designing your plans.

Account-based Marketing

Account based marketing (ABM) focuses marketing on personalized customer interactions. Instead of targeting potential leads en masse with generic messages, you only target your highest value customers with individualized sales messaging.

The advantage to this is obvious: you waste fewer resources on low-paying clients and customers. Instead, you tailor your marketing to the ones that matter. This is like only buying fertilizer that is optimized for your plants, and ignoring the nutritional needs for plants you aren’t growing to begin with.

ABM works best in a GTM strategy if you get most of your business from a few high-paying clients, and if you also have enough information about them to deliver personalized messaging.

One example of an ABM tool is Demandbase. Demandbase uses AI to find the most targeted way of reaching your most important leads. Instead of intrusive, generic messaging, you can fill your GTM strategy with customer-tailored interactions.

ABM Example: HGS Healthcare

Dealing with the administrative procedures of health insurance can be frustrating. It can be difficult to reach a real person, and you will often wind up talking to a series of bots instead. While this approach is cheap, it frustrates patients and doctors, and makes sales and marketing more difficult.

HGS Healthcare performs administrative services for healthcare companies, including handling calls, claims processing, provider database management, and more. They used Demandbase to deliver account-based marketing to potential leads. Previously, they had relied mostly on phone calls, but lots of high-value clients did not answer their phones.

Demandbase’s services helped HSG to use targeted advertising to reach their most important clients. The results were impressive- they were able to drive 40% of a niche audience to their website with a single outreach. This enabled them to reach previously unreachable targets, including high-ranking executives and physicians. 

Inbound Marketing

In the 2020’s, content is king. There’s a reason nearly every business has a blog and often a Youtube channel- content marketing attracts potential customers. HubSpot is famous for inbound marketing. It offers an easy to use content management system for businesses to organize their content marketing output.

HubSpot uses its own technology to generate inbound marketing. On their blog, they post a regular output of marketing related content to attract and inform new leads. People are drawn in by the sheer value of the content they produce.

Inbound marketing makes use of this fact by generating content to bring customers in. It’s a bit like a flower using bright colors to attract bees- sure, it’s expensive to produce all that content, but it’s worth it if it helps pollinate. A GTM strategy can use inbound marketing to attract leads, inform and educate the public, and establish brand presence. We use content marketing for ourself and for our clients at EverWonder. Inbound is one of our eight pillars, and it has helped us drive sales for multiple clients.

Sales Enablement

Starting a conversation from scratch is hard. Your words may not resonate right away, and you may feel like you are going into the fight empty-handed. That’s why providing your sales staff with powerful tools to do their job can help them feel more comfortable working with new leads.

Sales enablement is when you give your sales team a boost by providing resources like tools, content, and information. It works best for businesses that have a sales-heavy revenue stream, or where customers spend a lot of time interacting with sales.

For a GTM strategy, it helps to identify what resources your sales team will need to perform at their best. When launching a new product, for example, they will need to be thoroughly educated about all of its features. They will also need to be trained in your new sales strategy.

One tool you can give your sales team is Lessonly. Lessonly helps streamline communications, train sales staff, and provide marketing insights.

Sales Enablement Example: Gabb Wireless

Gabb Wireless is a cellular network that tailor plans to the needs of children and their parents. Launched in 2018, they are a rapidly growing company, and they plan to triple their workforce in the next year. That rapid scaling means that the training program they used for sales staff in the beginning simply doesn’t work anymore.

To create a better sales training program, Gabb used Lessonly. Lessonly provided them with several valuable tools, including:

  • Streamlined content searches
  • Mock customer interactions
  • Continued feedback and coaching

Their new strategy has worked wonders- new agent ramp time has dropped by 80%, letting them scale faster and reach more customers effectively.

Demand Generation

Demand generation uses data to drive inbound marketing. It is a tech-heavy strategy that optimally encompasses the entire customer journey.

Because this is a wide umbrella, demand generation can include practices such as:

  • Paid ads
  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Paywalled or gated content
  • Email marketing
  • Chatbots

illustration of a white and silver watch with a tan band

MVMT is a good GTM strategy example of demand generation. They regularly put new luxury watches and sunglasses on the market, and need to have a market strategy to make sure that their products will sell. 

To this end, they employ paid ads, blogging, and email marketing to generate demand. Using data, they can get a feel for what products will be likely to succeed, and how best to market them. Their marketing efforts are driven by these considerations.

MVMT’s demand generation strategy has worked amazingly well- in just five years, they went from nothing to a company worth $300 million. Part of MVMT’s success is the fact that it is entirely online- they operate no retail stores, and drive sales through multiple online channels. 

Developing a Go-to-market Strategy for your Business

Developing a good go-to-market plan for your new launch is crucial, but there is no one way to do it. In general, you will have to consider factors like:

  • Target customers
  • Market saturation
  • Competitors
  • Product-market fit

But beyond that, the choice of what marketing techniques to use is entirely up to you. The decision will come down to your own best judgment about your place in the market.

Different practices may work better for each business model- for example, ABM works best for industries with a small number of high-paying clients. And sales enablement works best for industries where customers have a lot of involvement with the sales team.

Just like with gardening, different strategies will work best with whatever you are trying to grow. Tomatoes won’t grow in dry soil, and your product will not grow without the right go-to-market strategy.

“No great execution happens by accident. No successful product launch happens magically. There is always an amazing plan that’s been designed before it or that it’s based on.” - Brian Sena

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