How to Create a Go-to-Market Strategy and Business Plan

In This Article

    Many businesses start with a good idea and smart people. The same goes for new product launches within established companies. This isn’t enough, however, to create success. To do that, you need a business plan and a go-to-market strategy. This is a guide to turning an idea into revenue.

    Step 1: Start Your Business Plan with Collaborators and a Vision Statement

    To start with, you need a ‘vision statement’. This is a succinct summary of what you want to achieve. You need to be able to explain what you want to do and what you have to offer in a few sentences. Your business plan and everything that follows is about how to make that happen.

    To do this you will need help. You need a diversity of viewpoints in order to ensure that you are thinking about every angle and idea. Build a team and make sure that people are empowered to speak their minds. The more critical eyes you can bring in on the process, the stronger your plan will be. You don’t have to take everyone’s advice, but it won’t hurt to hear it.

    Once you have developed a robust vision statement, move on to how teams will contribute to meeting these goals. Again, this is an area where collaboration is key. The greater buy-in you can get from stakeholders, the more engaged they will be. If team members help draft their own responsibilities, they will feel a greater level of ownership over their tasks.

    This plan can take many forms. It should, however, remain fairly high level. V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measures) is a popular outline that can help keep you on point. However, what is important is that your strategy reflects your product, your people and your goals.

    Step 2: Identify Customers and Market Segments

    Go-to-market strategies revolve around customers — your ‘target market audience’. Everything you do needs to be structured around getting relevant messaging in front of relevant people. Figuring out how to do that starts with identifying those relevant people.

    The broadest level at which you can think about this is your ‘total addressable market’ (TAM). This is every conceivable person to whom you could potentially make a customer. You should approach this in two ways. One, simply think about the people who need your product. Two, look at the customers of companies that sell similar products. You can then seek out quantifiable information about these groups of people.

    When looking at competitors you can learn two things a) what percentage of the market is already out of reach; b) the size of the market that exists that you can capture through offering a superior product.

    Gather information about customer pain points by speaking with potential customers. You then want to segment your customers by personas, region, industry and other attributes that allow you to more specifically target them through marketing material and messaging.

    Step 3: Create Value Proposition Statements

    A value proposition statement is similar to your vision statement. But, rather than being focused on what you want to achieve, your value proposition statement should communicate how and why you have an important offering. It is a statement of how you would like to be identified within the market. It should be tailored to your target market audience. When targeting multiple personas, you can construct multiple value proposition statements. It should be a straightforward statement that is relevant to your target market audience. The simpler the better.

    Step 4: Build a Go-to-Market Strategy

    Your vision statement, the identification of your target market audience and the development of value proposition statements are the foundations of your go-to-market strategy. You simply need to place these in a more actionable context.

    Think about inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Think about the long-term and short-term return-on-investment (ROI) of different actions. Identify the channels available to reach different target market audience personas. Think about how and when contact will have the greatest impact. Consider different marketing methodologies. Then, identify the people, teams and funds that you need to leverage in order to deliver on these plans.

    Your go-to-market strategy should roughly conform to this outline:

    • Overall statement regarding methodology & approach
    • Target market segments
    • Key market attributes and pain points
    • Target market personas
    • Key persona attributes and pain points
    • Value proposition statements
    • Offering details
    • Available channels of communication
    • Subdivisions based on target market and persona segments
    • Financial model and budget
    • Sales kit

    Step 5: Build a Marketing Calendar

    Your marketing calendar is the outline of how your campaign should progress. On the face of it, your marketing calendar is just a means of organising events, social activities and the publishing of marketing material. However, it is also a good opportunity to visualise your entire go-to-market strategy and link activities with customer acquisition projections.

    Prior to sinking money into the execution of your plan, you need to think about predicted success. You need to think about how your entire marketing strategy will progress from beginning to end — where money will be spent and where this will deliver results. This should be added to your go-to-market plan.

    Step 6: Develop a Distribution Plan

    Once you have identified how you will obtain customers, you need to plan for how you will deliver of those sales. You will do yourself no favours if you fail to deliver once customers have decided that they want your product or service.

    What this specifically means will depend greatly on your company. It may mean logistical planning. It will always mean thinking about pacing. You need to make sure that you don’t overextend yourself. Think about your current production and/or service capabilities. Identify the number of customers your could currently handle and develop a plan for expansion. Then, think about how long it would take to expand and always attempt to align your maximum deliverable capacity with acquired customers.
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    Step 7: Coordinate Your Teams and Execute Your Plan

    Prior to execution, you need to return to your teams and make sure that they are aligned in their goals and actions. This is where you started when forming your business plan, but it is important to go back and make sure everyone is clear on their role in your go-to-market strategy. Once that is clear, it is time to take your strategy to the market.

    1. Generate Brand Awareness: this means getting your value proposition statements in front of the right target market audience segments at the right time.
    2. Link Leads with the Right Teams: you need to identify and segregate marketing-qualified-leads (MQL) and sales-qualified-leads (SQL), collect contact info and follow up with the appropriate information.
    3. Close Sales and Deliver: you need people who can close sales and a plan that accounts for the logistical needs of delivering the products and services that you have promised.

    Step 8: Get Feedback and Retain an Open Mind

    Once you have begun to execute your strategy, it is important to get feedback. This means communicating with staff and comparing results against your projections. Don’t be afraid to change things based on the real-world metrics you gain throughout the sales process. However, generating brand awareness can take time. Don’t bail on a plan your spent months developing just because you aren’t an instant success. Stick to your budget and follow through.

    Summary: A Successful Go-to-Market Strategy Comes Down to Planning and Understanding Your Customers

    You started with an idea. Turning that idea into revenue requires planning. A successful plan revolves around knowledge. That begins with self-reflection and collaboration. Know your product, yourself and your customer, and you need not fear failure.

    Your go-to-market strategy should stem from your understanding of what you can deliver to customers. It then builds on the identification of the best available channels for communication with your target market audience. Finally, you need to deliver articulate messaging. To make sure that you can do this, you need to coordinate your teams, take on feedback and provide the right resources to those who need them. Then, follow through with customers. Happy customers will help you grow.