8 steps for creating your powerful go-to-market strategy
A good go-to-market (GTM) strategy for your business consists of 3 pillars.
Less than 5% of startups exceed the seed stage. That means 95% of all startups fail.
We as founders can do an amazing job in building a product, have great ads and social media profiles, an awesome logo, and maybe even raise the first fund...but still fail.
Why is that? Well, the people you’re talking to don’t care. But why?
... you’re not special enough or different from others
... your solution is too complicated (not easy enough) and they don’t understand what you do
... you market your product to the wrong people (wrong positioning)
... they miss the value in your product (just not important enough)
So in order to maximize your chance of success, it's important to have a clear go-to-market strategy (GTM) for your business.
What is a go-to-market strategy (GTM)?
A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a step-by-step plan created to successfully launch a product to market. It literally connects your product with your potential customers.
A good go-to-market (GTM) strategy for your business consists of 3 pillars:
Market Strategy (What is the market you are going for? Who is your (niche) ideal customer persona? How big is the total addressable market TAM? What is the big problem you're trying to solve?)
Product Strategy (What's the solution for the core problem you're trying to solve? How to make sure your customers get immediate value with your product - getting them to AHA moment fast)
Growth Strategy (How do you grow? Are you marketing-driven vs. sales-driven vs. product-led driven? What growth channels work for you? What is your positioning (market segmentation), your value proposition (sales messaging), and your pricing strategy (cheapest vs. most expensive?)
Today, I will share with you 8 steps on how you can create your go-to-market strategy for your startup.
8 steps for creating your go-to-market strategy
#1 Launching is a stage, NOT a one-time event
A lot of times, I see founders thinking about launching their startup in a very linear way. By linear I mean, they first spend most of their time on building a product, and then, when the product is ready, they launch it and are hoping for massive success.
And when being asked what launch means for them, I mostly hear...
... launching our product on Product Hunt or Appsumo
... customers can now sign up on our website and test the product
... we've started to spend money on Google and Facebook ads
In reality, it's mostly not like this. Launching should not just be one single launch event.
Don't wait for this magic single launch day. It's important to see launching as a stage, rather than a single event. It is not like pushing the secret launch button and then magically lots of customers sign up and you see exponential growth.
I suggest seeing launching as a company stage with multiple ongoing launches. So you engage with your customers as early as possible, get their feedback asap and maximize the chance you are building something your ideal customers really want. A great way is to build an engaged audience from the beginning and continuously launch your latest product to them (more in #2).
#2 Build an (engaged) audience from the beginning
If you follow the linear approach of building the product and then launching, you will most likely start thinking about how to get customers too late. So make sure, that you are building your audience straight from the beginning even if you don't have a product ready to use.
The good thing about engaging with your audience from the beginning is, that your audience is normally interested in the overall problem you are trying to solve. This means you can grow an engaged audience without having the final product.
Great ways to build an audience are mailing lists, Facebook groups, Slack Channels, or simply running webinars, a Youtube channel, or blogging.
Share relevant content for your ideal customer persona, especially around the problem you are trying to solve for them. Also when you are doing your market research and customers interviews, don't forget to invite them to your mailing list.
Another way is to build your product in public, which means you are sharing frequent updates on your journey. This could be sharing learnings from your interviews (e.g. on Twitter, Linkedin...), first product mockups, product demos, or public product roadmaps. The goal is to get early feedback (and later convert those warm leads into paying customers).
P.S. Of course, you can still launch on product hunt or have an official launch for PR - but those are rather small steps of your launch stage.
#3 Know your ideal customer personas' BIG problem
Make sure to write down the market you are serving, be precise, and narrow it down (5 bullet points are great). Define your ideal customer persona and the niche you are going after. The more precise and clearer you are on your niche, the easier it gets for you to know your customer needs and the BIG problem you are going to solve for them.
Really dig deep to understand the market and the problem you are after - ideally, the problem is big, frequent, and urgent. This means if you are going to solve their problem (with your solution), your product is actually valuable for them, meaning they are willing to pay for it.
#4 Why now? What are the macro trends supporting your business?
Now you know that there are ideally lots of potential customers facing a specific problem. Why is now a great time for you to solve this problem? What are the macro trends underlying the problem? Are there any bigger macro trends that are supportive for you or which actually caused the big problems? So ask yourself:
Why does the BIG problem exist? What causes it?
What's the underlying macro trend causing the problem?
Is there a big shift in your market that causes the problem or even helps you in solving it?
Why do people care about the problem?
Knowing the macro trends helps you to position your product in a bigger picture, to phrase a (bigger) vision for your company, and even to sell your product to your ideal customer persona.
#5 Positioning yourself in the market
Next on your list is to become clear on how you fit in the market. How do you position yourself?
Generally speaking, there are 2 main dimensions when it comes to positioning (for SaaS):
Customer size (Consumers, Prosumers, SMBs, Mid-market, Enterprise)
Pricing (low-cost vs. premium player)
Depending on your positioning, you will either follow a simple (self-service) or complex (sales-driven) acquisition strategy.
Of course later along your journey you can expand your business to serve different segments of the market (e.g. build an enterprise solution or a lite self-service solution).
Also, consider how your competitors position themselves. Knowing where they are, helps you to identify an underserved market.
Knowing how you fit in the competitive landscape makes it way easier for you to decide on your growth strategy and to differentiate against your competition. Knowing your positioning also means you are making a conscious decision on the segment of the market you are going to serve (segmentation).
With clear positioning in place, converting your ideal customers and growing faster becomes easier. It allows you to tailor your sales and marketing accordingly, nailing your value proposition and optimizing the whole customer journey (from ads, landing page, sales messages, to onboarding flow, product features, service level, and more.).
#6 Sales Messaging & Value Proposition
So if you followed the first 5 steps, you will know your ideal customer persona, the big problem they face, why this problem exists, and how you position your product compared to the competition. So now it's time to work on your value proposition and how you message your value to your customers.
So here are 3 steps to phrase a good value proposition:
Step 1: Start with the urgent big problem
Step 2: State what happens if they don't solve the problem
Step 3: Talk about your benefits (not features)
In order for digital creators to monetize their audiences with paid products (like courses, programs or coachings), they need to connect and pay for lots of different tools (Zoom, Paypal, Shopify, Calendly, Mailchimp, Teachable, etc.). That's currently the only way for them to sell (premium) digital products and turn their audience into a successful online business. We enable digital creators to make more money online by just using one single tool.
Once your value proposition and the way you communicate your value to customers is clear, you should think about your growth activities (inbound marketing, content marketing, performance marketing, outbound sales, etc.) and start testing different ones (e.g. check out 12 organic B2B Growth Marketing Strategies).
#7 Growth activities (inbound, outbound, content, ads)
With your ideal customer persona, market segmentation and positioning, value proposition, and sales messaging in place, you can start testing out different growth activities.
There are lots of different growth activities and for every (early-stage) startup it’s important to start experimenting with new growth channels and hopefully find the ones that bring new customers. After testing, you should spend your energy and resources only on the ones that impact traction for your business (and stop the ones that don‘t).
#8 Leverage product-led growth
Think early about how you can grow, leveraging your existing audience and first users. Product-Led Growth is defined as a strategy, that relies on using your product as the main channel to acquire and activate new customers. It's also known as the flywheel effect (turn users into new customers)
Think about features you can leverage to grow your user base. Common methods are:
Invite friends or coworkers to use the product with you (e.g. Slack)
'powered by' badges (e.g. Mailchimp)
Referral programs (Refer friends and get x; e.g. Airbnb or Dropbox)
Notifications or product usage (e.g. Docusign, Calendly, Zoom)
Sharing features (e.g. Miro, Notion)
Also, check out:
🚀 3 more things
Do you want more content? Check out some more helpful resources and subscribe to my FREE weekly Newsletter on Substack.
If you like the content, leave a comment below and simply share the newsletter with others and help me to reach my goal of 3000 subscribers.