How to create a winning go-to-market strategy for your startup

Mateusz Łozowicki
01 July 2021
6 min read

How important is a go-to-market strategy?


Congratulations, you’ve just come up with an awesome startup idea that’s going to change the world! And after all that initial positive feedback you’re now ready to press play. As a former co-founder, I can tell you how seriously exciting this moment is. The moment when a startup creator, after months of discovery, planning and improving an idea, finally sees his or her product on the market.
But before going any further, let’s check whether your team has the proper go-to-market plan to ensure this market debut goes as smoothly as possible. A well planned go-to-market strategy will help to avoid the mistakes many startup founders commit when entering their first ventures. 
So let’s define ‘go-to-market'.

What is a go-to-market strategy?

A go-to-market strategy is an outline of the process through which you intend to address, inform and interest your target audience in your product. 
Developing an effective go-to-market strategy helps you:

  • Economise your time going to market
  • Clarify your communications with the market
  • Avoid costly errors
  • Identify your product’s benefits and advantages over the competition
  • Provide clear direction for your team when preparing for your product launch

Go-to-market is usually a short-term plan. However, its effective execution will contribute to the long-term success of your product.

Before going to market

According to recent studies, 42% of startups are not solving a valid customer problem.  So, before addressing your go-to-market strategy, it is crucial the market verifies that there is a customer problem to be addressed.
A good GTM plan is built on an understanding of the market, user pain points, and effective communication with your target audience. This is why you should research your field and implement customer discovery before formulating a strategy for your product. Through this process, you can identify and validate all issues, needs and desires with actual users. Customer empathy is the foundation of all effective GTM planning.


7 steps to creating a go-to-market strategy


Step 1: Assess your market size and product demand


Quite simply: Is there enough demand for the product we are trying to sell? Do people really need it? Conducting the right research and applying appropriate questioning prior to launch will provide an accurate indication of whether your product will be successful or not.
At this point, the biggest mistake startups commit is in assuming they will soon gain a specific percentage of the market share. This is almost never the case. In order to create a compelling go-to-market strategy, you should start with a bottom-up approach. Work with a realistic estimation of how many customers you can acquire based on market data and go from there. 
Through such marketing experimentation, you will soon apprehend and validate a market for your product. You will also identify and remedy any incongruities between product and market, thereby saving time and money on extra product development and/or marketing activities.

Step 2: Create a unique value proposition and narrative for your Ideal Customer


The narrative is the most visible part of marketing. Since the reality is that a single product cannot be marketed for all people, it is imperative that you identify a potential customer group willing to test your product; a group through which to streamline communication to its use case. 

Here are some useful steps toward an effective value proposition:

  • Brainstorm as many 30-second elevator pitches as possible
  • Short-list, then vote on the best one
  • Discard any unnecessary buzzwords or jargon
  • Streamline to a single sentence you can pitch within 10 seconds

The narrower your target market, the easier it will be to create a memorable USP message that differentiates your product from those of your competitors.


Step 3: Analyse the competition


At this point, you should consider the areas where you can better understand your audience experience and how you can differentiate your product.

Customer Voice

  • What do customers say about competitors’ products?
  • Are they satisfied with current solutions on the market?
  • How can you better design your product to solve a given problem?

 

Features and Benefits

  • What are their key features and benefits?
  • Which features do they prioritize in their communications?
  • What customer segments are they focused on?

 

Search Trend Analysis

  • What keywords are the customers using in their searches?
  • Is the number of queries growing in time?
  • Are they looking for alternatives and if so, which ones?

 

Step 4: Map The Customer Journey


It’s crucial that you determine how your audience decides on making a purchase. These decisions may involve online research, video review or conversations with sales reps.

Step 5: Determine your pricing and the marketing channels


Determining price is not just the cost of delivering your product. It is extremely important to consider your competitors’ pricing, market average pricing, your business goals, your target audience and Customer Acquisition Cost.  

What is the best distribution channel that fits your model? What is the potential LTV of the customer? Where can we find a target customer online?


Step 6: Experiment before you scale


The most successful startup growth teams view everything in experimental terms. Marketing experiments help you verify multiple strategies so you can focus on improving the best performers whilst iterating those which are not working yet.  
One of the best approaches to testing the channels has been described as a bull’s eye framework.
The 3-step process can help you quickly identify all prospective marketing channels, single out those most promising, and quickly run inexpensive ($1000) marketing experiments to verify how a given USP resonates with a target audience in a specific channel.


Step 7: Define the right metrics to measure your progress


There are different ways we can measure success when it comes to GTM strategy.  Early monitoring will enable you to track progress and iterate with time.
Typically, the most informative metrics for the startups will be:

  • ROI
  • CAC (customer acquisition cost)
  • LTV (lifetime value) 
  • Conversion rates - sales funnel
  • Length of the sales cycle

 

Generally speaking, if your startup manages an LTV/CAC Ratio above 3.0, then you are on your way to building a sustainable business.


The importance of customer empathy


The excitement generated over a new product can distract startup creators from identifying the crucial issues affecting the product’s market success. Customer empathy and understanding remain the cornerstones of any successful project, for when isolated from market data, even the brightest startup ideas still may fail.
Most founders agree that when you nail your go-to-market strategy, you’ll know it. Leads start growing, as do conversions, and the marketing department has more work than they can handle.
It’s worth mentioning that the launch of a new product is often far more chaotic than the process outlined above may suggest. Rather, it is typically one going back and forth in a most unpredictable trajectory. 
Whatever the case, ensure you never lose focus on your customers’ needs. A properly tested and implemented go-to-market strategy will provide clearer market access and a shorter route to product success.

 

If you’d like to gain more insight into how best to find your audience and enjoy market success, don’t hesitate to contact us hello@start-up.house

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