Are you a marketer, a startup founder, or simply a motivated business owner looking for ways to get things off the ground?
You may be looking for ways to raise awareness for your early-stage company or planning to launch a new product and naturally want to generate buzz around it.
No matter why you need a go-to-market (GTM) strategy, we’ve created a concise guide to help you understand how such a strategy works and how you can get the most out of one.
To be more specific, in this guide we’re going to take you through the following:
- What a GTM strategy is
- Differences between a go-to-market strategy and a marketing strategy or marketing plan
- Examples of go-to-market strategies for inspiration
- How to build your own go-to-market strategy
What’s more, we’ve created a template that you can download and use to save you both time and money.
Seems like we’ve got lots to cover.
Let’s get right into it.
Choose the Section You Want
- What’s a Go-to-Market (GMT) Strategy?
- 5 Go-to-Market Strategy Examples to Inspire You
- How to Build a Go-to-Market Strategy for Your Startup
- Our Proven Go-to-Market Strategy Template
What is a Go-to-Market (GMT) Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a tactical plan that includes and summarizes all your moves in order to hit the mark in a new market when you’re launching a new product or company.
Put another way, a GTM strategy is an action plan that’s compiled using the main elements of your new business move, such as:
- Identifying your target audience and target market
- Identifying solutions that your product offers
- Defining your unique value proposition (UVP)
- Defining your acquisition strategy
- Defining your buyer personas
- Defining your messaging
And so on and so forth.
To sum up, we’d say that a GTM plan is basically the steps you will take to bring your product or service to the market.
With under 50% of businesses making it to their fifth year, we can see that, when it comes to new businesses or new products, the odds aren’t quite stacked in your favor.
Moreover, startup failure rates in 2020 tell us that 90% of all new startups fail, which clearly shows that having a great product might not be enough; you need to have a well-defined go-to-market strategy in place.
The statistics present you with a challenge as a new business or a business that’s launching a new product.
That’s why you need a solid strategy that’ll help you hit the ground running.
We’re not saying this to put extra pressure on you, but we encourage you to be realistic as to how difficult it’s going to be to survive as a new business.
As promised a little further up, we’re now going to discuss the difference between a GTM strategy and a marketing strategy.
What’s the difference between a go-to-market strategy and a marketing strategy?
In case you thought that a GTM strategy was the same as a marketing strategy, we need to set a few things straight; firstly, they’re not.
A marketing strategy is an ongoing process that includes all the marketing efforts, from digital marketing activities — such as content marketing, inbound marketing, paid acquisition or referral marketing — that your business is making.
On the other hand, a GTM strategy, as we’ve already discussed, is a far more specific, one-time process that focuses on a specific event, such as a new product launch.
Let’s get into more detail about the characteristics of each of the two strategies.
A marketing strategy:
- Includes all marketing actions a business plans to take
- Encapsulates marketing actions in relation to distribution channels as well as the target audience for the whole business
- Is based on a long-term approach that aims to make sure that a business will keep up with existing products and upcoming trends in the market
- Often includes marketing elements and analysis such as SWOT analysis and detailed market research
- Covers actions on brand positioning as well as how to attract the audience that’ll appreciate the brand and will engage with it
- Is usually undertaken by an entire marketing team
- Is an ongoing process
A go-to-market strategy:
- Is usually built in the context of launching a new product or business
- Can be different for each of the products that a company sells
- Will be different based on the type of the business. e.g. B2B or B2C
- Will have a marketing strategy as part of it for a specific product a company’s launching
- Includes an analysis of the buyer journey as well as a segmentation of the audience into sub-audiences
- Focuses on covering new product launches and activities around a specific product’s lifecycle, from the creation of a product to the distribution process and its eventual discontinuation
- Is based on a short-term approach in relation to a segment of the market that’ll be interested in the product
- Covers actions in relation to communicating a product’s competitive advantage
- Will generally have every step targeted towards a specific buyer persona or target customer
- Usually involves members of a company’s product marketing team, customer support team, and sales team
- Will have a fixed timeline.
After seeing some of the main characteristics of each strategy, let’s get into the examples we’ve prepared for you.
5 Go-to-Market Strategy Examples to Inspire You
We’ve now established what a GTM strategy is and exactly how it’s different from a marketing strategy.
As we covered a little further up, the vast majority of startups sadly don’t last long after they’ve launched, partly because they lack a well-defined go-to-market plan.
There are, however, some companies that have managed to not only have a successful launch, but also find a product-market fit (PMF) and subsequently start growing and scaling.
In this section, we’re looking at six different examples of inspiring GTM strategies from some interesting and innovative companies.
Let’s dive right into the first example we have for you.
Example #1: Visme for Desktop Launch
Image Source: Product Hunt
The first inspiring go-to-market example we want to share with you comes from Visme, which is a modern graphic maker.
Earlier in 2021, Visme launched a new product, Visme for Desktop; an all-in-one design platform that can be used on both Mac and Windows.
As you can see on the screenshot above, part of the company’s GTM strategy was to launch on Product Hunt and raise awareness for the product and the overall brand.
In fact, the product was voted as Product of the Day on April 13, 2021.
The enthusiastic comments say it all:
Image Source: Product Hunt
Pretty neat, isn’t it?
What’s more, Visme’s founder, Payman Taei, made sure to share the news with his social media audience by posting about the product on his LinkedIn account.
Have a look:
Image Source: LinkedIn
Both the Product Hunt page as well as Payman’s post include all the relevant information to appeal to their target audience.
More specifically, as we can see, there are nods towards the new product’s use cases as well as the pain points the tool aims to address.
As you can probably imagine, these are essential components of a go-to-market strategy that take into consideration important customer needs and provide potential customers with solutions.
Additionally, given that an effective GTM strategy needs to present a new product in a detailed and well-defined way, it comes as no surprise that the Product Hunt presentation provides users with images of how the desktop app looks.
Here’s an example:
Image Source: Product Hunt
Let’s get to the next go-to-market strategy example we want to show you.
Example #2: Challenger Bank Monzo Launch
Image Source: Monzo
Our second example of a successful company with a truly smart GTM strategy comes from app-based challenger bank, Monzo, established in the UK in 2015.
Before we get into analyzing their strategy, let’s have a look at the following screenshot:
What we see above is a step-by-step illustration of the logic behind their strategy when people were joining the waitlist for a Monzo online bank account.
As you can see, the new users needed to join a waiting list with a queue of over 15,000 users registered before them.
If someone wanted to take a lead and get ahead of all those others, they could use their unique referral code and share it with people they know.
Every time you shared your code and Monzo got a new user signed up from your referral, the app moved you up the queue by several thousand places.
You might have heard about it before – it’s called the leaderboard giveaway – and it’s basically as simple as inviting people to get higher on the leaderboard.
Sounds pretty exciting and intriguing, right?
The reason we’re including this example in our GTM guide is because the core of the company’s GTM strategy lay in some very interesting tactics which can be summarized in the following elements:
- The power of a well-structured referral program
- The power of virality starting from one person inviting another to join the app
- The benefits of community marketing and building a community prior to launching your product
Building a waiting list that gives users the opportunity to get an advantage over the rest of the queue can be very efficient.
Why wouldn’t you want to be in front of others?
When it comes to Monzo’s launch that we just saw, the initial launch targeted residents of London, which helped make the experience more focused and tailored to individual users.
Since their Alpha launch in 2015 – the one where they made good use of the leaderboard giveaway – Monzo has managed to grow a lot and achieved revenues of £67 million in 2019 – which is equal to around $95 million.
They must have done something right!
Example #3: Robinhood’s Pre-launch
Image Source: Robinhood
Building a pre-launch campaign might sound like a challenging task, but if done right, it can help your business find great results from its product launch.
With the goal of making the stock market accessible, Robinhood, which was then a small startup, entered the market in 2014.
Their go-to-market strategy was heavily based on the following elements:
- Creating a VIP experience that built anticipation and FOMO
- Gamifying the experience of getting access to the product
- Targeting millennials who didn’t have as much access or exposure to investing and trading products up to that point
All three elements written in the list above were accompanied by the company’s main messaging, which was, as we said a little further up, to “democratize finance for all”.
This strong messaging, along with some interesting and engaging tactics, like building a signup waiting list with a strong referral incentive, had high chances of hitting the mark.
Have a look:
Similar to what we saw Monzo doing earlier in this post, Robinhood created a waiting list that allowed users to get priority access by being invited by those already in the queue and then spreading the word about the product, thus getting its first users to sign up for the app.
The more friends that joined, the sooner you’d get access.
This tactic made users want to engage with the product and also made them feel that the product was exclusive, which made their willingness to join even stronger.
Let’s now move on to the next great example we have for you.
Example #4: TaxJar Focusing on Killer Content
Image Source: TaxJar
Different companies have different cornerstones for their GTM strategies and that’s the way it should be.
Each company has a different business plan, business model, values, ambitions, and different decision-makers and stakeholders involved in different company activities.
For eCommerce business TaxJar, the way to deal with competition was pretty clear and straightforward.
To be more specific, TaxJar, which brought the dynamic of automation into sales tax reporting and filing and was launched in 2013, was able to identify a key competitive differentiator.
From what TaxJar CEO Mark Faggiano told Nicole Shimer, we can easily pick up the following two points as core elements of the startup’s GTM strategy:
- Educate the world on sales tax by creating and sharing easy-to-find and easy-to-understand content around sales tax
- TaxJar was based on the approach of being a technology company rather than a tax company
As Mark Faggiano puts it:
“Before we existed, most of the content that was available was either hard to find or hard to understand. Therefore, we decided to build the best content we could to help people wrap their heads around sales tax, which feels like an insane problem that’s changing all the time. As a result, we were able to build trust and customers began to try the product because they trusted and understood what we’re saying. This also helped us succeed through word of mouth, which has been a tremendous lever for growth.”
Want to have a look at what TaxJar’s content looks like?
Here you go:
Image Source: TaxJar
We’ve grabbed a few blog post titles that clearly show us just how easy it is to get informative content around sales tax and what that might look like.
One of the objectives of content is to inform your target customer, just like how TaxJar is doing here by creating articles that speak to different industries, such as telehealth and online pharmacies.
By creating content that resonates with your target customer, you’re hitting some of the key functions of a GTM strategy that we talked about, like reaching out to your ideal buyer and pointing out your competitive advantage.
As simple as that!
Keep reading to find out more about the last example we’re showing you.
Example #5: Lemlist Launch on Appsumo
Image Source: Lemlist
Lemlist, an email outreach platform to send personalized outreach emails, launched on Appsumo in early 2018.
Since its launch, it managed to achieve $250K annual recurring revenue (ARR) in 2018, which increased to over $4 million by early 2021, and they’re planning to take it to $10 million by the end of the year.
The main point around Lemlist’s GTM strategy lies in its move in 2018 to launch on Appsumo – a marketplace for early-stage startups that want to get some attention and traction by offering very special deals such as lifetime access for $X.
As you can probably imagine, such a space allows businesses to get things off the ground and grow big, and fast.
In fact, Lemlist went on Appsumo twice in their first year – the second time was with a Black Friday deal:
Image Source: Appsumo
We can clearly see that part of their go-to-market strategy was having a special deal on Appsumo which allowed them to get some capital that they could then use to build the product and grow the business.
What’s more, Lemlist’s GTM strategy also included going on Product Hunt in an attempt to generate buzz around the product and spread the news within a tech product-loving community.
Image Source: Product Hunt
As you can see, the product was voted Product of the Day on January 24, 2018, demonstrating how popular it was and making more and more people aware of it.
We’re now done talking about our five SaaS go-to-market strategy examples that’ll hopefully inspire you to create your own.
Because we understand that you might need a bit of help in terms of putting some of these tactics into action, we’re taking you through a simple but concise, step-by-step process of creating your very own go-to-market strategy.
Here we go…
How to Build a Go-to-Market Strategy for Your Startup
We’ve already established that having a well-organized go-to-market strategy is a must, especially for startups.
If you’re wondering how to create a go-to-market strategy for your startup, we’ve got you covered.
In this section, we’re taking you through a step-by-step process of building a go-to-market strategy for startups.
To illustrate the process, we’ll be using screenshots from our GTM strategy template you can also download – for free! – and implement yourself.
Here’s step number one.
Step #1: Understand the target market
The first step for an efficient go-to-market strategy is to understand your target market.
First things first; your target market is basically defined as the segment of potential buyers that your product or service will be targeting.
Put another way, your target market is the group of people that are most likely to become your new customers.
Understanding the characteristics of that group allows you to craft your sales strategy, sales process, pricing strategy, customer onboarding process, customer support process as well as map out the whole customer experience, end-to-end.
Understanding your target market encapsulates a wide range of actions that your startup needs to take, including the following steps:
The actions highlighted in the template screenshot above are:
- Conduct a SWOT analysis
- Create a list of your direct competitors
- Competitor analysis and creation of a competitive matrix
- Identifying partners and collaborators that can help your startup get early traction
Once you’ve completed all the actions in this first step…
…you’re off to the next one.
Step #2: Understand the target customer
Following up on the first step of understanding your target market, looking closer into your target customer is yet another important step in the process.
This step, which, by the way, is one of the most fundamental things you’ll do, is all about identifying and understanding your target customer, which will allow you to create a product that’ll meet their needs and standards.
When you get to this step, you’ll need to:
- Conduct detailed and rigorous research into the ideal customer profile
- Define your goals and value matrix
- Conduct demographic and psychographic analysis
- Define the pain points and challenges you might face in relation to your product and how it might be perceived by the target customer
- Create an ideal customer journey map. AKA a buyer’s journey
Some questions to consider when working with the idea of your ideal customer should be along the lines of:
- Who might be the people buying from me and why?
- Are there common characteristics and interests between the people who’ll be buying from me?
- What will my customer base look like?
Finding the answers to those questions, as well as others you might find useful to consider, will allow you to understand your core customers better, making it easier for you to guide them down the sales funnel when your product launches.
Keep reading to find the next step in the process of building your go-to-market strategy.
Step #3: Define your positioning
The third step we want to bring your attention to is to define your positioning.
A simple definition of positioning will provide you with a deeper understanding of the main elements of this process.
Have a look at this definition by Entrepreneur:
Image Source: Entrepreneur
In other words, positioning is all about how a product or service differentiates from competitors and what kind of niche it can fill.
To put it simply, when we talk about positioning, we basically talk about where a product fits into a market as well as the business roadmap.
The way you position your product is always in relation to the target market and target customer you’ve previously identified.
Here are some key actions companies need to take when they get to this particular step:
- Define your brand positioning statement
- Come up with your unique value proposition
- Define your unique brand identity
- Create your main branding elements
You may have noticed that the bullet points above are touching upon how a product is going to be branded, which is one step further than just where it sits in the market.
When you’re in the steps of positioning your product or service, keep in mind that this step also includes telling people about your brand and product.
This one takes us to the final – big – step of the process.
Let’s get into it.
Step #4: Define your marketing strategy
After you’re finished with the previous step, you can get into defining your marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy is one of the most important elements of your GTM strategy.
As you can see in the screenshot above, defining your product marketing strategy is a key action that’s included in this step.
More specifically, before launching your startup, you need to get your product marketing strategy straight.
Once that’s done, you can define your pricing strategy:
- Are you planning to test different pricing strategies or pricing plans?
- Will you be offering freemium accounts or free trials?
These are vital questions you need to answer before you get started with your actual launch.
Additionally, you need to decide on the distribution channels for your products.
Will you be investing in sales and hiring salespeople? Running content marketing, paid advertising, opening physical stores, organizing webinars? Or maybe you’ll invest in branded swag and promotional products?
Defining the marketing channels you’ll be using for raising brand awareness and acquiring customers is an integral part of your GTM strategy.
Moving forward, having defined some success metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) will make it more likely that you’ll efficiently keep track of your progress.
Additional actions in this final step are:
- Define your pre-launch campaign
- Define your launch campaign
- Define your post-launch campaign
Last but not least, your GTM wouldn’t be complete without defining your full marketing funnel – from customer acquisition to retention and referral – as this can help your startup get some early traction and build some lead generation activity after the product has been launched.
We’ve said quite a lot about what elements a go-to-market strategy includes.
If you can’t wait to start working with our go-to-market strategy template for your own startup, wait no more!
It’s right here.
Our Proven Go-to-Market Strategy Template
As you’ve already seen in the previous section of our blog, we’ve created a GTM strategy template that’s free and easy to use.
Here it is:
The template includes all the steps we analyzed just a moment ago, along with all the individual actions companies in need of a GTM strategy can take.
What’s more, it comes with a dropdown menu that allows you to customize the status cells depending on your progress through each of the actions.
The options in terms of the status are the following three:
- In Progress
- Not Started
Last but not least, if you feel like keeping additional notes for streamlining the process and keeping track of your progress, then you can also make the most out of it by using the comments section.
Download the template and give it a go.
We’re closing this up.
Before you go
There you have it.
In this post, we’ve given a simple go-to-market strategy definition and also talked about how it’s different from a marketing strategy.
We’ve also shared a downloadable GTM template that you can use for free to save yourself some time and money.
Moreover, by sharing several successful GTM examples, we identified some key components of a GTM plan, including launching a referral marketing campaign.
Feel free to try Viral Loops for free, and see the efficiency of referrals yourself.
Thanks for reading!