How To Build A Go To Market Strategy For Startups
Launching a startup or a new product is like creating a building.
Before a new building is constructed, its engineer or architect draws up a blueprint.
It contains the plans for the structure. It show’s the architect’s vision of how it would look like. And it serves as a guide for contractors and anyone who would work on the project.
Without a blueprint, you have no direction for your building. You’re just making it up as you go. And the building most probably won’t look good as you would want it to. Or worse, it could easily collapse at the slightest calamity.
Don’t worry. This blog is still about business and SaaS. I’m just trying to make a point.
And the point is that launching a new product needs a blueprint as well.
Something that would guide your marketing and selling practices. Something that would make sure that you have the proper foundations to build your business on.
That blueprint is called the go-to-market strategy.
What Is Go To Market Strategy?
From the term itself, a go-to-market (GTM) strategy is your plan on how you would take your product to your target market.
More precisely, it is a detailed set of steps on how you will deliver your product to your customers, from marketing up to support.
Don’t confuse it with marketing strategy, though. Marketing strategy only deals with how you are going to get prospective customers. GTM strategy covers that and all the way through sales and customer retention.
GTM strategies are often used for startups and new products. However, there are also a few other reasons to come up with one. It could be an already existing product being launched into a new market. Or it could be for rebranding a product.
Speaking of purpose, let’s talk more about why a GTM is crucial for startups and businesses.
Purpose Of Go To Market Strategy
Like we discussed earlier, a GTM strategy serves as a blueprint for taking your product to your target market.
Its main purpose is to get all stakeholders on the same page when it comes to your product. It lays out a clear timeline, complete with milestones and expected results.
That itself gives out a few more benefits.
It assures the business owner, investors, and even employees that you have a solid plan for building your brand. Moreover, having a clearly defined overall plan reduces the time spent on meetings regarding changes or troubleshooting problems. This fosters an efficient working environment among your marketing, sales, and customer support teams.
Go To Market Strategy Components
Your product is unique. Sure, you share a market with a few competitors. But if you’re introducing a new SaaS solution to the market, it has to have that “oomph” that makes it stand out.
In the same way that your business is unique, your GTM strategy must also be unique. But before you create your very own GTM strategy, you must know the components needed to make one.
A well-thought-out GTM strategy has several components. You can group them into these three questions:
What Am I Selling?
Before you create a plan on how to get a product to the market, you need to have a firm grasp of what that product is about and why you are selling it. You need to consider four things:
Mission statement: First and foremost, you must know your mission in launching your business or product. You have to know your company’s goal. That’s what your business will revolve around. Every product, update, and decision will adhere to that mission.
For example, Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Google may have started out as a mere search engine, but this mission has led to more products. Now, they have various solutions for navigation, analytics, word processing, and A LOT more.
Product-market fit: This is your ability to provide enough supply of your product to meet your target market’s demand. For SaaS, specifically, it’s how well your SaaS solution solves a pressing problem within your chosen market.
It’s generally easier to measure your product-market fit when you already have existing customers. But if you don’t, you can look at what your target customers are saying about your competitors.
Users’ reviews on your competitors would give you an idea of their current pain points and needs. From there, you could assess whether you have a good product-market fit or not.
Speaking of competitors…
Competition and demand: You need to know which companies have products that are similar to yours.
What’s more, you need to know how many of them there are. It will give you a good idea of how high the demand is for your product.
Who Am I Selling To?
If you design your product according to your target market, then you probably have a clear plan on which group of people you are selling to.
The components mentioned above do not necessarily come first. In fact, thorough research on your target audience is essential for a good product-market fit.
But let’s talk about a few components that pertain to your target market, including the following:
Market definition: You need to identify which target demographic, industry, and other attributes you are selling your product to.
Your target market is anyone who might have a problem that your product can solve.
Target audience: Yes, this is different from the target market. The target audience is a segment of your market. This segmentation is usually based on location, age, or even gender, depending on the nature of your product.
It has to do more with where you are directing your advertisements.
For example, you are launching an accounting software. Your target market includes businesses or anyone who might need an accounting solution. But you can choose to direct your marketing efforts to a target audience consisting of CFOs and bookkeepers.
Now that we’re talking about the means for marketing, let’s move on to the third question:
How Will I Sell My Product?
Now that you are settled with what your product offers and who you are selling it to, you need to decide what approaches you will take to sell these products.
And when I say “sell”, I mean all aspects of selling, from marketing to sales and to product distribution.
To do that, you need to consider these components:
Pricing: Coming up with the right pricing model and strategy can make or break your go-to-market plans.
If you set a price too high for your target audience, you risk scaring them away. But if you price your product too low, you’re putting the survival of your business on the line.
The best way to find a healthy price range is to know how your target customers value the product and how much they are willing to pay for it. That involves a lot of research.
Moreover, you need to come up with the right pricing model, depending on how your SaaS solution works.
Product messaging: This is important when it comes to strategizing your marketing and sales processes. All of the content in your ads, emails, social media posts, and any marketing and sales channel will revolve around it.
That’s why you need to have a value proposition for your product. This is the promise that you are making to your target market. It’s how you will create value for your target customers.
It looks a little bit like a mission statement. But value proposition focuses more on communicating the benefits that your customer will get from your product.
Let’s take another example from Google. It has one mission statement. But it has a value proposition for each product and each type of customer.
For the Google search engine, it’s a clean and seamless search tool for the regular user. For Google Ads, it’s targeted text-based ads in service to businesses.
The value proposition usually draws from target customers’ pain points. And as a SaaS company, you can play a more active role in letting prospects see the value of your product through demand generation.
Distribution: This is how you will actually get your product to your customers.
Traditional businesses need to think about manufacturing and retail. The usual distribution channels for these types of businesses include wholesalers and retailers.
But SaaS is a whole other world.
SaaS businesses don’t have to worry about manufacturing, inventories, and logistics for a physical product.
For SaaS, distribution channels are more on the digital side as well. It can be direct or indirect.
Direct distribution is simply selling your SaaS solution on your website. Indirect distribution channels use third parties, such as affiliates and resellers.
Building Your Go-To-Market Strategy
Once you have the components for a GTM strategy, you can start building one. You can look at different go-to-market strategy examples from other SaaS companies. But remember that every business is unique.
Their GTM strategy may work for them, but not necessarily for your business or product. The best go-to-market strategy template is still the one designed specifically for that product you are about to launch.
Now here are some steps you can make to build your own GTM strategy:
Define Your Buyer Personas
Yes, a buyer persona is also different from the target audience. Buyer personas are even narrower and are usually based on their roles when it comes to a business purchase.
Knowing your different buyer personas will help you target your marketing content accurately and precisely.
Here are a few examples of SaaS buyer personas:
User: This person would be the main beneficiary of your SaaS solution. Prospects under this buyer persona want to make their lives easier. So, they are looking for something that is easy to use and would streamline their workflow.
These prospects may not be the decision-makers in their companies. But if they see your product’s value, they serve as your advocates. That means they can communicate these needs to those who can decide to make the purchase.
Manager: Prospects under this buyer persona have more deciding power than the users. They care about making their team more efficient and productive.
What’s more, they want to be on top of their team’s progress. Features like reports and alerts would be appealing to them.
Executive: Now these people make the final decisions and sign the checks. They are concerned about the bigger picture for their business.
Especially for bigger companies, they probably don’t have as much technical knowledge as the users and managers do. But they care about their company’s overall growth or profitability.
So they need to see how your product will contribute to that. You need to show them that buying your SaaS solution is a worthy investment for their company.
Create & Test Your Product Messaging
Product messaging is how you communicate your product and how it benefits your customers. You need an engaging and clear way to explain how your SaaS solution addresses their problem.
Your value proposition plays a huge part in this. And it will be different for each buyer persona. To craft the best possible product messaging for your customers, try the following steps:
Create a value matrix: A value matrix is a summary of each buyer persona’s needs, how your product meets those needs, and the product messaging for each.
Test and improve your messaging: Your product messaging won’t always be perfect on the first try. To be honest, your ads may even flop initially. But that’s just part of improving.
Sure, content can make or break your product messaging. But you should also assess the channel you are using for your ads. Some may be effective for one buyer persona, but not necessarily for others.
Try different channels like email and social media. Even with social media platforms, there are different choices. B2B leads are generally on LinkedIn. But you need to measure which platforms get the most conversions and interactions from each buyer persona.
With accurate reports on which channels and content types work best for each buyer persona, you can optimize your content marketing efforts to the best they can be.
Develop Your Sales Strategy
When you have figured out how to best communicate the value of your product, it’s time to see how you can turn prospects into customers. You need to come up with a sales strategy.
To do that, the first thing you need is a firm grasp of your buyer’s journey.
From the customer’s perspective, the buyer’s journey is a linear process.
Generally, it starts with recognizing the pain point, then researching potential solutions. And when they have a shortlist of their most feasible options, they test it out or get a demo until they purchase one.
However, the buyer’s journey according to the business’ perspective doesn’t stop there.
Popular SaaS company Hubspot recommends the flywheel model. It helps you have a more holistic view of your prospects. It even allows you to turn existing customers into advocates for your product.
Having a good understanding of your buyer’s journey will enable you to craft an effective plan to turn them into actual customers. For a detailed guide, check out our guide for creating a SaaS sales strategy.
If you have a solid plan on how to turn leads into customers, it’s time to bring them in.
You can use inbound or outbound methods to generate these leads. Outbound lead generation methods include reaching prospects through cold emails or calls.
Inbound sales, on the other hand, allow prospects to organically discover your brand through your marketing campaigns. Content marketing plays a huge role in generating inbound leads. If you want to know more about this, take a look at our guide on content marketing.
Regardless if you are using inbound or outbound methods, your lead generation performance hinges on your demand generation and brand awareness.
Demand generation involves educating your prospects on the problems that your SaaS solution solves. Sometimes, they won’t even know that they have a problem until you show it to them.
You should also have a strong brand identity and brand awareness. As your prospects recognize the problem, they need to know that your SaaS solution is the solution. So get ready to put your product messaging into action.
Optimize Your Sales Pipeline
Now if your sales efforts don’t go as planned on the first go, it’s alright. It happens. And even if it does go well, there is always room for improvement.
What’s more, constantly optimizing your sales pipeline helps you have a healthy S curve as your SaaS business grows.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) you should always monitor in sales include conversion rates and sales cycle. Here are a few things you can do to optimize your sales pipeline:
Increase conversion rates: To improve your overall conversion rate, you need to look at each pipeline stage. Find out which stages experience the most losses in leads and double down on that.
The performance of your sales team is also a big factor in your conversion rates. So, it is also important to measure it per sales rep. Find out which tasks they need help with and provide the necessary coaching.
Shorten your sales cycle: Another way to improve your sales performance is to make it quicker to close deals. Again, looking at each stage is the key.
Find out the common holdouts and objections that prospects make before moving on to the next stage. Then work on minimizing the causes of those objections.
Align Your Customer Support Team
The customer journey doesn’t end when they buy your product. Remember that retaining your customers is just as important (if not more important) than getting new ones. In fact, your existing customers can lead to new sales.
I’m not just talking about cross-sells and upsells. I’m talking about new customers.
Providing excellent support can turn your customers into advocates. They would tell their friends and colleagues about your product and thereby potentially increasing your sales.
The GTM strategy is crucial for a successful launch of a startup or a new product. With the components and steps mentioned in this guide, you can build your very own GTM strategy and give your launch the attention it deserves.
For more guides to help your SaaS business strategy, visit our blog here.