What is a GTM strategy?

We explain what a go to market strategy is and why it's a business imperative

Hand drawing words 'Go to market'

So you've invented something, built a product and or come up with new service, now what? You've got to sell it of course. The best way to do this is with a GTM strategy.

A GTM, or "go-to-market" strategy, is a type of marketing that helps to create interest in your product or service. It firstly identifies your intended target, the demographic you'll appeal and ultimately sell to, and sets out the best method to do so. It will be a uniformed operation, communicated to all members of your business, to make sure everyone works towards the same goal.

Larger companies could have a standardised GTM that's used for all product launches, a tried and tested formula that works and has delivered results. Or, if it's a company with interests in multiple markets, it might have different setups or whole new strategies devised for new and innovative products.

Most GTM's need some flexibility, however, as markets conditions change and can often be unpredictable. A great deal of foresight is needed to be able to adapt the GTM for the relevant market.

It's not just for new launches either, large companies also use GTMs to acquire other businesses or change the focus of their brand. It could be an overriding strategy as to how a company manages its operations in order to deliver existing products or services. Separate GTM strategies could also be created that complement the wider approach for new products, services or geographic expansion. In some circumstances, for example, if a company acquires another, is acquired or there's some kind of merger, existing GTM strategies may need to be combined or a completely new one created.

Many companies struggle to take a step back from day-to-day operations to identify problems in their existing GTM strategy or to create one from scratch. As such, some often look to their party organisations for support.

Global management consulting firm L.E.K Consulting is just one such example of that third-party assistant.  "Businesses need to adjust or diversify their go-to-market strategy to protect their economics and ensure sustainable distribution in the future. New digital and logistic capabilities allow businesses to directly serve end customers (consumers or businesses), reducing or eliminating the need for intermediaries, thereby both improving the service they provide to their customers and improving their margin economics," it states on its website.

The firm continues: "In addition, customer expectations for both product and service quality are increasing, putting more pressure on sales teams and supporting functions. Meeting (or exceeding) end-customer service requirements can be a means for a business to differentiate its position and ensure its long-term success. This may require increased investment in new capabilities to either serve end customers directly or complement or support the channels in doing so."

What are the key components of a GTM strategy?

At the heart of a GTM strategy is value. Providing value to the customers through relevant products and services, making money from those products and services and ensuring the business gets value back. This value could be monetary, it could offer other value, but it's important there is some measurable impact.

Another major part of a GTM strategy is ensuring the products and services that you're releasing form part of your business's vision and contribute to your company's overall end goal. It should reflect what you perceive success to be and fit in with your wider business objectives.

You should also make sure any strategy reflects your USP and sets you apart from your competitors. There's no point just releasing something that every other company has done. Make sure you highlight why your company, product or service is different, what benefits it will bring to the end user, how you solve a problem your rivals don't.

Once you've reeled your customers or clients in, it's vital you continue to nurture them and build their loyalty, upselling and cross-selling while also providing the highest levels of satisfaction.

Getting recommendations and referrals should also form part of your GTM strategy. After all, the majority of customers make purchasing decisions based upon colleague and friend recommendations. This builds trust.

Communication is key at all levels. How will you connect key stakeholders involved in your GTM and, as importantly, how will you reach out to customers and listen as well as talk to them?

Fundamentally, it's about delivering. Delivering on all of the above but, essentially, delivering on customers' expectations and ensuring that any claims or assurances around quality have been fully met?

Ultimately, it's all about the customer. You can have the best products and services on the planet, but if no-one is using them, what's the point?

Experts concur on this point, with McKinsey framing it customer success'. Morphing from a world where customer success was all about reducing churn, the consultancy firm, suggests that customer success 2.0' is, instead, about changing lifecycle management and using client satisfaction as a growth engine.

"Many vendors still fail to consider how early decisions about product management, marketing, sales, and services delivery can have lasting implications on the customer experience," it said in its research paper Introducing customer success 2.0: The new growth engine.

"To combat this mindset, companies need to take a different view of customer successone in which it is viewed as a shared philosophy for which every function is

responsible. Although this may sound easy, it represents a major cultural shift. In addition to creating clear accountability and customer-success metrics for teams at each stage of the journey, companies must define the desired outcomes, implement processes to support cross-functional collaboration, and empower leaders to oversee end-to-end customer-success efforts."

What are the technology considerations of a GTM strategy?

There are many tools and technologies that can help shape your GTM strategy, particularly those focused on planning, management, delivery, execution and bridging traditional barriers to collaboration. CRM and ERP systems will act as the heartbeat as well as connecting with internal processes to ensure end-to-end efficiency and success of your GTM strategy.

Access and security also need to be front of mind to ensure your valuable trade plans don't fall into the wrong hands. 

Data and insight must be foundational you need to know what your customers want and need now in the future and any gaps that need to be filled in your current proposition. Importantly, this cannot be a one-off endeavour you need to continuously benchmark what you're doing against changing industry trends and demand and, critically, be open and responsiveness to customer feedback. 

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