Marketing & Sales: The Mechanics of Go-To-Market Strategy for Startups & SMBs

The importance of business strategy cannot be understated, it is one of the cornerstones of any successful company. One of its most important aspects, the go-to-market strategies (Yes, this falls under business strategies), is something that we as entrepreneurs need to reflect on constantly in order to build our businesses. Indeed, at the heart of any business strategy are tactics incorporated into a go-to-market strategy, which allows companies to reach out to their target customers and acquire them as clients. But what are these go-to-market strategies? What are their underlying concepts? Which aspect should we focus on? This article sums up the elements that a go-to-market strategy should include, as well as demonstrates how important it is to establish clear objectives

Tanya Kabuya

1/27/20237 min read

A go-to-market strategy is all about making your product or services accessible to the majority of target consumers. Many startups believe that the launch of their product will be enough for them to gain popularity. If done fittingly, the uniqueness of your product alone can ensure its success without striking a note with your potential clients. Sadly, this is never the case, and failure to plan for your GTM is a plan to fail. GTM is how a business generates leads or sales, comes to market with a product, service, or idea, and coordinates its distribution. The application of this method varies from industry to industry. So, though the principles remain the same, your GTM plan at an enterprise SAAS company will be completely different from a credit fintech, or a digital bank. Startups can clearly benefit from a well-researched and curated go-to-market strategy. Popular elements include getting the company's brand name known among potential customers, building a solid sales force, establishing an efficient pricing system, targeting appropriate demographic areas, and leveraging social media and outreach products to engage clients effectively and efficiently.

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is essentially a road map that drives your company to profitability by defining resources, roles, and behaviors to research, develop, and/or sell your product or service. This article aims to demonstrate an overview of a GTM strategy at play with the important elements to consider from the inception of new opportunities through execution and the eventual final sale. To do this, we'll look at what the process of GTM is for a new venture in general, as well to provide a unique perspective on how to apply GTM strategies for small businesses.

Back to Basics First

This question needs to be answered to allow CEOs, Founders, and Marketers to establish the parameters of investing in a GTM motion

“When is it appropriate to build a go-to-market plan?”

The 3 scenarios below are often the best indicators of the need for a GTM plan

When you want to reposition a service or product

When you are launching a new product or service

When you want to go after a new segment of the market

So, it is a marketing plan specifically for launching a new product or brand, launching an established product or service into a new market, or taking a product, or service in a new direction.

Let’s take the example of a fictitious character called Liz. Liz runs a small consulting firm where she offers business writing training programs and publishing services to new authors who are passionate about putting their intellectual property out there She has been battling to get clients after she has exhausted her referrals and she recently lost $5k on a FB advertising campaign. More sales might mean an increase of 10 clients to a hundred within a year, for the same product. Or it might mean 10 $5000 clients turning into 10, $25,000 clients

Let's assume that Liz currently offers her services at $3k. So, 15 clients is a $45k revenue influx. If she wants to get to 6 figures, she may need 20 more clients. But, what if, she looked at selling her offer to clients that could afford to pay her $15k for her services?

In a recent McKinsey Report, they discovered that most heads of departments are authorized to spend up to $50k for simplified acquisitions. Simplified acquisitions mean that they do not need C Suite level approval to make the purchase. This means that they can consume your content, decide that they want to work with you, reach out to you, and if your sales skills are good, you are in!This in marketing is called a vertical growth strategy which means scaling products/services inside an existing market but targeting the high-value prospect of the vertical ( Currently she isn’t doing that).So, she will reposition her offer to speak to this more sophisticated buyer because the messaging that will work for her current set of clients will definitely be tuned out to this segment of the market as it is not relevant to them. In this case, Liz needs a new GTM plan

What are the benefits of a GTM plan you may ask?

It saves time because you are taking the time to learn more through research & placing that insight into your product and messaging. And most importantly, you can cut the cost of failed launches since you will know precisely what your clients want, and how they want to buy it and enhance customer experience and strategic direction.

Now that we got the basics out of the way, here is how to build your GTM machine.

The first thing you need to figure out on your GTM is the clarity of your ICP (Ideal Client Profile). Who is he/she? Firmographic, psychographic, demographic, and what it is they are trying to achieve. This is very important because that will allow you to establish how best to communicate with them in a relevant manner.

The only time we consume content, pay attention to an ad, or actually open and continue to read a cold email is if it is relevant to us. Establish where they congregate. Listen, as humans, we inherently gravitate towards herding. It is in our psychological makeup. So, consultants will generally join communities about consulting, startups will generally join communities about building a business, moms will join communities about mothering, and so it goes on and on.

As a business, depending on the nuances of your go-to-market machine, you will either build the community or position your offer to be visible where your ICP can find you. I am a great copywriter, but I guarantee you, I can’t turn no water into wine, to sell your offer, we will need traffic and visibility in front of the relevant audience. so they can find you because you have strategically placed yourself in front of them You need to have a deep understanding of how to buying cycle is triggered in your ICP life, and leverage that within your marketing. I have to mention that there is a caveat to this of course. What I have described above is popularly known in marketing circles as “capturing demand”, and this is far easier in an existing category. A great example today I would say are mobile devices such as Techno. Techno is capitalizing on the existing demand for smartphones particularly targeting those with a restricted budget. This demand was originally created by iPhone in 2007, hence the need to be different in their marketing when launching because they had to CREATE the demand for this device that people didn’t know they needed.

So, your GTM machine moving part will rely on 2 core things to be effective: Do people already consume what you offer? Or, is it new in the market that they need to be educated on why they need to start using this? Answering this question can help you avoid losing a ton of money on the wrong marketing campaign.

The one question I have often been asked is how would one know when to lean into either at the early stages of a GTM Motion. The questions I will pose to you to establish that is simple Do you have to do a lot of explanations during a sales process to get the prospect to understand your offer? If yes, then you need a demand generation plan infused into your GTMIs the market familiar with the type of offer you are bringing to the market? Let’s take the remittance market in Africa for example. There are “agencies” often used by many African immigrants in different parts of the world to remit money home. These figures aren’t accounted for, and even though we have seen the rise of many remittance companies on the continent, many have not taken to using those platforms, simply because they do not understand their use, and do not trust them. A great tool to deploy in these cases is webinars

So, no matter how many ads they see pop up on Facebook or YouTube trying to get them to sign up, they will not. This is an indication of a need to create demand The next thing is to have clarity on your strategic narrative. To articulate your narrative to the market you will need to answer these 3 questions ( I know, I know, a lot of questions, but that is the core of marketing)

A clear strategic narrative is paramount to an effective Go To Market Strategy
A clear strategic narrative is paramount to an effective Go To Market Strategy

1-What is the change you are bringing into the world?

2-Why you?

3- How are you different from what is currently available?

The goal here is to establish a differentiating factor so that you can stand out from the sea of sameness that most other companies in your category. I guarantee you that 80% of companies do not do this, and copy each other, that is why they battle with client acquisition. Doing this will set you at least 505 ahead of them. When you actually complete this exercise, you are fleshing out your positioning, your value proposition, as well as your messaging. So, this is crucial to the success of a GTM machine

These are the fundamentals of marketing that are the core of revenue generation regardless of the sales process you opt for. Marketing-led, Sales led,product-led, founder-led, all the above successes are proportional to the time that you take to flesh out your narrative ( We will speak of the sales processes in the next installment)At this point, it is when you make a decision on the sales process to follow.

Will you be product-led, Sales Led, marketing-led, founder-led, or a hybrid? Now, product led isn’t a version of building it and they will come ( Fintech and SAAS founders, yes I am talking to you). This is my big face-palm moment all the time. Even as a product-led company, you still need to do marketing as that is how the market will find out about you. It simply means that the product will do the heavy lifting (For this to work, UX experience has to be top-notch)

And finally, establish the activities of marketing that will be deployed. Ads, blogs, social media posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos. These are the activities that can only be determined after you have done all of the above, as the strength of the campaign will be determined by all the activities previously described. Often, too many companies rush to do these marketing activities, without doing any of the necessary groundwork which results in a campaign falling flat on its face. A successful strategy needs to be evaluated on how well executed it has been in bringing together the product, sales, marketing, and management teams.

The aspects of each are important for creating a go-to-market strategy that is executable and one that is likely to translate the best results. I hope that this article provides you with some insight into how to manage a go-to-market strategy. There is a lot of information available online, and it can be difficult to parse through everything. I have provided a broad overview in this newsletter edition, but there are exceptions and other challenges along the way for every company. Regardless, if you can stay focused on your vision and goals as you read through this material, the right decision will become clear. In order to drive a business toward optimal sales, marketing, and management must work together to create a concept that brings value to the customer.

Book a consultation here to discuss your go-to-market strategy

When to create a go to market plan
When to create a go to market plan