The greatest of startup ideas and the best of teams mean little to nothing in the absence of a winning go-to-market (GTM) strategy. Without a well thought out, meticulously designed and implemented GTM strategy, a multi-billion dollar idea in and of itself is completely worthless, just like a team of superstar entrepreneurs armed with the same idea, poised to build another unicorn. So what is the GTM and why is it so important?
GTM is a sales strategy which describes in details how a company is to roll out a product or a service into the marketplace and ultimately deliver it in the most compelling fashion to its target audience for consumption. As such, the winning GTM must encompass various key elements including the target audience, product or service portfolio, value proposition and distribution channels.
1. Target Audience (Who?)
In the words of late business management guru Peter F. Drucker, “the purpose of business is outside itself”. Indeed, contrary to common belief, the purpose of business is not to make a profit – that’s its duty – but rather to fulfill the needs, wants, desires and heal the pains of its target audience.
Each business is in existence because of its uncanny ability to meet the needs, wants and desires of its target audience, ideally better than its competitors. Because of this, it’s of utmost importance to develop a customer centric and market driven mindset when starting and running your own business. Staying close to your target audience will help you know their needs, wants, desires and pains well before the others, which could give you the leg up on your competition.
Once you identify your target audience and are intimately familiar with their needs, wants, desires and pains, you’ll have to find out their ‘hang out’ spots e.g. web portals, blogs, social media platforms etc. and define their buying personas.
Defining your target audience buying personas and knowing their daily hang out spots will help you tailor your content marketing messages and deploy them successfully with great accuracy, which will increase the likelihood of higher marketing ROI. The higher the marketing ROI the more successful you’ll be in a client acquisition game, which is usually closely and favorably related to the revenue. As this is very important, do spend some time gathering and analyzing this data.
2. Product or Service Portfolio (What?)
While it may vary from one industry to the next, service or a product portfolio management is essential for a startup’s survival in the early going and subsequently pivotal for its success. If mismanaged though e.g. product or service created in isolation of the target audience and marketplace, it could be detrimental to your business, for you could easily end up creating and rolling out the product or a service that’s not needed by your target audience and the marketplace or it’s grossly overpriced hence, perceived as bad value for money. Either way, you’d be doomed.
To avoid such fatal mistake, make sure that your product portfolio is always up to date and in demand by your target audience and marketplace. You can do this by developing a customer centric and market driven mind-set in everything you do, product or a service portfolio management included. Also, ensure you perform meticulous and timely competitive analysis to know your competition and how you stack up against them. Think globally, act locally and whatever you do, stay close to your target audience at all times.
3. Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Unless you have the first mover advantage because you’re in business of selling bird’s milk or something groundbreaking which hasn’t been done or seen before, you’ll likely have an existing competition which already offer similar if not the same products and services as you.
Depending on your product or service demand vs supply ratio in your niche market, ideally you’ll manage to cut into your competitor’s market share and establish your presence. What you’ll have a very hard time with and possibly no success at all is taking the lead in your niche without a strong value or unique selling proposition (USP).
The USP is key differentiator between one company and all the others, it is one thing that a company does different and much better than all the others in its industry, which warrants client’s attention and money they are willing to pay. Several examples of global players with a strong USPs which dominate their respective industries include Starbucks with premium coffee, Walmart with everyday low prices, Amazon with world’s biggest bookstore and Zappos with customer friendly service and return policy.
So make sure to take the time to identify your USP by asking yourself questions like what do we stand for and why are we in business in the first place? Also, keep in mind that USP has got a lot to do with the way you position your company or a brand.
I can assure you from personal experience, this isn’t going to be the easiest of exercises if you are to come up with a truly magnificent USP that will separate your company from the rest of the pack but in the end it will all be well worth it. Another important thing to keep in mind is no matter what, don’t try to appeal to everyone but focus on your target audience only.
4. Distribution Channels (How?)
As you develop and price the most magnificent – never before seen – product or a service which is going to revolutionize the way people live, eat, sleep and even travel, you ought to think about how are you going to offer it to your target audience. Your choice of distribution channel will be greatly dependent on your service or product offering, target audience and industry, among others.
Ideally though, you’ll be able to employ two distribution channels, direct to clients and indirect via strategic sales channel. Both of these approaches when deployed strategically can yield great results. Again, this all depends on your business but in essence the main difference is when going direct, you’re depending on the resources directly under your management, whereas if you employ strategic sales channel you’ll be able to leverage partner’s resources, influence and footprint, which is an advantage.
Wrapping it all Up
In essence, the purpose of your business must be other than to make money – it must be something meaningful and valuable. Your business must fulfill otherwise unmet needs, wants or desires, perhaps right a wrong, anything that is truly valuable and beneficial to your target audience. In addition to having a superior product or a service to help you do just that, you ought to have the winning GTM which will help you succeed and in the process enable you to achieve your businesses objective, ideally better than all your competitors.