What’s in a Winning Go-To-Market Strategy?

When you have a new product, you need to get it in front of the right consumer in the right way and at the right time. If you do that, the consumer will be likely to buy it.

Simple, right?
Well, having a good strategy to get the product out of your garage and into the consumer’s eager hands hugely important. It is here where all of your hard work is supposed to pay off, so it is worth taking the time to get it right.

Your Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy is the final push – you have done your marketing research, you have seen who the target is, you have figured out how to hook them, and now you engage you GTM strategy for the launch.

In fact, GTM is much more than a launch. A good GTM strategy will follow the whole life cycle of the product from early adopters to deep change or retirement of the product. GTM involves your full sales and distribution teams using the tools provided in the marketing strategy to penetrate the market, maximize revenues, and create profit.

What more could you want?

Marketing Happens Before Going to Market

A lot of people will confuse having a “marketing strategy” and a “Go-To-Market” strategy. The truth is that they are two very different animals and you will need both to start selling your new product.

A marketing strategy could be defined as the “overall game plan for reaching people and turning them into customers of the product or service that the business provides,” according to Investopedia. They go on to say that the marketing strategy “contains the company’s value proposition, key marketing messages, information on the target customer, and other high-level elements.”

Example: In other words, the marketing strategy gives you the bird’s eye view. If you are launching a new piece of video-editing software, for example, you need to know who will buy it, who is looking for it, what they need it to do, what the competition does, and how much do the prices run? Once you know all that, as a result of your marketing efforts, you can apply it to develop the product.

You need this. Why? Because otherwise, you could end up building a boondoggle that no one wants, or a product that is cool but already exists. Your marketing strategy will allow you to develop the right kind of product that, according to best information, will be accepted, adopted, and sold.

Going to Market

The Go-To-Market strategy, on the other hand, is what you need when it is time to get it out the door.

Your GTM strategy will take all the information from the marketing department and put it to good use.

Example: If you are launching a new model of hybrid car, for example, your company values (like being ecological) will not help you directly. What you need is to examine your demographics to see who is the most likely buyer of hybrids. Then, within that demographic, you see that these consumers “enjoy nature.” This will help you choose where to place your dealerships and what messages to send. Your sales force will be trained to approach sales from an angle of ecological responsibility and emphasize benefits that suit the demographic – for example, “our new hybrid will show everyone how much you care.”

And the building blocks of the strategy have been laid.

Theory and Practice

Imagine, if you will that your marketing strategy is a group of generals smoking pipes and drinking brandy in the Officers’ Mess, while your GTM are the field commanders and soldiers. Your GTM has to be clear, concise, and well-targeted – a soldier cannot always call HQ in the middle of a battle and ask for instructions.

Marketing and GTM are two different ways of thinking, as different as theory and practice. In the list below, you will immediately see the distinction:

  • MARKETING: Define the market

GTM: What is the opportunity?

  • MARKETING: Define the demographics

GTM: Where is the best place to launch?

  • MARKETING: Define the Buying Process

GTM: Who are the key players? Who decides on purchase? How can we reach them?

  • MARKETING: Establish Underlying Motivations

GTM: How can I best show value?


GTM: What am I providing that is different and better?

Example: In each case, the general rules are brought down to the specific. In an age in which people read fewer paper bound books, what kind of GTM strategy do you need? Your marketing strategy tells you that book buyers are older, have a higher income, and are more educated. They are more likely to be women than men, and they like to browse in a bookshop rather than online.


Knowing all that, your GTM strategy for a new bookshop looks at this information and makes conclusions. Older people and more educated people? Locate you bookshop near pharmacies, groceries shops, and a university or a library. Higher income? Do a launch event in an upscale lounge and serve appletinis.

In other words, use the marketing information to create a winning tactical plan.  


Making a Product Life Cycle Map

Part of the GTM strategy is getting a view of the short-, medium-, and long-term business goals that will push your sales effort. This includes knowing when you will roll out new features, enhancements, or additional products in the range. Will your product become obsolete over time? How to deal with that? A good example of this comes from the fashion industry.

Example: Each season, a fashion house like Chanel will come out with a new line of apparel. The launch is typically done on a catwalk show in Paris or Milan – and since all their competitors are there too, that part of the GTM has been decided for them. However, Chanel may decide to hold back a few key pieces for a mid-season launch. This will keep the interest high, especially because Chanel will let us know its intentions! Moreover, a new perfume, sunglasses, or accessory line will be launched at different points during the year.

The Life Cycle Map for Chanel, in this way, is not only about the spring/summer collection, but also about how that collection will reach the market and when. Moreover, designers and product developers are already using the learnings from the current season to help plan fall/winter and the next s/s as well.

Successfully getting to market, and that is what we all want, is not only about today. If it does not have a sustainable sales, product, and promotion plan that will keep it resonating over time, then Mr. Lagerfeld might as well stay home…

The map should be reviewed often to make sure it is getting the job done. If sales flag after a mid-season launch, we must determine if it was the product (the wrong handbag?) or was it the timing – too near the catwalk.


Who are the Consumers?

From your marketing strategy, you will have gathered all the information (hopefully!) about the target market. But that is just the beginning. From this point, in your GTM, you need to think of creative ways to reach them. Ask yourself questions –

  • Where are my consumers?

  • What are they thinking about when they shop?

  • What is important to them? (Price point? Convenience? Aesthetics?)

  • Who influences my consumers (Friends and family? Bloggers? Experts?)

Based on your answers to these questions, you could start defining your sales drive in the GTM strategy. If you are selling snow boots, for example, you might not want to target Hawaii for the product launch. Or maybe you do – it would certainly be a surprise!

This is another important point. When you define your GTM, you should seek ways to be innovative and surprising. When Tipp-Ex wanted to launch their new white out tape (2010), they launched a video campaign that went viral of a hunter who had to shoot a bear. But he did not want to so he reached out of the video box and used the illustration of Tipp-Ex to remove the word “shoot”.  The viewers were invited to change the word to whatever they wanted.

Tipp-Ex, a product that hardly seems relevant anymore, was suddenly a hit and their sales jumped dramatically according to Dan Hecht on HubSpot.

Example: A real-life example of getting it wrong might help in looking this question. In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company launched New Coke. The thinking was


  • Pepsi was gaining on them for market share

  • The formula had not been changed in 100 years

  • Coke drinkers were loyal and would embrace the new product


What they failed to do was accurately gauge the consumer’s possible reaction. In taste tests, they liked the new formula, but no one accepted the new brand. After a few weeks, they dropped New Coke and were forced to introduce Coca-Cola Classic to make sure the consumers knew about it.

Coke failed to understand its consumer base and paid the price.


The Winning Go-To-Market Strategy

No one can tell you what the best GTM strategy for your new product or startup will be. The way to win is to know yourself, know your product, and know your consumers as best as you can. For this, let the marketing department stay up nights and worry about it. Once they have sweated it out, you have all the tools you need to interpret the data and get your product into the hands of the consumers.


And if you did it right, they will thank you by buying!

Would your Go-To-Market Strategy benefit from expert assistance? The team of professionals at The Go To Market Company is standing by help you hone your strategy and give you the edge you need to achieve success through a winning approach. And make sure you don’t miss out on their special offer for companies!

What’s in a Winning Go-To-Market Strategy? The go to Market Company