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How to Build Your Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy?

Source: Nitin Kumar

Product managers build great features and products but usually miss giving attention to Go-To-Market (GTM) assuming great features will work automatically.

What GTM Strategy is NOT?

  • Identifying customer pain points, figuring out target market/segment, competitive analysis, or building Product Strategy - This should have been done much earlier before building the product or feature.

  • Growth strategy - this comes later on when a feature or product has become somewhat successful.

  • Just marketing/PR campaigns.

  • Product/feature roadmap.

Then what is GTM Strategy?

It outlines how a company will/should bring its products/services to market and effectively reach its target customers. GTM strategy is extremely critical for businesses to maximize their chances of success in the marketplace.

It encompasses the below activities needed to successfully launch, promote, sell, and distribute a product/service:

  • A comprehensive action plan to create awareness and acquire an initial set of users

  • Validation of initial hypothesis or insights.

  • A baby step towards Product/Feature Market Fit

  • Marketing and storytelling along with product experience - hence close working with marketing.

  • An early stage of full-fledged acquisition & retention strategy

  • Can work along AB Test

When to Build GTM Strategy?

Developing a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy should ideally be part of the early planning stages for a new product/service.

A tailored or refined GTM strategy is needed to address the unique challenges and opportunities, such as:

  • When you're introducing a new product/service or significantly updating an existing one.

  • When your business is expanding into new regions, industries, or segments.

  • When a major competitor/new incumbent is launching a competing product in your market.

  • Once you've identified product-market fit and have initial customer validation, it's a good time to refine your GTM strategy to scale your business.

This is where maximum PMs and even Product Leaders make mistakes.

Most of the time GTM will have multiple dependencies and inputs for/from other teams like marketing, business, finance, operations, and even product managers/designers on how the customer journey or user flow of the Product/Feature works.

E.g. if your feature is dependent on a lot of compliance and validation steps like in the case of Fintech or say in an eCommerce product/feature you want users to learn a new way of browsing or engagement, in such cases you need basic education/guidance for the users.

That education and guidance should resonate with GTM strategy to achieve outcome

How to Build Your GTM Strategy?

So, how to go about building a GTM Strategy?

  1. Identify 1/2 subsets out of your target audience

  2. Prepare a crisp value proposition

  3. Identify metrics & decide success targets.

    1. Estimate backward on how should your funnel look. Ensure you are able to get a sizable outcome to make any meaningful assessment.

  4. Build action items with a schedule/timeline for the whole funnel for GTM - Awareness -> Discovery -> Education/Guidance -> Adoption/Usage -> Feedback.

  5. Don’t forget to estimate the cost involved in execution for budgeting, approvals, and viability/extensibility of your strategy. It will save time when you actually start executing your GTM strategy.

  6. Make sure the essence of your value proposition is consistent across all campaigns and communication irrespective of the channels used (ATL, BTL, Social Media, PR, Push, SMS, Emails, In-App Banners, etc.)

  7. Close the loop by collating user feedback through reviews, complaints, social media posts, user interviews and data analysis.

  8. Finally use insights/learnings for managing the Product Roadmap and Future Growth Strategies.

Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy differences for B2C vs B2B2C vs B2B

Source: Part 2

Fundamentally GTM strategy depends on:

  1. Who are the ultimate end-users of your product or feature?

  2. Do you have or how can you get access to those users, and

  3. Who are the actual buyers of your product or feature?

Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy differences for B2C vs B2B2C vs B2B

Like typical B2C, certain B2B2C businesses will also have a large base of end-users.

E.g. if you are catering to Telecom/Network Operators through Mobile VAS products or other B2C companies through Payment products.

In such B2B2C cases, the GTM strategy has to be thought of almost like B2C.

However, your B2B customers will have more say in how GTM strategy is structured and executed for their end-users. You propose but they decide.

Then there are certain B2B businesses that have a large scale of Micro and SME customers, who are also end-users e.g. SME Lending business or Zoho like SAAS business.

In such cases as well, GTM's thought process has to be exactly like B2C.

Very subtle differences in the way communication/messaging is done to SMEs otherwise hardly much difference.

Then you are left with Large Enterprise B2B products where end-users are usually internal teams. E.g. Cloud and IAAS businesses, ERP products, etc.

Here you can’t access each and every internal user of your Large enterprise customers.

So you may have to select a few accounts and work closely with their Product, Tech, Ops, Supply-Chain, HR, Finance, etc., teams to formulate and execute GTM.

Here complete prerogative remains with decision makers at Large Enterprises.

More customization and flexibility may be needed in your product itself to even do any PoC/Test launch with such Large B2B customers.

The duration of GTM execution can be quite long.

In essence, a well-structured GTM strategy is the roadmap that guides how your company introduces, promotes, and delivers its value proposition to the right customers, at the right time, and through the right channels.

The bottom line is that a Product manager or Product marketing manager has to have a thought process on GTM irrespective of the kind of business model. The difference comes in how much say or control PM or PMM has in formulating and executing the GTM strategy. But your past experiences and influence can be crucial to make a difference.

Go To Market (GTM) Strategy vs Growth Strategy

Source: Part 3

In a very simple term Growth Strategy is a broader and elongated version of GTM Strategy. The Growth Strategy comes after the successful outcome of the GTM Strategy & once Product/Feature Market Fit is achieved. As a PM or Growth Manager, you only work on further Growth when you have tested your product and feature with an initial meaningful base of users & collected feedback.

Then with more product iterations, achieved a certain level of repeating & engaged users and meaningful inflow velocity of new users to prove that the product/feature has found a good market fit.

Now is the time to accelerate using Growth Strategy, to go all out to achieve higher numbers for one or more goals out of Acquisition, Engagement, Retention, more ‘X’ per user (where X can be Transactions, Revenue, Profit, etc.)

See the below picture to know the subtle differences in various aspects.

Go To Market (GTM) Strategy vs Growth Strategy

By now you would have realized:

GTM Strategy is successfully performed once in a Product/Feature Life Cycle.

Whereas Growth Strategy is a long-term continuous process & effort to get sustainable business outcomes from a Product/Feature.

By the way, not all Product/Tech Orgs have dedicated Growth Strategy or Growth PM. But as a concept it exists in most of the B2C product companies.

Typically PMs may have "Growth from their Product/Feature" as one of the key responsibilities.

Leveraging Various Channels for Go To Market (GTM) or Growth Strategies.

Source: Part 4

Channels vary a lot in terms of target segments, cost, scalability, effectiveness, customer perception, and ROI (Return on Investment) / ROAS (Return on Ad Spends.)

For existing users:

  • If have access to Mobile Numbers or emails - Email, and SMS are good choices but less effective.

  • Push Notifications are most suitable for both Apps and Websites if you can get the user’s permission.

  • WhatsApp though expensive can be very effective channel for certain use cases.

For new or churned/lapsed users:

  • Here you have fewer choices on free channels.

  • Google and Social Media Ads remain the most widely used and high-scale channels. While they can make a hole in your pocket, they still remain reasonably effective.

  • Then you can have an affiliate channel for 3rd Party Websites/Apps. More recently influencer marketing has also become popular

For all users:

  • There are certain content-driven channels that are highly effective and sticky but require long tedious efforts to build and scale.

  • Your organization’s Social Media handles/pages, SEO pages, blogging, etc.

  • But once you build a sizable scale and establish machinery to keep adding content across these channels, ROI is immense.

  • There are examples where organizations and founders have such a large follower base that they probably don’t need any paid marketing efforts.

Certain channels are primarily used for large-scale branding or launches e.g. Print Media or Outdoor or TV/OTT Ads.

Completely driven by Marketing teams, Product folks provide their inputs to build the messaging and value proposition about the product.

Typically, GTM plans should use those channels that can show outcomes immediately with optimized cost or help you reach specific user segments faster for initial acquisition.

On the other hand, Growth Strategy has a longer horizon to evaluate and experiment with all kinds of available channels for the most effective outcome.

Long-term SEO and blogging (Text, Video) strategy is excellent for the growth of businesses that have substantial content as part of their user experience and engagement e.g. Insurance and investment digital businesses, certain eCommerce categories e.g. Beauty and Personal Care, Health, Food, etc.

This table gives a finer perspective to assess various marketing channels.

PS: These thoughts are purely based on Nitin's own experiential journey through B2C (eCommerce, InsureTech), B2B2C (Telecom, Payment) & Large+SME B2B (Payment) product lines. The post or its content is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee success. Readers are advised to use self-caution.

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