In the highly competitive SaaS economy, marketers and revenue leaders are tempted to focus on demand generation and marketing strategies when planning a new product or service launch. After all, foundational marketing is fundamental to driving revenue. But a sound go-to-market strategy (GTM) cannot be overlooked when planning your product or service release. An effective GTM can be fairly straightforward, but it should always provide the strategic underpinning on which future marketing efforts rest.
Marketing Strategy vs. Go-to-Market Strategy
Before we dive in, let's get on the same page regarding the difference between a marketing strategy and GTM.
Marketing strategy involves increasing revenue by identifying buyer personas and understanding the target audience. It focuses on generating demand and increasing brand awareness. On the other hand, the GTM strategy involves creating an execution plan for how the product or service will be sold and implemented. It involves pricing, packaging, distribution, sales operations, and a deep understanding of the competitive landscape.
Therefore, GTM should be integral to any product or service launch plan. It helps create a roadmap for increasing revenue and achieving sustainable success by considering the total buying experience, from initial contact through post-sale customer service. A GTM strategy should include a detailed plan for understanding the target market, segmenting customers, and pricing and packaging products or services to maximize revenue and market share.
GTM strategy also helps ensure that all business activities are planned, coordinated, and executed promptly. It's important to ensure that the launch is well-run and meets all expectations to leverage increasing revenue opportunities fully.
B2B and B2C Go-to-Market: What's the Difference?
GTM strategies for B2B and B2C companies have differences that need to be taken into account. For B2B, the target buyer persona is usually more complex, as multiple stakeholders often influence the buying process. In this case, the B2B sales team will need a deeper understanding of the customer's organization to build relationships and close deals effectively.
In contrast, B2C companies typically target a single customer, so their sales team must focus more on increasing brand awareness and creating an emotional connection with customers. Different promotional tactics may be needed for each target group to create lasting buyer relationships.
The key differences between B2B and B2C GTM strategies come from the target audiences, sales cycles, and pricing models. For instance, B2B buyers often buy in bulk or require multi-year contracts compared to B2C customers who are more interested in individual products/services with shorter-term commitments.
3 Essential Elements of a B2B Go-To-Market Strategy
An effective B2B GTM strategy should be tailored to the target audience and incorporate product market fit and positioning, pricing strategies, sales enablement, digital marketing tactics, and partnership development. It should also be agile enough to adapt to changing customer preferences and market conditions. Finally, an effective GTM strategy should focus on increasing revenue through increasing product adoption from existing customers while simultaneously acquiring new customers.
By taking a data-driven approach, leveraging automation tools and measurement techniques such as A/B testing or personalization technology can help ensure that your campaigns are optimized for success. Implementing a comprehensive GTM strategy alongside your marketing strategy can maximize customer engagement and drive revenue growth and ROI for the long term.
While the level of complexity and detail can vary, along with the format of the documentation, here are the fundamental components you'll need to include in your GTM documentation:
1. Market Intelligence
To know how to introduce a product to a market, you need to understand the market you’re entering. The best way to gain that understanding is to conduct market research.
Many resources are available to help you gain insight into your market, from publishers like IDG to research companies like Gartner. Additionally, tools like the Ansoff Matrix can be effective frameworks for vetting your research. The Ansoff Matrix was developed by a mathematician and breaks product market introductions into four paths:
Market penetration, where you sell an existing product to an existing market
Market development, where you sell an existing product to a new market
Product development, where you sell a new product to an existing market
Diversification is where you sell a new product to a new market.
Understanding not just the market but also how your product relates to it is essential to developing your GTM and guiding your research and your messaging later on. Additionally, it is essential for your GTM documentation to contain a thorough competitive overview, including points of competitive differentiation. These can range from differentiated features to pricing or functionality. Challenging yourself to create a simple answer to the question of "What problems does my product solve" will pay significant dividends in your longer-term sales and marketing strategy.
2. Market Segmentation
The second element in a successful GTM is market segmentation. The findings from the market research you completed in the market intelligence phase determine who will most likely purchase your product, solution or service.
The market segmentation phase takes your market research one step further to help you understand the decision-makers within that market. Rather than defining your target market as CMOs at mid-sized SaaS companies, use your market research to create a buying center and buyer personas.
The B2B buying center consists of the various roles involved in a purchasing decision — from research and evaluation to actual purchasing. Understanding each buyer's role enables you to craft messages that appeal to the right person.
If you’re following the product development path, conduct research on your existing customers so you can best speak to their pain points. If you’re following the market development or market penetration path, survey your current customers about their experience with your product to inform how you frame your value proposition.
Developing buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) will enable you to segment your market to target the best-fit customers. For example, instead of simply targeting CMOs at mid-sized SaaS companies, you’re targeting CMOs at mid-sized SaaS companies who are struggling to set up a reporting structure to prove the ROI of their marketing efforts.
3. Product Positioning
The final component of your go-to-market is how you convey your key value proposition. You understand the market you’re entering and who your customers are. Develop your product positioning and messaging strategy to stand out from your competitors and resonate with buyers.
When creating your product messaging, ask yourself:
- How does your offer address the need in the market?
- What supports your claim that your solution will fulfill their need?
- Why should your target market believe you?
Positioning is often considered a "marketing function." However, the most effective GTM strategies build cross-functional alignment on core product messaging long before marketing activates campaigns and sales initiatives, so building positioning into your GTM strategy early will benefit your entire business.
Additional Factors to Consider
In addition to the main components of a GTM strategy, there are several other factors to consider when launching a new product or service in the SaaS and subscription economy.
Digital Presence: Ensuring a strong online presence is crucial in today's digital world. This includes having a well-designed and user-friendly website and a presence on social media platforms that are popular with the target audience. Utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) tactics can also help improve the visibility and ranking of the website in search results.
Strategic Partnerships: Identifying and building partnerships with complementary businesses or organizations can help increase reach and exposure for the product or service and provide access to new customer segments.
Lead Generation: Lead generation involves attracting and cultivating potential customers for a product or service. This can be done through tactics such as creating marketing materials and utilizing social media and lead nurture strategies to increase visibility and drive conversions.
Sales Enablement: Sales enablement involves providing the sales team with the necessary resources and training to sell a product or service effectively. This includes sales collateral and training on the product or service and the sales process. Sales enablement helps improve the overall customer experience and drives revenue growth by ensuring that the sales team has the tools and knowledge they need to sell the product or service.
Customer experience and support: Providing a positive customer experience and offering high-quality customer service and support can help increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to increased retention and potentially even upselling opportunities.
Data and analytics: Regularly tracking and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the GTM strategy and help inform future optimization efforts.
Marketing Mix: The marketing mix refers to the various elements that can be controlled in promoting a product or service. These elements include product, price, place (distribution channels), promotion, people, process, and physical evidence. The marketing mix should be considered when developing a GTM strategy to ensure that all elements are effectively aligned to achieve revenue goals.
Examples of B2B Go-to-Market Strategies
Now that you understand the components of a successful GTM strategy let's look at three real-world examples.
Example 1: A SaaS company targeting SMBs
Increase adoption and drive revenue growth through the acquisition of new customers by:
- Partnering with business consultancies and small business associations to reach potential customers and offer discounted rates to their members
- Offering free trial periods and onboarding support to encourage adoption and reduce the risk for potential customers
- Creating case studies and testimonials from successful customers to build social proof and credibility
- Utilizing targeted paid ads and email marketing campaigns to reach small business owners and decision-makers
- Offering flexible pricing plans based on the size and needs of each business
Example 2: A B2B manufacturer of industrial equipment
Build relationships with prospects, increase customer satisfaction, and increase revenue by:
- Participating in trade shows and industry events to showcase products and build relationships with potential customers
- Offering in-depth product training and technical support to ensure successful product adoption and customer satisfaction
- Utilizing targeted social media posts and email campaigns to reach thought leaders in relevant industries
- Partnering with distributors and resellers to expand awareness and make it easier for customers to purchase products
- Offering customizable pricing and payment plans based on the size and needs of each business
Example 3: A B2B provider of HR and payroll software
Increase customer satisfaction, reduce the sales cycle, and drive revenue growth by:
- Partnering with HR consulting firms and offering discounted rates to their clients
- Offering free trials and onboarding support to encourage product adoption and reduce risk for potential customers
- Utilizing targeted ads and email campaigns to reach HR professionals
- Creating webinars and educational blogs in a B2B content marketing strategy that aims to demonstrate the value of the software and position the company as a thought leader in the HR industry
- Offering flexible pricing plans based on the size and needs of each business.
The components of a go-to-market strategy are simple: market intelligence, market segmentation, and product messaging. But, the execution of those steps can be more complex depending on your product and the market you’re entering. Being methodical about each step and doing your due diligence will help set you up for success.
To learn more about the importance of demand generation in the success of a GTM strategy, check out our Essential Guide to Demand Generation.
This post was originally published June 7, 2019 and has been updated and refreshed for relevance.
Tag(s): Demand Generation Editor Pick
A former art kid with a passion for all things strategic and creative, Liza is on a mission to shake up B2B spaces. When she's not busy launching brands and driving revenue, you can find her chasing down Brooklyn's best food truck (Tacos El Bronco), or cuddled up with her dog to decode Reddit conspiracy theories.