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The 4 go-to-market strategy lessons Cognism learned from COVID launches

May 5, 2021

Overnight, it all changed. 

Lockdown hit. Offices deserted. ICP mainstays disappeared.

Thing was, our growth plans remained. And we needed to figure out how our go-to-market strategies could work in this new environment.

Our next steps?

  • Reassessing our ICP and TAM 
  • Pivoting to focus on industries that weren’t affected by COVID 
  • Overlaying that with GTM strategies and motions that worked pre-COVID

And they worked. 

As a result, we didn’t miss a target throughout the pandemic. Meanwhile, we managed to grow to over $15M ARR.

We spoke to our Chief Marketing Officer, Alice de Courcy, to get the key lessons we learned from this period and how they’ll influence our product launches in future. 

Scroll for Alice’s insights, or use the menu below to flick through!👇

GTM strategy - why, how, when? | Successfully implementing GTM | GTM lessons from COVID launches | Cognism's CMO success story

GTM strategy - why, how, when?

At Cognism, we create a new GTM strategy when:

  • We want to reposition ourselves in the market
  • We’re going to enter in a new market with our existing products
  • We’ve acquired a new business unit and we’re going to market with it

We’ve managed to go-to-market successfully in both Europe and America, and we’ve even done it with two companies - Cognism and email signature marketing platform, Mailtastic.

The checklist ✅📜

"In order for our GTM strategies to be successful, there are things you absolutely have to do. We’ve got a checklist of sorts that we stick to." 

Here’s a peek at Alice’s list 👇

1 - Identify your TAM

You need to identify the TAM of where you’re going to market. 

What does it look like? What’s the composition of them? Who are the personas that you’re going to be targeting? 

2 - Identify your messaging and positioning

As we touched on in a previous piece, your messaging needs to:

Communicate the value of your product or service to your ICP in a way that resonates with their pain points.

That is, once you have your TAM. 

Meanwhile, in-depth competitor research will help you understand where your product fits in the market, and position yourselves appropriately.

3 - The sales and marketing tactics you're going to use

This varies from organization to organization and depends on the type of GTM strategy you’re doing. 

You need to consider what sales and marketing tactics you’re going to use to take your GTM motion to life.

Alice explains:

"As a minimum, you need to map out targets you want to hit month-on-month - for the new region, the new product line, or for the new position you’re taking." 

"You need to split these out between your B2B sales and marketing notions, and then, your sales and marketing teams need to go and build out their plans for how they’re going to achieve those targets."

"Your sales team should look at the capacity model - how many SDRs they’re going to need, and backward work the waterfall from there. The marketing side is more focused on budget considerations. What is the budget we need to be hitting our goals? How am I going to split the budget across channels? And what tactics am I going to be hedging my bets on for our GTM?"

"This process is an absolute must for anyone doing a go-to-market motion."

How Cognism successfully implemented GTM strategies 🥇

As we mentioned earlier, pivoting was our main play.

So, what did we do? 🕵️‍♀️

Well, we didn’t come up with a whole new strategy.

Instead, we identified industries that weren’t affected by COVID and overlayed that with our GTM strategies and motions that worked pre-COVID. 

"It was centered around TAM, and ICP, and a bit of messaging around why people needed to go digital and work from home. This led to a pivot in messaging to our prospects with direct dials becoming a key pain point that we hit on. As people were no longer in their offices, salespeople needed to get hold of their prospects somehow."

Why it worked 👩‍🔬

"We pivoted away from TAMs and ICPs that just weren’t going to be successful for us with COVID restrictions."

"We completely ruled events, recruitment, and any of the industries that were really impacted by COVID out of our targeting. So, we nailed that very first step of go-to-market very early on in the pandemic."

Alice told us that once targeting was tweaked, the focus went onto messaging. 

"Our messaging pivoted to direct dials, working from home, and investing in digitization in order for companies to grow."

"Our product and solution were also following the same path which was really important. So, we doubled down on our Chrome Extension because it was a workflow that people really needed, and we doubled down on direct dials because the office phone number was redundant."

"Together all of these things helped us successfully implement go-to-market strategies that really worked.”

When did we know our 'Covid GTM' had worked? 📆

In terms of measuring the GTM strategy, Alice says: 

"Our March numbers were where we needed to be across the board, and then COVID hit, and we missed target. In April, a month after COVID hit, we were over-achieving target. This was purely because we pivoted really quickly and executed really fast. We’ve never missed target since."

Our next move was to review:

"Part of Cognism’s go-to-market is on consistent review, which is ICP and TAM. We review our TAM and ICP monthly and account for events outside of that that will trigger bigger changes. We’re also wisening up our targeting and messaging - moving more from a wide reach of leads to the right leads for our clients."

"If your product’s evolving and the market is evolving, you’ve simply got to review your go-to-market strategy. You need to react to these changes or your strategy will fail."

Alice's 4 GTM strategy lessons 👩‍🏫

  • You can’t underestimate a different go-to-market strategy for each region. Blanket GTM strategies won't work. 
  • Build out and stick to your capacity model. If you fall behind, you'll be in trouble, so continue to hire new staff.
  • Be aligned on absolutely everything from a sales and marketing perspective. This cascades down into every team as well. Make sure everyone knows what goals, messaging, positioning you're working towards. Content must be using the same messaging as salespeople on the phone to prospects, for example.
  • Learn and optimize at all times. In other words, don't stick to a failing GTM strategy.

Cognism's CMO success story 🚀

Want to get more secrets behind Cognism's growth journey?

Then check out the link below 👇

In it, Alice discusses how she runs Content, Campaigns and Demand Gen, and Performance marketing while exploring the metrics she reports to the board.

GTM strategy lessons