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What is a go-to-market strategy? (and how to build one)

January 27, 2021

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan that helps you define your ideal customers, coordinate your messaging, and position your product for launch. A GTM strategy also keeps key business units aligned on the same plan, allowing you to meet a market need and effectively iterate on your product.

It may be used for:

  • New products entering an existing market
  • Existing products entering a new market
  • New products testing out their market for growth

In this blog, Cognism CMO, Alice de Courcy, tells you everything you need to know about GTM strategy. Plus how you can build one for yourself. 

Download the GTM strategy PowerPoint template Cognism uses for new launches and expansion projects👇

Go-to-market strategy ppt template

6 steps to building a go-to-market strategy 🪜

You can create your own GTM strategy in six steps. These are:

  1. Defining your ICP
  2. Researching your competitors
  3. Developing your messaging
  4. Setting targets
  5. Choosing your tactics
  6. Providing feedback

Scroll through to learn about each step, or use the menu above to flick through. ☝️

1 - Defining your ICP 💫

Your ICP is a comprehensive description of your perfect customer.

The kind of customer who can find massive benefits from your product or service, while also being able to give you enough value in return to make your business profitable. 

In most cases, this will be the ability to use your product to boost their bottom line, but there could be other benefits, such as: ƒ

  • Reducing costs 
  • Driving efficiency
  • Improving the productivity/wellbeing of staff

In return, your ICP delivers value back to you in the form of revenue. They may also deliver referrals, customer insights, and testimonials.

To develop your ICP, you need to know: 

  • Who they are 
  • Where they work 
  • What kind of day-to-day challenges they face

And as we outline in our piece on B2B lead generation, you also need:

Accurate, up-to-date B2B data. Poor quality data will result in your teams targeting the wrong people. Quality data ensures your teams are creating data-driven marketing and sales plans that are aimed at the right people, resulting in faster growth for your organisation.

2 - Researching your competitors 🕵🏽‍♀️

Understanding where your product or service fits in the existing landscape is key to any GTM strategy. 

That’s because learning about what your competitors offer and recognising the value they add helps position your own product.

Start by assessing their G2 reviews page and filter by relevant business segments. For example, SME, mid market, or enterprise. 

This’ll allow you to figure out what they like and dislike the most about competitors’ platforms and what truly resonates with your ICP. 

It’s also worth considering how macro and micro trends could impact your launch now and in the near future. Doing this helped Cognism differentiate itself in the market. 

For example, whereas other B2B data providers had to adapt to the introduction of GDPR in 2018, Cognism built compliance into its platform.

go to market strategy

This is something we shout about on our home page.

3 - Developing your messaging 🗣

Effective product messaging boils down to this: 

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

And to be able to do this, you need to speak their language. 

Start by either listening to Gong recordings of sales demos with prospects, or shadowing sales reps live. Pay attention to the language they use in relation to their pain points and ambitions.

In Gong, you can also search for specific competitor names and review how prospects perceive them. 

You can support this by taking words and phrases from case studies and G2 reviews and building your messaging around them. 

Next, you need to understand all the messaging your competitors currently have on their site and review how they position their product offerings. This means you can figure out what your USP is and how to reposition your competitors’ offerings. 

Once you have this, you need to develop a brief for executives, including the key takeaways you have about your competitors’ positioning by comparison to your own. 

Here you need to lay out which personas you’ll be speaking to and the way you’re going to address them. 

Finally, to set your messaging in stone, you need to organise a call with key company executives and come to an agreement. 

It’s worth noting here that there may be a lot of changes before you get to the finish line, particularly with input from your CEO on both messaging and product naming.

See the infographic below for more GTM strategy messaging advice 👇

go to market strategy

4 - Setting targets 🎯

Outbound

All good GTM strategies have clear models

And you can build these models from the capacity/budget you have at your disposal. For example: 

Say you have two outbound Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) working on your launch. 

If you review the number of cold calls, emails and LinkedIn messages they send per day, you can work out their average output, as well as response rates.

This means you can estimate the number of meetings each rep will book

Next, you should use the meetings booked/opportunity rate to inform your reps’ targets.

From here, you can factor in an average opportunity to close rate. For this, Cognism uses 25%. 

This will allow you to build your full funnel pipeline and map out data-driven targets which your reps work towards each month. 

Note:

If you see you’re a long way off these targets, you may need to adjust a part of your GTM strategy to improve performance. Say your chosen ICP or your messaging. 

Marketing

Now for tracking your inbound efforts. 

At the beginning of your GTM strategy, aiming for a 50/50 split between inbound and outbound will allow you to:

  • Land on achievable benchmarks
  • Measure the two against each other from an efficiency/success perspective.

This all starts with an estimated cost-per-lead (CPL).

At Cognism, we bake in $30 as our worst-case scenario for content leads. Meanwhile it’s $250 for direct inbound demo requests from paid advertising. 

Next, you need to overlay some predicted conversions from stage to stage across the funnel, which will be different for content and paid direct demo requests.

You’ll also be able to work out how much budget you’ll need to hit the same number of opportunities as outbound.

In this plan, you want to get these opportunities from a combination of content and paid ads. The idea behind that being you want to diversify and test different tactics as part of your GTM.

In the table below, you can see how you could work this out and create targets for B2B marketing.

go-to-market strategy5 - Choosing your tactics 🧐

To reach your ICP, you need to use a range of tactics in tandem. These include: 

Data

As we mentioned in Defining your ICP, you need quality data to target the right people. 

And there are a range of high-quality B2B data providers that can help you do this. 

Aside from Cognism, companies like ZoomInfo, Lusha and LeadIQ will provide you with high-quality leads. 

With up-to-date prospect data, your sales team can target individuals who are most likely to buy your product or service.

This will help you nail your outbound sales approach.

Marketing strategy 

When making your GTM strategy plan, you need to allow for room to test, try and optimize. This will be your mantra. 

Start with an offer. Then look to adapt that offer to the channels that you believe are most likely to convert your ICP. 

You’ll need different offers for the top (TOFU), middle (MOFU), and bottom (BOFU) of the funnel. You’ll also need to present the offer differently on every channel.

As BOFU campaigns are full of quick wins and key learnings, they’re always a good place to start.

Try looking at retargeting audiences on channels such as LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook and building campaigns on Google and Bing that target high-intent keywords. 

From here, you can start your TOFU and MOFU strategies knowing that you have the lowest hanging fruit ticked off.

Content plan

If data is the key to your outbound approach, content is the driving force behind your inbound efforts. 

The first thing to remember when creating a content plan to promote your product or service is to do your keyword research first

Although free tools are available, paid platforms like Ahrefs and SEMrush are far more robust. 

SEO tools such as them allow you to review the keywords your competitors already rank for and identify niches you can dominate. 

You can also track the rank of your target keywords in your dashboard and report your progress to the wider team.

Our comprehensive guide to building your own B2B content marketing strategy will also help you on your way. 

Partnerships 

If you’re entering a new market and have limited brand recognition of your own, you need to do some piggybacking.

And identifying companies with a similar ICP will help you do that. Particularly if they have a ton more brand recognition than you.

Teaming up with them on co-marketing initiatives will get you in front of the right people, generating awareness and demand for your product or service. 

Some of the best co-marketing initiatives include:

  • Joint webinars
  • Joint virtual events
  • Joint white papers/eBooks
  • Guest blogging
  • Content sharing (newsletters/social channels)

6 - Providing feedback 🤝

Establishing a feedback loop between marketing, sales and product development will make sure the key learnings from your GTM strategy are actioned. 

To create this loop, you need to make individuals accountable for different parts of your strategy. 

Having these individuals report on their progress in regular meetings will help you overcome stumbling blocks collectively. 

Of course, this will help you land on:

  • A winning ICP that you target on the right channels 
  • Messaging that converts
  • A product that better solves your ICP’s pain point

Go-to-market strategy FAQs 🤷🏻

Who's responsible for GTM strategy? | What's the difference between market strategy and marketing strategy? | What is a pricing strategy in GTM? | What is a channel strategy in GTM?

Who is responsible for GTM strategy? 

A small group or pod of senior stakeholders from the sales, marketing, and product departments of your business should be responsible for GTM strategy. By comparison to larger GTM teams, this structure allows stakeholders to bypass long feedback loops, iterate on the GTM strategy, and develop your product.

Alignment between pod members happens when you hold them all accountable to pre-agreed KPIs. At the start of your GTM, the pod should come together to: 

  • Define your ICP
  • Align over messaging and positioning
  • Disseminate your findings across each department

After this, the pod should reconvene in weekly catch-ups which include:

  • Data deep dives
  • Sales team struggles
  • Key product pushbacks 

What is the difference between market strategy and marketing strategy?

While market strategy is about senior stakeholders in sales, marketing, and product launching a new product/in a new market, the marketing strategy is about your whole business building a brand to achieve long-term competitive advantages. In that sense, the market strategy is just one part of the marketing strategy.

In practice, a marketing strategy includes broad things like:

  • Processes
  • Target audience
  • Channels
  • Tools
  • Tactics

On the other hand, a market strategy includes specific things like: 

  • The market you serve
  • Deep product understanding
  • Deep persona understanding
  • Competitor analysis
  • Positioning
  • Packaging
  • Pricing

All of this encompasses how you'll go to market, who you'll target, and the tactics you’ll use to convert customers.

What is pricing strategy in GTM? 

A pricing strategy isn’t just a case of deciding how much to charge for your product/service; it also affects the type of customers you attract. This may change throughout a business’ scale-up journey.

For example, you may start by targeting SMBs before targeting mid-market and enterprise customers.

In SaaS, you can take several different approaches to pricing strategy, which you can review below 👇 

What does freemium mean in SaaS pricing?

In the freemium model, you offer a free trial and try to upsell the solution to users. B2B lead generation platforms, for example, may cap this trial to a number of credits per month, hoping the details prospects find are enough to convert some into paid customers. 

What does flat rate mean in SaaS pricing?

In the flat-rate model, users pay one price to access all product features, usually in monthly or annual instalments. 

What does user based mean in SaaS pricing?

In the user-based model, pricing increases as you add more users. Work management software, Monday.com, is a good example of this. 

What does pricing-per-feature mean in SaaS pricing?

In the pricing-per-feature model, users can purchase different packages which provide different levels of access to product features. 

What does tiered pricing mean in SaaS pricing?

In a tiered package, customers get different levels of access depending on their price plan. For example, Cognism uses a widget for its G2 reviews and pays a set monthly fee for the platform, up until 5,000 views. Once we break the 5,000 views threshold, we have to upgrade our package.

What does pay-as-you-go mean in SaaS pricing?

A pay-as-you-go model is based on your own consumption of a product/service. This allows you to upgrade and downgrade as you please. 

What is markup pricing?

In markup pricing, the vendor adds a percentage on top of a physical product’s cost to land on the price the customer pays. 

What is dynamic pricing?

Dynamic pricing takes seasonal demand into account, increasing and reducing costs accordingly. For example, vacation rentals are far more expensive when there’s high demand, usually in the summer months. 

What is skimming pricing?

In skimming pricing, the vendor sells a new product at a higher price. This model is often used by electronics companies like Apple, which later reduces prices after launch. 

How do you decide your pricing in SaaS?

To decide the pricing strategy for your SaaS product, you should consider: 

  • What competitors charge
  • How you want to be perceived (e.g. premium vs affordable)
  • How valuable your product is to customers 
  • How much it costs to build your product
  • Demand for your product

What is a channel strategy in GTM?

In GTM, a channel strategy decides where and how you'll reach your customers and encourage them to make a purchase. The channel strategy includes both your marketing and sales functions, leveraging: 

  • Online channels - Google ads, blogs, social media, user-generated content, influencers 
  • Offline channels - TV, billboards, flyers
  • Outbound - Your sales team cold calls relevant personas to generate leads
  • Referrals - Partner companies point new business your way

In a channel strategy, you need to take into account the needs and expectations of your customers as well as how they want you to interact with them. 

For example, premium B2B products often can't be purchased online. Instead, a salesperson nurtures a relationship with a prospect up until the point of purchase.

Take this example: 

A company wants to launch a new product and migrate existing customers to the new pricing.

They may use online channels, such as a product marketing newsletter, to raise awareness in the customer base, while supporting this with direct outreach from the sales. 

For net new business, the company is likely to use different channels to make its strategy a reality.

For example, online channels like social media and Google ads may be combined with direct outreach from sales. 

For closed lost, the company may only use email, whereas for nurture, they'll use email and social media. 

Go-to-market strategy PowerPoint template 💡

Are you a sales or marketing leader launching a new product or expanding into new regions?

Then get our GTM strategy ppt template. Our deck includes slides on:

  • ICP
  • Key targets and KPIs
  • Product pricing and packaging
  • Revenue contribution per territory
  • Inbound and outbound models
  • Budget and spend
  • Tech stacks

And a whole lot more. Get your copy now 👇

go to market strategy