Product School

What is Go-To-Market (GTM)?

Go-to-market (GTM) is the strategic process a company goes through to make a product or service available to customers (i.e. bring it to market). This is the plan through which you let customers know that your product is available, communicate the value it brings them, and demonstrate why it’s better than the competition.

Go-To-Market and Product Management

What is Go-To-Market (GTM) for Product Managers?

Go-to-market (GTM) is the strategy, planning and execution behind a successful Product Launch. Go-to-market ensures that the target audience not only discovers the product but also comprehends its value and relevance to their lives.

Do you value setting your product's price and distribution channels accurately? Would you like a marketing and sales strategy so irresistible that users stop what they’re doing and double-click your product ads? That's where a robust go-to-market (GTM) strategy comes in. 

You want to make potential users feel so seen and engaged that they can’t help but learn more. And if your product is good (which we’re sure it is!), users will stick around. A strong GTM strategy means higher up-front product adoption, more long-term revenue, and a product that stands out miles above the competition. 

Your go-to-market strategy decides how the audience learns about the product, including timing, channels, and messaging. Make sure to put your product in front of the right audience, at the right time, in a manner that will make them most likely to use or even purchase your product.

Why Does Go-To-Market (GTM) Matter for Product Managers?

Customer knowledge is power. As a Product Manager, it’s critical that you understand GTM strategy in order to better make customer-centric decisions. At every step of the product process, you should be asking yourself, “How will first-time users view this? What value does this add to users, and how can we better communicate that value?” 

Go-to-market is also when you’ll see the rewards of cross-functional collaboration outside of the Product Team. 

As Product Manager, you're the keeper of the Product Vision, so it’s your responsibility to communicate the purpose and value of the product across the company. Other teams need Product Managers to:

  • Validate customer messaging

  • Provide training materials and selling guides for sales

  • Share news on product updates

When you equip these teams with intimate knowledge of the product value, you’re setting up go-to-market for success! 

When Go-To-Market Goes Wrong

A go-to-market strategy not only determines the success of your product but of your entire company.

Just consider Microsoft Vista – a 2006 operating system launch so infamous that people still call it “Microsoft’s biggest failure.” You might say, “What’s the big deal? Microsoft is still a wildly successful company.” True. But it’s not as successful as say…Apple.

Microsoft’s fumbled go-to-market in 2006 is the reason Apple was able to pull ahead and become what it is today. Microsoft launched a buggy product and failed to understand the market, losing loyal customers – forever, in some cases. 

Microsoft vs Apple is a very public comparison, but smaller versions of this battle play out with smaller companies every day. Your company most likely can’t recover from a bad go-to-market strategy the same way Microsoft did. Not all product launches will be stunning successes, but having a strong go-to-market prevents you from completely missing the mark.

How to Create a Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy

To create and execute a go-to-market (GTM) strategy, you need to:

  1. Conduct market research to identify target audience

  2. Select your customer acquisition channels 

  3. Create messaging based on audience and channels

  4. Go to market! 

Audience and channel are tricky to get right, but the payoff is worth it. Consider how Airbnb entered through a niche market. 

Airbnb started off targeting conference attendees. Why? Because since they knew when and where the conferences took place, they knew how many people would be there, in what city, plus the length of their stay! 

They understood pain points (other conference-goers competing for the same accommodations) and needs (distance from event space; pricing). This focused approach led them to their first major success – 600 stays in Denver during Obama's Democratic National Convention. And the rest is history.

Next up is messaging. To define your go-to-market messaging, answer these questions:

  • WHY is this product/company important? WHY are you doing this?  

  • HOW are you going to do this? 

  • WHAT is special about your company’s mission that will make a customer want your product over a competitor’s?

Keep in mind: Product Marketing Managers (PMMs) in particular are your key partners for go-to-market. They can help support go-to-market activities like segmenting customers, choosing the appropriate customer acquisition channels, and creating external-facing messaging.  

Key Components of Go-To-Market (GTM)

The key components of a go-to-market (GTM) strategy typically include:

  • Market Research: Conducting thorough research to understand the target market, customer needs, preferences, and trends. This helps in identifying the right market segment and designing a compelling value proposition.

  • Product Positioning: Clearly defining how the product or service solves customer problems or meets their needs, and differentiating it from competitors. This involves crafting a unique selling proposition (USP) and positioning the offering effectively in the market.

  • Pricing Strategy: Determining the appropriate pricing model and strategy based on factors such as production costs, market demand, competitor pricing, and perceived value. The pricing strategy should align with the product positioning and target market.

  • Distribution Channels: Identifying and selecting the most effective channels to reach the target customers. This may involve direct sales, partnerships, distributors, online platforms, or a combination of channels.

  • Marketing and Promotion: Developing a comprehensive marketing plan that includes advertising, public relations, digital marketing, content creation, social media, and other promotional activities. The plan should be tailored to reach the target audience and communicate the value proposition effectively.

  • Sales Enablement: Equipping the sales team with the necessary tools, resources, and training to effectively sell the product or service. This includes providing product knowledge, sales collateral, customer insights, and sales methodologies to maximize sales effectiveness.

  • Customer Acquisition and Retention: Implementing strategies to attract new customers and retain existing ones. This may involve lead generation, customer relationship management (CRM), customer support, loyalty programs, and ongoing customer engagement initiatives.

  • Metrics and Analysis: Defining key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the go-to-market strategy. This includes tracking sales revenue, market share, customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, and other relevant metrics to assess performance and make data-driven decisions.

These components work together to create a comprehensive GTM strategy that ensures a successful Product Launch, market penetration, and sustainable growth.

Go-To-Market in Action

I’ve launched enough products to know that a solid go-to-market strategy can be the difference between product success and failure. It’s not enough just to build a product that provides value. You need to shout it from the rooftops. Hey! Look over here! We’ve made this awesome product for you! Cool tech becomes cooler when more people know about and use it.

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