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How to Create a Go-to-Market Strategy for Startups

A go-to-market strategy for startups ensures that business goals, product roadmap and marketing plans are aligned.

The best strategies rely on research to inform business decisions about target markets, target customers and brand positioning. This post will provide a go-to-market strategy framework to help you make those decisions and set your company up for sustainable growth.

What is Go-to-Market Strategy?

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan that establishes how a company will reach its target audience and deliver its product or service to customers. It includes strategies around pricing, packaging distribution, and it should demonstrate clear understanding of buyer personas and market verticals. Doing so enables you to identify the rinse-and-repeat use cases that you can sell to over and over again.

A go-to-market strategy for startups, specifically, should outline your unique value proposition by answering questions such as:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How will you differentiate your messaging and product positioning?
  • Who are your target customers?
  • What is your payment model?

Answering these questions helps measure the viability of a product and its potential for growth. Without proper planning, you won’t know if you’re chasing the wrong audience or targeting a market that’s too saturated with similar products.

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Why Do Startups Need a Go-to-Market Strategy?

Often startups fail because they discount the importance of a GTM strategy, or they put off creating one until it’s too late, finding themselves scrambling two steps behind the competition.

A go-to-market strategy for startups serves as a foundational tool, helping to find product market fit and identify and avoid potential problems such as market oversaturation. It can help at every phase of growth and in a multitude of areas, including marketing, product development and sales.

What Should a Go-to-Market Strategy Framework for Startups Look Like?

Follow this go-to-market strategy framework to get a better understanding of your target market and customers, your competition and the established distribution methods in the industry — and to develop a plan to take advantage of the opportunities you identify.

Know your competition

Do in-depth market and competitive intelligence to identify incumbents that are already offering products similar to yours, as well as newcomers that may also be trying to disrupt the space.

Advanced market research helps you be the most prepared person in the room and is a great way to build credibility. Companies and markets are always changing and evolving, and the only way to continue to be the most prepared person is by keeping a close eye on things and realigning your business with your findings.

Define your target markets and customers

It is important to know your market’s size, growth, challenges and other dynamics. Not every customer in your target market is the perfect prospect for your business, so it’s vital to analyze the profiles of target segments and determine which your product can best serve. This will help you gain a competitive edge.

Brand positioning

The cornerstone of a successful go-to-market strategy for startups is a strong brand.

Your brand messaging tells the story of why your company is unique and provides concrete reasons to customers about why they should buy and use your product. And your GTM strategy should align and evolve with your brand — the perception that you are trying to build among your target audience.

Creating a GTM Strategy

Follow these four steps to further develop your go-to-market strategy:

Define your market and your place in it: Are you blazing a new trail in a greenfield market, or are you a disruptor entering an established industry?

Determine your GTM motion: Do you have an inside sales motion? Are you digitally led, or do you take a product-led growth approach? Do you have field sales selling into enterprises?

Determine your headcount plan and talent profile: Very different sales teams and leaders are needed to support different penetration strategies and GTM motions. 

Choose a penetration strategy: Are you going to target customers in a specific geographical area first, and what is your plan to expand from there?

You won’t have all the answers right away. A rolling, two-year go-to-market strategy for startups is recommended to give yourself the flexibility you need.

Align Around Your GTM Strategy

You need to make sure that all the leaders in your company — board members, the C-suite and more — are buying in completely to your GTM strategy. If not everyone fully believes in your product and its market opportunity, you won’t be able to grow sustainably.

You can never outsource GTM. It needs to be part of your core DNA.

To learn more about how to develop a comprehensive go-to-market strategy for startups and get full executive buy-in, watch our GTM deep dive and support video.

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