Startup Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy

Many people often speak of “Go-To-Market” or “GTM” strategy. This moniker essentially covers the key elements of your business: sales, product, marketing, etc. that help you sell product to customers. There are many frameworks out there but one I like is the 4Ps of Marketing. From this framework, you can plan an effective strategy that is integrated - all pieces have to be in sync for GTM to work effectively. Also, you can think through the many iterations required to work within one part of the framework as well as across the framework.

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4Ps of Marketing

Product, Price, Place, Promotion

Product

The starting point is what problem you are trying to solve. How big is the problem, is it a must-have, who is the target market, who are the buyers? From there you can do some quick math to prove is the Total Addressable Market big enough. Next, determine what is the value proposition you are providing and how can that be simply articulated. This process involved lots of iterations and conversations to test. Before you build any product, have many conversations with potential customers and be certain you have heard enough to know you are solving a “hair on fire” problem. From there, you can build a prototype (not MVP) to further test and validate the idea (this can be especially valuable in coordination with a development partner). Lastly once you have validated the prototype, you can move to MVP and start tuning the rest of the 4Ps.

Price

The starting point on price should be the ROI/value delivered. You want to price based on the value delivered, which may vary by segment/product. I recommended creating an ROI calculator that quantifies the hard savings (i.e. direct cost savings or revenue lift), the soft savings (i.e. time savings), and the other savings (i.e. potential avoidance of regulatory fine/penalty). Creating this ROI calculator helps you be really sharp on the value you are bringing and directly affects your pitch, messaging, and pricing. Once you have established value, you should next think through the pricing construct (i.e. flat fee, variable, tiers, contingency, terms, etc.). What construct you choose may vary based on the nature of your market and product. Lastly, select the right price points through analysis, trials, and testing. The only way to truly know what price the market will bear is to test in the real world and adjust so don’t over think pricing too early.

Place

So you have a product, how and where do you sell it? Options to consider include: inside vs. outside direct sales, partners, resellers, etc. Which channels get you the best access to customers, ability to close deals, and have strong economics? The reality is the answer to that could vary by market/product, and they are not mutually exclusive (i.e. you could have multiple channels for the same product). Also, factor in the nature of your product and how simple/complex it is to sell, train, and, implement so that your sales process is optimized.

Promotion

Now that you have a great product in a great market and an aligned sales process, how do you tell your story? This is more than just creating a brand, but truly telling a simple story that people can understand what you do, see the impact, and feel the passion. This is less about a list of features/benefits, but more about how you help a specific customer solve a specific problem with real results and impact. There are also nuances to think about regarding launch, marketing campaigns and channels, etc. But most important is to nail that story that ties together your product and value proposition and drives sales.

So if you are a startup and trying to launch a product, think through each element of the 4Ps and how they tie together into one coordinated effort. Remember, there are many iterations required to get this right and it is an ongoing process that needs continuous tuning.