Sales Strategy

8 Famous Go-To-Market Examples

Part one of our six-part series revisits some memorable go-to-market strategies and gives a 10-step plan to build a GTM.

January 26, 2024

Part 1: Go-to-Market Strategy

Today's story breaks into four sections. Feel free to click into a specific section here:

  1. Defining GTM strategy
  2. Unique GTM examples
  3. Building a GTM strategy
  4. Common GTM pitfalls to avoid

Defining GTM strategy

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan to market and sell products or services. In its truest sense, GTM strategies involve launching something "new," like new products, into new markets.

It answers questions like:

  • What are we selling?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • What's the market demand? (i.e., what's the size of the problem?)
  • Why are competitive solutions not working? (our value prop)
  • Who's our ideal customer?
  • How will we reach them?
  • What story do we want to tell?
  • How will we win them as new customers?
  • How will we measure success?

Of course, successfully launching products and services requires the right audience to hear the right messaging at the right time, and it involves nearly everyone, from marketing to sales to operations to customer success.

For simplicity, we'll view (almost) everything GTM through the lens of the sales function. These insights can apply to selling our current goods and services, not just launching something new. So, let's build a go-to-market strategy––together.

But first, let's look back at some memorable go-to-market strategies.

Famous GTM examples

Go-to-market isn't just a 21st-century phenomenon; it's a saga woven through centuries of human ingenuity and adaptation.

The roots of GTM stretch back to the dawn of trade. In bustling bazaars of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, merchants employed persuasive tactics like product displays, bartering, and word-of-mouth to entice customers.

The arrival of the printing press in the Renaissance heralded a revolution in marketing. Pamphlets and flyers spread the word, allowing businesses to reach wider audiences. The Industrial Revolution and its mass production boom shifted the focus to distribution channels and brand awareness.

Pioneering companies like Procter & Gamble further refined the art of GTM, emphasizing emotional connection and brand storytelling. Advertising and promotions became the battle cries, while consumerism fueled by post-war prosperity saw the rise of market research and targeted marketing.

Fast forward to the digital age, and GTM strategies underwent a seismic transformation. The internet unleashed a torrent of information, disrupting traditional channels and birthing new giants like SEO and social media marketing. Data-driven insights became king, guiding businesses towards personalized experiences and measurable results.

Several companies stand out for their unique and innovative GTM strategies. Here are a few recent examples across different industries:

1. Dollar Shave Club: Subscription model: They disrupted the razor industry by offering high-quality blades at a fraction of the price through a subscription model, targeting millennials with humorous marketing and online ordering.

2. Spotify: Freemium model: Spotify revolutionized music streaming by offering a free ad-supported and paid subscription tier, making music readily available across devices and attracting a massive user base.

3. Glossier: Community-driven influencer marketing: Glossier built a loyal following by leveraging social media and micro-influencers, focusing on organic reviews and user-generated content rather than traditional celebrity endorsements.

4. Warby Parker: Direct-to-consumer, try-at-home approach: Warby Parker challenged the traditional eyewear market by selling stylish, affordable glasses online with a virtual try-on feature and home delivery, eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar stores.

5. Airbnb: Peer-to-peer marketplace: Airbnb transformed the travel industry by creating a platform connecting travelers with unique accommodations directly from hosts, disrupting the traditional hotel model and fostering a sharing economy.

6. Oatly: Business-to-business-to-consumer: The Swedish company expanded into the US by first entering artisanal coffee shops, where customers are more likely to request dairy alternatives. The company's revenue grew tenfold out of the gates, making oat milk ubiquitous.

7. Nike: Experiential marketing and storytelling: Nike goes beyond selling shoes, building an emotional connection with customers through athlete partnerships, immersive digital experiences, and exclusive product drops, creating a sense of community and brand loyalty.

8. Netflix: Data-driven content personalization: Netflix uses sophisticated algorithms and user data to tailor content recommendations and production decisions, resulting in highly engaging and personalized viewing experiences for subscribers.

Building a GTM strategy

We can't all be like these well-known brands, but we can try. Follow these ten steps in crafting a go-to-market strategy for a new product.

Step 1: Clarify what we're selling. Decide if this new product is an addition to our existing product suite or a standalone product line. Will it be licensed or sold with recurring fees (e.g., subscription) or a one-time purchase? Decide on a pricing and "good, better, best" packaging model. Options include a tiered model based on company size, the number of users, or features, or one based on consumption and usage. Explore freemium for smaller businesses to acquire initial users and demonstrate value.

Step 2: Define the market. Agree on what problem(s) this product solves and why it needs solving. Consider how the "current way of doing business" is costly, overwhelming, or time-consuming. Or can the new product unlock new revenue streams for potential customers?

Step 3: Quantify the market. Calculate (conservatively) this product's Total Addressable Market (TAM). Consider end-user and buyer interviews, research, and other documentation. Is it a million-dollar or billion-dollar problem? Is it a problem for hundreds of companies or tens of thousands?

Step 4: Articulate the value proposition. List as many key differentiators as possible as to why customers should buy this new product over the competitor or the status quo. How does this new product make or save money (and time) for customers?

Step 5: Create the target customer. Brainstorm use cases of the new product rather than buyer personas. Describe all the ways customers can use the product rather than listing the characteristics of potential buyers. Build a hyper-specific "Ideal Customer Profile" that includes firmographic, environmental, and behavioral factors.

Step 6: Decide on channels to reach target customers. Consider an omnichannel approach that could include educational content, paid ads, events, social selling, cold calling, direct mail, and email outreach. What's the end goal––a free trial, a freemium signup, or a product demo?

Step 7: Craft a compelling narrative. Tie in the value prop here and train our sellers, which could include role-playing and certifications on our messaging to the market. Emphasize the product's cost-savings or money-making elements.

Step 8: Choose the sales motion. Options include sales-led, such as inside sales, outbound/field sales, channel sales, account-based marketing, or product-led, like self-serve, freemium, or free trials. It's common for sales teams to take a hybrid approach with multi-motions in play.

Step 9: Select the metrics to measure success. Contemplate top-line numbers like revenue or new customers. Since most new products take time to generate money, a better barometer is secondary measures like demos completed, pipeline generated, or win rates.

Step 10: Build a plan to keep customers. Prioritize customer success by providing excellent onboarding, quick time-to-value, and ongoing support. Positive customer experiences drive word-of-mouth referrals, organic growth, and account expansion.

By focusing on a well-defined target audience, highlighting our unique value proposition, and using targeted marketing and sales channels, we can build a successful go-to-market strategy for this new product.

Common GTM pitfalls to avoid

So, why is GTM a hot trend for revenue organizations? The answer is its versatility and adaptability to dynamic market changes and macroeconomic factors. But be careful with these common GTM pitfalls:

  1. Believing the problem is bigger than it is
  2. Overlooking simple tools as a competitor (e.g., spreadsheets)
  3. Building an ICP that's too broad
  4. Over-investing in sales and marketing to solve product-market fit
  5. Refusing to test, iterate, or pivot if the strategy goes sideways

In a market saturated with competition in all corners and ever-changing customer expectations, a well-defined GTM strategy acts as a compass, guiding businesses toward:

  • Target Market Clarity: Pinpointing the ideal customer, ensuring we deploy resources with laser precision.

  • Competitive Advantage: Identifying gaps and unique strengths to stand out.

  • Compelling Value Proposition: Articulating the "why" behind your offering, resonating with customer needs.

  • Channel Optimization: Choosing the right avenues to reach the right people, maximizing impact.

  • Measurable Growth: Tracking progress, refining the strategy, and demonstrating ROI.

GTM is not just a set of tactics or a trendy buzzword. It's a philosophy, a mindset of understanding customers, anticipating their needs, and crafting a narrative that compels them to join our journey.

Ultimately, the most captivating GTM strategies are those woven with flexibility, constant modifications, and a hunger to solve customer problems.

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