July 30, 2018
By Hartland Ross, Founder and President, eBridge Marketing Solutions
Think developing a go-to-market strategy is the sole responsibility of your marketing department? If so, you’re setting yourself up for failure. A comprehensive strategy includes much more than just marketing messages. To be effective, it must include participation from across your company, including these nine areas of focus:
1. Target Market/Customer: If you are developing a product or service that you intend to sell to your existing customers, understanding your target market/customer is simple. If, on the other hand, you are transitioning from, say, SMB customers to enterprise customers, expanding into a new geography or focusing on a new industry vertical, then developing a complete buyer persona is critical. This will enable both your sales and marketing teams to focus their messages and concentrate on the online and offline channels where your target customer can be found.
2. Product Road Map: A product road map is a rollout plan which aligns with your company’s business goals, determining when you will release new products or upgrades to existing customers or new markets. There is a strategic reason for launching a specific solution at a specific time. The goal is for each offering to build upon what has been launched before it to help your company reach its sales and business goals. A company that decides to develop an internet-of-things-related service simply because IoT is a hot topic and not because it integrates well with the existing product portfolio will not be successful in selling this new solution.
3. Pricing Model: Is the pricing model for your new product or service in line with your other solutions or is it so different and complex that it will be difficult for your sales team to sell? A solution which is sold to SMB customers and has two options for purchase is easy for customers to understand and for your sales team to sell. An enterprise-focused solution which has many ways in which it can be purchased or combined with other products might be difficult to sell.
4. Sales Channel: Don’t assume because your sales team has been successful in the past that they will be successful at selling your new solution. Evaluate whether it will be more effective to sell through your existing sales team or channel partners.
Is your current sales team equipped to sell the new solution?
Can your sales team interact equally well in business and technical conversations or will you have to hire people with different expertise?
How long will it take to bring a direct sales team up to speed? Are you willing to incur the time and expense needed, or would channel partners be more effective?
What are your criteria for selecting channel partners? Do you have the resources in-house to help make them successful?
5. Customer Engagement: How are customers going to buy your solution? Will a sales team need to answer questions, call prospects and walk them through the buying process? Alternatively, will this be a self-service model where a prospect visits your website, peruses features and benefits, and buys without ever speaking with sales? These are different ways of buying. Each requires different resources to implement. You are also asking your potential customers to …
… take on more of the purchasing responsibility in a self-service model. This might or might not be appropriate.
6. Market Research: It’s important to determine whether your new solution is something that customers want. Conduct research both inside and outside of your company.
Inside your company, engage your sales team. They speak with customers daily and understand changes taking place in the market. Listen in on sales calls, and travel to sales meetings. Don’t forget also to mine the help tickets that your technical support team receives. They can include a wealth of information on what customers want.
Outside your company, survey customers through email, phone calls and video chat. Uncover the value proposition and competitive advantage that your solution can bring to them.
7. Leverage Brand Equity: If you are launching a new product or service from a leading IT vendor, leverage its brand equity and use it to establish your company’s credibility in a new market. For example, ask the IT vendor to participate in a joint webinar to potential customers. Including their logo and speaker information on the invitation will generate additional interest and attendees, since your company’s association with their brand will give you immediate credibility in the eyes of your prospects. It will strengthen their consideration of your company because of the relationship that you have with an IT vendor they already know and trust.
8. Partnerships: When entering a new industry vertical, consider partnering with an industry-specific provider that has a complementary offering. The combination of your solutions will enable both companies to go to market with a unique offering that customers can’t get from any other provider. That immediately differentiates your company from other competitors and enables you to deliver a solution that will help customers achieve their goals more quickly.
9. Marketing Communications: Effective marketing communications is a combination of brand awareness and demand generation. You will need to implement demand-generation campaigns to sell your solution, but how much brand awareness will you need to do? If you are selling a new solution to existing customers, they are already aware of your brand. If you are focusing on a new industry vertical, you will need to begin with brand-awareness activities and then layer on demand-generation activities such as retargeting, content marketing, videos, newsletters, lead nurturing, social and other campaigns.
As you can see, a go-to-market strategy is not simply a subsection of a marketing proposal. It’s a plan of attack that encompasses responsibilities and insights across multiple departments and disciplines. When integrated effectively, it’s the cornerstone of a successful product or service launch.
Hartland Ross is an online marketing strategist, entrepreneur, and founder and president of eBridge Marketing Solutions, an online marketing agency and consulting firm catering to technology companies.
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