So before we begin outlining the plan we need to cover what is a “Go to Market Plan” and why do you need one. You need to decide what type of business are you going to be and will you be conservative like the rest of the business world or be disruptive, bold, exciting and make a positive impact on your customers
What is a Go to Market Plan (GTMP) and Why Do I Need One?
Well, this is a great question which many people never ask so you are already in the top 10% of business owners in the world so let’s help you get in the top 5%.
Your plan will bring together all the key elements that drive your business from sales, marketing, consumer insights, pricing, brand development, competitive analysis, and distribution.
We will cover topics like:
- How does your business connect with your customers?
- What’s the customer journey from your initial connections through to after the sale with quality and brand? Think of Google or Apple…..
- How are you delivering unique value in your products and services to your target customers?
Go to Market Plans are not just used for new products or business launches they are also used for existing businesses. In fact, I recommend you undertake the exercise of a “Go to Market Planning” and “SWOT” yearly to make sure you are on the right track.
You want your customers to take you and your business seriously…. right? Don’t You? So you should too. I am sure you can find 8 hours somewhere out of 8760 hours, which is how many hours there are in one year to make sure your business is heading to open waters and not for the rock face!
The key benefits of a Go to Market Plan are:
- Reduce the risk of your business service and/or product failing
- Shorten the time to market
- Increase your ability to change and be nimble
- Ensure high-quality customer service
- Avoid hitting that rock face!
- Establish a detailed road map for growth
- Manage innovative challenges with ease
There are numerous other benefits however by developing a strong comprehensive GTMP Strategy this ensures your business is on the right track. Yes, we know they take time and investment initially but it will help illuminate and ensure a viable path to market.
What’s under the hood of a Go to Market Plan?
This is such a great question, there are five core ingredients to create the recipe for success that you should start your plan with:
- Which Marketing – What vertical and mainstream markets do you need to pursue.
- Product/Service Offering – What type of products are you selling or what’s services are you offering?
- Target Customers – Who are you selling your products/services to? Who is your perfect customer base?
- Price – What is your pricing scale based on products and services and do they differ from local to national to international and if so how.
- Your Positioning – What is your unique value offering to your customers? How will you connect to what really matters to your target customers?
This is just the start however if you can honestly and concisely answer the above questions you will be right on track to create an UBER successful market strategy.
Are you asking the right questions?
I often see this when asked to turn around companies, you sit down at a project meeting in discussions of how dire-straits the company’s situation is. You basically have a bunch of people throwing around negativity and blaming everyone else, however, this is unproductive and we need to take the negative emotion out of it.
However, if you can ask the right questions this is positioning you as a business leader, below are 3 simple yet effective questions to get you started:
1. Where are we now?
What is the current state of the company? Yes, it’s time to stand up and take 100% responsibility and take stock of your business position and the current climate in the marketplace.
2. Where would you like to go?
If we fast forward 1 year, 3 years or even 5 years from now, after all, 5 years in today’s business climate is a lifetime now, what will the new initiative look like in these timeframes.
3. Are we there yet?
What does the road map look like between now and the end goal, what has to happen now to make this new plan a successful goal instead of an idea?
If you can start asking these type of leading and engaging questions in your business you are on the right track, however only if you are prepared to take ownership of the situation you are in either good or bad.
I have been told that a Go to Market Plan can take years to execute, is this right?
You are absolutely correct, as mentioned above you can create them in 1 – 5 years or any other timeframe you choose to cover. I personally start to look at what is the key goal in this situation and how in-depth does the plan need to be?
Some quick questions to ask yourself are:
- Am I working on a 3 month, 6 month goal or longer?
- What data on your customers and/or products do you already have and is that data correct?
- Should I create my Go to Market Plan in stages?
- What is my budget to get the plan created?
- What is my budget to roll out the plan?
- Do I have the resources to roll out the plan?
- What other key planning is needed around the Go to Market Plan?
You see, having a Go to Market Plan is brilliant but often companies make these great plans and strategies however they fail to deliver because often they run out of resources. Some of the most successful plans I have created in stages for example:
- Create a 12 month plan with a 5 year goal
- Break the 12 month plan in month by month stages
- Break down the first 3 months into daily tasks needed to be done to achieve the plan
(This is a process I have developed called The Success Clock, I have helped 100’s of businesses fast track their process using this system)
Make you sure your plan is within your current business constraints or if you are expanding you better make sure you have both time, human resources and cashflow to start this road trip otherwise you will be another statistic.
What should my key objectives be?
Now this is a great question, what you need to include are:
- What can we do to convert our initial customers?
- How to create more market awareness?
- Do I need to defend my current customer base and market share?
- How do we reduce cost and maximise profitability?
- How do we become a household name locally, nationally or internationally?
- What market share do my competitors have?
- What vertical markets are we missing?
Now I have prepared you for creating the 8 steps, let’s jump straight into the steps and look at what we need to.
The 8 Steps to Create a UBER Successful Go to Market Plan
Step 1: Define your customer target markets
We need to get crystal clear with our target markets as not every product or service is suitable for every marketplace. It’s like saying you have a product like bottled water and then have a Facebook page so you can market to the over 1 billion users because they all drink water. You wouldn’t be silly enough to think that ALL those 1 billion users are potential customers would you?
What we need to do is look at a range of factors for example:
- Buyers personality types
- Emotional Intelligence Factors
- Online vs Offline
- Existing buying habits
You need to remember that you cannot possibly pursue every marketplace and be profitable. You must determine which markets are the mainstream and then vertical markets which will allow you to effectivity and efficiently target your brand, products, and services to the most profitable customers.
“Don’t try and be all to everyone, target those customers who have a
need right now that you can fulfill with a great experience” Colin Cooper
A great way of starting to determine your target markets is to force yourself to look at the top 2 or 3 products and services and then match this to your perfect customer.
Start this process by brainstorming a master list of possible markets you can target and then create a criteria list on how you will assess each opportunity. A great way of doing this is using mind mapping either on paper or even better, using software as this allows you to expand freely.
To better assess your market use metrics like market size, ability to compete, growth trends, barriers to each to market, social economics of each market.
Some key items for you to consider are:
- Where are the gaps in the current market?
- Which marketplaces can you reach easily with time vs budget?
- What vertical markets are closely aligned with your strategy and goals?
- Which markets have urgency for need and the most pain points
- Which of these markets match your key core skills and competencies
Once you have created your analytics you then need to assess each market for:
- Market Access
- Overall Opportunity
Create small strategies allowing you to test and validate each market opportunity so it’s based on fact, not assumption. Some key ways of doing this are to review feedback from current clients including your team members that are on the front line.
Gain access to trend data and also look at creating surveys with well-written questions to provide you up to date information on the market.
But doing all this is not enough because if you do define a target market that is open right now you are most likely to attract your competitors into that market as well. You need to differentiate your unique selling point offer and position your brand as the leader in that marketplace.
The key to running a successful business is to continue to develop and innovate your products, services, and brand as the market is in continued change and is not slowing down as we are experiencing exponential growth!
Step 2: Time to define your perfect customer
Remember you don’t need to have the perfect product or service but what you need is to create a long lasting relationship with your potential customers. We only buy from people we know and trust, are you currently creating relationships or just pushing products?
In this step, your focus is to look at customer intelligence. You need to become proficient and even a master in creating actionable up to date consumer insights through a variety of strategies like:
- Web surveys
- Online analytics
- Case study
- Focus groups
- In-depth Interviews locally and internationally
- Key market events in your industry
- Online store and instore interactions
The above is just the start, to help you get started I have listed down some actionable and deliberate questions you need to start with:
- Who is your perfect customer?
- Who are your current brand lovers?
- Who are your most profitable and loyal customers?
- What is your BAP? (Big Ass Problem – Coined by NASA)
- What is the perfect experience for your customer you are trying to create?
- What emotions do your brand and service deliver?
- Would you buy your products and services from yourself?
Your ultimate goal is to get a clear understanding of where and who your customers are, looking at factors like how they behave and what they are currently experiencing. The more detailed insights you have access to allow you to create better reports on the current situation and more accurate forecasting.
Step 3: Time to define your brand position in the market
This is a whole new topic in itself however I am hoping you have already gone through the exercise of your brand position.
If not here is a quick overview, brand position is simply a process of looking at your brand and how to position it in the minds of your customers. Brand position is also known as positioning strategy, brand strategy and a brand positioning statement.
If you do not have a Brand Positioning Strategy I have listed below 7 key steps to get you started. To create a Brand Position Strategy you need to identify your brand’s uniqueness from your competitors.
When creating these you need to be 100% truthful otherwise, it’s a complete waste of time:
- You need to determine how your brand is positioned in the market right now
- Identify who and where your competitors are
- Gain an understanding of each competitors position, their brand and why are they a competitor
- Compare your brand and product position in the market to gain an understanding of your uniqueness
- Develop a strong and distinct value based strategy not price based
- Test the efficiency and market penetration of your brand statement
This is just the start however, this will provide you a good stable platform to get you on your way. In this next step, we are defining how your products are unique in there offering.
Step 4: Let’s define your product offering properly
It is time to now define your product and/or the products unique value proposition (UVP). This is a very important topic as this is the first step that you need to take.
You need to understand what your products key features and benefits are, then you need to understand how each of your products and services connects you with your customers.
You need to define this further by looking at the context on how they use it, what solution to a problem it solves and the benefits they derive.
Below are 5 key questions to assist you in bringing some clarity!!
- 1. What needs or stresses do your customers have and what needs to be solved?
- 2. Which are the top 3 features in your offering that best address your customer’s issues?
- 3. How will your customers use and benefit from it?
- 4. What are the top 3 most important attributes you are offering?
- 5. How is your offer different to the other offers in the marketplace?
It’s time to place yourself in your customer’s shoes and see things from their perspective. This for many is one of the hardest things to do as you love and believe your product/service is the best in the world. If you are unable to do this task honestly then ask someone close to you that you trust to take on that task.
Some items to consider in this process are:
- What do you want your customers to think?
- What do your customers really think?
- How do you want them to feel?
- What key messages do you want them to believe?
- How do you want to be remembered?
All this helps you to have better insights about your customers as this allows you to be much more effective in not only defining your offer but also the whole customer journey to what they experience.
Remember to talk to customers, listen to their comments as hard as they might be, and actually get to know them. By perceiving your customers actually as a needy, fragile human being that wants to be treated with the respect you might just find what makes you different to the others.
“You are ONLY in business with the doors still open because of your customers so look after them, spoil them and create an amazing experience before someone else does!” Colin Cooper
Step 5: Define your marketing message and channels
What is a channel I hear you asking, well a channel can be a retail store, the internet, a call centre, face to face sales, trade shows, seminars or referral partners. These are just examples but not limited to these.
The key is to link your offer to your customers through channels for example Amazon’s primary channel is through the internet, Telstra’s primary channel is through stores and the internet, car dealerships like BMW are through physical partner dealerships etc. You get the idea.
Your goal is to identify your channels and make sure they all integrate seamlessly with each other.
There are too many brands in the marketplace that have inconsistent brand messaging and experiences. Your goal is to create a consistent brand experience no matter on which channel and touch point they interact through.
Below are some key questions you need to ask for your analysis:
- How and where do you reach your target customers?
- Where will you promote your offer?
- Which distribution model is right for you?
- Does this channel fit your offer?
- Where are your target customers currently buying?
- How do your customers want to interact with you?
- What level of interaction on which touch point do they require?
- Can you and how do you create a competitive advantage?
- How do you create and develop quality distribution channels?
You need to make sure that your offer is positioned correctly for each channel and touch point, for example, your offer would look quite different to a product sold over the web to in store. A good example is having high priced products sold just over the web, normally this is supported by trade shows and other touch points in the whole customer journey.
A key point to remember is most customers need 12 – 14 soft touch points before making a purchase. How many are in your potential customer journey?
Step 6: Getting serious with your budget
As I mentioned earlier in this article it’s great to have a Go to Market Plan but if you lack the resources and budget to implement it then you will get average results. Which hopefully you are trying to avoid right?
This is a twofold approach to look at. Do you have the budget to touch with your customers, but also is your product offering the right pricing model that the customer will consider:
- What is the value of your offer? (not the price tag but real impact value)
- How does your pricing and value offer shape up against the competitor?
- Are there current market price expectations from the customer?
- Do you have options to create a competitive offer with your pricing model?
You also need to consider different channel pricing for example if someone buys locally, over the phone, or through the web instead of a partner. A good example of this is many airlines charge a smaller booking fee for going direct than through a partner.
With understanding this it allows you to skew the experience based on your analytics and offering to best suit your expansion needs.
Depending on your goal it will change, for example, you might want to receive fewer sales but have a higher customer transaction cost. A great way of doing this with online shopping carts is to offer free shipping over “X” amount which will change the average customer spend.
Some items you can consider are:
- Taking a look back on Step One with looking at market definitions, what are your primary goals to gain market penetration?
- What margins have you estimated of the next 1- 3 years factoring in costs like start-up, initial marketing, and ongoing expenses?
- What are the human resources and costs required within the first 3, 6 and 12 months?
There’s always risk in business and if you are not comfortable in this it’s time to shut the doors now, however, if you are there are ways you reduce risk by identifying:
- Economic Risk
- Competitive Risk
- Internal Risks
- Product/Service Risk
Outline the largest risks that could affect your ability to reach your goals and then develop strategies to either stop this or overcome them as they arise.
Step 7: Let’s define your market strategy
We are almost there so hang on tight, it’s now time to piece all this together. You will need to develop a strong marketing strategy for each for your target markets we have covered in the early stages.
You will need a good stable marketing mix which will be determined by each market segment you will target. To develop your marketing strategy you need to consider these three items:
• How do you reach the people who want to buy now?
• What are the influencers in this target market?
• What key messaging will motivate them to consider you?
There are many other questions you can answer to dive deeper into this however that’s a good start. Also keep in mind that your marketing strategy will be dynamic and needs to be nimble as the market is in continuing change.
Make sure you are ready to adapt. Tthe key to this is measure and track your performance on key metrics, weekly, monthly and quarterly allowing you to make tweaks to your strategy, key investments, and resources.
Step 8: Your Turn! Ohhhh yeah I forgot to mention you need to do this
You didn’t think I was going to do it all for you did you? The key to success is in the planning, based on how much planning and research you do will define how successful you are. We have all heard the saying if you do not have a plan then you plan to fail.
To create an effective Go to Market Plan you need to delight your customers and go one step further by even surprising them in a good way and not scaring them to death. A good example of this is a recent client I was consulting with. They had a good brand and products however the customer loyalty was not quite there as it was a highly competitive market.
So we created a new Go to Market Plan to allow the client to compete on their terms so even before the client purchased they were greeted with a special offer just for visiting the store, when browsing they had an online consultant to help, then on checkout they received rewards points which converted into dollars, when they then shared it on social media they received a special gift, then once purchased they received a coupon towards the next purchase…. But wait… on delivery of the product (express delivery so they received next day unexpected) they received a surprise gift and hand written note saying thank you.
Do you treat your customers like this?
With careful planning, you can create a rewarding and exciting experience without it costing you the earth. Keep in mind when you start rolling out your plan you are going to have little time to invest in a new plan so get it right the first time allowing for budgets, resources, marketing and making the experience fun for you and the customer.