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Go-to-Market Planning - How a startup can have it all figured out and scale quicker

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

What is a Go-to-Market plan and how to go about doing it

Start-ups are a blank canvas where anything is possible. The only limits are the founders’ ideas and creativity – and when reality strikes – budget. This is where companies have the potential to profit by having the right market strategy in place, letting them scale quicker.

Start-ups looking to scale need evidence of their forward thinking, and their assessment and understanding of the market to ease investors’ concerns, and earn market and buyer confidence. Having all this information documented enables a business to be self-aware and demonstrate a strong vision and proposition for the market.

Opportunistic growth lacks market potential

Companies that have grown organically with a history of revenue and profit generation potentially have a stronger footing in the market for growth but can easily be pushed out by a focused startup that has a clear vision and strategy. We often see companies that have grown organically have often done so opportunistically without really understanding the market potential for themself. And when a startup competitor comes on the scene they lose market share and reputation. This is why visibility of the wider market and the role the company plays in providing the solution would help them to grow more sustainably.

A marketing strategy - or a go-to-market plan - provides clarity which enables your employees, partners and stakeholders to understand the direction of your company: for better decision-making, and helping prospects and customers understand the value and direction of the business.

What is the influence of a marcoms strategy?

1. Customers want to know they are buying into a stable and reliable business that will be there when they need them.

2. Employees want to know they’re working for a stable and reliable business that will provide job security and career prospects.

3. Partners want to know they’re partnering with a company which will multiply their investment.

How to write a Go to Market plan?

A Go to Market plan is a business marcoms document that centralises the existence of the company and its purpose. It’s a simple tool to get people onto your bandwagon as quickly as possible, with centralised and aligned messages to help all stakeholders convey the value of the business – almost immediately.

It provides you with a vision for you to benchmark your success, and set commercial drivers and goals to grow the company. Whether you are a one owner or a family-run business, giving your wider employees, stakeholders and customers visibility and transparency to the direction of the company helps them understand what you’re basing your decisions on so they feel they are contributing to your vision of the business.

These documents shouldn’t be seen as something only for large multinationals, because a successful company is based on the people you employ and the people you sell to.

So let’s look at what is involved in the Go-to-Market plan:

Product fit - what problem do you solve?

This is the reason you’re in existence, maybe you want to keep it simple and answer the one question you solve today. Perhaps you’re looking to expand and diversify and want to solve a bigger problem for the industry. This is more about how you help your end-customer than it is about the product or service you provide itself.

  • Positioning: Where does your product fit in the market? How do you want people to view you in relation to other products out there? (Don’t be afraid of comparisons, infact embrace them! People need cultural signifiers.)

Competitive landscape – determining a sales strategy.

Owning your market requires you to really know your market. Understand your competition and how you fit in comparison, where you are today and where you intend to go in the next couple of years.

This will help you determine your market approach and whether you take a Product marketing-intensive or sales-intensive approach, helping to determine your pricing, market potential, product complexity, sales process and the relationships you intend to build.

Audience and buyers – who do you solve the problem for?

Perhaps one of the areas given the most amount of time, but least amount of treatment. There’s no point generalising; narrow your audience and focus. Companies with a sales record will have valuable market insights to their most valuable customer type that can feed sales and marketing activity.

  • Personas: Who uses your product? What are their specific characteristics and behaviours? Try to narrow this down to 1 or 2 user personas. Be specific.

Value matrix – what’s the benefit you provide?

Really understanding your value proposition and how you tackle the pain points of your target audience not only reduce the purchase barriers, but help reduce the sales cycle. Ensure you test messaging to see which has the most cut through to bolster your marcomms campaigns.

  • Value props: What makes you different from the competition? Why would someone choose to buy from you over what’s already available?

  • Messaging: How do you talk about the value you create? Pick 3 pain points you solve for users or benefits you provide.

Understand the buyers’ journey – what role do you play in decision-making?

It’s all changed, especially as new generations become the buyers and digital leads the way. Gone are the days where tradeshows and exhibitions alone defined the buyer’s journey. You need to understand where your buyers are today, their procurement process and their purchase barriers to go hand in hand with your value matrix.

  • Buying phases: How many stages are there in your customer’s buying journey and what are the behaviours they take before and after purchasing? How much do people already know about you when they engage with you?

Awareness and demand generation – how to gain the attention of buyers

A changing buyer’s journey requires a strong grasp of your sales and marketing channels to secure qualified leads. Knowing your buyers and their journey will ensure your tap into them at the right time on the right channel during the procurement process. This is where having a clear external marketing plan will provide clarity and help you better measure and test the performance of your investment:

  • Branding: Who are you? What promises do you make as a company?

  • Lead generation: How are you going to find people to become customers?

  • Marketing: How will you explain your value quickly and in a compelling enough way to get people to purchase?

  • Events, advertising and PR: What else can you do to get people interested?

Sales strategy and assets – how do you employ the right content?

Remember those product brochures you used to print? Or those events you used to host? Or those trade shows you invested heavily in? Content has always been essential to help buyers make informed decisions. Think carefully about the types of content, assets and channels that will get the confidence from the market that fairly represents your value proposition.

  • Tools and resources: How are your sales team going to find, engage with, and sell to potential customers? What tools are they going to use?

  • Sales and support materials: What is necessary to support and sell the product? What resources and tools do you need?

  • Use cases and case studies: What success are clients having with your product? What value has it provided? What is the evidence? In what alternative ways have customers seen benefits?

Customer deliverables – do you factor in retention?

True success and growth relies on customer retention, and calculating and understanding the lifetime value of your customers. By taking the time to document the customer support you provide you can avoid churn and reduce the customer acquisition cost, becoming a lean, high-performance business.

  • Onboarding and support: How will you engage new users and turn them into allies and ambassadors?

  • Retention strategies: How do you support and nurture customers to extend their lifetime value?

  • Satisfaction measurement: What will tell you that you’re successful?

Product and business development – continual investment

For most companies the current product will never be the final product. It needs constant development; it needs to evolve and continue to meet market needs and demands to avoid being outrun by a competitor. To make the most impact on the market and customers it's important to have a product strategy with clear development goals as part of your wider sales and marcomms activity.

  • Priority for development team: What new features and functionality will be released and when?

  • Market feedback: How will future plans be communicated to customers?

  • Employee feedback: How will other people on your team keep up-to-date with this new product?

Metrics to success – when do you celebrate?

To align all your stakeholders you need to consider how you will identify and celebrate achievements – and what they look like. Having clear commercial goals supported by SMART KPIs helps your team better deliver for the business and helps you make inroads to your wider vision and market promise.

  • Meaningful: Is it tied to a specific business goal?

  • Measurable: How do you quantify the results?

  • Operational: What will the changes look like?


Above all, do the calculations. Understand what it takes to achieve your goals. Be realistic and conservative in these calculations, as it may just come as a shock. And most of all – don’t forget to factor in people costs and time…without which you’ll be wondering where all the investment is going.

Haynes MarComs can help you build a Go-to-Market plan or MarComs Strategy to support your business with growth. Please get in touch with our director to find out more.

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