Brand | Marketing

Go-to-market plan. What it is and why you need one

Every company wants and needs to grow. After all, if you don’t, you’re going backwards, so received wisdom has it. Although growth can come from various sources, there’s one commonality they all share: Without a solid plan, you’re going to put in much effort for minimal reward.

Nowhere is this more true than when you’re trying to launch a new service, break into a new market, launch a new brand or revitalise a flagging one, especially online or in the B2B space.

You probably have a limited budget, face stiff competition, a raft of pressing deadlines and you are always too busy. That’s the reality for many businesses so it’s a good idea to have a road map to follow to keep you on course and stop things from turning to custard.

If this sounds like your situation, one of the best things you can do is create what’s known as a go-to-market plan.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t another fluffy marketing document that will end up forgotten and covered in coffee rings. If done properly, it will be a guiding light that will support and direct you as you launch a brand refresh, new product or introduce your services to a new audience – and it’s relatively easy to accomplish. Below, we’ll run you through everything you need to know to create your own go-to-market plan.


Everything you need to know to create your own go-to-market plan:


What is a go-to-market plan, and why do you need one?

Everything you need to know before you write your go-to-market plan

Product-Market Fit

Audience and buyers

Competitive landscape


Is your offer marketing-intensive or sales-intensive?

What’s next?


What is a go-to-market plan, and why do you need one?

Put simply, a go-to-market plan is a tactical plan that will outline the steps necessary to succeed with a new customer or in a new market. It applies to a broad range of things, launching an existing service into a new market, launching a new product or re-launching your company or brand.

Think of your go-to-market plan as a more specific version of your marketing plan with a laser-like focus on just one service. It’s a simple tool designed to be used and shared across your entire company. A good go-to-market plan should be comprehensive enough to be helpful, but simple enough to update once you have customer feedback or sales data.

If the above seems a bit vague and you’re still wondering why you’d want a document like this, let’s dig a little deeper. A go-to-market plan serves several purposes. It will bring clarity and focus as to why (no, not the Simon Sinek one) you’re launching a product or service, who you’ve created it for, and how you’re going to tackle the complex task of getting them to notice it and purchase it.

Internally, it will force you to consider any issues that your target customers might encounter when introduced to your new service or product for the very first time. If you believe the maxim that ‘it takes years to build trust and seconds to destroy it’ then the focus created by your go-to-market plan is what will prevent you from stuffing up all the hard work you did to get you where you are now.


Everything you need to know before you write your go-to-market plan

Every plan or strategy has one thing in common – you must take the time to do some research before you start putting it together. The final plan will contain a lot of information and this needs to be distilled down into a short, concise document that’s easy to understand. To make this happen, make sure you clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve before you start writing.

From here on in, for the sake of brevity, I’ll use the word ‘service’ in relation to anything you’re trying to launch be it a product, service offering or a new brand.


Product-Market Fit

What problems does your service solve and have you tested the need with the clients or customers you’re targeting?

This might sound like the ‘bleeding obvious’ but services only sell if customers need them and are willing to pay for them. Demand isn’t easy to determine but a staggering amount of companies don’t validate demand – it’s a huge reason so many start-ups fail. Despite brimming with confidence, if you don’t solve a valid problem for your client, you’re in trouble.

Start your go-to-market plan by digging deep into the ‘why’ – no, I don’t mean ‘empowering people, saving the planet or encouraging failure to find your real self’. I mean the ‘why’ of what led you to conceive of, and create this service in the first place?

Some long-term thinking won’t go amiss here either. What do you expect or want to see in the next six to twelve months? How flexible is the service, will it need to change and adapt? How and why? Think of how it aligns with your business plan’s strategic objectives.


Audience and buyers

Who will buy your service, what information do you have on them and do you have a strategy to support them?

Before you start a go-to-market plan, do some research. Take some time to find out exactly who your client is. This includes broad knowledge like firmographics or demographics (depending on whether you are a B2B or B2C business) and the specifics – what are their needs, wants, preferences and attitudes.

To do this, start off broadly and then break it down by levels. What markets are you looking to target? Segment each and determine their size, makeup and how easy they are to reach and what sort of buying potential do they have?

Then, define who your ideal customer is within your chosen markets. Based on what you’ve found out, create specific groups who, based on the information you have are more likely to need and purchase your service.

In the final stage – be honest with yourself – do the markets and segments you’ve chosen support the strategy? A couple of important points worth considering, Elephants f#ck elephants (as they say in advertising) – if you’re a one-man-band and you’re targeting Microsoft, you could well be targeting the wrong market – big companies work with big companies. Not always, but mostly – unless you have a compelling service offer or you can present as a viable partner, you could be barking up the wrong tree.

Make sure your buyer personae are created from proper research. Don’t create a fanciful customer-composite based on ‘who you’d like as your ideal client’ – they don’t exist in the real world and you’ll be disappointed. In fact, you might as well create personae based on astrology. I’m an Aquarius, what are you?

And lastly, what insights into the market and customers do you have to support your strategy? How does the information you have and the buyer personae you’ve created support your long-term vision?

As you work through these stages, try to be as personal and specific as possible. The more accurate and realistic your customer profiles, the easier it will be to make decisions that will enable you to get in front of them, talk to them and convert them to clients.


Competitive landscape

Who will you be competing against and how are they likely to react to you stealing their cheese?

If you are playing to win, you need to understand your opponent and the environment in which you’ll be competing. It would be a costly mistake to think of launching your service without a clear understanding of what you are getting into. Your go-to-market plan should be updated regularly as you adapt to the market – so you’ll require a sound understanding of what the market looks like now as well as an idea of where it is likely to head in the near future.

What current or expected trends could affect the launch of your service or impact ongoing success? Who, or what are your main competitors and what is their likely response to your launch?



How will new clients access your service and or in the case of a product, how will it be distributed? If a client is interested in buying from your company, what is the path to purchase – how will you make the sale and what does the potential customer or client have to do?

Is it direct to the customer (DTC) or will you distribute through an agent or third party supplier? Will they have to download software, if so, are you set up to make this happen?

In the B2B space, you may be selling services that are intangible so you’ll need to develop the relationships heavily based on trust. How will you do this?

Distribution is important so don’t leave it until last to think about.

Think of how delighted you’d be if a service provider’s messaging made you a promise they couldn’t deliver on. That’s exactly how you’ll make prospects feel if you don’t think distribution through.


Is your offer marketing-intensive or sales-intensive?

Will your potential clients respond more favourably to marketing or sales? Marketing and sales often work in tandem but in many instances, they balance one another out. Some services will sell well based on heavy marketing with sales only required at the end of the process to close the deal.

Other services, especially if they are complex, will often benefit from a strong sales effort throughout the entire customer journey. The nature of the service and of course, the type of client you are selling to will have a huge bearing on your approach.

There are several factors you can focus on to figure out your approach:

  • Price: How much selling needs to be done? The larger the price tag is to purchase your service, the more consideration required, meaning a heavy sales approach may be the way to go
  • Market size: If you are targeting large numbers of clients, resource constraints mean you won’t be able to ‘sell’ directly to them, alternatively, a small group that requires lots of information to reach a decision may benefit from a marketing-based approach
  • Service complexity: Does the service you are selling need to be explained in detail? Can the client understand your service or product clearly from the information on your website, or is it so self-explanatory that they can begin using it immediately?
  • B2B or B2C: If you are selling directly to customers, then a marketing-based approach might be enough. If you are selling to companies, you will need the right mix of both, weighted towards whatever the client is used to and expects
  • Relationships: Is your success contingent upon a close, long-term relationship with the client? A strong sales effort will keep you connected whereas a marketing-based approach will get you in front of a large number of potentials as and when you need to.

Knowing which approach you’re going to take is an integral part of designing your go-to-market plan and will inform what you prioritize and how you execute your plan.


What’s next?

If you’ve gathered all the information above, you’re ready to start putting together your own go-to-market plan. To help you, we’ve developed a nine-step framework and a template to assist you. If you’d like a copy, drop us a line – by CLICKING HERE

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