A Start-Ups Guide to Creating a Go-To-Market Marketing Plan

Go-to-Market Planning
••• Getty Images / Thomas Barwick


AYour go-to-market marketing plan must answer the following questions:


  • What are you marketing?
  • Who are you marketing to?
  • How will you reach your target audience?
  • Where will you market your produce and/or service?

Seems easy enough, right?  The unfortunate thing is this is the step most businesses miss.  

Most businesses haven’t realized the benefits of having a strong go-to-market strategy.  I think if more entrepreneurs were aware of the benefits they wouldn’t want to run their business without a GTM strategy.

  Benefits include:

  • Reduce time to market.
  • Reduce costs associated with failed product/service launches.
  • Increases your ability to adapt to market change.
  • Ensures and effective customer experience.
  • Ensures a successful product/service launch.
  • Keeps you off the wrong path.
  • Keeps you focused.
  • Establishes a path for growth.
  • Clarifies a plan and direction for all involved.

The sad thing is that most business owners start off being reactive rather than proactive in getting their produce/services in front of people and there is never a real strong concrete plan behind it.

Why Do Businesses Avoid Go-To-Market Planning?

Because planning seems like a daunting task and it makes business often answer the hard questions and sometimes in doing so they realize they haven’t planned at all.  A plan will also find the flaws in the product/service you are offering.

So where do you start? 

  1. What’s  Your Unique Selling Position or Value Proposition?
    Why should a consumer be interested in what you are offering? Why should they buy your product/service? How do you add value or solve a problem with what you are offering?  How can you prove that?

    The objective of your unique selling proposition and value proposition is to make them believe that you are the right choice for them.  Does yours do that? If not, you’ll need to put a little more work into it.
  1. Who is Your Target Market and Audience?
    Who are is the target market and audience that you are trying to reach?  Where will you find them? The more specific you can get the easier it will be to proceed to the next step.

    Questions to Answer That Will Help Get You Started:

    What sex are you targeting?
    How old are they? What’s their age demographic?
    Where are they located, what is their location demographic?
    If you were to create a persona of who your prospect/customer what would that look like?
    How old are they? 
    What are their interests? 
    What is their lifestyle like? 
  1. How Will You Reach Your Target market? 
     If you spent time on the second step this step should be fairly easy. You’ve already recognized who they are, so finding them should be easy.  There are various marketing channels to use.  Will you use direct channels, indirect channels or both?  Are they local or national?  Where do they get information?  How can you place yourself in those information streams?

    A few channels to consider:
    E-Commerce / Online
    Direct Selling
    Retail (Both online/offline)
    Indirect Selling
    Private Label or Partnerships

    What Marketing Channels Are Right for You?  Take Into Consideration the Following:

    What’s the profit margin using the channels?
    How complex is the channel?
    Does the channel give your brand credibility?
    How much time will it take to go-to-market using that channel and is that something you are comfortable with?
    Using the channel is the target reach worth the cost? How many customers can you reach using that channel?
  2. What is Your Promotional Plan?
    Where will you promote what you are offering?  How will you reach the decision makers?  In the previous step you identified how to reach them, now you need to identify the promotional plan.  A few things to remember when it comes to your promotional plan:

    Does your promotional plan align with your target market?
    Is it focused on reaching the decision makers?
    What types of promotion will you use?  Promotion channels to consider:

    Public Relations
    Social Media
    Product Demos
    Trade shows
    Grassroots / Gorilla tactics
    Advertising (Online / Traditional)
  1. Craft the Messaging
    You have to spend time getting the messaging right.  It is what will “sell” your product/service to your target market.  I’ve found that by solution positioning your message you will find it easy to integrate your unique selling position and your value proposition.  The objective of your message is to show them that you add value or solve a problem and get them interested enough to take action.  The key to most successful companies has been finding that “call to action” that a prospect can’t refuse.