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Go-to-Market – Fast and True

“Go-to-market.” Why not just “marketing”?

Because “go-to-market” captures the thought of introducing or re-introducing your product or service into a specific market context. It is more “action-y” than “marketing” and can serve as a rallying point for you and your team. “We’re not just marketing this new Ninja-Master 9000 Training Shoes – we’re going to market with them!”

Three Principles for Effective Go-to-Market

First – Define your Objectives


If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t much matter which direction you take the organization. Objectives are necessary in order to have a clear and clean cut view of where the organization is going.

There are strategic and tactical objectives, which document the future of the firm or a specific market roll-out. They should be built around concept of messaging must be central, so both strategic and tactical objectives support the validation, communication and execution of the product’s Value Proposition– representing a set of promises that your target market will agree is innovative, indispensable and inspiring.

Strategic objectives are the high-level goals that drive strategy and long-term direction. These include corporate goals (which lay out the major, grand-scheme plans of the organization), financial goals (the key financial metrics that drive the firm’s success), and market impact goals (the key metrics that will allow you to measure your position or success in the marketplace, such as market share, markets served, number of customers, etc.)

Tactical objectives aren’t tasks, per se, but are more immediately tangible than strategic objectives. They reflect the key areas of project management, overall efficiency and time management, and translate easily into “to-do list” items for your Action Plan, and benchmarks for your timeline.

Keep objectives as clear and specific as possible. Use time-bound targets that are as measurable as possible. For example: Sell 100,000 units by May of 20xx for revenue of $$$ million.

IT Industry research leader, Gartner, Inc. comments on the importance of tying goals to actionable strategy and results: “Aspiring ‘to be the market leader’ or ‘to be seen by our clients and partners in their success’ is admirable, but lacks the specificity and clear linkage to action and measurable results to propel go-to-market efforts.”

Do you know where you’re going? Have you established major strategic objectives as well as tangible tactical objectives? Are these goals clear, specific, and measurable?

Second – Ask the Right Questions


Former Avaya CEO Louis D’Ambrosio’s frames strategic planning this way: “We’ve established three key priorities: strategy, execution and culture. What’s most important is the interrelations between the three.” Given the formation of the your go-to-market strategy and its objectives, actions and resources, four question areas will arise:

  • What major issues must be faced?
  • What key decisions must be made?
  • What information are we missing?
  • What expertise or “know how” will we need to carry out this plan?

First, identify major issues as they surface, noting where “gaps” still exist. These issues are either internal or external roadblocks to success. Some issues will require conversations or actions to mitigate their impact on your plans. In other cases, these issues might not be obstacles but rather create other, unintended complications. For example, a particular launch may negatively affect a long-term partner because it has competitive elements within it. This doesn’t necessarily hinder your go-to-market efforts, but it has ramifications in other aspects of your business.

All issues require one or more decisions – even “do nothing” is a decision. So, break down these major issues into key decisions that need to be made while going to market. Frame the decision along with its stakeholders and its impact on the key factors in the overall strategy.

Finally, what information and expertise is needed to execute your plan? How will you fill these gaps? All elements should be articulated and measured in terms of their relationship and interrelation to the strategic and tactical objectives of your go-to-market messaging process.

Third – Don’t Get Stuck

Ironically, the least successful and most difficult task for companies is often not development of go-to-market strategy, but actually the execution of those plans. It is critical that you keep the elements of your overall strategy at the center of your conversations and current strategic discussions.

When you consider new business opportunities that might interfere with your current go-to-market tasks, ask: Is this consistent with our overall objectives? Our timeline? Our goals? Will this take the focus off our strategic business initiatives?

Also, go back to the four question areas. They are simple yet valuable tools. Consider the simplicity and power of asking:

  • Is this an issue that really requires more discussion and understanding?
  • Do we need to make a decision which presupposes a defined set of outcomes to choose from?
  • Is this an information gap (a lack of appropriate or sufficient information)?
  • Do we have a “know-how” gap (the lack of a specific skill or domain expertise to fulfill the mission)?

Teams can develop a “shorthand” that moves them quickly from an emotional read of the situation to an objectively based one. Be sure to round out your discussions and conversations with an action orientation. You should always “map back” to your overall project plan, and stay rooted in your overall messaging strategy.