How do you avoid being one of the 90% of companies that launch failed products this year? One clear failure mitigation approach is developing a Go To Market (GTM) plan that identifies market opportunities and outlines a clear path for a successful launch.
However, the most successful GTM plans are based on objective market intelligence and strategy. This is where go to market research comes in. As a series of distinct research components that isolate everything from ideal customer targets to messaging and marketing activities, go to market research forms the foundation of successful GTM plans.
What Is A Go To Market Plan
A Go To Market (GTM) plan outlines the key decisions needed to bring a product or service to market. These includes things like customer targets, product positioning, price points, marketing activities, and internal resourcing.
Let’s look at these GTM components in more detail to understand why research clarifies each one.
- Product Definition: Don’t take it for granted that people know exactly what your product or service is. Good GTM plans spend time defining product functionality, features, and benefits.
- Customer Target: GTM plans should explicitly call out exactly who your core customer is. After all, the more you tailor your customer targeting the more every aspect of your marketing will resonate with them. In the case of B2C businesses, this means outlining ideal customer demographics and psychographics. For B2B businesses, this means outlining ideal business types and the decision makers involved in the buying process.
- Brand or Product Positioning: Strong products hold distinct places in any given category that differentiate them from the competition. Called brand or product positioning, this includes defining who the product is for, why they need it, and why it’s the best at what it does. Positioning is a key GTM input since it informs the messaging used across future marketing tactics.
- Price Point & Pricing Model: You’ll need to define exactly how much you’ll charge for your product, and the pricing model you’ll use. For instance, will it be a one-time purchase, a recurring subscription paid over a time, a service with upsells, or something else.
- Marketing Channels: GTM plans also focus on how you will reach prospective customers to build product awareness. This includes determining if you’ll use paid channels like Google or Facebook Ads. It could mean examining earned channels like SEO and PR. Or it could include owned channels like social media and email marketing. The GTM plan may go one level deeper and outline specific campaigns you’ll run across these channels.
- Marketing Resources & Budgets: Last but not least, GTM plans define the resources needed to launch the product or service. This includes in-house personnel, external agencies, software, or other must-have items. It also outlines the budget needed over time time to fund these resources.
The Research Needed For A Go To Market Plan
Each components listed above requires deliberate decisions. And, implicitly, trading off between options. By performing go to market research to inform those options, you build confidence in making the right trade offs.
Depending upon what you need to inform, that research can take a variety of forms. Let’s look at just a few of the types of research typically performed when building GTM plans.
Understanding the competition is an ideal way to kick off GTM research. Competitive audits show how competitors position themselves in the market as well as how they leverage marketing channels and activities. This, combined with the next batch of research, helps synthesize several GTM components. It begins isolating ideal positioning and value propositions for strong category differentiation. Also, it points business leaders towards marketing channels or activities that warrant further consideration.
Customer Interviews & Customer Segmentation
There are several approaches to pinpoint your ideal customer target. You can begin with 1:1 interviews to understand how customers evaluate your market and the products within it. You can then follow-up with quantitative customer surveys to validate those initial findings and conduct. This can also lead to customer segmentation analysis that identifies specific groups within the customer set that will most want your product.
An added benefit of any of these is incremental insights into ideal messaging and positioning. By isolating your core segment, you’ll learn why they seek out products in your category as well as typical barriers to purchase. This, coupled with your earlier competitive audit findings, can point you towards brand positioning and value propositions that will resonate in the market.
If you’re debating exactly what features or benefits to tout, or which ones to make sure you include with the initial launch, consider product optimization research. While there are different types of product optimization methods, the goals are generally the same. They help visualize the trade-offs people make when assessing different product features like price, pricing model, size, quantity, and benefits, a process that lets organizations isolate features with the greatest interest.
One of the hardest GTM decisions is determining your product’s price point. However, quantitative pricing analysis methods bring peace of mind to this process. Pricing research informs ideal price points and price elasticity and sensitivity as well as customers’ appetite for different pricing models and payment methods.
Message & Positioning Testing
While initial customer research points to some positioning and messaging insights, you may be left with several options to consider. To whittle those options down, leverage quantitative survey methods. These let you show different positioning options to your target audience to assess changes in overall appeal. You can measure the way each positioning impacts likability, believability, uniqueness, purchase intent, and other factors. With this data in-hand, you can home in on a positioning that will resonate the best.
Marketing Channel Tests
One of the biggest barriers to marketing is the actual cost of marketing itself. This skyrockets once paid channels like online or offline ads, conferences and events, or content syndication enter the mix. To optimize your budget, launch marketing channel tests. These can be quantitative or qualitative in nature and they let you isolate exactly where your audience in spending their time. Once you know where your customers are, you’ll be confident that you’re advertising in the right places.
What Go To Market Research Should Your Prioritize
We just listed out a lot of go to market research options. In the ideal world, you’d have the time and resources to do it all. In the real world, you have to pick and choose which research to prioritize.
To do this, spend time considering where your biggest blind spots or challenges lie. That is where research will do you the most good. For instance, if you’re entering a crowded market that includes products with a wide variety of price points, consider pricing research to pinpoint exactly how to price your product. In contrast, if you could sell your product to a wide variety of customers, consider customer interviews and segmentation to identify the targets with the highest potential.
There is no hard and fast rule about which research you’ll benefit from the most. Take stock of your market knowledge strengths and weaknesses and let that guide your decisions.