How will you not be one of the 90% of companies that launch failed products? When you consider that the #1 reason cited for product failure is lack of market need and alignment, we see one clear failure mitigation area. Developing strong go-to-market (GTM) plans that identify market opportunities and outline clear paths for successful launches.
Here’s the thing though. A GTM plan is only effective when it’s 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 to valuable marketing activities, go to market research forms the foundation of successful GTM plans.
What Is A Go To Market Plan
Any research you do should always be about collecting the insights you need to drive positive business outcomes. In the case of a GTM plan, there are several key decisions you’ll need to make.
- Product Definition: Don’t take it for granted that people will know exactly what your product or service is. Good GTM plans spend time defining exactly what your product is, what it does, and the benefits it offers.
- Customer Target: GTM plans need to 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 outline the demographic and psychographic criteria of your ideal customer. For B2B businesses, this usually means outlining the types of businesses that will buy and the key decision makers.
- Brand or Product Positioning: You’ll need to determine how you want to position your product to differentiate its features and benefits from the competition. Called brand or product positioning, this includes defining who your product is for, why they need it, and why it’s the best at what it does. It’s a key GTM input since it informs the messaging you’ll use in your actual 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. This means determining if it’s a one-time purchase or a recurring subscription paid over a time frame.
- Marketing Channels: GTM plans will also focus on how you will reach prospective customers to build product awareness. This includes determining if you’ll be using any 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 speak to the specific campaigns you’ll run across these channels.
- Marketing Resources & Budgets: Last but not least, GTM plans also define the resources you’ll need to launch your plan. This can include in-house personnel with certain skill sets, external agencies, or software tools. It also outlines the budget you’ll need over a specific span of time to fund these resources.
The Research Needed For A Go To Market Plan
Once we know what a GTM plan needs, we can isolate the market intelligence needed to objectively inform these components.
Competitive Audits: Getting a lay of your competitive land is an ideal way to kick off GTM research. Competitive audits allow you to see how competitors are positioning themselves in the market. They also show how competitors are leveraging (or not leveraging) marketing channels and activities. This, combined with the next batch of research, helps synthesize several GTM components. It informs the brand positioning and value propositions that will differentiate your product and show you what marketing avenues you should consider.
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 this approach is insight into 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.
Product Optimization: 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 methodologies that let you do this, the underlying goal behind them is the same. They all help you visualize the trade-offs people make when assessing different product features like price, pricing model, size, quantity, and benefits. This lets you isolate the features that will maximize interest.
Pricing Research: One of the hardest decisions to make is deciding how much to charge for your product. Using quantitative pricing analysis methods, you can bring peace of mind to this process. By performing pricing research you can pinpoint the ideal product price point as well as customers’ appetite for different payment periods.
Message & Positioning Testing: While initial customer research may point to some positioning and messaging insights, you may be left with several options to consider. To whittle your 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 the more you consider leveraging paid channels like online or offline ads, conference and events, or syndicating content. To figure out how to optimize your budget, you can 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 GTM Research Should You Prioritize
We get it. We just listed out a lot of research options to help develop your GTM plan. In the ideal world, you’d have the time and resources to do it all. In the real world, you’ll likely have to pick and choose which research is the most important.
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 very wide price points, performing pricing research may help pinpoint exactly how to price your product. In contrast, if you could sell your product to a wide variety of customers, customer interviews and segmentation could help you identify the 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.