In recent times, I have had many people calling me to talk about how to take their businesses to the next level. Many are concerned that their businesses are either not growing as well as they should or that growth has stalled. In order to ensure that I answered everybody’s questions holistically, I will start by asking the following questions.
The first is, how does your business connect with customers? How can you deliver your unique value proposition to your target customers? How do you go from your initial connection with a potential customer to fulfil your brand promise? If you can answer these questions, these answers will give you a strong definition and an indication of your go-to-market strategy.
In a nutshell, your go-to-market strategy brings together all the key elements that grow your business; sales, marketing, distribution, pricing, brand development, competitive analysis and consumer insights.
According to the Cult Brand Company, having a proper go-to-market plan provides you with strategic insight that builds a clear path to enable you reach your target customers and have a competitive edge in the market. Let’s keep in mind that go-to-market strategies can be applied to new product launches as well as existing products and services.
There are many benefits that come with having a proper go-to-market strategy, which include: reduced time to market, reduced associated cost with failed product launches, increased ability to adapt to change, ability to manage innovation challenges, ensuring effective customer experience, establishing proper growth plan, avoiding the wrong path and clarifying the direction the business sales and marketing trajectory will take.
Many businesses do not take time to define their go-to-market plan. I recently helped a business review and define its go-to-market strategy. The diagnostic review indicated that the business had been growing opportunistically and not intentionally. I conducted a five year financial analysis of the business and discovered that the growth in sectors and services were uneven and the business concentrated on what walked in through the door not what they concertedly decided to pursue. In addition, the services provided to customers was based on what they could offer, not what they had the capacity to do as a business. This behavioural pattern was stunting their growth.
Having a proper go-to-market strategy provides the opportunity for exponential growth. It ensures that you look at all the variables required to drive your business to achieving stellar results, instead of moving at a pace that may not necessarily help your business in the long run. This is why some of the businesses that called me were having problems and stalled growth. They were not intentional about how they wanted their businesses to evolve.
Your go-to-market strategy improves key business outcomes. These are achieved by aligning to the evolving needs of your customers. Please note the key word evolving. Your business must be poised for continued renewal and the peripatetic taste of your customers. Below are six strategic initiatives to consider when developing your go-to-market strategy.
• Markets – What markets to pursue? You need to be able to determine which markets you want to focus on. These can be in terms of sectors, retail, corporate, demographics, ethnographic, psychographic, drivers of need, online, offline and location. You will need to consider markets with urgent and big needs, gaps, alignment, similar core competence, reach, market size and least competition.
Your marketing to these markets should also be distinct because of the characteristics of each segment. You will need to consider whether you want to use: email marketing, sponsorships, collaboration, direct targeting, account management, networking, public relationships, social media, referrals, relationship building, etc or a combination of marketing tactics that best suit your business.
• Customers – Who will you sell to? The first step is to develop your customer intelligence. Brian Tracy said, “Every entrepreneur should intensely focus on his or her prospective customers. The ability to find a customer, sell your product or services so that the customer buys from you again, should be the central focus of all entrepreneurial activity.” The greater clarity you have with regard to your ideal customer, the more focused and effective your marketing efforts will be. I have had cause to call people to ask them exactly who they are selling to. Many times businesses do not have a focus on the characteristics of their ideal customer and are not selling their services from the customer’s point of view.
• Channels of Distribution – Where do your target customers buy? Where will you promote your products? Factors to consider in channels of distribution are: the nature of the product, market, middlemen, government regulation and competition. Components with all of the above considerations, will include: perishability, size and weight of the product, unit value of the product, standardization, product lines, consumer or industrial market, number of prospective buyers, geographical considerations, buying habit of customers, financial considerations, competition, type of service, etc. All of the above will help you determine the appropriate distribution channel e.g. retail store, digital, customer service center, face to face salesperson, trade shows, seminars, direct partner, etc.
• Product/Service Offerings – What product or service and unique value do you offer each market? We need to be careful and sure about our product offerings and services. Sometimes, businesses offer too many products and services to too many different types of customers at too many prices and too many markets, says Brian Tracy. He goes on to say, success in business requires that you develop clarity and focus about the products and services you are going to offer. Every product usually has a different strategy and method of sales driving force. We therefore need to focus and concentrate in order to take advantage of synergies and not dissipate our energy and resources in different directions.
• Price – How much do you charge for your products and services in each market group? – In determining your pricing, you need to be able to determine your threshold price. In order to do this, you must factor in and maximize your margins, while remaining attractive to your customers, understand the market, decide on the most appropriate pricing technique, define the costs, consider your cost-plus pricing, set a value-based price, evaluate influences that will affect your price and know that your cost, customers and competition are ever evolving. This will give you the ability to shift your prices to keep up with the market.
• Positioning – How do you differentiate your business and position your brand? You need to figure out the market position of your business in order to create an effective brand for your business, which depends on: figuring out what makes you different – being able to understand what sets you apart from competition and appeal to your customers, being able to accurately judge which customers you serve the best and discovering your position in the competitive landscape.
To get started, ask yourself the following questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? What has to happen to get us to our destination? Being able to do all of the above, will give you clarity and a roadmap of how to approach the market and grow your business.