June Boo, Head of Group Strategy & General Manager for the USA at Arcadier, shares about go-to-market (GTM) strategies. Tapping on her wealth of experience as Head of Strategy at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), June elaborates on the key elements needed to craft your own GTM strategy.
So first up, what is a GTM?
The GTM strategy is a growth strategy that companies use to expand into a new market, or to extend their reach into their current market. It is also used to convey a business’s value proposition to customers and achieve a competitive advantage over competitors in the market.
Typically, this strategy is only employed after a company has had success for a while, and is seeking expansion and growth, and is not employed during the initial years of a startup.
How does one start drafting a GTM strategy?
According to June, it is best to start by taking your customers’ views into consideration, instead of drafting a seller-driven or product driven strategy. While the latter two will lead to short term success, only a customer-driven strategy will lead to a sustainable business. As such, start your plan by taking your customers into full consideration.
After you have targeted and fully understood your customers, you must then consider the context in terms of both the competition and the market.
In terms of the competition, look out for anyone offering something extremely similar to your product. If there are no such competitors in the market you are targeting, then it becomes all the more beneficial for you to expand there. However, if there is a similar competitor, you must be able to learn from your competitors. For example, learn from their pricing strategy to see who they are targeting as customers and how they are appealing to them. Another important thing to identify your competitor’s competitive advantage. By comparing their competitive advantage against yours, you will be able to see the differences that you can exploit during the implementation of your GTM strategy.
As for the market, you must understand market trends, to see if the market is receptive to your product. Also, as you will be undertaking the daunting task of entering an unfamiliar market, it is advisable to learn from other businesses about the factors that allow for success in that particular market. For example, unfamiliar cultural or traditional factors may stigmatise some products while making others seem much more desirable.
Understanding the Customer
In this information age, the populace is being constantly bombarded by all sorts of advertisements, most of which have no relevance to them. This poses a challenge to businesses, as customers are becoming desensitised to advertisements. Hence, you have to find a way to get your message to stand out from among the thousands and thousands of others. This is why understanding your target customer is paramount. Think of any key phrases that your particular audience will be attracted by, or a certain method of triggering their interest, by leveraging on your understanding of their behaviour.
Methods to Understand Consumers
Ever heard of an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)? This is a profiling system used by businesses to breakdown and understand their target customers, so as to be able to find the best method to reach out to them. Just as a simple example, the ICP looks at the technological environment and age of the targeted customers (among many other factors), and this may allow you to formulate a hypothesis about whether digital advertising on social media platforms would be a viable option for reaching out to them.
Another common way of segregating customers to understand them is by geographic, demographic, behavioural, and psychological factors. Behavioural factors refer to the shopping habits of the customer (online, physically, window shopping for long periods of time before deciding etc.), and psychological refers to the lifestyle of the customer (environmentalist, minimalist etc) When trying to understand a certain group of customers, try combining two of these factors.
Know how to Price
Pricing has always been a touchy issue for both businesses and customers. One wants them to be high as the sky, the other wants to pay as little as possible. As such, there is a need to strike a comfortable middle ground with as little hindrance as possible. You may be tempted to lower your prices to beat out the competition, and attract tons of customers, but be careful not to overdo it, or you may end up stabbing yourself in the foot with insufficient returns from this investment. At other times, you may want to raise prices in order to gain a profit, but this act may drive away customers. As such, a keen understanding of the market is vital.
There are actually times when you have no need to underprice your products, and can instead price them higher than average. This would be when the product or service you are offering is unique, and is something that they would want. People are absolutely willing to pay a premium price for something different, or that they desire.
Use Market Trends to your Advantage
In the case of advertising, look for partnerships that can help complement your business. This not only allows you to build a reputation by riding on a popular or trending company’s coattails, but you are also able to tap on their customer base.
As such, always keep yourself updated on the current market trends, to see how you should adapt to gain favour with customers.
Sometimes, a startup may create an absolutely new and novel product, and may think that there is no market for them to learn from, and hence ignore the importance of understanding the market. Never make this mistake! No matter how new a product or service is, it is nothing more than an alternative solution to a previous problem or challenge. As such, you can still use the market of the old product as a case study.
Inbound and Outbound Marketing
In the past, marketing used to be a lot more aggressive, using what’s known as outbound marketing strategies. Outbound marketing refers to techniques that intrude on people, actively reaching out to potential customers. An example of this is cold calling. In modern times, this style of marketing has fallen out of popularity, although it should not be totally neglected in advertisement campaigns.
Instead of outbound marketing, inbound marketing has seen not only tremendous use, but also tremendous success. Inbound marketing refers to marketing techniques that are less intrusive, and work by trying to get potential customers interested in your product, letting them come to you instead of the other way around. This is seen in online advertisements and social media publicity. Inbound marketing has now become indispensable for any business.
June advises that a good balance of the two strategies should be used for maximum effect, but if you are hard up for cash and financial resources, it is more important to focus on inbound marketing.
Before ending off, here are some of June’s other advice she mentioned during her talk at Arcadier Inspire!
Enjoy the GTM process! It will be a trying period full of challenges and changes, but problem solving will become a task that brings joy to the team.
Have checkpoints throughout the GTM process, to ensure that you do not stray from you goals. June recommends that checkpoints should be at every quarter of the year.
Find the right people for your team. Accountability during the GTM period is usually lacking. As such, it will be extremely useful to have team members that are good at reminding everyone else to follow through with the whole plan, instead of being overly enthusiastic at parts while forgetting to do other aspects.
With June’s advice all relayed to you, it is now up to you to create a stellar go-to-market strategy, and work towards the growth and expansion of your company!
Watch the full Arcadier Inspire Summit by June Boo here