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Episode 67: What is Go-to-Market Strategy & How to Define It

by Hannah Rose | Oct 4, 2023 10:00:00 AM

While the term Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy has been around since the beginning of business-time, people have become fascinated with how it works. This term has gone from forever existing to feeling brand new, so today Doug and Jess are digging into what GTM strategy really is.




Additional Resources:

Show Notes:

The best part about the intro to this show is Doug saying “turnt” followed by Jess immediately cancelling him for it. It’s also a mystery whether or not Doug and Jess will record an episode at Inbound this year, though with Jess’s authority, I have a feeling that a 1am recording will in fact be vetoed. 

In this episode Jess pitches the idea to talk through go-to-market (GTM) strategy - what it is, why it’s important, etc.

One of Doug’s favorite thinkers on strategy is Roger Martin. He wrote an article called The Downside of Go-to-Market Strategy Sounds Sexy, but Not Helpful. The article mentions GTM strategy as being one of the top five sexiest business terms in 2023. Here’s what he has to say about GTM strategy: “Go-to-market strategy is one of those business terms that has become super sexy. I find it interesting how the phenomenon works. Somebody stumbles onto an evocative term to describe a business activity that has gone on forever and the thing suddenly becomes super-cool. Companies have been going to their markets forever. But GTM Strategy sounds exciting and new!” 

How does Doug define GTM strategy? 

Doug thinks it’s really hard to define strategy. Strategy is strategy and it’s the component that relates to how you’re going to market. One thing Doug has believed in for a very long time is the saying, “Beware of people who tell you they manufacture antiques.” What’s old is now new again and the same goes with GTM strategy. So what is it? GTM strategy are the choices that you make that enable you to win on the path that you’re on. 

5 Questions that You Need to Answer to have a GTM Strategy

  1. What is our business model and how can we best exploit it? 
  2. Who do we want to be a hero to? (Providing a clear definition of your ideal client profile, target personas and jobs to be done.)
  3. How does our value proposition stand out and resonate with our customers while distinguishing us from competitive and alternative options? 
  4. How will we position ourselves and our selected markets to achieve the right message market fit that resonates with our target market and stimulates meaningful conversations? 
  5. How will we profitably acquire and retain customers and revenue? 

The answers to these questions will give you a diagnosis of your GTM and provides the guiding policy for the actions that you’ll take to feed into that. 

Would you rather have good strategy or good execution? 

There is no strategy without execution, but strategy is execution. It’s like having a playbook - you have one whether you realize it or not. If you have the right strategy, you can adjust your execution. How do you put strategy in motion? You wobble. You answer the above 5 questions. You make some decisions, take some actions, and get some results. 

How do you take these questions and put it into an actual real world execution? 

You starts off with WAGS (wild ass guesses). Then you begin to learn and WAGS becomes SWAGS (scientific wild ass guesses). 

How often should you be talking about your GTM strategy?

There are two opposing answers here: 

  1. You’re always working on it. 
  2. You’re rarely talking about it.

Rather than thinking about the 5 questions all the time, think about your answers to those questions all the time - especially who you want to be a hero to. 

The number one thing that Doug would always get pushback on from peers was about how things never felt connected and that we were trying to do too many things. And then one day, with a little faith, they connected because we were able to use our strategy to transform the company.

We’ve lost clients playing our game, and we’ve lost clients not playing our game. Losing a client white playing our game is a lot less sucky than when we aren’t playing our game. One of the big issues with strategy is that it’s really easy to articulate your intent. But there can be a lot of different ways people digest that intent. At the core of your strategy is your value proposition - what is it that you solve? Over the last few years for Lift, we’ve transformed. While we care about those companies we used to be the best choice for, that’s not who we are a hero to anymore. Your strategy is always changing.

Everybody goes to market. If you’re a business and you’ve generated a dollar of revenue, you go to market. GTM strategy is only important if breathing is important to humans.

Jess’s Takeaways: 

  • GTM strategy is the choices that you make that enable you to win
  • GTM strategy is not stagnant and strategy continues to feed your decisions. The hypothesis feeds the action which feeds the result which feeds the learning until it becomes a continuous cycle.

Next Steps: