Definition

go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy)

Contributor(s): John Moore
This definition is part of our Essential Guide: IT channel sales and marketing strategy for the digital era

A go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy) is an action plan that specifies how a company will reach target customers and achieve competitive advantage. The purpose of a GTM strategy is to provide a blueprint for delivering a product or service to the end customer, taking into account such factors as pricing and distribution. A GTM strategy is somewhat similar to a business plan, although the latter is broader in scope and considers such factors as funding.

What's the purpose of a go-to-market strategy?

GTM is often associated with product launches, especially those targeting channel partners. Indirect channels often become a part of a product vendor's go-to-market plan. But GTM can also be used to describe the specific steps a company needs to take in order to guide customer interactions for established products. In addition, service-oriented channel partners, such as cloud service providers (CSPs) and managed service providers (MSPs), may also devise GTM strategies.

Development and core components

As an initial step, a GTM strategy must define the customer market for a particular product or service. In the case of a new offering, the company will decide whether it has existing customers that might be sales prospects or whether it needs to seek an entirely new set of target customers. In addition, the company developing a GTM strategy and honing its customer acquisition process should also zero in on who will be the buyer: the IT manager, a line-of-business (LOB) manager or a member of the C-suite, for instance.

Next, the GTM strategy should focus on the product or service to be offered and its particular business benefit for the intended target customers. With the value proposition defined, the company can determine a pricing strategy. This can prove challenging, especially if a company is shifting from product to service sales and needs to adopt a new model, such as subscription-based pricing.

Checklist of go-to-market strategy considerations
IT product and service providers should consider multiple factors when building go-to-market plans.

In addition, the GTM strategy should also address marketing and promotion. An effective GTM strategy typically sketches out what distribution and marketing channels will be used to reach the target market. Incidentally, a GTM strategy can also be used to build out future customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives.

Examples

A change in an IT provider's overall strategic direction will often prompt a change in its go-to-market strategy.

Microsoft, for instance, announced a vertical industry go-to-market strategy in 2017 to accommodate customers undergoing digital transformation and seeking vendors with more insight into their specific businesses. Microsoft's industry initiative focuses on vertical markets, including financial services, retail, manufacturing, government, education and healthcare.

New products or product strategies may also influence go-to-market approaches. Violin Memory's shift from niche storage player to primary storage provider meant the company would be pursuing a broader array of customer segments. That change influenced the company's decision to pursue channel partners as its go-to-market strategy. Vendors may call on channel partners to improve market penetration and boost brand recognition.

A rethinking of services can also trigger a new go-to-market model. Anaplan, a cloud-based financial planning platform provider, decided to offload services that it had been providing on its own. The company altered its go-to-market plan to delivery services through channel partners.

Among managed services and cloud providers, a go-to-market plan may include targeting vertical markets, customers of a particular size or a particular technology platform, such as a specific public cloud or software as a service (SaaS) offering.

This was last updated in May 2018

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What distinguishes a good GTM strategy from a bad one?
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To be precise, one important aspect which makes a good GTM vs bad GTM is clarity on the business and its prospects. While talking about clarity it is important that there is a clear cut business plan in place to create an effective GTM. Importance of business plan is GTM and business strategy should go in sync with each other

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Thanks for your input. It certainly makes sense: A company can't expect to have an effective GTM if the GTM isn't in line with the company's overarching business plan/strategy. 
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This is a great definition! I think many people are confused by the name and think that GoToMarket (GTM) strategy is only for taking new products or services to the market. In reality, successful businesses constantly adapt their GTM strategy as new information from the market becomes available. Customer needs, competitor activity, technology innovation and many other factors can require changes in the GTM strategy and the faster a business is able to react to those factors, the more likely they are to keep growing.

I’ve shared my thinking on how technology can help businesses gain an unfair advantage to optimize their GTM strategy and perfect its execution - http://www.gtmhub.com/blog/getting-an-unfair-advantage-by-constantly-optimizing-gtm-strategy/

Martin
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Thanks for your feedback, Martin. GTM certainly applies to both new product launches and established products as they adjust to market forces.
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This GTM model can also be applied in any business does not matter if is not an IT company right? 


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Yes -- We are writing definitions for an IT-oriented audience, but the fundamentals of GTM approaches would apply to any type of product or service.
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Yes, the GTM model would apply to product/service sectors beyond IT.
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