How to Build a Go-To-Market Plan & Why You Want One

by Brie Stiens | March 31, 2020

There’s a quote I like: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” When it comes to marketing, you’ll need more than one plan to accomplish the goals of growing your business and driving revenue. In the world of strategic marketing, sometimes that means designing go-to-market plans that are focused on actions that can drive visibility in new markets.

Before we discuss how to build a go-to-market plan, let’s first clarify the difference between a strategic marketing plan and a go-to-market plan.

strategic marketing plan involves a comprehensive exercise that begins with an internal review of what marketing is in place, what assets (e.g., technology, people, creative) are available, and where the organization is right now. The strategic marketing plan takes complete stock of strengths and weaknesses, gathers insights from customers, and explores the competitive landscape. Then, based on a deep understanding of the brand and its unique value proposition, the competition, and the audience, this plan establishes specific goals and measurable targets.

A go-to-market (GTM) plan, on the other hand, focuses on specific market-based goals and targets – how exactly to tackle a new market. In other words, a strategic marketing plan might resolve that your business should consider growing into X space and target Y people and go to Z type of events to drive long-term revenue. A GTM plan might then define the steps your business can take in the near term to build immediate awareness in X, test outreach with Y, and attend Z to gauge viability for sponsoring next year.

A strategic marketing plan’s comprehensive approach doesn’t always translate into the speed that a company wants to capture a given market. So, the GTM plan focuses on manageable, actionable pieces that can establish a position in the new market. It results in an immediate, agile to-do list that ensures you’re moving toward a new market opportunity, even as you’re working through the longer-term goals defined in the strategic marketing plan.

Execute, Rather Than Saying “We Should”

Instead of simply observing, “we should do this,” or “we’d like to accomplish this,” the go-to-market (GTM) plan is more concrete.

So, how do you build a go-to-market plan?

First, you need to determine your top priorities in the strategic marketing plan, specific to the market you want to capture. Focus on:

  • Aligning planned action with realistic expectations based on staffing, budget, existing assets, and other factors
  • Looking for low-hanging fruit and easy wins
  • Setting goals for the first 30, days, 60 days, 90 days, six months and year
  • Determining what action items can be handled internally
  • Identifying shortcomings in skillsets or budget
  • Assigning roles and responsibilities

Part of being an account champion in this type of rollout is determining what the client’s internal team can handle, and what we need to outsource with specialized expertise while staying within scope of the engagement.

Once a GTM plan is established, and reviewed for consensus by the parties involved, you’ll want to collaboratively define basic reporting mechanisms. You want to be able to track progress on the hot-button issues and establish deadlines. Good visibility into plan management makes it clear to everyone when next steps can be taken.

A good GTM plan acknowledges that to get out to market, you can’t hold perfection too dear. It’s more about getting close enough, focusing on the “best we can do right now,” and then making the best of it and moving forward. That’s what makes measurement so important. We focus more on getting hooks in the water, testing how they perform, and then changing the lures based on what we learn as we continue to push forward.

Building a successful go-to-market plan also can’t stop with pressing save on the document with all of its tasklists and timelines. You need to continue to go back to the calendar and say, “What’s next?” At the end of certain periods, you can revisit the GTM plan to see if priorities are shifting, and cross-reference the SMP to ensure that you’re not losing sight of longer-term priorities or the bread-and-butter markets driving revenue right now.

It’s important to revisit formally with the client to ensure that we’re still on the same page about how to move forward. It’s important to evaluate what progress is being made, what is working and what isn’t, and how we can flexible with the GTM plan, particularly if there are other markets in play.

You Need Both to Make a Difference

To create an impact, you have to create a plan and execute strategically. Think of it like a marathon, not a sprint. To cover that much ground, you need to create a training regimen, practice, test yourself, then take actions to improve your results.

In that vein, a GTM plan might be akin to training for a marathon season. At the onset, you’re building toward the first race. What do you need at the bare minimum? What do you expect to happen? How can you show up ready to start and finish?

And more importantly, afterward, what are you going to do with all you learned in the race? What can you do to increase performance? What can you add so you’re ready for the next race? And the one after that?

Think of the go-to-market plan as a strategy specific to going to market in that way. The GTM plan is built in a frame of mind that we have to get off the starting line, but we need to be thoughtful about next steps and improvement. Ideas into action. Action into insights. Insights into new ideas. And so on. That’s how great marketing gets done.

Want help building a go-to-market plan? We’d be
happy to help. Contact Marketri’s experts today.