When it comes to product performance, one thing stands out among successful companies: a well-defined go-to-market strategy. Launching a product successfully is no easy task. Research from Nielsen reveals that approximately 80% of new products fail, and even for the ones that do succeed, the margin between success and failure is razor-thin.
In this article, we'll dive into intriguing case studies and notable benchmarks that showcase the best examples of GTM strategies. By exploring these success stories, you'll gain valuable insights to empower your own business and position yourself among the winners.
To support your efforts, we've included a complimentary go-to-market strategy template pre-filled with data. This template can be easily customized to fit the unique needs and goals of your organization.
But before we jump into these inspiring examples, let's take a moment to refresh our understanding of some key concepts that form the backbone of a successful GTM strategy.
What Is A Go-To-Market Strategy?
A go-to-market strategy, often referred to as GTM strategy, is a roadmap for successfully launching and delivering your products or services to your target customers. It encompasses a comprehensive set of actions and tactics that will help you gain a competitive advantage and make your product shine in the market.
To ensure the success of your GTM strategy, it is crucial to define clear objectives and establish metrics for tracking progress. Key performance indicators (KPIs) play a vital role in assessing the strategy's effectiveness. Examples of KPIs include customer acquisition cost, conversion rates, market share, revenue growth, customer retention, and customer satisfaction.
By putting together a well-thought-out go-to-market plan, you can confidently assess your product-market fit and navigate your way from being a newcomer to becoming a recognized player in an existing market.
Components Of A Successful Go-To-Market Strategy
To truly understand why certain strategies stand out as remarkable and effective, it is essential to identify the key components that make up a viable go-to-market plan.
A GTM plan is essentially a step-by-step plan that details how a company intends to bring its product to market.
The purpose of the plan is directed towards achieving strategic alignment between the solution the company is offering and the target market it intends to convert.
While the specific details of each GTM plan may vary depending on the nature of the product the company wishes to launch, there are several crucial components that every plan should incorporate. According to Stefan Groschupf, the current CEO of SalesHero and founder of Datameer, these components can be boiled down to four key points:
1. Product-market fit
What problem(s) does your product solve, and how?
This component revolves around understanding the problems your product solves and how it addresses the needs of your target customers. It involves clearly articulating the unique value proposition of your product in the market.
2. Target audience
Who are those experiencing this problem? What are their specific pain points, and how do you make these go away? How much will they pay for a solution?
Identifying the specific audience experiencing the identified problem will help you define your buyer personas and map the buyer’s journey. It requires gaining a deep understanding of their pain points and how your product effectively addresses those pain points. Additionally, determining the pricing strategy that they are willing to pay for a solution is vital.
3. Competition and demand
Is there a sufficient addressable market for the product? Who else is offering solutions in that space, and what are you doing differently?
Evaluating the overall market demand and analyzing the competitive landscape are critical steps. Assessing the size of the addressable market for your product, as well as conducting a value matrix analysis to understand customer preferences and competitive positioning, will help you determine your unique positioning and differentiation in the market.
📚Recommended read: 6 Competitive Analysis Frameworks: How to Leave Your Competition In the Dust
How do you intend to market, sell, and make money from your product?
Developing a strong marketing and sales strategy to drive revenue generation and achieve your goals is a crucial component of the GTM plan.
On the marketing side, it involves identifying the most effective channels to reach your target audience, create awareness, and ultimately drive sales. This can encompass a range of strategies, from traditional marketing approaches to digital techniques such as inbound marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). It is important to prioritize the marketing channels that effectively reach your specific target audience.
For your sales strategy, it is vital to train and equip salespeople with the necessary skills and resources to effectively communicate the value of your product and close deals. Clear and well-defined sales processes should be established to ensure consistency and efficiency throughout the sales efforts.
Notably, these four key points address every critical juncture of a product launch, from origination to final sale.
Note: A GTM strategy is not exclusive to just physical products. It has proven valuable for launching a new service, an entirely new business, or even a new branch of an existing company. Please note that every reference to the term “product” in this article includes these other uses as well.
👇🏼With that said, let’s dive into our examination of GTM strategies that achieved these critical components and found significant market success.
7 Go-To-Market Strategy Examples
Companies can always draw inspiration from what their peers have done in successfully taking a product from ideation to market.
One preliminary observation that will quickly become apparent from the discussion that follows is that the companies with the most successful products identified a central anchor of their GTM strategy and focused on this.
These are the 6 best go-to-market strategy examples we've ever seen:
Double down on customer experience
When Stewart Butterfield and his team hit upon the idea to share their revolutionary internal communications SaaS platform with the world, they knew they had something big. The problem for them, however, was how to translate the superior benefits of a convenient, always-available communication system to email-weary users. This meant competing with a very well-known and universally adopted existing product: the email.
The solution? To strategically position themselves as the go-to for a simple, integrated, team communication tool that does away with confusing email threads.
And so “the email killer” was born.
They identified that internal communication was a huge problem for many companies, even if they didn’t know it. Although email was the most common means of team engagement, it quickly became a problem for growing teams.
As a result, the company focused on selling Slack as a fun, easy-to-use, highly convenient solution that keeps communication straightforward. They utilized webinars and outbound efforts to educate potential customers about the platform's value, targeting decision-makers who were frustrated with traditional communication methods.
As Butterfield shared in a memo to his team just before their official new product launch:
“What we are selling is not the software product because there are just not many buyers for this software product. However, if we are selling “a reduction in the cost of communication” or “zero effort knowledge management” or “making better decisions, faster” or “all your team communication, instantly searchable, available wherever you go” or “75% less email” or some other valuable result of adopting Slack, we will find many more buyers.”
Over the years, the company has continually doubled down on customer experience and referrals, including by creating a Customer Development Team that listens to users and implements solutions accordingly. They have optimized their customer journey and onboarding process to ensure a smooth experience for new customers.
The result? Slack became one of the highest-value startups in the world with a meteoric rise in value from $0 to $4 billion in just four years, 3.5x growth in daily active users over a single year without a marketing team, and an eventual sale to Salesforce for $27 billion.
Slack's success can be attributed to its focus on customer success, acquiring a large customer base, and generating word-of-mouth through exceptional customer experience.
Focus on community impact
Huawei faced several challenges when it first began to plot its entry into the Indian market. For one, being a Chinese brand, Huawei already faced an uphill battle in marketing its products in India due to the historically frosty relations between China and India.
In addition, the perception within the country of Chinese mobile phone brands as low-quality, dirt-cheap devices that only catered to the lower spectrum of the market limited the size of its addressable market.
Therefore, Huawei needed a product strategy that would not only help their products appeal to a wider class of customers, but also conquer the negative associations with China.
They chose to navigate these challenges by implementing a GTM strategy that focused on changing the perception of their products from the roots. They began by building local R&D centers in India and hired locals in a prominent recruitment drive that showcased their commitment to the local community. This also helped them understand the demographics and preferences of Indian consumers.
They also contributed to the “Make in India” initiative, a manufacturing/focused drive to add more industrial capabilities to the Indian economy.
Huawei also partnered with a leading local television channel to sponsor a competition where the company’s products were established as aspirational. They leveraged marketing campaigns to showcase their high-end specifications, superior performance, and competitive pricing to the Indian audience. Through these efforts, Huawei aimed to attract new customers and position itself as a strong contender in the mid to high-end market, directly competing with brands like Samsung and Apple.
While pursuing a broader market base, they were also careful not to leave the low-end market behind.
The company established the “Honor” brand to provide competition to other companies in the mid to low-end sector, including Xiaomi Redmi and OnePlus. This allowed Huawei to cater to a wider range of potential customers and tap into India's status as the second-largest phone subscriber market in the world.
Over time, these strategies helped the company change the perception of its products. Now, India has become Huawei’s largest research base outside China and its R&D investments in the country keep accelerating.
The company reported 60% growth in its India business within the first quarter of 2017, well over the global average of 43%. The Honor brand alone enjoyed sales growth of 500% over the course of 2018.
Huawei's success can be attributed to its ability to understand the local market, establish a strong customer base, and execute targeted marketing efforts that resonate with the Indian audience.
Lead with your superiority
Apple has been one of the biggest names in tech for a long time now, and a key part of that dominance is down to the core GTM strategy of the company.
Put simply, Apple does not sell phones, laptops, watches, or tablet computers - it sells a lifestyle, and the company goes to great lengths to ensure its customers know this.
Apple styles itself as a company that operates on the cutting edge of technological advancement.
The company messaging revolves around the innovation and intelligence in its solutions, as well as the exclusivity that customers get when they purchase Apple products. This is central to its GTM strategy.
While, traditionally, companies communicate what they do, how they do it, and then why, Apple flips this instead and starts with their “Why”.
They use a system called “The Golden Circle” to powerfully establish their purpose as a company, how they do this by making products that are on the cutting edge of available technology, and then drilling down into the specific product they intend to push.
Here’s an example of this strategy in play during the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2008:
As the mobile phone industry struggles to come to grips with Apple's iPhone, the biggest mistake it could make is to see the device purely as a phone.
As the Guardian reports, “Apple “articulated a persuasive vision of the iPhone as a 'platform' — i.e. a general-purpose computing and communication device.” “The key feature of the Apple device is that it is a powerful handheld computer which runs Unix and has a nice user interface — and which also happens to make voice calls. Of these properties, the last is the least interesting.”
The result of this strategy has been an almost fanatical engagement with the company’s products. Right at the start, Apple immediately cornered 28% of the US smartphone market, and that number has grown to approximately 57% today.
The company complements its unique messaging with a mix of direct-to-consumer (DTC) and third-party channel distribution, allowing Apple to exercise significant control over its customers’ buying experience. By leveraging a variety of marketing channels, including digital marketing and social media, Apple reaches its ideal customers and creates a sense of brand awareness.
The company's focus on a product-led GTM approach, combined with strong sales team, has allowed them to maintain their position as a leading player in the tech industry.
📚Recommended read: How Apple Became the Top Non-Corporate Tech Brand
Sell a vision
Although Tesla didn’t build the first electric car or the first functional battery in the industry, the company is today seen as a trailblazer in electric automobiles.
Again, as with the other companies discussed here, Tesla’s rise to the top of the US car market was largely due to its remarkable GTM strategy.
When the company was first launched, they were aiming to build from the ashes of General Motors’ EV 1, the world’s first (nearly) viable electric car.
Their initial vision was to show the world that it could build an electric car that was not only equal to gasoline-fueled vehicles in terms of utility, but also superior in performance.
But, where you would expect the company to concentrate on starting small with a market-ready prototype that can quickly achieve mainstream adoption, Tesla flipped the script instead. Tesla focused on four major aspects in its GTM strategy:
- Target affluent buyers right off the bat. This elevated their car to a position of exclusivity, and also freed the company to produce its absolute best from the start. The company’s first vehicle, the Roadster, cost $109,000.
- Create a spectacularly unique experience for buyers, from how they order their vehicles, to customizations, over-the-top upgrades, fully digital controls, performance, and more. Tesla's focus on customer experience allowed them to establish a loyal customer base.
- Adopt a DTC sales strategy, allowing them absolute control over the buyer experience and also removing the cost of middlemen dealers, thereby allowing them to provide their vehicles at a relatively lower cost. This business model enabled Tesla to streamline its operations.
- Vertical integration, including taking control over the production of its batteries, electric powertrain components, automation technology, and more. Compared to the company’s direct rivals which must outsource up to 80% of their manufacturing, this presents significant advantages in terms of optimizing product quality and achieving cost efficiency. Tesla's focus on vertical integration contributes to its competitive advantage.
Today, Tesla has become an automotive powerhouse. In January 2020, the company made history when it became the most valuable American automaker ever, with a market capitalization of $86.5 billion.
Tesla's success can be attributed to its ability to sell a compelling vision of sustainable transportation, its dedication to innovation, and its commitment to vertical integration throughout the sales cycle.
Show people why they need you
TaxJar provides tax management software to businesses and organizations. When the company first launched, the goal was to position itself as a technology company that provides tax solutions anyone can use.
But it faced two significant challenges. First, tax is a notoriously opaque topic that most business owners would rather avoid. Second, and as a result of this, they were more likely to outsource their tax management, even for tasks that could be conducted in-house, such as sales tax tracking.
In plotting its entry into the market, the company found that most of the available content on taxation was boring and difficult to understand.
So they set out their product strategy based on a simple plan- to support their prospects with valuable, engaging, readable information about tax and then convert them. TaxJar's focus on content marketing allowed them to address the lack of accessible information in the industry and establish themselves as a trusted resource.
The company started with content about sales tax, and this was met with a highly positive reaction from its prospects. By providing educational resources and addressing common pain points, TaxJar demonstrated its expertise and value to potential customers.
As more business owners started to find the content useful, the company was able to build authority and trust, allowing them to move prospects into the buying stage.
They didn’t stop at the content they provided, though. They ensured that their tax solutions were molded in the same engaging, simple manner, thereby ensuring a consistent experience for users across the board. TaxJar's approach to onboarding and customer success ensured a smooth transition for users, leading to increased customer acquisition and retention.
Due to this success, on April 2021 TaxJar was acquired by Stripe to add cloud-based, automated sales tax tools into its payments platform.
Pivot to meet the market
Sometimes, a company’s initial GTM strategy may not work. You may target the wrong market, incorporate unnecessary features, or entirely miss with your sales strategy.
But what do you do when you discover your GTM strategy may not have been the best fit? You can pivot to meet the market, as Socrata did.
Socrata was initially established as a data aggregation platform where anyone could capture and present data in an engaging manner.
However, the company soon discovered that its platform was gaining traction amongst governments as a reliable open data platform.
To capture this unintentional market, the company quickly redesigned its product, adjusted its business model, and redefined its target audience. They recognized the opportunity and included more features that specifically cater to governments and their agencies, including security and availability.
They focused their marketing efforts and reoriented their GTM strategies around this new market segment. By showcasing their expertise in cloud-based solutions for data-centered governments, Socrata positioned itself as a trusted partner in the public sector.
The result? Socrata was acquired by Tyler Technologies on April 2018 with the goal of accelerating and advancing its vision through the data sharing and analytical capabilities of the robust Socrata platform.
Embrace change and transformation
When it comes to successful go-to-market (GTM) strategies, Microsoft stands as a prime example of a company that has mastered the art of driving digital transformation across industries.
With its wide range of software, services, and solutions, Microsoft has continually evolved its GTM strategy to remain at the forefront of technology innovation and maintain its market leadership.
One key component of Microsoft's GTM strategy is its relentless focus on understanding the needs of its customers. By conducting extensive market research and engaging with stakeholders across various industries, Microsoft identifies the pain points and challenges faced by businesses and organizations. This enables them to develop tailored solutions that address these specific needs and deliver tangible value.
What stands out about Microsoft's GTM strategy is it’s strong partner ecosystem collaboration. By partnering with a diverse network of technology providers, system integrators, and developers, the company expands its reach and capabilities to deliver comprehensive solutions to customers.
Through joint marketing initiatives, collaborative development efforts, and co-selling programs, Microsoft fosters a mutually beneficial relationship that drives growth and customer success.
As a market leader, Microsoft leverages its extensive customer base and strong brand reputation to drive cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Through effective sales team enablement, including sales reps equipped with in-depth product knowledge and value-based selling approaches, Microsoft maximizes its revenue potential and expands its footprint within existing accounts.
By continually adapting and innovating its GTM approach, Microsoft has solidified its position as a leading technology provider, empowering businesses worldwide to thrive in the digital era.
📚Recommended read: How Microsoft’s innovations made it a technology giant
GTM Strategy Through Value Proposition?
As these GTM strategies show, there is no single plan that guarantees the success of a new product or service. Successful strategies are often as varied in their content as they are in the products they successfully pushed to market.
But what they all have in common is that they identified specific value propositions that underlay the products they wanted to push, and then built plans that supported and enhanced those propositions.
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Need a little extra help?
Use our free Go-To-Market Strategy Template to kickstart your plan. It’s pre-filled with data and examples to inspire you, and can be easily customized to fit your organization’s needs.
Explore other related templates:
- GTM Enablement Strategy Template
- SaaS go to market strategy template
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