We know that (for the most part) having a plan represents the best chance of success – at anything. Whether it’s having a healthier lifestyle, going back to school, planning family meals during the week or, in our case, marketing a product or service, there tends to be a greater chance of actually achieving objectives if there’s a deliberate plan that forecasts how you’re going to do it.
Sure, some people don’t like plans and prefer a more unstructured approach to getting stuff done – and you know who you are. Those of us that prefer having a plan have had to adjust our approach so it’s more agile, fluid and works toward shorter-term objectives. But still the term ‘plan’ is kind of ambiguous, vague, and can mean different things to different people.
We’ve been using the phrase ‘go-to-market plan’ for a while now because it empowers teams to be very deliberate and focused on the intention and objectives of any planned activity.
A go-to-market plan is a clearly articulated, integrated plan for taking a product, service, brand or campaign to the customer. It outlines how to take a value proposition or a specific offer to the people that we believe have the greatest propensity to like it, share it, want to learn more about it, ultimately buy it, and then refer or recommend it.
A go-to-market plan is not just about the customer. It creates internal unity and alignment to ensure that all business units understand the intentions and can tell the brands’ story. Because if a brand can’t tell its story internally how can they expect a customer to understand it?
The go-to-market process is proactive by its very nature and is built on the premise that if we want someone to do something, we need to deliberately find them and ask them to do it.
Very rarely does acquisition or retention happen without a well-structured go-to-market plan. Why? Because if we don’t take our messages to the targets at the right time, in the right place, how else are they supposed to find it?
Sure, a brand can wait and hope to be found and tactics like a good SEO strategy will help with that. But then we’re waiting for the customer and our business is subject to their timelines, and now we are relying on luck. And luck is not a strategy. A go-to-market plan nudges our targets step by step, closer and closer to our timelines. Now we can own more of the overall experience by serving as a catalyst for a decision to engage.
A go-to-market plan goes beyond traditional marketing or communications strategies. Instead of dealing with broader strokes, it gets into the specifics and focuses on who we’re targeting, where they are, how many of them there are, and how we’re going to engage them for a very specific purpose. How we’re going to engage targets is tactical and a go-to-market plan leverages an integrated approach that may tap into such tactics as social, PR, email, paid media, digital, SEM, SEO, and, hopefully someday soon, experiential. But all of the ‘how’ is grounded in getting the offer to market to the right targets as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.
The pandemic has changed go-to-market planning. Today, we must be aligned to very specific offers or asks and need to be prepared to be measured in days or weeks in market vs. months or quarters because we don’t know what is around the corner. As a result, this approach needs to be more agile, nimble and responsive than it was a year ago because this is the requirement for all planning in today’s evolved selling environment.
So, if you aren’t proactively delivering your value proposition, a specific offer, or some kind of call to action to select targets in defined markets, well, it might be worth some thought.
And if you’re waiting for the market to come to you, get comfortable. You may be waiting for a while.
Article by Jeff Timmins, VP of Strategy, Client Services and Business Development