A Think With Google mobile marketing study showed that 90% of smartphone users are not sure about the specific brand they want to purchase at the outset of their online research. This is encouraging news for any product managers hoping to achieve launching success of their products on the market. But what steps should be taken to direct customers and users to your product?
The key to a successful product launch lies in a powerful and effective marketing strategy. As project leader of Skuza Consulting, I’ve dedicated 17 years to developing a business approach that will increase revenue, improve traction, and deliver dynamic growth. In today’s post, I’ll share with you my ultimate go-to marketing strategy that will take your product from planning stage to launch completion.
What is a Go To Market Strategy?
Source: Skuza Consulting
A go-to marketing strategy is an innovative plan that takes you from the beginning stages of product development to launch, with an eye toward successful, metrics-driven product performance on the market. After working with a number of clients, including IKEA, Roche, Discovery Network, Bayer, and Shell, I created a tried-and-true method for successful launch. As one can see from clients I’ve worked with, this marketing strategy can be applied to a number of different products and services.
Any effective marketing plan involves a combination of research, testing, launch stages, and performance tracking. As you’ll see from the above diagram, the journey your product or service takes occurs in a series of “waves.” The first wave, “Capture,” involves gaining an understanding of trends, consumer needs, and the market in which your product is launching. The second wave “Check” takes the product through various testing stages. The third wave “Launch” presents a two-step launch process for the product. Finally, the last wave, “Track,” calls for measuring growth after launching. Learn more about how these “waves” relate to marketing strategy here.
Preparing Your Go To Market Plan
Preparing your go-to market plan will take some time and careful research, but the process will be well worth it in the end. Start by determining how your product will fit into the current market and learning what market trends will affect the performance of your product or service. Next, identify who your audience and buyers are and figure out what their expectations are. Follow up with a thorough study and analysis of your competitors and how they’re faring on the market. Finally, pinpoint the distribution needs of your product. Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
This step involves gaining an understanding of market trends related to your product. A thorough review of market trends will help you gain a complete perspective of the external factors relating to how your product fits in the market. Capturing market trend data can be done by examining cost drivers and tracking the niche market in which your product will be launched.
Capturing the cost drivers which trends are providing can mean finding more economical cost options or ones that offer a better value proposition in order to gain competitive market advantage. In addition to this, grasping and tracking change and evolution of the niche market will help you stay ahead of the curve. This activity includes tracking trends relating to product innovations arising in the current environment, any new products launching, new product features from competitors, and any unique operation and delivery methods that are reshaping the current market.
Audience and Buyers
You may have already established who your audience is and what potential buyers to market to. But your research doesn’t stop there. Studying the needs and expectations of your target audience and buyers is also important to developing marketing strategy. This important step involves tracking how customers value your product or service, while keeping in mind that consumer perceptions can change based on the novelty of your product.
Determining a pattern in changing consumer needs and expectations can help you develop a product that caters to those needs and drive faster growth. Take, for example, the current rising interest in health and wellness across international markets. Consumers interested in wellness are not only seeking products that support their needs, but they have become more educated about health benefits and want to know exactly what ingredients are in those products. Having this information in hand allows a company to provide the information their consumers need to make a decision about purchasing their product.
By recognizing dynamic shifts in the consumers’ perception of value and tracking shifts in real time, a company can model its marketing strategy to suit consumer needs.
Source: Skuza Consulting
This part of your marketing strategy is a study of various market conditions. The conditions should be plotted on a map to identify recent trends and the corresponding variables between the products and consumers. Mapping helps your company locate challenging areas and get to the root of problems by examining relevant variables.
Market mapping involves three steps:
- Analyzing business competitor’s models. Look at their distribution strategy, pricing, cost structure, who they partner with, and their target customers.
- Analyzing vendors, academia, and investors actions. It’s not enough to only look at competitors. A study of academic research relating to your product will open your eyes to new technologies that may be more cost-effective than what you’re currently using. Developing frequent communication with vendors will give you a fresh perspective and valuable insight on how your products of your type are performing on the market. Analyzing investor actions will show you where the money is when it comes to your product.
- Designing a final market map. Here, you will list your competitors, pin their business models, and build a dimension list and sketch maps.
Continuously monitoring the above information will inspire you to stay proactive in your business approach and keep a watchful eye on the commercial landscape. By gathering meaningful and relevant data from these sources, you can gain a comprehensive picture of where your brand and product fits into the market. Learn about the second step of landscape capture in greater detail here.
Creating A Distribution Business Model
This step involves designing a business model, identifying what forces make the business model vulnerable, redesigning and validating the business model, and finally formulating actions based on what you’ve learned from the process.
Going through each of the steps to refine your company’s business model allows you to improve weak components in your initial planning stage and improve value proposition components. You may even find it necessary to move back a step and reexamine your customers’ and users’ needs and re-prioritize or change your focus. Though this step can feel overwhelming or time-consuming, it will set your marketing strategy apart from those who skipped ahead or lacked the knowledge to build an effective business model for their product.
Through establishing a business model, you can also determine the distribution needs of your product. Building a distribution business model involves looking at a number of factors relating to the type of product to be distributed, perishability of the product, the market in which the product will enter, the geographic scope of operations, and your company’s overall mission and goals for the future. A study of these factors will help you determine whether you will engage in mass distribution, selective distribution, or exclusive distribution. The nature of distribution will then lead you to make more informed decisions relating to how you’ll price your product, where the product should be promoted, and where the product will be placed on the market.
You will also determine whether you need to work with intermediaries in the distribution of your product. For example, your product or service may require the use of wholesalers, agents, and/or brokers. A thorough distribution business model will ensure that your products or services reach your intended users in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Go To Market Strategy: Marketing Intensive vs. Sales Intensive
Generally speaking, marketing and sales can be seen as two types of tools that affect your product’s performance on the commercial market. However, many startups and even established businesses encounter losses and challenges when it comes to investing in either sales or marketing. The key is to determine which path is appropriate for your product, a marketing-intensive strategy or a sales-intensive strategy?
Some factors to examine when deciding whether your product would benefit from a marketing or sales based strategy are:
- Price. This involves a comparison of the price and value of your product against the cost of selling the product versus the cost of marketing the product. For example, a low cost product like a bar of chocolate would not call for a sales pitch from a salesperson. The cost to your company would be too high and you’d do better to embark on a marketing-intensive strategy.
- Market size. This determines whether your company should spend money seeking out customers for sales or whether to market to a broad public audience.
- Complex nature of the product. If the product is complex, it may require a sales strategy to help people understand how to use the product.
- How the product fits with other products. Does your product have to work with other multiple products in order to work? If so, a sales strategy may be needed to show customers how your product fits and works in tandem with other products.
- Customer Type. Identify whether your product is for a business or sold directly to a consumer. If you’re selling to a large population of consumers, it may pay to opt for a marketing-intensive campaign.
- Customer Relationship. Determine whether your company will have a long or short term relationship with the customer. If your product is equipment maintenance services, you would likely opt for a sales-intensive strategy since your relationship with the customer will be an ongoing one.
Understand the Buyer’s Journey
Source: Skuza Consulting
Understanding the buyer’s journey is a two-part process. The first part relates to designing a value proposition for your target customer and user. The second part is a combination of testing, iterating, and validating the value proposition.
A common mistake in many marketing strategies is starting with the product to determine target market and value propositions. Starting with an analysis of the target customer and target user and determining value proposition before focusing on the product itself will achieve more marketing goals in the long run. This is where you and your team should get out of the office and start learning more about what your customers’ and users’ expectations and needs are. Learn more about how to use the value proposition canvas above to design a value proposition for your product here.
Once you’ve fully understood what problems your targeted customers and users seek to solve and what their goals are, you can start designing your value proposition. Work on describing how your product benefits customers and users, what problems the product solves for your customers and users, and why your product is better than the ones offered by your competitors. Designing a value proposition is not only helpful in understanding the buyer’s journey but allows you to refocus and rewrite your business model if necessary.
Go-To Market Plan Step-by-Step
Having conducted all the necessary research and analysis in the steps outlined above, you’re ready to start testing your product. You’ll start with a prototype, take the product through limited launch, full launch, and continue to track the progress of your product on the market.
- Product Service Design and Test
Before launching the product, I recommend creating a prototype of your product and testing it. Why go through the trouble of creating a prototype before full launch? The prototype stage allows you to test and further refine the product’s proposition value. You also get a chance to test the components of the product and make sure they’re working as they should. In addition, having a prototype in hand allows you to describe the product and/or service more effectively when working with team members, executives, experts, attorneys, and investors.
- Limited Launch
After the prototype has gone through testing and you’ve concluded it’s working as it should, you’re ready for a limited launch of your product or service. This is another way to test how your product will fare on the open market. This step involves distributing your product or services to a closed group of end-users in a strictly controlled environment and taking note of product performance, any issues that arise, and end user responses to the limited launch. Receiving technical and business feedback is also extremely valuable at this point.
- Complete Launch
Once you’ve properly completed the limited launch of products or services and incorporated the feedback and information you obtained from that step, you’re finally ready for a complete launch of your product or service.
- Track New Product Performance
But don’t start relaxing just yet. After a complete launch, there’s a final step that is a crucial part of the ultimate marketing strategy. Tracking the performance of your new product or service on the market is key to protecting your company’s valuable assets and resources. At this stage, you should apply various metrics and measure how the product is doing post-launch. By closely monitoring product performance, you can shut down offerings that are not working well on the market, save company money, and reassess how to create a successful product the next time around.
Bringing a product from development to launch can be a time-consuming process. In order to ensure your time is well-spent, it pays to develop a focused and effective marketing strategy. Following my unique go-to marketing plan will allow you to get a better picture of the environment in which your product is launching, better understand your users’ and customers’ expectations and needs, address product issues and marketing challenges, and track the progress of your product even after complete launch.
Are you eager to see whether your product or service is ready for launch? Take the opportunity to establish a dynamic marketing strategy for your exciting products and services. If you’d like to learn more about how to develop an innovative and customized marketing plan for your product or service, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation at Skuza Consulting here.
Related: New Product Development Walk-Through