Solid Water Marketing Agency Blog

Your How-to Guide to a Knockout Go-To-Market Plan

A go-to-market (GTM) plan is an essential step in any product launch, but in the startup world in particular, it's a real buzzword.
A relatively standard way of developing a GTM plan would be drafting a Gantt chart that outlines a consecutive launch of ad campaigns across several channels.

This seems like a sensible and safe way to go but you may find that, unfortunately, putting it all down on a page may not bring growth and user adoption.
For viral growth, one needs a different approach. Prepare to be uber agile and pivot weekly if not daily.

Let's look at 5 key steps that will help you navigate the unruly chaos of a launch. At the end of this article, you will find a checklist that will keep you organised before the big bang.

🔎 Get to know your audience with affordable tools
Naturally, customer insights research can be very expensive. For startups, it's often an unjustified spend. However, there are affordable things you can do to inform yourself. Conduct up to 10 in-depth interviews with potential customers to learn more about their pain points and behaviours. These interviews should help you define your early adopter audience i.e. who has the most pressing need for your product and is willing to try out an imperfect solution?

Then, think about how you will target them. In desk research, find out what the competitors are already doing for acquisition, take this information and the interview findings to define your initial set of communication channels.

Now comes the fun part, how to stand out from the crowd and lead your audience to purchase? Google Ads Transparency Center and Meta's Ad Library are your little helpers when it comes to digital advertising. Look out for top-performing creatives, no shame in adopting a similar practice with your unique message and TOV.

🔎 Study the failures of your competitors
Maria Tsarkova, Growth Marketer and co-founder of Solid Water Marketing Agency:
We have a habit of reading other brands' successes tempting us to re-apply their strategies but... Here is a better idea for you. Study the competitors' failures and dissect them to learn why they failed. Did they get a channel, a message or a product wrong? What if you adopted a different tone of voice or focused on more relevant pain points or a new outreach channel? You might be onto a winner.

Repeating someone's success can often be an impossible challenge because you will never get exactly the same set of circumstances in the market, hence, your growth lever (on this, read a book by Matt Lerner) must be (slightly or very) different.
Case Study
When Revolut launched, peer-to-peer transactions virtually did not exist outside of unuser-friendly traditional bank apps in the UK. Revolut's secret sauce for virality apart from a superior product & UX? Metal cards. They took London's Millenial and Gen Z worlds by storm with their sleek design.

They did not go big bang with paid ads or billboards. They found what their competitors failed at — empowering their users to feel "cool" — and took a shot!
🔎 Test your launch
No growth marketer knows what will make a product go viral before they start testing. What we can do is make a dozen (or more!) educated guesses about the potential growth levers. You are unlikely to find your main growth lever before the product’s formal launch, but you can test and learn your audience's greatest pain points, purchase behaviours, creative design and tone of voice preferences as well as the most effective CTAs (call to action) in relation to your product. The value of these little real-life tests is far greater than expensive market research.

Anastasia Dobronravova, Solid Water Marketing Strategist:
The simplest way to test a B2C proposition is to launch a small-budget Lead Generation Paid Ad Campaign. Testing ads in different TOV and design preferences will help you see what’s working best — and save money later. As a bonus you will have collected emails of your future early adopters who have already showed interest in your product.
🔎 Plan 2 sprints, prepare for a 100
Build a backlog of 100 hypotheses. Plan your first 2 growth sprints.

Your pre-launch is a great opportunity to understand who and how to target. However, it is only after the product is live that you will learn how your early adopters are actually using it. You may find out that your well-tested targeting model brings traffic but not conversions, conversions but not usage and retention and so on, because, previously, you only asked customers to leave you an email, which is a much easier job than purchasing a product or downloading an app.

Hence why it is a good idea to have a backlog of at least 100 hypotheses of user behaviour eventualities and what you should test and try next if things do not go to plan. Now, it's time to plan your first two growth sprints. Why only two? The rest will be dictated by the market.
At what stage should a startup start thinking about media relations/media coverage?
Ian Wallis, is an Associate Director of FieldHouse Associates and manages FieldHouse BaseCamp, a specialised low-cost PR service for pre-Series A startups:
How about Social Media?
Anna Naidich, Social Media and Content Manager:
Focus on the platform(s) where your audience is most active. Before launching, create a "seed list" of friends and friendly influencers and prepare a brief for them. I recommend reviewing your existing contacts to identify a group you can approach. Practically, this could mean providing a link that's ready for a straightforward LinkedIn repost, or giving them both text and an image to post and share independently.

🔎 Get everyone aligned (and finally build a Gantt chart):
Visualize the plan for your first two growth sprints in a Gantt chart to present to the wider team. We recommend establishing your weekly Growth meetings to get everyone aligned on the sprint results and next steps. Your launch is not a project to be done in a silo it's a combined effort. Use live data dashboards to allow access to performance metrics to everyone involved. We use Looker Studio.

Senda Ben Abdallah, Product Marketing Manager:
Being open about the GTM plan with the entire team helps hold each other accountable and ensures that there are no blockers to achieve a successful launch. Bonus point: you reduce the risks of scope creep and ensure people know what's going on!
Establish growth meetings that will be attended by stakeholders from different departments regularly, this way everyone can be in the loop when things need to change. GTM is not a project of one team, Marketing, Growth or Product it is a combined effort.

🦁 Which Animal Are You in the World of Marketing? All-mighty lion or a stinky skunk? Find out with our test!

Lastly, here is your Knockout Go-To-Market Plan Checklist. Be sure to take a screenshot and keep it nearby for quick reference:

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