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Millions of start-ups reach the basic funding stage each year. Angel investors help about half of these companies with their initial development. Very few out of them are then able to show enough promise to actually receive a first round of capital from venture or private equity sources. The challenge is determining how to sell your product, achieve a competitive advantage and create a sustainable revenue stream so that you can repay your investors and finally pay yourself. This is why figuring out a great go-to-market strategy is key.

But first, what is a go-to-market strategy? This is an action plan that specifies how a company will reach customers and achieve competitive advantage. It focuses on how the organization will put offerings into the market to reach market penetration, revenue and profitability expectations. Today, Dr. Ruth Kinyanjui has outlined 7 steps to help you come up with a good go-to-market strategy.

  1. Identify your target market

Not every product is right for every market. Since you cannot pursue every market, it is imperative that you determine which markets are most aligned with your brand and can attract the most profitable customers. Market size, geographical location and existing customer base are examples of important considerations for this stage. Key considerations here are:

· Which markets have the biggest and most urgent pain?

· Where are the gaps in the market?

· Which markets are most aligned with your brand’s idea?

· Which markets best match your core competencies?

· Which markets can you most easily reach?

· Which markets have the largest market size and least competition?

2. Define your customer

You need to define who exactly it is that you are selling to: your ideal customer. This is done by developing customer intelligence through web surveys, focus groups, one on one in-depth interviews, in-store interactions etc. Remember, not everyone within your target market is a prospect, even though they may all need your services. Focus on the ones that are a best fit for your company and expertise. Key considerations during this stage are:

· Who is your business especially for? Your most profitable customers?

· What human needs are you trying to satisfy in your target customer?

· What problems are you trying to solve?

3. Define your brand positioning

Brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers. Strong brand positioning is the cornerstone of a great go-to-market strategy. It explains your brand, its uniqueness and creates compelling reasons for buying and using your products/services. There are 4 essential elements of a best-in-class positioning statement:

· Target customer: What is a concise summary of the attitudinal and demographic description of the target group of customers you brand is attempting to appeal to and attract?

· Market definition: What category is your brand competing in and in what context does your brand have relevance to your customers?

· Brand promise: What is the most compelling (emotional/rational) benefit to your target customers that your brand can own relative to your competition?

· Reason to believe: What is the most compelling evidence that your brand delivers on its brand promise?

4. Define your offerings

You need to define your product/service offerings in terms that address the unique needs of the niche market in which you have chosen to focus on. Understanding your products key features and benefits is the first step. Understand how your product connects with your customers, the context of their use, the solution it provides and the benefits they derive from it. Some considerations here are:

· Which features are in your offer?

· What are the important attributes of your offering?

· What product are you selling? What is your product’s unique value proposition?

· How do you describe your product’s value?

· How will customers use it?

· How are you different from your competitors?

5. Define your channels

You link your offering to your customer through channels. Once you know your target audience, you need to know where they are looking and learning. This will help you understand how to best reach them. Channels might include a retail store, internet, a customer service representative, a face to face salesperson etc. Key considerations in your channel analysis are:

· Where do you reach your target customers?

· Where do your target customers buy?

· Where will you promote your products?

· What is the right distribution model?

· How do you develop the right distribution channel?

· Does the channel fit your offering?

6. Build your budget model

After defining your channels, this is the next step. Here you’ll want to define your product pricing and estimate costs associated with your GTM strategy. To develop your pricing model, consider:

· What is the value you’re offering to your target customers?

· Are there existing price expectations?

· How do you price your product relative to your competitors?

· Is there a way to create a competitive advantage with your pricing model?

7. Define your marketing strategy

You need to develop an appropriate marketing strategy that speaks the language of your target market and client. At this point, you should have a clear picture of your customers’ pains. These pains will inform your marketing campaign and messages so that your customers will understand that you have the solution to the problem they’re facing. Key considerations at this stage are:

· How do you reach the economic buyers and influencers of your target markets?

· What messages will motivate them to consideration and purchase?

The 7 steps we have outlined are the keys to developing an effective go-to-market strategy. However, for it to be successful, it needs to be flexible and current. As your market and business change at different points of its life-cycle, be ready to change and revise your go-to-market strategy to accommodate any changes.

Content by Dr. Ruth Kinyanjui

Interview by Melody Mukhwana

Written by

We scale startups across Africa

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