There’s more than one way to do most things in life, and that includes Go-to-Market strategy. As the market evolves, new strategies for GTM are also emerging. Two of the most discussed right now are ecosystem GTM and partnership GTM. Both are business models that enable you to launch new products more strategically.

They also have a lot in common and can be a bit tricky to separate. So in this article, we’ll be explaining what these two strategies are, how they differ, and what benefits they can offer you and your company.

What is ecosystem Go-to-Market?

A business ecosystem is a network of companies working together to deliver an integrated offering to their customers. For example, if your company produced running shoes that can connect to a fitness watch to better track runs, you might form a network with a fitness watch company and a distributor that can bundle your two products together. Customers can then easily access both products together.

And the longer your two companies work together, the better you can integrate your shoes with their watches, to deliver a more valuable service to your customers. Ecosystems are all about connecting with complementary products so you can deliver an end-to-end experience for customers. Critically, it's not just your relationship with one other business. It's a web of companies woven together to deliver an all-inclusive service. You’d build a network of suppliers, distributors, providers, and so on.

The value of doing this is you can deliver a service to customers you wouldn’t have the ability to build in-house. You can connect with businesses outside of your traditional industry to expand your reach, solving problems for customers and incorporating a range of industry sectors.

And again, this isn’t just a partnership. Your services are integrated. This streamlines the customer journey, meaning they can get everything they want from one place rather than having to go here, there, and everywhere to get everything they need.

If you’re a smaller business that doesn’t have the resources or capability to set up an ecosystem for yourselves, worry not. A lot of industries will already have ecosystems in place. See what’s already out there, and reach out to ecosystems you could potentially join.

The benefits of an ecosystem model for your Go-to-Market strategy are pretty extensive, but here are some of the main ones:

1. Having multiple sources of value

You’re offering more than one thing, so you have more than one value set. This is a big one because it means you’re diversifying your value to customers. You’re not dependent on just one thing to bring in revenue and keep customers choosing your offerings over competitors. You’ve got a lot going on, and that makes you a very attractive option to a consumer.

2. Locking down a range of customers

With an ecosystem model, you have the potential to consolidate a much larger customer base. If you’re using the ecosystem model correctly, you’re hugely increasing the value of what you offer. And more value means you’re more popular with customers.

Say you’re a digital company that offers a marketing automation platform where users can schedule all their marketing campaigns. And you integrate with a company that allows users to schedule all their social media posts. Together, you have a platform where users can schedule emails and social posts, probably at a friendly price point because you’ve bundled the two offerings together.

Even better, you then add an AI platform to your network that repurposes the emails a user writes into a social post format. Customers are more likely to choose what you offer than buy a subscription to one platform for email campaigns and a separate platform for social media.

3. Dominate the customer journey

Wherever the customers are, so are you. You, or a company in your network, will be in contact with them at every stage of the customer journey. As an ecosystem, you own every stage. The first social post they interact with, their first Google search, the first landing page they touch down on, and so on. You have the potential to hit every stage of their journey, which means there should only be one destination (buying your products).

4. Future-proofing your business

An ecosystem is a great way to stay ahead of whatever’s coming down the pipeline in the next one, five, or 10 years. When you build a business ecosystem, you’ll share data with the other companies in your network and have access to a much bigger pool of customers. All the knowledge you can gather from that wider source of data allows you to better predict future trends, anticipate changes in the market, and, ultimately, get ahead. This gives you a real edge over competitors outside of your ecosystem.

Remember, the key things that define an ecosystem model are:

  1. A network of companies working together.
  2. An end-to-end user experience.

What is partnership Go-to-Market?

Whereas an ecosystem is a network of multiple companies, a partnership describes the relationship between your company and one other. The idea of partnering with another company is you can have a mutually beneficial relationship that allows you to better market and sell your products.

A strategic partnership can help you generate more awareness and engagement for your brand, boost sales and establish a bigger presence in the market. But make a poor partnership decision and you can harm your company. So, it’s important to think carefully about who you partner with. When it comes to partnerships, it's all about quality over quantity.

You should partner with companies that make sense for your broader business goals and values. For example, if you’re marketing yourself as an eco-conscious company, you don’t want to partner with Shell. Your customers will probably be pretty put off if you do.

The key rules for choosing a partner are:

  1. You have similar customers.
  2. You’re not going to compete with one another.

A partnership relationship won’t be mutually beneficial if you're stealing your partners’ sales or vice versa. What you want to aim for in a partnership is a brand that offers products that appeal to the same target audience as yours, but are sufficiently different that a customer would want to purchase both, rather than one or the other.

It wouldn’t make sense for Adidas to partner with Nike cause they do the same thing. But Nike might partner with Apple to promote the fitness capabilities of an Apple watch. They’re targeting the same audience, but not with the same product. Plus, the presence of Nike lends authority to the fitness offering from Apple because Nike is a popular sports brand. It's beneficial for Nike cause they get a partnership with arguably the biggest producer of smartphones globally, and they could barter for App Store spotlights on their fitness apps.

So, how does this fit into your Go-to-Market strategy?

A partnership model can be really impactful if you’re looking to keep up with modern consumer preferences. There’s been a big shift away from traditional sales models and towards self-serve options. It started in the B2C world, but B2B is massively catching up. We get increasingly little face time with our potential customers.

Partnerships are a great way to outmaneuver this. Partnering with better-known brands that are lacking a function you can offer can propel you into the marketplace and get a lot more eyes on your product.

Alternatively, partnering on a product launch with a company of a similar size can double the eyes you get on your product. It's all about identifying routes into bigger customer pools through tactical moves.

When you hash out your partnership agreement, sharing sales and marketing leads will allow you to draw on a much bigger collection of data to inform your Go-to-Market strategy.

Another increasingly relevant option is using social media partners. Again, B2B is a little behind B2C on this, but social media is an excellent tool for B2B marketing. If you’re in B2C, then this is definitely an option you should consider. Customers don’t have the same trust for businesses or sales reps they used to. But they do trust the opinion of their favorite influencers.

Partnering with influencers your targeted audience respects and admires can have a huge impact on how customers view your brand. It’ll also encourage trust and loyalty to your products. But again, it's really important to do your research and choose the right partner.

What all of this means for your Go-to-Market strategy, is you’re getting more eyes on your marketing campaigns. You’re generating more hype for your product launches, and you’re finding more sustainable ways to market your products post-launch. Plus, this gives you a reliable tactic when traditional selling doesn’t appeal to your target audience.