What are the Go-to-Market best practices and strategies over varied company sizes, industries, and flavors of B2B?

During our fantastic Product Marketing Summit, Donna Quinlin, Product Marketing Manager at Box, led a panel discussion all about Go-to-Market strategies and best practices with three industry experts:

  • Locke Truang, VP of Product Marketing and Go-to-Market at StructuredWeb
  • Sean Ivester, Product Marketer at Ripple
  • Mona Francis, Product Marketer at Facebook

Check out the discussion highlights below. 👇

Building a GTM strategy to support your direct sales team and your network of resellers

Locke Truang

Go-to-Market is about answering four key questions:

  • What →  What is the product? What is the offering? What is the service you're planning to launch or Go-to-Market?
  • Who →  Who is the target audience? Who are the decision-makers? What are their personas?
  • Why (translating who into why) → The unique value proposition, the product positioning, and product messaging.
  • How (developing the how) → How are you going to Go-to-Market? What are the levers you're going to pull? What are the different channels and tactics?

At StructuredWeb we're responsible for supporting our direct sales team and our indirect partners.

On the direct side, we've got about 800 channel salespeople and the Go-to-Market is fairly straightforward. The ‘what’ is our marketplace which consists of category-leading products like Microsoft, Dropbox, and DocuSign.                                                
The ‘who’ are the resellers buying from us like MSPs, cloud resellers, and traditional resellers. The ‘why’ is educating our target audience on the ‘why change, why you, why now’ concept, and the ‘how’ is sales enablement. Our marketing team is responsible for investing in marketing tactics for social and all the other outbound activities.

On the indirect side, it's a bit more challenging for us because we've got a large number of resellers and we’re a distributor (vendors are selling their products to us). The vendors have their portals and sites where they manage their content and make it available to the resellers which are very different for one another and have different Go-to-Market strategies.

We've been able to come up with this concept of Go-to-Market automation for our resellers called TCMA (from channel marketing automation) which is disparate from sales enablement. This concept allows vendors to easily maintain and update their content.

On the House side, we've made it simpler for resellers to be able, with a couple of clicks of the button, to launch a Go-to-Market for a specific product. It simplifies how resellers can then, with very low investment, train their sales team and market and generate demand for it.

Now, I know our situation is very unique in the sense that we're a distributor but the key takeaway is if you've got an indirect channel, try to simplify how your resellers can consume and adjust that content.

Getting the content out there to them is one part of it, getting them to adopt it, leverage it and execute it is another thing. As easy as you can make them to access and consume, the higher the adoption rate will be.

The importance of focus

Sean Ivester

The importance of focus is something that comes up in my job every single day, whether it's directly through conversations or indirectly through decisions I make. It's very easy to say you're doing, but it's very difficult to execute on a day-to-day basis.

There’s a huge social pressure to say yes to things and to be good at focusing but the reality is that you have to be good at saying no. That's difficult but it's important to stick to your guns and stick to your strategy! When you're working at a company with limited resources or you're working in a nascent industry, every distraction like that slows down your growth and chips away at your lead.

Now, on the flip side of that, the evil twin to focus on would be false precision. What’s equally disastrous as having a lack of focus could be pretending to know more about the market than you do. You don't want to box yourself in and go too narrow on your Go-to-Market strategy. You want to leave yourself some wiggle room to find the next big opportunity.

Essentially, it’s about trying to walk the line between focus and false precision. Make a Go-to-Market playbook, it's extremely helpful! I run Go-to-Market yearly which feels like the right cadence to see if something's working or not, but I make adjustments quarterly to see if anything’s broken. As I'm going through it, use cases are our focal point, and then I'll tighten and loosen the Go-to-Market based on geography and customer type.

When I started the process, I mapped out everything we could be doing in the space and then I ran it through these filters:

  • What's the competition doing?
  • Where's the growth opportunity?
  • What's the feasibility?

I try to whittle it down to just one or two things for that next year. As I'm doing that, I capture all of my thinking in a Google Doc and so at the end of it I have this 10-page GTM Bible which we call our playbook. And that’s how we manage that balance between focus and false precision.

How to think about product marketing when you're launching a complex feature change

Mona Francis

Landing a sensitive complex launch required three things. These three things moved our understanding and approach to Go-to-Market from a marketing channel perspective to a product launch perspective.

The first is having a deep understanding of who your consumers are, their use cases, and how they use your products; it’s essential to understand the adoption cycle. It's unrealistic to think about landing a new product launch and having everyone adopt it right away when it doesn't fit into the timeline of the campaigns you're working on.

The other element to understanding your customers is what their perception toward change for your product is. There's no easy way to get at this, it's just through countless user research sessions, you tease apart their tone, and you understand the language they're using.

At Facebook, we have hundreds and hundreds of engineers launching lots of different experiments every day and it can disrupt your workflow so we've got to understand that it's hard for our advertisers and for the practitioners creating these ads to consume the change.

We needed to do a lot more hand-holding, preparation and education work to move them through this process. That's the foundation of our Go-to-Market strategy, what's that level of risk, what’s the level of change management, and what's the realistic adoption cycle we can expect.

The second is understanding features that will help you land the launch and usually when we think about Go-to-Market we want to give that excitement. When we think about de-risking, we have to think about what are the other marketing features such as are you allowing an opt-in, are you allowing an opt-out, that will help you navigate this launch, and those features often require engineering dedication and engineering resourcing.

Getting marketing earlier into the conversation is the way to move it from just a marketing strategy and marketing channels to more of a holistic product launch strategy. For large global companies that also have large sales teams, it's important to get those conversations going in all regions.

The last one is elevating the investment you have in your frontline support. Raising these frontline workers also helps improve your holistic customer experience, your brand, and your retention.

From a consumer perspective, from an advertiser perspective, you don't necessarily think of it as different teams building different features; it's all one holistic experience that shapes your product satisfaction and your brand perception.

Taking these things all together, we're thinking about taking marketing from a narrow channel perspective to a broader product launch perspective. As we think about how product marketing shows up in organizations, this will help us land the launch better and be a more strategic thought partner to our product teams.

Testing and optimizing with data for your Go-to-Market strategy

Donna Quinlin

The first step in implementing this feedback loop with product is that you need to start with knowing your customer. First, use data to inform some of these hypotheses you have going into testing, but then marry that with customer research and frontline opinions.

After that, typically for a Go-to-Market launch, activate those learnings within one or two GTM channels using a couple of different flavors of the same hypothesis. Instead of just doing a regular A/B test, we did an ABC and ended up getting a 70% increase in revenue off of one of the designs vs. control.

If you're trying to tell a story with data, and you're validating it, and you feel not only in your gut with the qualitative portion but also with the data that you should go in a direction, don't just test this direction but test different flavors of the direction.

The last piece of our strategy is influencing product. The product team has a tonne of priorities. They want to build the newest, latest, greatest thing, sometimes customer experience and product marketing aren’t always at the forefront of their roadmap.

I do have the luxury of being on a growth and monetization team so my product team people do care about revenue. In terms of influencing with data, even when I wasn't in a revenue-driven role, it brought a lot more teeth into the argument with engineering and product. It shows that the Go-to-Market experimentation and implementation can also go downstream, live within their world and help contribute to their goals.

Key takeaways:

  • When building a GTM strategy, adopt a TCMA concept of Go-to-Market automation to allow vendors to easily maintain and update their content.
  • Have a deep understanding of who your consumers are and what their perception toward change for your product is; collaborate with teams across your organization and elevate the investment you have in your frontline support.
  • Make a GTM playbook to find the right balance between focus and false precision and get comfortable with saying no.