Go-to-Market Strategies (and Common Mistakes to Avoid)

It can be difficult to determine the best approach for a successful launch to market when starting a company. With no guidelines for what works versus what fails, early-stage companies might be unsure of how to take the first steps.

Chad Jardine has some good advice on the subject. A University of Utah MBA graduate who teaches finance courses in the David Eccles School of Business, Jardine is CEO and founding partner of CMO Zen, a fractional CMO firm specializing in growing early-stage companies and helping them determine marketing strategies. The platform provides companies with the structure needed to succeed and fills a marketing role for a fraction of the cost.

In a workshop titled “Go-to-Market Strategies,” Jardine laid out a game plan for go-to-market success and highlighted common mistakes early companies should avoid. The workshop was provided through the Lassonde for Life program, which is open to all University of Utah alumni and provides free, lifelong entrepreneurial support.

Jardine discussed how early-stage companies must identify target audiences, message them effectively, and reach them optimally. By following a formulated framework and the tips below, new companies can find relief in the unknown and optimize the success of launching new ideas.

Getting to repeatability

When going to market, Jardine emphasized the importance of getting to repeatability. He said, “Conditions can be really bad, but if they’re consistent, businesses can figure out a way to thrive with that.” Identifying the who, why, and where behind market strategies is essential. Even in unideal conditions, understanding who to reach and through what methods can successfully pinpoint customers.

Define target audiences and identify points of contact within organizations. Figure out the target customers’ persona – when, why, and how would they buy from you?

Propose the value your service can offer potential buyers through precise messaging. Messaging should highlight why potential buyers should care about the service provided and how it can help them succeed. Different channels can reach different customers, and messaging should be switched up depending on the target.

Initially, it’s beneficial to experiment with a select few target subjects and channels. Once the ideal customer profile and channel type are determined, the reach can be grown from there.

Target efficiently

To get the most out of funds, consciously decide which consumers to target and channels to use. Choose the least expensive paths most likely to produce results and invest resources into what is worth the most time.

Hitting a number

Before going to market, set goals regarding revenue and customer growth. Determine the raw marketing budget and cost to get the target number of customers and revenue. Next, determine how much will be spent on marketing and sales to hit the selected goals. Based on the findings, sales and marketing budgets should be planned accordingly.

Go-to-market mistakes

Jardine has observed many common mistakes while working closely with companies going to market. Entrepreneurs should do their best to avoid these common slip-ups and aim to follow the framework provided by CMO Zen to successfully go-to-market and hit goals.

1. Skipping founder-led sales

A typical mistake companies make is skipping the period where founders lead the sales. This phase is essential as it helps founders connect with customers and observe how the world reacts to their products and services. Out of any team member, the idea creator understands it the best. When a founder is directly involved with sales, they can observe product problems, listen to feedback, and improve accordingly.

2. Hiring a single sales representative

Another flaw in many go-to-market game plans is hiring only a single sales representative. A lot can be learned when two sales representatives work side by side. They may discover different customer qualities and find different sales tactics to bring the best results. Typically, one sales representative will be stronger than the other. This comparison provides an insight into what a strong employee looks like and can help companies hire the best talent moving forward.

3. Promoting top sales representatives to managers

Another common mistake is when the best sales representatives are promoted directly to sales managers. Just because someone’s a great player doesn’t mean they will be a great coach. While a strong sales employee may successfully represent the company, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will be great at leading a team.

4. Invalidating assumptions

Going to market with invalidated assumptions wastes time and resources on an idea that is not promising. In the beginning, the initial steps are to listen to consumer feedback and pivot accordingly. Don’t launch ideas before testing them on a small scale.

5. Juggling too many sales channels

When trying too many things at the same time, ideas drown. When founders use too many sales channels at once, none get used to optimal efficiency. This leads to a loss of resources and a failure to reach the target audience.

6. Using too few sales channels

While using too many sales channels can be a weakness, and so can using too few. This poses a risk for channel isolation. When a company relies on too few channels, there is no backup if one fails. A channel’s conditions might change or stop working. Diversify channels to combat this. Before allocating a large amount of resources to one channel, test it for potential success on a small scale.

7. Not differentiating between brand vs demand

In marketing, there is both brand and demand. While the brand side is more creative, the demand side is more data-driven and analytical. Hiring employees who complement these different components is essential. Many companies mistakenly hire employees whose skillsets don’t align with assigned roles.

8. Hiring leaders early in the process (marketing/sales reps)

Companies tend to bring in leaders prematurely before adequate teams to instruct are in place. In the beginning, the focus should be on growing and expanding the teams and employee foundation. Before hiring someone to lead marketing and sales, teams should accumulate enough members to require leadership.

About the Author:

Abigail Cheney Originally from Connecticut, Abigail Cheney came to the University of Utah for their esteemed entrepreneurship and marketing programs. She is passionate about startups and entrepreneurial exploration. Her enthusiasm aligns with writing and additional artistic endeavors. Connect on LinkedIn.

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