It can be hard to reconcile the concept of a product strategy and a go-to-market (GTM) strategy because, often, people fail to realize how different the definitions of each concept are. Product strategy is the foundation of your marketing strategy, which defines your product offering and what value it brings to your customers. A go-to-market strategy, on the other hand, is something more finite. It starts during the planning stages of a product or feature launch and ends once it’s done. It helps provide a consistent customer experience through multiple marketing channels and minimizes costs brought about by sudden, unplanned changes.
The differences between product and marketing, however, do not mean they are incongruent and cannot co-exist. In fact, the two are complementary and should work together in achieving overall business goals.
In larger organizations, the dissonance between product and marketing may be more pronounced, but regardless of how large the business is, this lack of harmony hurts the customer the most. To understand the complementary nature of product marketing and the GTM strategy, you must first understand why they are employed.
GTM vs. Product: The Why
A product strategy is a roadmap of what your product should offer to your customers; it’s a constant and ongoing reminder to everyone in the organization of how a product should deliver value and push the business to achieve its set goals. Understandably, many focus on the product strategy because the product IS the brand. This is not wrong, and it’s actually advisable to keep your product’s features in mind because this is how you can see if it’s addressing your customers’ pain points.
If you decide to update your product or add new features, this is where a GTM strategy comes in. As the name suggests, the go-to-market strategy prepares your product to “go to market.” It’s a plan for a specific period that defines the activities involved in delivering a new product or feature to your target audience. The main focus of a GTM strategy is messaging—how you communicate your new product or feature to your audience in a way that will resonate with them.
Clearly, these two strategies have their uses and can work in conjunction to create a clear product plan for the long run. An organization just needs to know when to use them and what their usage entails.
GTM vs. Product: The What
What are the aspects you need to consider when employing a product or GTM strategy? Below we enumerate the components of each.
A product strategy involves the following key components:
· Customer personas
· Market analysis
· Competitor research
· Product goals
A GTM strategy usually tackles the following:
· Product goals
· Marketing goals
· Positioning and messaging
· Customer personas
· Marketing and distribution channels
As you can see some components may cross over, but the GTM strategy has a specific and finite focus. Compared to a product strategy which is an organization’s “true north,” a GTM strategy is designed to be the roadmap of a specific product or feature to be launched. After a successful launch, the GTM strategy designed for that specific event is considered complete.
GTM vs. Product: What Should You Focus on?
The short answer to this question is that you should focus on both; specifically, however, it will depend on where you are in your marketing campaign.
Your product strategy will always be there, and it should be your guide through the entire product lifecycle. This strategy is determined at the onset and is a guiding principle, but it should also be flexible enough to account for the changing customer landscape.
Most organizations have an annual GTM strategy, but you can also design one for specific product launches, whether that be a new product launch or an introduction of a new feature or direction. Your GTM strategy should clearly define specific activities to be done before, during, and after launch and the timeline of the work to be done.
Although existing separately and having their own lifecycles, your product strategy and GTM strategy should coexist in harmony and help deliver real value to your customers. Detailed road maps for both are required so that everyone in the marketing team is kept in the loop. Remember that any strategy is only as good as how you implement it, so ensure that both strategies complement each other in the grand scheme of things. Set the high-level direction, delineate specific plans on executing tasks, and specify a timeline and stick to it as best you can.
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Founder Dinis Guarda
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