How To Craft A Bullet Proof Go-To-Market Plan

What will it take next for you and your people to go to market in 2017 with more confidence, clarity and success? This article explains – in depth – what you must do to develop an effective strategy and Go-to-Market plan of action that gets sales results.

If you are a CEO, a business owner or a leader in your segment, read on.

“I Love It When a Plan Comes Together”

Back in the dark ages, (circa 1984), a team of highly-skilled and slightly unbalanced mercenaries who were on the run from the Feds kept America entertained one night a week for several years.

  • Hannibal Smith was their cigar-smoking leader.
  • B.A. (Bad Attitude) Baracas provided the muscle.
  • Templeton Peck was a social engineer and con-man.
  • Mad Murdock supplied the technical genius.

Together, they were known as – (wait for it…) – The A-Team.

No matter how badly the odds were stacked against them, the A-Team always managed to achieve their objective.

Each player on the A-team played an important role. And each one was great at executing their individual part of the plan.

But the essential role was played by their leader: Hannibal Smith. His particular skill was creating a great plan.

And when he saw that plan being executed to perfection?

Well, you know the next line:

go-to-market plan

No matter how talented your team may be, every great performance starts with a plan.

Without a plan, you’re just flying by the seat of your pants.

Flying by the seat of your pants can be fun, and maybe even effective – for a while – until the wings come off, (as they will.)

The A-Team needed a plan, and so does your team.

This is not negotiable.

Overview: Go-to-Market Planning 101

Sometimes, success happens even though you get everything wrong.

And sometimes you can get rich by playing the lottery.

But neither of those are good strategies for success.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

This article addresses the nuts and bolts of creating your Go-To-Market strategy. But that’s not all. We will also address:

Section 1

10 Common Obstacles to Success

These are the most common problems we encounter as we help our clients develop their own Go-to-Market strategies and plans. Frankly, calling them “obstacles” understates how dangerous these behaviors can be to the health of your business. These are pathological behaviors that – if left unchecked – will degrade and ultimately destroy your business.

  1. VISION: You are not clear on your vision. The chief symptom is that you frequently change your mind, your direction and your plan. As a result, nothing seems to work as you hope it will.
  2. FOCUS: You can’t maintain focus. Shiny objects often distract you. How much is this costing you and your people?
  3. CUSTOMER: You lack a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is. You’ll take anyone, really.
  4. GOALS: You have multiple goals – not just one – and none of those goals get your constant, focused attention.
  5. ONLINE PRESENCE: You don’t have a mobile-friendly website with super-engaging blog articles, reviews, updates. Your website is ugly. It is expensive or outdated. It pleases the techies but doesn’t convert.
  6. MESSAGING: You don’t have messaging that attracts and engages people to want to learn more from your articles, blogs, ads or social media posts.
  7. HOOK: You have no hook, or your hook doesn’t catch anything. Remember the Wendy’s commercial hit, “Where’s the beef?” How about, “Show me the money?” A hook that doesn’t engage and convert is useless.
  8. FUNNEL: Your funnel is incomplete or has gaps. Your marketing funnel doesn’t connect well with your sales process. Leads, prospects, and customers get dropped into the cracks.
  9. RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT: You don’t have a single well-managed system for your business relationships that is shared by your entire team.
  10. ALIGNMENT PROBLEMS: Marketing and Sales are misaligned or are working at odds with one another.

(This problem deserves a little more explanation.)

When the tires on your car are not aligned, your car won’t drive straight, your tires, brakes, and suspension wear out too soon, and you suffer from bad handling and reduced safety.

Marketing and Sales are like the left and right tire of your business vehicle. And they must be in alignment. You need the right people in the right positions doing the right things at the right time – and doing them together – in Sales and Marketing.

If you suffer from any single one of these pathologies, you are tempting disaster. And if you suffer from more than one? Well – you need serious help, and you need it now.

Section 2

What To Address in Your GTM Strategy & Plan

At a minimum, your plan should answer each of the following areas:

Market Segmenting

How do you approach your market segments?

Focusing on the appropriate market segments empowers you to increase value, to better solve customer problems and to help them get what they want.

For each market segment you serve, you should document each of “The 7 P’s”.7Ps market segmentation

  • Product
  • Place
  • Price
  • Position
  • People
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence

Simply taking the time and exercising the self-discipline to think through the 7 P’s for each of your market segments will pay in ways you might not expect.

One customer who we guided through this exercise realized that his biggest market segment was a tremendous drag on his profitability. He was even more surprised to discover that his 2nd smallest segment was by far the most profitable and least problem-prone. As a result of this exercise, he completely re-arranged his marketing priorities to take advantage of the massive profit opportunities he uncovered.

Customer Demographics

In addition to the standard demographic information, document this customer information:

  • What industry is your ideal customer in?
  • What is your ideal customer size?
  • What is the typical average first transaction worth in revenue?
  • How do your customers behave through your Customer Journey Lifecycle?
  • Where are you best customers located geographically? Birds of a feather …
  • What do your best customers want to know before they contact you and purchase?
  • What type of customers are the most profitable?
  • What type of customers are easiest to get and keep?
  • What type of customers are hardest to get and keep?
  • What type of customers are the most profitable to get and keep?
  • What type of customers are least profitable to get and keep?

Digital Properties and Content

  • Who writes conversion-friendly copy for your blog and social media?
  • How often will those posts be published? Who is responsible for publishing?
  • How will you track engagement on your posts? Who is responsible?
  • Who chooses and places the legally-licensed images on your site and blog?
  • Who’s keeping on top of your contact list? (Relationships are the entire point of marketing.)
  • Who’s following up with your email list and sending emails worth reading?
  • Who’s creating your online PR and advertising campaigns?
  • Who’s managing your online PR and advertising campaigns?

Your Offers

  • What is a normal “use case” for how your product or service is used?
  • How does this help your customer?
  • What are the benefits of your offering in the words of your best customers?
  • Do you have one offer that is significantly more profitable, (or less profitable), than any other? How can you maximize the profits or minimize the losses from that offer?

Section 3

How To Craft Your GTM Strategy & Plan

Your Go-to-Market strategy (GTM strategy) is an action plan that specifies how your company will reach your customers and achieve competitive advantage. The purpose of a GTM strategy is to provide a blueprint for getting sales results.
Building any business requires great people, great products/services and a great processes. This is especially true when aligning sales and marketing into your plan.

Your plan will integrate sales, people and technology into a single plan of action. This means your strategy for going to market will detail all the ACTION you and your people plan to take to reach your goal.

The following exercises might be uncomfortable. In fact, the word “exercise” is appropriate, because the positive effects are as profound as physical exercise. (And possibly just as hard to force yourself to do. Maybe you need a trainer.)

1.      Know Your One Thing

We use the phrase “One Thing” as a shorthand way of talking about your singular goal for your company over the next 12 months.

First and most importantly, answer this question: What is your “One Thing?”

Clearly define it. Document it. Make sure the whole team knows it. Literally everything hinges on this.

Gary Keller writes deeply and persuasively about the power of knowing your “One Thing” in his book The One Thing. We won’t attempt to retell that story. Just know that it is crucial.

2.      Build Your Nine-Part Foundation

We’ve helped hundreds of companies get better sales and marketing results with far less cost and stress. We are very deliberate and organized about our approach, which is why we teach you how to build on The 9 Laws that serve as the foundation for all successful organizations.

Your success ultimately depends on your leadership, your people, and your commitment to producing and selling the best product possible. Of course, there is also the power of your plan.

Each layer of this nine-part foundation exists to help you plan better, execute better and get where you want to go faster.

  1. Craft and commit to your plan. Get a new notebook or start a digital document that contains this checklist. Use what you will use! Don’t wing it when it comes to your sales and marketing plan of action. Craft your plan with care. Begin with one, primary goal you seek to achieve.
  2. Describe your purpose. What is your primary, professional purpose? What are you most passionate about professionally? What Big Problem do you address by being in business? In three sentences or less, commit that passion to paper. This is your Purpose.
  3. Describe your vision. What affect will you create by fulfilling your purpose? What do you see in three, five or ten years? Write – in three sentences or less – a highly-detailed statement describing what you see for yourself, your people and your business. Write and act, “as if.”

Is your One Thing consistent with your Purpose and your Vision? If not, you have a problem.

What impact does your Purpose and Vision have on you? On your customers? On your employees? On the world?

You as the leader may assume that your people know where you are going. We find that most of the time, that’s just not true. Often, your team is not sure where their leader is going.

Imagine the powerful boost to your performance when your best sales people, marketing people, creative people and technology people all agree on the Purpose and Vision that you have built into your plan.

  1. Take a stand for your brand. Why do people do business with you? What confirming belief or conviction do you have that serves your best customer? How do you make a difference? Write in three sentences or less a highly descriptive statement about your brand including keywords that hit the “essence” of your brand.
  2. Craft a better story. Write in 500 words or less a short story about how you solved your best customer’s biggest problem. Describe who your customer is, what happened, what it was like for them before you met, and how you were able to take them through your process to get what they wanted.
  3. Develop a better hook. Your “hook” is your list builder that entices people to want to know more about what you do, your process and how you approach helping your customers. Your hook is an extension of your story. For example: “Do you want better sales results? Download your free guide, The 9 Laws of Conversion Marketing here.” (You’ll see the pop up on the home page and the web form with the same offer on our blog pages.
  4. Build your digital funnel. Find and hire a qualified professional to do this for you. We have seen hundreds of business owners and employees lose their minds trying to build their own digital funnels. The building blocks to integrate the systems of your choice include website, blog, social media, contact management system, email marketing system, a simple reporting dashboard and Google Analytics for your main “conversion event.” (This is when someone downloads your “hook.” They are opting in. Yay!)
  5. Keep promoting and following up. Once you build your digital funnel, feed it with regular, original and curated content that interests and engages your readers. When you have the right digital funnel and the discipline to generate content – whether you buy it or create it on your own – your traffic, email list and new customer flow should flow steadily.
  6. Teach and sell from your heart. Teaching is Think about it. When you give a speech, write an article, publish a book, or fill a workshop and what will you see? You, teaching your process for helping your customers get what they want. It’s that simple. Forget selling. This is about helping people get what they want.

3.      Know (and Target) Your Ideal Prospect

In addition to the standard demographics, answer the following questions about your ideal prospect:

  • How does your Purpose serve your ideal prospect?
  • What is the Big Problem your ideal prospect suffers from?
  • How does that Big Problem affect that prospect?
  • How will your offer change their experience?
  • How much is it worth to them to solve that Big Problem?
  • How much is it worth to them to live with the problem?
  • How many other prospects are they likely to influence?
  • How do we keep their loyalty?

It is much easier to execute your Go-to-Market plan when you clearly know who your ideal prospect is.

Define your ideal prospect as clearly as you can to integrate this clarity into your plan.

4.      Learn From Your Competition

When I was a young rookie selling luxury hotel and resort conferences, each salesperson on our team would be assigned to investigate a key competitor. We were given a budget to book a room and stay as a guest at our competitor’s hotel.

Our goal was to be able to fully experience the customer journey of our competitor and then share with our team a detailed report on the guest experience.

What we learned about studying our competitors by staying as guests became invaluable to us for marketing purposes. We felt what it was like to be a customer of a competitor.

What can you learn from your key competitors and how will you apply this to your plan?

To know your key competitors, you must commit to studying what they do to attract and keep customers. Do this in an honest and ethical way to discover nuances you can leverage to your advantage.

5.      Do What You Do Best – Delegate the Rest

You will never be able to do all of this alone. No way. You focus on what you do best. Then delegate the rest to the best people you can afford to hire.

The good news? Once you focus on your plan, you’ve got a much better shot at building your brand, engaging more of the right people, and have a marketing funnel that actually works.

Imagine how awesome you will feel this time next year as your own personal A-Team executes your 2017 Marketing Action Plan.

2017 can be the year it all comes together for you.

Section 4

Positive Effects on Your Team of Creating a GTM Plan

Life is a game of confidence.  Confidence and clarity is the rocket fuel for your Go-to-Market plan. As your team increases in confidence and clarity, you will see the increase reflected in your bottom line.

The Effects of “One Thing”

If you don’t have a “One Thing”, your energy and the energy of your team will be unfocused.

When you do have a “One Thing” – and when everyone understands it and agrees to it – you will experience more power and more energy.

The combined efforts of individuals working together is astonishing. You will experience “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”

The Effects of Purpose & Vision

When you and all your people know why you are in business, (Purpose) and know what the effects of that Purpose will be in the future, (Vision), then you have alignment.

Where you have alignment, you can have accountability. When you are all in alignment and accountable, then your people will feel more confident.

With more confidence, they will execute better.

The Effects of Brand & Story

When everyone on the team is aligned and accountable, then your Brand and your Story become exponentially more powerful.

This is a semi-mysterious effect that has its roots in human neuropsychology. You can see this effect at work in mass movements and in cults.

(To learn more about how to harness the power of human neuropsychology to create fanatically loyal customers, check out our Cult Your Brand.)


If you’re ready to make the leap from “Good” to “Awesome”, then start now developing your 2017 Go-to-Market plan. Heck, do it now even if you are not ready. Sometimes we all need a little kick in the pants.

To learn more about the 9-layer business foundation, The 9 Laws of Conversion Marketing”, download this free overview.

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