In our last blog post, I detailed how the right go-to-market strategy for any startup is the one that will bring in the most amount of revenue with the least amount of effort.
At GrowthX, we’ve developed go-to-market strategies for startups across every industry. There are five tactics we commonly use to fuel these strategies and find the right people for each startup to target.
Before diving into these strategies, remember any go-to-market strategy will be ineffective if the fundamentals aren’t in place. This means that you must already have a clear and focused ideal customer profile (ICP), consistent messaging for that customer profile, and a tangible customer acquisition goal.
If you don’t have those three things yet, stop reading. Download a copy of our ICP Starter Pack and determine your target market. Once you know who you’re targeting, what you’re doing for them, and what they’ll do for you, then you can come back to this post.
Now, let’s talk about a few successful go-to-market strategy examples.
Go-to-market strategy example #1: Find industry leading companies who are early adopters.
The term “early adopters” comes from Geoffry Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm.” It refers to “individuals or businesses who use a new product, innovation, or technology before others. Early adopters may pay more for the product than later adopters but accept the higher cost to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase their market share.”
You’re looking for people who understand and appreciate the balance between risk and reward. They want to work with an early-stage technology company to get a competitive advantage over their market.
The only problem is that people aren’t labeling themselves as “early adopters” on LinkedIn. So, how do you find them?
While there’s not an early adopter list, there are a few ways to figure out who these people are if you’re willing to do a little digital digging. For starters, there’s usually a very high correlation between industry leaders and early adopters.
Think about companies generally known as the most innovative and most competitive within their market segment or sector (these aren’t necessarily the biggest companies).
Generally speaking, the leaders and the innovators didn’t get this reputation by accident. They got there by spending the money to acquire this competitive advantage.
That is the outward expression and result of their early adopter mindset. Businesses that are focused on innovation will be more likely to invest in new technologies.
For example, when we worked with a startup that was targeting the high school sports market, the innovators were the schools that would consistently win championships. The consistency of their athletic programs clearly demonstrated their willingness to invest money into their sports programs.
Airlines offer more go-to-market strategy examples. Emirates Airlines and Singapore Airlines are ranked as the best airlines in the world every year. This isn’t because they’re lucky and are paying rating agencies.
It’s because they’re constantly investing in things like the newest airplanes, more comfortable seats, better customer facing technology, and top-notch and highly-trained employees to provide the best possible customer experience.
Why invest in having the best technology and customer experience? Because it creates a competitive advantage for those airlines and that ultimately fuels revenue growth.
Just because there are multiple companies in any industry does not mean that they all take the same approach to business. In every industry, there are these early adopters who will be more willing to work with you and buy your product because it ultimately helps them create, protect and grow a competitive advantage.
Go-to-market strategy example #2: Reach decision makers who are early adopters by finding people who care about their profession (not just their job).
This group of early adopters is more people-specific. At the end of the day, your ICP will be a specific person with a particular title or role.
Companies don’t buy anything, people do.
But, just because 100 people have the same job doesn’t mean they each treat their job the same way.
Look for people who truly care about their profession. While you can find thousands of people with the same job title, only a small percentage of those people go out of their way to push their colleagues and their work forward.
These job specific early adopters typically hold positions on association boards or trade councils or constantly create content about their profession.
Let’s say you found 10 CTOs at 10 FinTech companies. Without doing any further research, you might assume that they all act and think the same. But, if you were to go deeper into each profile you will find some that have the telltale signs of the early adopter.
Everything communicates, so read between the lines. For example, as you look at their experience, you will likely find that some of the CTOs post regularly about changes to their industry or trends that matter. Or, maybe they regularly get interviewed about the future of CTOs in FinTech.
These CTOs are communicating to you that they spend their free time going above and beyond their job to advance their profession. The correlation between these behaviors and being an early adopter is very high.
Often, they will openly present their contact information because they want to be a node to the rest of their peers.
Even if they’re not qualified to be customers, they’re almost always qualified to provide great feedback.
Prioritize having conversations with these early adopters.
Go-to-market strategy example #3: Go after agents of change.
This is a tried-and-true strategy that works in any industry. Agents of change are people who have been recently hired for a role (i..e, past 90 days). Being new means they have not been subjected to the “institutional thinking” of the company yet. They are more comfortable asking questions or offering novel solutions without fear of looking uninformed.
Find them by looking on LinkedIn to see who has been hired the past 90 days, or look at companies that have open job roles.
Go-to-market strategy example #4: Don’t forget about external change.
There could be external reasons why certain actors have to make a change within any market. Regardless of whether or not they’re an early adopter, there could be a compliance factor involved, or something else is compelling them to do something differently.
Remember when GDPR forced businesses to change their email marketing habits? That’s an example of a trigger event that technology companies can take advantage of.
Recently, a GrowthX portfolio company that works in affordable housing experienced a similar event. California decided to start strictly enforcing housing laws that weren’t being previously enforced. This startup looked at the cities that would likely have the biggest problem if enforcement became an issue, and that gave them the most targeted list of contacts.
Identifying tangible, external triggers, especially when it relates to compliance, is a great way to get on someone’s radar.
Go-to-market strategy example #5: Read public communications that align with what you do.
Look for people who are outwardly communicating strategic goals or initiatives that align with what you do.
For example, a Chief Revenue Officer of a big tech company says they need 500 new customer service representatives in the next year, and you have a tool that increases the efficiency of every customer service rep. That CRO should probably know about your tool before they hire 500 people, right?
Or, a Chief People Officer at a fortune 500 company announces that they want to reduce biases in their hiring process and are looking to dramatically improve diversity hiring in the next 12 months. If you can see a clear and tangible connection between their publicly stated goals and your product, then there is a good chance that there is a match.
Someone may not only be an agent of change, but they may have recently “communicated” in an interview or press release that they have a priority problem that you can solve. Two signals are always better than one.
Succeed With These Go-to-Market Strategy Examples
The goal with all 5 of these go-to-market strategies is simple.
Get your company in front of people that have the highest likelihood of doing business with you.
There are a lot of potential customers in any market. Your goal is to gather enough tangible information to identify Mr. and Ms. Right Now.
The trick to all of this is that it requires you to do some homework or digital digging about your customers. There is no hack to any of these go-to-market strategy examples.
You need to spend the time learning about your customers. While this part of customer development and lead generation might feel slow, if you do this well, every stage of your sales cycle will have a higher conversion rate and will happen faster.
If you seek fit with the right people who share your worldview, you won’t have to spend time selling them on anything.