At any given time, you should be prepared to execute both a business plan and a GTM strategy. Although they may sound the same in principle, however, they are essentially distinct. To ensure that you can execute both flawlessly, it’s vital that you know exactly how each one comes into your marketing play.
For new businesses, the lines are blurred between a business plan and a GTM strategy since the main goal when you’re just starting is to successfully bring the product to market. As the business grows, there will be a separate team that will focus on the GTM strategy for new products or relaunches of existing ones. Regardless of your organization’s size, understanding the components of each is one of the prerequisites of a successful business.
Now let’s answer the question that’s nagging many marketers’ minds. What’s the difference between a business plan and a GTM strategy?
First, it’s important to talk about the purpose of each; for every undertaking, defining the goal is a necessary step to success.
A business plan is the product roadmap that’s followed for as long as the business is running. It’s an organization’s “true north” when it comes to the product, what it stands for, and what it offers to customers. It identifies and defines the unique value proposition and who would benefit the most from it.
On the other hand, a go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a more time-bound approach that’s employed for new product launches or when reintroducing or relaunching an existing product. The main goal is to ensure that the product reaches the intended audience—or “goes to market”—successfully. Ensuring that the strategy is data-driven will help the business determine and address customer demand and position the product accordingly.
It’s easy to assume that the marketing team is responsible for both the business plan and the GTM strategy. However, while this could work for new businesses, more established ones would benefit from having a separate team focus on the GTM strategy.
The business plan is something that everyone in the organization is responsible for, since it’s basically your product bible. The marketing team is the main driver of the strategy, providing support cross-functionally to customer-facing and product-facing teams.
An example of a product-facing team is the product marketing team. The primary goal of this team is to deliver the right product to the right customer at the right time. To do this, the product marketing team works with other teams as necessary to ensure the success of their GTM strategy. An in-depth understanding of both the product and the customer is vital, so product marketers exhaust all available data and resources to acquire this information before the go-to-market of any product.
Your business plan is ongoing and constant but not static and absolute. Certain factors, including budgets, new tools, and external factors, can affect your business plan and compel you to adapt. You may need to reconsider unsuccessful or unproductive approaches, experiment with new ones, or adjust and re-align expectations.
A GTM strategy is used for something new: a new product, a relaunch, or venturing into an untapped market. Here, the timeline is more stringent and the sense of urgency, more pronounced. It entails a more aggressive timeline and specifically enumerates what needs to be done within a specific period, including milestones that need to be reached to measure success.
Both a business plan and a GTM strategy are dependent on effective communication. In the case of a business plan, different people and teams should have a clear understanding of how the defined strategy fits into the overall goals of the organization. Your business plan should include the brand promise and how the organization intends to deliver on that promise. To do that, it’s important to get to know your market, your competitors, and your product.
Your GTM strategy is your way to communicate with your audience. It’s an opportunity to translate your product vision into a message that your audience will understand and appreciate. It follows a strict timeline so efficient coordination between teams is vital to create a unified message for your target audience.
The success of your business or product is dependent on your strategy, and it’s your responsibility to understand the aspects of your business plan and GTM strategy by heart. Markets may change, and your strategies with it, but at the core of everything is the customer. It is this part of the marketing mix that you need to understand the most.