part 5 in the Product Management Frameworks Series
Go-to-Market Frameworks define a plan for getting the product to market.
Any product manager will be tasked at some point with developing some or all of the product’s go-to-market strategy. Go-to-market strategies encompass Management, Marketing, Sales, and Product. At larger companies, Marketing or Product Strategy is tasked with go-to-market. In smaller companies, Product Marketing or a more generalist Product Manager spearheads a cross functional effort to define it. In startups, the executive team often marshals the troops around go-to-market.
At its core, go-to-market frameworks center on three key decisions:
Marketing people will quickly recognize a re-incarnation of 3 of the original 4Ps of Brand Management: Product, Place, and Promotion.
Indeed, go-to-market strategy emerged as a buzz word to describe the practical side of market strategy that originated in brand management. There was a knowledge gap in the market for tech startups taking their product to market. Count on marketing people to re-brand a re-packaged area of marketing under a new name. Selling a startup team on a plan to “get you to market” is a lot easier than something intangible like “strategy”.
If you find yourself in a fat startup that is still searching for product market fit, you will often find a large sales team calling out “Where is our go-to-market strategy?” If the startup has a technical product manager is immersed in AgileAgile refers to a broad term for practices and methods in software development based on the principles and values in the Agile Manifesto. Several agile frameworks exist, but the most popular include Scrum, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development, and the Dynamic Systems Development Method. Each Agile approach has distinctive qualities, but all use elements of continuous feedback and iterative development during app creating. All Agile development projects include continuous planning, testing, integration and other forms of continuous... methodologies and design thinkingThis refers to the process of emergence of design concepts and includes activities such as problem-finding, decision-making, creative thinking, sketching, designing prototypes, and evaluation., there may be a vacuum for the go-to-market plan.
Go-to-market frameworks emerged over the last decade as a way to fill the gap for all those tech driven startups that were missing their marketing fundamentals.
If you’re planning a product launch from scratch, here is a typical checklist for your go-to-market plan:
Popular Go-to-Market Frameworks
- The AIPMM has has a webinar on go-to-market as well as a framework in the AIPMM Product Body of Knowledge.
- Pragmatic Marketing runs a very popular product management training program that covers all the core activities of a go-to-market plan.
- Andreessen Horowitz has run a very popular bootcamp for enterprise go-to-market strategies.
Things to Consider When you Are a Product Manager
A lot of product management jobs call for product managers to lead the company’s go-to-market strategy.
First, it’s important to know how much the company has already figured out. Most startups have a working plan for the first half of their go-to-market strategy. If a company’s management does not know what their product positioning is, or at least have a hypothesis to test, then they are probably hurting or due for a major pivot! Product managers are often called in run the product launch half of a go-to-market plan or to manage various iterations of go-to-market across a series of product releases.
Also, it’s important to think about how the go-to-market framework plays with the product management framework. Go-to-market plans often work like a waterfall layer over what is a highly uncertain, iterative approach for bringing a product to market. Product Marketing and Management can get REALLY frustrated developing a go-to-market plan when the company is still validating product market fit. With new products, it’s best to maintain a lite version of the go-to-market plan until the product market fit is validated.
Go-to-Market Framework Strengths
- Go-to-Market Frameworks align product, sales, and marketing around a common vision and plan.
- Market Assessment, Customer Personas, and Product Positioning are critical to have as a working plan– even if they may change with market feedback.
- When it comes time for a product launch, your go-to-market framework will help you make sure you cover all the bases
Go-to-Market Framework Weaknesses
- Tail Wagging the Dog. Sometimes product marketing makes the mistake of driving product positioning from the inside out. Declaring product positioning and the value proposition without testing it in the market can lead to problems. Just because we have a great marketing document that sounds awesome doesn’t mean we have a product positioning the customer will accept. Go-to-market plans need to allow for feedback from the market. It’s best to keep them lite until product market fit starts to prove itself.
- Some go-to-marketing frameworks are all marketing, no product. It can be confusing when there is a whole plan for delivering the product to market and the product team is not even included. Or, it comes like the cart before the horse. Imagine someone in marketing comes and ask you “What is your product positioning?” If you’re in the fuzzy front end, the answer may be “Do you mean today, or tomorrow?”
- Waterfall vs. Iterative Approaches. Many go-to-market frameworks do assume a certain product maturity, so they work best with predictable release patterns. If your team is taking a more agile approach to product development, it can be hard to sync expectations.
Next: Startup Frameworks
More from this series:
- Intro to Product Management Frameworks
- Brand Management
- Stage Gate Models
- Design Thinking
- Agile Methodologies
- Startup Frameworks
Ross Reynolds works a product manager in brand protection and media. He currently is VP of Product & Marketing for Marketly, a startup in Silicon Valley. He likes building products and helping new ventures grow.
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