Lessons learned: Go-to-market strategy does not equal marketing strategy
This lessons learned series is part of our live SaaS resource list we're building while launching a new product.
In the simplest way possible explain what go-to-market is?
When you start your first tech business you're just about figuring out how to build the damn thing. Then you go to the next struggle which is marketing and then the next struggle which is sales.
These things in combination become your "go-to-market" i.e. the way you attract and convert customers for the customer problem you're fixing.
With more experience you can probably figure out the best 'go-to-market' plan by choosing the best marketing channel and sales approach to grow at the fastest rate.
Our current go-to-market plan is to attract customers via creating integrations into live chat companies and create blog posts, send emails, place ads to capture searches for those integrations and for the word co-browsing. The people that see our marketing material then come to our site.
Our sales process involves doing a demo, assisting them through getting set up with a trial and giving them a quote if they're looking to purchase large volumes.
However, it could just as well have been purely a marketing operation where we don't demo or work with larger organisations and provide only live chat support to small and medium sized companies within one particular niche.
There are a number of different positioning, marketing and sales models and picking the right one for a target market makes a big difference to growth rate.
What one sentence from this blog post was most important and why?
"Vuclip chose to build a brand for consumers rather than build for enterprise"
Imagine ALL your competitors are building their product targeted at enterprise sized companies and you go it alone to build one for the individual consumer instead.
That requires an entirely different go-to-market approach because with the consumer product you'd need to build a strong brand over time and the sales process would instead be replaced by a support team.
However, for Vuclip, it worked. The companies that went after the enterprise market closed down. Vuclip survived. Building the strong brand as part of their go-to-market was essential to their survival.
This is thinking which is way beyond our current level of experience and it's fascinating to see a more experienced founder have conviction in their approach.
What dumb assumptions did we make about go-to-market at the very start of our SaaS journey?
We didn't know about it. We had heard about it but thought it just meant "marketing"
While Upscope is our second project as co-founders, we had not understood the concept so we ended up without a clear strategy for how to build up marketing and sales as one combined strategy.
We didn't start with integrations marketing, we started with direct emails even before we had our positioning nailed. Later we did integrations and then wrote blog posts around those integrations and then started doing "sales" before hiring for sales. We learned to build that go-to-market operation by winging it.
What's the most worthwhile thing we did after this?
For the next major Upscope feature we are planning a product with built in distribution, an initial ground-up adoption approach with minimal friction and just basic support only later followed by sales processes to demo features.
The most useful thing we've done is be lucky in discovering the right feature to work on and having the experience to see the different ways it could pan out and how to adapt in the moment.
What would we advise someone to do if they were starting from scratch?
Read about SaaS company histories. Specifically how they marketed the product and how they then sold the product.
Especially google the ground up approach to first bringing a B2B product into a company whereby an individual employee can use it without needing the manager's approval at every stage. Our current product needs team, IT and security to be involved in installing it but we could have made this ground up approach possible at an earlier stage had we known.
Listen to the SaaStr prodcasts where they discuss their sales approach and mention go-to-market. Literally walk around the park for 2 or 3 hours a day listening to those podcasts because you'll get exercise and 3 weeks of listening to 200+ podcasts will save you 2 years worth of mistakes.
If we had a magic wand how would we use it to improve our go-to-market right now?
We read that that aligning departments around your customer journey is a great way to improve conversions so we'd:
- Conjure up all the data on our customer journey so we have a complete map of small, medium and enterprise buyer journeys including which marketing material brought them to our website, where they are dropping off, what's the key misunderstanding along that journey.
- Show where each team member's responsibilities align with that customer journey
- Fill the missing gaps or erase the friction points and make each person accountable for their section and give them a budget for managing it which grows as the revenue grows.
Alternatively we'd fast forward the creation of our next feature which is currently called "Flows" and launch it with our entire marketing campaign set up and do what we wish we did before, get ground up adoption in companies.
Founder GTM fit
This is not something you think about until way down. You might do it instinctively but you don't have that perspective in the early days.
Pardeep overlooks growth at Upscope and loves writing about SaaS companies, customer success and customer experience.