How We Create Our Go-to-Market Strategy

Maggie Aland
November 24, 2022
min to read

How We Create Our Go-to-Market Strategy

Maggie Aland
November 24, 2022
min to read

Your go-to-market strategy is ridiculously important. 

So important, that if you do it right you’ll be able to retire early and move to Tahiti. 

Seriously. This is me: 

lol I wish. 😅

But it is important. 

(So important that we used the word important 3 times in the last 35 words. Important important important.)

Get even one piece wrong and it’s likely your message won’t resonate, your audience won’t need your offering, or you’ll end up with a bunch of unqualified opportunities. 

At Chili Piper, we take it back to the five W’s (and one H) to create a GTM strategy that is guaranteed to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. 

In this article, I’ll show you the five step process we use to create a plan that delivers the pipeline growth needed to become a unicorn company.  

1. Create a research brief

First up: Who and Why.

Figure out the answer to these two questions, and you’ll know where to focus the rest of your marketing efforts. 

Define the who

If you don’t understand your target persona, take a step back. You’ll just be creating a go-to-market strategy that will fall on deaf ears.

The “who” can be boiled down to: 

  • Role
  • Industry 
  • Company size

Understand the top two to three in each of these categories. That way, you're focused on the people most likely to buy your product. 

Here’s where I look to define the who:

Existing customers

If your product is already live, the best way to understand the target audience is to look at who is currently buying the product. 

We sync our Salesforce opportunity data in Mode, a data visualization tool. 

That allows me to easily see our customers' titles, industry, and company size. I can also see how these have changed over time. 

I’m able to use this same report to filter by industry. From this graph, we can see that Information Technology is by far the most common industry for existing Chili Piper customers. 

And lastly, I look at company size to see which segment existing customers fall into. 

Competitors

Next, take a look at the competition. 

Do this step whether or not your product is already live. Even if you have current customer data, researching competitors could help you uncover a new persona or use case.

There are a few key indicators to understand your competitors’ ideal customer profile (ICP). 

Website

Your competitors’ websites are full of clues. Pay attention to their messaging, top navigation, and featured customers. 

  • Top navigation - It’s clear which industries and company sizes are being targeted. 

  • Case studies & testimonials - Look to see what types of companies and personas are  providing case studies and testimonials. These are typically the happiest customers.
  • Messaging - The copy on their site may specifically call out the persona they are looking to target. This is typically referenced on the:
  • Homepage, in the headline or subhead
  • Pricing page
  • Resource center - Visit the resource section of their website to see who they are writing content for.
Review sites

These tend to be an excellent way to see the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) breakdown for your competitors. You can use the filter dropdowns to see how many reviews they have in different industries and company segments. 

Data software

You can use data software like Datafox to see customers of competitors. You’ll be able to see the common industries and company segments.

Define the why

Now that we know who is most likely to buy our product, we need to understand what drives them to buy. 

This breaks down into:

  • Common pain points that your product solves for
  • The common use cases for your product

Once you understand the why, it's much easier to create marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. 

Current customers

Once again, if you want to know more about your target persona, the easiest way to do so is by looking at who has already purchased your product or service. 

CRM Data

At Chili Piper, we ask our sales team to input certain fields on the opportunity level so that we can easily understand what led to the purchase decision. 

Your sales team is the closest to prospects, so getting their buy-in on helping you understand motivators is huge. 

We ask for the following info:

  • Primary use case
  • Won/lost reason details
  • Descriptive notes

Looking at these three fields, we can startto paint a picture of why customers buy. 

Customer Success Software

Our CS team implemented a Big 6 initiative that’s not only helpful for helping them best serve our customers but is also huge in providing insight for the marketing team. 

The Big 6 consists of: 

  • Persona
  • Use case
  • Business objective
  • KPIs
  • Baseline
  • Key milestone

We’re able to see this data for all of our customers, which allows us to understand the most popular reasons people buy. 

Front Line Team

This team interfaces with customers the most, which means they are very useful in helping to fill in any gaps in a “why they buy” analysis. 

When I have a specific customer or segment of customers I want to learn more about, it’s helpful to reach out to the customer team to get more context around notes shared in Salesforce. 

Sales intelligence software

Using software like Gong to listen to calls is an excellent way to understand why customers are purchasing your product. It helps add a qualitative approach to the quantitative data sources above. 

You can listen to demo and discovery calls to understand what prompted the prospect to take a demo, and what pain points they are hoping to solve. 

I like to filter by new business deals in the early stages of the sales cycle for this analysis, so I can understand what pain point prompted the prospect to request a demo. 

Competitors 

It’s important to look at the messaging your competitors are using across their site. This will help you understand how they position themselves and what they view as the biggest pain points and value props for their prospects. 

It’s clear from the messaging below that Seismic believes the biggest pain point for marketers is that their content isn’t used effectively. 

Review Sites

On review sites like G2, they ask point blank: 

​​What problems is the product solving, and how is that benefiting you?

Read through the responses for both your own company and also your competitors to get a sense of the pain points of your target market. 

Being able to see how your target persona answers this question is hugely valuable since you’ll know the exact words they use to describe their problems as well as what words they use to describe your product. 

When you use that same language, it will be more likely that it will resonate. 

Interviews and surveys

Talking to people that fit within your ICP is a great way to understand what’s most important to them in their day-to-day. 

Interviews

Having a real live convo with your target audience is so helpful in understanding how they speak and think. You can even get them to walk through their workflow and get tidbits that you often wouldn’t get from a survey alone. 

Here are some B2B persona questions that are a starting point for questions to ask during this type of interview.

Surveys

However, if you want a high number of responses, surveys are a great way to go. Here is a survey we ran last year to better understand the demand gen persona

It was a super effective way to get answers to key metrics, paint points, focuses, etc. 

We ran the survey to >200 marketers to understand what metrics are most important to them. Once we understand that, we can better articulate how our product can improve those metrics.

You can either share on social media to get responses and offer a gift card in return, or buy a targeted audience from SurveyMonkey. 

2. Validate your research 

If you already have existing customers this step is less important. 

But for new products or for a new persona, you’ll want to validate that the persona is interested in your product or service.

Your employees

If you’re looking to target a role that exists within your company, then you can set up a meeting with this person. 

You’ll want to ask if they would be the person responsible for purchasing this type of tool. 

Existing customers within this market

You can also look to see if there are already customers that fall within the market you want to try out. 

If you are looking to target a different industry or company segment, then it’s a good idea to run a report in Salesforce of existing customers that fall within that group. 

If so, you can interview them to learn more about how they use the product. 

Everyone else 

If it’s a new product that you want to validate the ICP of, then you’ll need to look outside of your company for validation. 

Social/Communities

Social media or communities can be a great way to find interviewees from your target audience.

You can post on social media or relevant communities that you are looking to do some market research, and will compensate with a gift card or swag. 

User Feedback Software

You can also use feedback software such as UserTesting or Wynter to get objective feedback on the messaging you are working on. 

I’ve done this to test short value propositions, and also to get insight into whether landing page copy resonates with my target audience. You can get written feedback, or you can schedule interviews to hear a first-hand reaction to what is being shown on the page. 

3. Format and distribute your findings 

You’ll then want to format your research in a digestible format so you can share it with the marketing team. 

The document should include the following sections: 

  • Ideal customer profile
  • Industry
  • Title
  • Company size
  • Use cases
  • Pain points
  • Where we win

In this stage you’ll also want to create a messaging brief so everyone is on the same page with how we speak about the products. 

4. Create an action plan 

Once you have your research finalized, it’s time to create a plan of how to drive pipeline for your product or service. This is defining the “where” and “how” of the plan. 

Define the where

By accomplishing steps one through three you now know your target audience, but do you know where they like to hang out? 

You’ll want to ask yourself the following types of questions

  • Are they part of any particular communities?
  • Is there a social media platform they prefer?
  • How do they prefer to consume content related to their job? 
  • Are there events they like to attend?

If you don’t know the answer, then you can ask those that fit within your ICP. Here are the results of a survey we ran to over 200 demand gen marketers. 

Understanding your audience’s preferences will make it much easier to target them with your message. 

Define the how

This will be all the actions you’ll take to get in front of your target audience. 

We like to work async at Chili Piper, so we’ll send around the research document for everyone to read, and start thinking of motions we can activate to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. 

Once people have had a chance to review, schedule a meeting to determine which ideas will have the biggest impact and prioritize accordingly. 

We use Asana for project management, so we add our tasks to a board and label by product, channel, and funnel stage. 

5. Start executing, and continuously optimize

That’s it! You’ve created your GTM strategy that you know will bring in more pipeline for your product or service. 

Now pat yourself on the back for a job well done and pour yourself a drink.

Are you back? Great. 

Now it’s time to measure the performance of the actions you’re taking to make sure it’s driving the results you expected. 

Always best to measure performance when slightly intoxicated, it adds an extra thrill. 

Continuously optimize your strategy as you learn more about your target audience. It’s not an easy process, but it’s very rewarding to hit your goals!

Your go-to-market strategy is ridiculously important. 

So important, that if you do it right you’ll be able to retire early and move to Tahiti. 

Seriously. This is me: 

lol I wish. 😅

But it is important. 

(So important that we used the word important 3 times in the last 35 words. Important important important.)

Get even one piece wrong and it’s likely your message won’t resonate, your audience won’t need your offering, or you’ll end up with a bunch of unqualified opportunities. 

At Chili Piper, we take it back to the five W’s (and one H) to create a GTM strategy that is guaranteed to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. 

In this article, I’ll show you the five step process we use to create a plan that delivers the pipeline growth needed to become a unicorn company.  

1. Create a research brief

First up: Who and Why.

Figure out the answer to these two questions, and you’ll know where to focus the rest of your marketing efforts. 

Define the who

If you don’t understand your target persona, take a step back. You’ll just be creating a go-to-market strategy that will fall on deaf ears.

The “who” can be boiled down to: 

  • Role
  • Industry 
  • Company size

Understand the top two to three in each of these categories. That way, you're focused on the people most likely to buy your product. 

Here’s where I look to define the who:

Existing customers

If your product is already live, the best way to understand the target audience is to look at who is currently buying the product. 

We sync our Salesforce opportunity data in Mode, a data visualization tool. 

That allows me to easily see our customers' titles, industry, and company size. I can also see how these have changed over time. 

I’m able to use this same report to filter by industry. From this graph, we can see that Information Technology is by far the most common industry for existing Chili Piper customers. 

And lastly, I look at company size to see which segment existing customers fall into. 

Competitors

Next, take a look at the competition. 

Do this step whether or not your product is already live. Even if you have current customer data, researching competitors could help you uncover a new persona or use case.

There are a few key indicators to understand your competitors’ ideal customer profile (ICP). 

Website

Your competitors’ websites are full of clues. Pay attention to their messaging, top navigation, and featured customers. 

  • Top navigation - It’s clear which industries and company sizes are being targeted. 

  • Case studies & testimonials - Look to see what types of companies and personas are  providing case studies and testimonials. These are typically the happiest customers.
  • Messaging - The copy on their site may specifically call out the persona they are looking to target. This is typically referenced on the:
  • Homepage, in the headline or subhead
  • Pricing page
  • Resource center - Visit the resource section of their website to see who they are writing content for.
Review sites

These tend to be an excellent way to see the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) breakdown for your competitors. You can use the filter dropdowns to see how many reviews they have in different industries and company segments. 

Data software

You can use data software like Datafox to see customers of competitors. You’ll be able to see the common industries and company segments.

Define the why

Now that we know who is most likely to buy our product, we need to understand what drives them to buy. 

This breaks down into:

  • Common pain points that your product solves for
  • The common use cases for your product

Once you understand the why, it's much easier to create marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. 

Current customers

Once again, if you want to know more about your target persona, the easiest way to do so is by looking at who has already purchased your product or service. 

CRM Data

At Chili Piper, we ask our sales team to input certain fields on the opportunity level so that we can easily understand what led to the purchase decision. 

Your sales team is the closest to prospects, so getting their buy-in on helping you understand motivators is huge. 

We ask for the following info:

  • Primary use case
  • Won/lost reason details
  • Descriptive notes

Looking at these three fields, we can startto paint a picture of why customers buy. 

Customer Success Software

Our CS team implemented a Big 6 initiative that’s not only helpful for helping them best serve our customers but is also huge in providing insight for the marketing team. 

The Big 6 consists of: 

  • Persona
  • Use case
  • Business objective
  • KPIs
  • Baseline
  • Key milestone

We’re able to see this data for all of our customers, which allows us to understand the most popular reasons people buy. 

Front Line Team

This team interfaces with customers the most, which means they are very useful in helping to fill in any gaps in a “why they buy” analysis. 

When I have a specific customer or segment of customers I want to learn more about, it’s helpful to reach out to the customer team to get more context around notes shared in Salesforce. 

Sales intelligence software

Using software like Gong to listen to calls is an excellent way to understand why customers are purchasing your product. It helps add a qualitative approach to the quantitative data sources above. 

You can listen to demo and discovery calls to understand what prompted the prospect to take a demo, and what pain points they are hoping to solve. 

I like to filter by new business deals in the early stages of the sales cycle for this analysis, so I can understand what pain point prompted the prospect to request a demo. 

Competitors 

It’s important to look at the messaging your competitors are using across their site. This will help you understand how they position themselves and what they view as the biggest pain points and value props for their prospects. 

It’s clear from the messaging below that Seismic believes the biggest pain point for marketers is that their content isn’t used effectively. 

Review Sites

On review sites like G2, they ask point blank: 

​​What problems is the product solving, and how is that benefiting you?

Read through the responses for both your own company and also your competitors to get a sense of the pain points of your target market. 

Being able to see how your target persona answers this question is hugely valuable since you’ll know the exact words they use to describe their problems as well as what words they use to describe your product. 

When you use that same language, it will be more likely that it will resonate. 

Interviews and surveys

Talking to people that fit within your ICP is a great way to understand what’s most important to them in their day-to-day. 

Interviews

Having a real live convo with your target audience is so helpful in understanding how they speak and think. You can even get them to walk through their workflow and get tidbits that you often wouldn’t get from a survey alone. 

Here are some B2B persona questions that are a starting point for questions to ask during this type of interview.

Surveys

However, if you want a high number of responses, surveys are a great way to go. Here is a survey we ran last year to better understand the demand gen persona

It was a super effective way to get answers to key metrics, paint points, focuses, etc. 

We ran the survey to >200 marketers to understand what metrics are most important to them. Once we understand that, we can better articulate how our product can improve those metrics.

You can either share on social media to get responses and offer a gift card in return, or buy a targeted audience from SurveyMonkey. 

2. Validate your research 

If you already have existing customers this step is less important. 

But for new products or for a new persona, you’ll want to validate that the persona is interested in your product or service.

Your employees

If you’re looking to target a role that exists within your company, then you can set up a meeting with this person. 

You’ll want to ask if they would be the person responsible for purchasing this type of tool. 

Existing customers within this market

You can also look to see if there are already customers that fall within the market you want to try out. 

If you are looking to target a different industry or company segment, then it’s a good idea to run a report in Salesforce of existing customers that fall within that group. 

If so, you can interview them to learn more about how they use the product. 

Everyone else 

If it’s a new product that you want to validate the ICP of, then you’ll need to look outside of your company for validation. 

Social/Communities

Social media or communities can be a great way to find interviewees from your target audience.

You can post on social media or relevant communities that you are looking to do some market research, and will compensate with a gift card or swag. 

User Feedback Software

You can also use feedback software such as UserTesting or Wynter to get objective feedback on the messaging you are working on. 

I’ve done this to test short value propositions, and also to get insight into whether landing page copy resonates with my target audience. You can get written feedback, or you can schedule interviews to hear a first-hand reaction to what is being shown on the page. 

3. Format and distribute your findings 

You’ll then want to format your research in a digestible format so you can share it with the marketing team. 

The document should include the following sections: 

  • Ideal customer profile
  • Industry
  • Title
  • Company size
  • Use cases
  • Pain points
  • Where we win

In this stage you’ll also want to create a messaging brief so everyone is on the same page with how we speak about the products. 

4. Create an action plan 

Once you have your research finalized, it’s time to create a plan of how to drive pipeline for your product or service. This is defining the “where” and “how” of the plan. 

Define the where

By accomplishing steps one through three you now know your target audience, but do you know where they like to hang out? 

You’ll want to ask yourself the following types of questions

  • Are they part of any particular communities?
  • Is there a social media platform they prefer?
  • How do they prefer to consume content related to their job? 
  • Are there events they like to attend?

If you don’t know the answer, then you can ask those that fit within your ICP. Here are the results of a survey we ran to over 200 demand gen marketers. 

Understanding your audience’s preferences will make it much easier to target them with your message. 

Define the how

This will be all the actions you’ll take to get in front of your target audience. 

We like to work async at Chili Piper, so we’ll send around the research document for everyone to read, and start thinking of motions we can activate to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. 

Once people have had a chance to review, schedule a meeting to determine which ideas will have the biggest impact and prioritize accordingly. 

We use Asana for project management, so we add our tasks to a board and label by product, channel, and funnel stage. 

5. Start executing, and continuously optimize

That’s it! You’ve created your GTM strategy that you know will bring in more pipeline for your product or service. 

Now pat yourself on the back for a job well done and pour yourself a drink.

Are you back? Great. 

Now it’s time to measure the performance of the actions you’re taking to make sure it’s driving the results you expected. 

Always best to measure performance when slightly intoxicated, it adds an extra thrill. 

Continuously optimize your strategy as you learn more about your target audience. It’s not an easy process, but it’s very rewarding to hit your goals!

Maggie Aland

Maggie is the Senior Director of Go-to Market at Chili Piper. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Tulane University, and has been published in Investopedia, Fundera, and Fit Small Business among others.

With seven years of experience in digital marketing, her primary goal is to create the most helpful resources for growth marketers. Her secondary goal is to get Taylor Swift to agree to a content collaboration.

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