Everything you always dreamed to ask
and nobody answered

on Go To Market

Little nightly thoughts
by Business Exploration

Dear Fellow Innovator,

Do you ever wake-up at night with an urgent Question on Go To Market?
Here some of the Questions I collected around, and the answer I gave.

Let me have your comments and thoughts!

And if you are messing up with Go To Market, get help here:

Our services

FAQ on Go To Market

What would you do in the first 30 days of a new CEO role?

Learn from the Customer

Tour all your clients, or key clients, or key clients segments samples of clients. ( and perhaps, if you want an unbiased perspective, do so before than anything...)

If you cannot tour your clients, spend a few days with you customer care/ aftersales / services team

Then you can also:

  • Clarify the organizational purpose (Does the firm understand what success looks like?)
  • Assess human talent to deliver the strategy (Does the firm have the skills and capabilities to deliver the strategy?)
  • Manage the operational costs to ensure short term cash flow positive results prior to executing any major investments which will shape the medium to long term.

For the last 3, credits to: Alex Andarakis

What factors affect a company's decision to renew with a vendor or convert to a competitor for a necessary product?


a part any mismanagement done by the Vendor, convert to a competitor for a product that is already used and necessary may be because:

  • Do not underestimate the power of a competitor’s well conceived marketing strategy, aimed at leveraging “inclusiveness and endorsing” influencing factors like “me-too”or “I-like-too” within a community
  • The Competition has become a de facto industry standard
  • The Competition has been able to bundle the product with a more valuable scope of supply
  • External policies like “local content” command a switch to a local producer
  • Internal sourcing policies aimed at diversify on multiple suppliers
  • Client’s cadeaux to new clients, politicians, allies, partners

Ask for more...

Why should you hire a marketing expert?

to save a lot of money

  • a mktg professional knows more channels to market and better how they work: this means more leads, more qualified
  • a mktg professional knows how to differentiate your business from competition: and this means higher won/lost ratios
  • a mktg professional can structure and document your go to market making your business more trustable when you approach a bank for a loan or an investor for equity
  • a structured go to market allows a buyer to invest in your business knowing that the sales will flow also when you will no more rule the business
  • a structured go to market allows you to go in vacation because your team/ partner will know how to sell in your absence

just a bit of self-promotion...

Why B2B businesses should care about Positioning?

Because Clients are illogic

Behavioral Economy has demonstrated that we first decide, then justify our decisions.
We decide in 0.7 milliseconds at first sight and justify in 7 ages.
Furthermore our decision are biased by our selfish genes strategy, who do not care about ourselves.
Assuring a Positioning to our offer, allows the client to jump to (our) conclusion, skipping the Level 2 brain effort to justify it.
And jumping (competition) is always nice...

"Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" a no-brainer...

When do startups need to build a brand?


  • After they understood their customers job to be done
  • After they understood their competition
  • After they have validated a business model...

But sooner than competition occupies the category position most suited to the Startup.

Why you need a Go To Market Strategy to enter a Market?

because Competitors do not forgive

Most of us approach a market blindfoldely, "slicing the salami":
you move one foot ahead, check the results and decide to make another one or move back and try another direction.

This is a great way to explore a territory when it is not inhabited.
You minimize the risks, the costs and the effort, at the cost of a bit of time wandering around. If you are lucky you find a great path forward, in the worst case you remain at your initial place with more or less the same resources as before.

Unfortunately this does not apply in presence of competitors.
Entering blindfoldely a room when inside there is a man ready to slap you in the face may be an unpleasant experience. Better be prepared: have a plan that takes into account how to get that territory in spite of the competitors, possibly without even messing with them.

Call this plan a Go To Market.

Can you distinguish product marketing and services marketing with a suitable example?

it's about customer contact

Service mktg can leverage a contact with the client that is embedded in its offering. Product marketing lacks this tactical advantage.
And if you are into aftermarket services you can also take advantage of farming an existing customer base

When is it strategic to target a niche audience?

It’s “strategic” when you do it with your competition in mind

Strategy is an act you do in order to deal with an adversary. If you do not have an adversary, acting is just in the realm of planning, not in the realm of strategising.
Said that, a niche is strategically target, e.g. to:

  • Entrench
    when you can shelter that portion of the market from competition, because the niche it’s so small that cannot sustain two players.
  • Beachead
    when you can use it to enter a market without getting the reaction of competition because they are distracted by harvesting the rest of the market
  • Diversive
    when you make a lot of noise so that competition focus its attention on the miche , while you enter the bigger market in a stealth mode
  • Test
    when you test a portion of the market to understand the competition reaction (e.g. on pricing moves)
  • Collude
    when you want to signal your will to cooperate with your competitor

Does my tech startup have any chance when tech giants like Google or Facebook could replicate my product?

“Could they replicate your SERVICE”?

The point is not about being able to offer the same is about to deliver the same.

So if you can build a Unique Customer Experience (most probably, on a “unique pretending” market niche) then you can go and bring to market even water. If you want a few hints on how to shape your offer in a UNIQUE way, you may want to read this article on my blog: How to define your MVP features to become an Unicorn? where I give a few hints about mixing Lean Startup and Blue Ocean.

What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?


Avoiding to answer to this question on behalf of the Client and therefore taking for granted that their solution will be accepted without prior activity in order to convince the client of the


For further **18 ways you can use to screw your startup**, you may want to read this article: 18 Fail best practices For a list of 12 Resistances you will encounter, ping me.

The sooner, the better.

What is involved in a startup "scaling"?

CEO Time. A lot of.

Scaling means that:

  • You have built a team that can run a business model without You.
  • That you move your focus from “making it work” to “do it again”
  • That you look for new/additional Customer Base that you can serve without injecting more R&D, but only Marketing.
  • That your additional Capex is no-risk, because it’s a replica of what you already have.
  • That you can borrow money instead to ask for equity.
  • That - done well - this means your company profit can leverage loans

So Scaling is more about “scaling profit” than “scaling business”: Using Financial Leverage.
It is a job where Entrepreneurship is much less important than good Management skills.
It is not the time for getting the help of a Lean Startup Coach, but to rely on solid Business Management experience.

The sooner, the better.

What steps should a startup take before building a new product feature?

Give it a Strategic Meaning.

You should always consider if the Feature you are adding helps you open a Blue Ocean
become a Unicorn

If most entrepreneurial endeavors fail, why is everyone still trying?

To Learn.

You do things to learn.

And there are few places more interesting than Business to “learn”.
Less where you can learn more.
None that you may be ending being paid extremely well for “learning”.
“Fatti non foste per viver come bruti,
Ma per seguir Virtute et Conoscenza”
Dante Alighieri, la Divina Commedia

What is necessary to have an entrepreneur mindset?


If you do not have Customers, you do not have an Entrepreneurial Mindset.

Do you have Customers?
Do you think to someone as “Customers”?
Do you know someone that would be willing to pay for your help?
No Customer - No Party.

If a startup offers a great product, why do not customers buy it right away?

“Sunk Costs”

it is not enough to make a great proposition (great product + great marketing)

You have to compensate for the “Loss Aversion” bias.

People value several times more the comfort of their situation than the “possible” comfort of the situation you are offering.
This is the result of modern “behavorial economics” (see Khaneman et al. )
So: in order to sell you have first to answer the question:


and have a f.. good argument that scare the client to death at the idea to keep the existing situation.

What are the secrets of successful marketing?

the right customer base

Why is partnering with an accelerator program important to a startup?

  • avoid avoidable errors
  • learn for others’ mistakes
  • save time (a lot of )
  • get un-biased external point of views
  • connect to a different network

What factors make a market strategic?


strategy = competition.

no competition = no strategy

anything that makes you beat competition is strategic.

choose wisely.

How do you define a go-to-market strategy in a startup?

Using the Roadmap to Market methodology.

the Roadmap to Market is made of 4 steps:

  1. The Business Model:
    Identify a Customer that your Offer can help reach a Goal
  2. The Competitive Market:
    Secure a market share for your offer
  3. The Convincing Brand:
    Be the preferred alternative
  4. The Sales Funnel:
    Reach the decision maker and sell

What are some good resources on Go-To-Market strategies for high tech companies?

It depends by the number of clients on their target segment.

If the number is in the handful, and the company provides highly customized solutions, it is ending up in the realm of the “complex sales”.

If you are in this case, you may want to give a try at his framework I assembled after the guidance of Scholars like Moore, Christensen, Ulwick and also Bob Apollo who has answered this post too.

The B2B Funnel:

The B2B Funnel identifies 3 go to market strategies for Complex Sales, depending on the type of solution your company is offering:

  • a Product
  • a Service
  • an Innovation

Each of these types targets a different Decision Maker:

  • the Specificator
  • the Functional Leader
  • the CEO

and in the framework you find the key elements to design and deploy your go to market strategy accordingly.

The B2B Funnel

Is it a good idea to "ask" customers for testimonials?

Put it at revers:

Is it a good idea NOT to ask Customers for Testimonial?

I think you got the point now….

How should a business with no brand awareness launch their first product?

in a niche.

If you do not have brand awareness the first thing you need to build is TRUST.

You cannot build Trust at the same time into the whole market.

But you can build trust in a niche.

Choose a niche , get a peer, saturate that niche until you become the niche Standard.
Then go to market.

If you want to know more about the go to market strategy that allows you to ramp up the adoptans curve, give qa look at this article,

Ramp-up the adoptans curve

where you can learn about:

  • Gamers
  • Traders
  • Operators
  • Slavers
  • Spectators

and what kind of offer you should do to each one in order to scale up the market.

Who are your competitors?

Ask Your Client.

Competitors are of different kinds:

  • Competitors on Offer - people that offer an alternative solution to your Client
  • Competitor on Budget - people that shift your client’s attention to higher priority Goals ( on short term / on long term )
  • Competitor on Attention - People that compete for the attention of your Client ( her time, her visual space )
  • Competitor on Person - People (organizations) that compete for your Client presence, activities, actions

You can guess your competitors, but only the Client knows them ( or will know them ),

Keep Asking

If you found a good business idea that's lucrative but hasn't any USP, is it still considered a good one?

send me that idea! ahaha

sure, it is!

According to Reeves ( the inventor of the concept of USP ) a proposition to be Unique must be one that the competition:

  • find it into the Product
    ( i.e. S.Pellegrino soda can be only in made in San Pellegrino - Italy)
  • built into Brand
    : D&G has a uniqueness of brand that goes into their fashion style
  • create with a first time claim
    : This is tricky but Reeves says that a beer claimed the uniqueness of being made with “steam”, and being them the first beer saying that, It has built its uniqueness around this ( even if all beers are done using steam….)

This means that you have basically 3 ways to build UNIQUENESS:

  • either cannot, or does not, offer.
  • It must be unique - either a uniqueness of brand
  • or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field.or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field.

So if you have a good idea, pls call a good marketer. He will develop the uniqueness that you do not find in it.

What defines an efficient go-to-market strategy?

A go to market strategy makes your business sell.

its efficiency depends by specific Goals & general Goals:

General Goals:

  • sell
  • repeat sell
  • sell profitably
  • sell profitably and repeatedly on the long term

Specific Goals:

  • start selling ( mainly about finding the minimum Cost of Acquisition Client)
  • start selling profitably ( mainly about finding the best Product-Market fit)
  • re-start selling ( i.e. after losing on competition attack )
  • re-start selling profitably ( i.e. after losing on competition attack )

Efficiency then is about doing the above with the minimum costs.

  • Capital Costs
  • Operating Costs
  • Financial Costs
  • Cost of Opportunity

What promotional/marketing tools are the most efficient for B2B companies?

For Complex Sales, High Tech Sales, Custom Solutions, ETO: Engineering to Order solutions it depends by:

the offer you are promoting:

  • Product
  • Service
  • Innovation

This in turns identify your target Decision Maker:

  • CEO : Budget Makers
  • CXO : Budget Movers
  • DIRECTORS : Budget Spenders

Each of them could be addressed using specific types of tools, basically:

  • Conferences
  • Cases
  • Clicks

What is a go-to-market strategy? What are some good examples of this?

Go to Market is about make your business sell.

There are a few tricks on building the go-to-market strategy that differentiate dramatically the outcomes of your effort.

  • You should avoid to think it in “marketing” terms.
    One of the biggest drawbacks of Classic Marketing is that it looks at “selling” as assembling building blocks. You add a few drops of “Product”, a handful of “Price”, some slices of “Promotion” and a scent of “Place. It does not work. Because Sales is a process. and Go To market shall be designed to make people follow repeatable processes.
  • Go to market has 4 steps, do not forget the strategic ones.

  1. The Business Model:
    Identify a Customer that your Offer can help reach a Goal
  2. The Competitive Market:
    Secure a market share for your offer
  3. The Convincing Brand:
    Be the preferred alternative
  4. The Sales Funnel:
    Reach the decision maker and sell

The first and the last are Operative steps. You design your sales Engines. the second and third are Competitive ( i.e. Strategic) steps. You must protect your sales engines from Competition inside the Head of your Customer and from Dangers (competition + 5 Forces + 5 Environments ) inside the Market.

These last two steps are the most overlooked, especially by Startups and SMBs.

How can I introduce my company to potential customers?

Through PEERS

How do you decide on a branding strategy for your business?

Brand + Strategy to me means one thing:

How I beat competition inside the brain of my customer?

So first and foremost you have to decide your Competitive Positioning.
i.e. you have to choose for which reason your offer shall be different+preferrable to other offers on the market.

All the rest is a consequence.

Brand name, color, channel you use, wording you use, jingles, sales pitches, communication, expos, design etc…

What are good ways to write a startup strategy document?

I have wrote Strategy Documents for General Electric, SMBs and Startups.

What I do for GE is not what I do for a Startup.

However, there are 4 themes that I develop in any cases.

  • The Business Model
  • The Competitive Market Scenarios
  • The Convincing Communication of a Brand
  • The Operational Sales Funnel

Model, Market, Brand and Funnel are the Milestones of my Roadmap to Market.

In the case of a Startup or SMBs I collect all the information around these four points with 8 face-to-face sessions with the Business Owner. Just Flip Chart, Post-it and a bunch of questions and models I collected in 20+ years. The reason of doing this personal sessions is that, as Tim Berry says herebelow, “saying NO” is what builds your strategy, and most of the NO I encountered are decided by the Business Owner for personal reasons, despite or compromising with optimal Strategic choices. The Strategic Document, then is the result of a wrap up of the findings, discussions and decisions taken in those sessions. Generally a very short summary .doc / .ppt Nothing fancy but dry-up to bullets points for the most part. A strategy document shall deserve for 70% as a way to record the decisions choices taken and for 30% as a guide for the move forward.

It has to be clear and usable… until it crashes against the reality “every Business Plan crashes at first contact with the Market”
avoid to spend time to refine it. Most of the time I even use pictures of the Flip Charts without re-drawing them in ppt. But you need to have a Strategic Document because when your strategy crashes, you must have a record of your choices to be able to decide where to Pivot.

As Gen. Eisenhower:
“plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”

A final note, because I have seen so many Strategy Plans without a proper consideration of Competition:
They are called “Strategy” because you are taking into account Competition.
If you don’t, then you are just drawing an operation plan, not a strategic plan.

What is a unique value proposition?

I like the USP as per the definition of Reeves in his 196O book (note 1):


The proposition must be one that the competition:

  • either cannot, or does not, offer.
  • It must be unique - either a uniqueness of brand
  • or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field.


The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass in Millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product:

  • meet an existing desire
  • is important for the Customer


Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Each advertisement must say to the reader: "Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit."

And I recognize VP Value Proposition as per Michael Lanning and Edward Michaels,

“a clear, simple statement of the benefits, both tangible and intangible, that the company will provide, along with the approximate price it will charge each customer segment for those benefits”
where benefits are intended as Value - costs incurred


I find both this definitions a bit reductive.

At the light of Ulwick’s Job-do-be-done definition, Value should go beyond that of enabling the solution of a problem or the achievement of a local goals. It should take into account the ENVIRONMENT ( i.e. the point of view to the world) of the Client, and how the proposition integrates with it. In other words, it a proposition becomes Valuable when it’s value, from the point of the view of the client, is greatly different (10x) than the value from the point of view of the supplier. The uniqueness has to do with the strategic positioning of the proposition : its competitiveness. here Reeves, Porter and Kim in its Blue Ocean Strategy give great hints.

Don't miss the next hint: