👓 5 Proven Go-to-Market Frameworks You Need To Know

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📅 GEEKS OF THE WEEK

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5 Proven Go-to-Market Frameworks You Need To Know

For this newsletter, I teamed up with Maja Voje, author of the best-selling book Go-to-Market Strategist, who’s helped over 600 companies to go to market, including several Fortune 500 companies. She’s a true GTM expert, and I often point folks to her work. I first met Maja when she interviewed me for the Product-Led podcast, and we’ve remained in touch since then, frequently exchanging thoughts and ideas. In this newsletter, we teamed up to share 5 of her frameworks that I think have most relevance to the Product-Led Geek readers, along with examples and tools that you can use to elevate your go-to-market game. 

Let’s dig in…

1. Beachhead Strategy 

Having a big vision is a strong driver of the Product-Market fit Cycle and a grand motivator for your team. Many best-in-class companies start with the vision of “world domination”, a future that they would like to build. But you have to start somewhere to validate your product hypothesis, right? 

One of the best ways to start is to focus on a small, underserved market that has a strong need to solve its problems. Instead of going out there and spreading your resources too thin, a much safer way to go-to-market is to apply the Beachhead strategy.

The essence of this strategy is to focus on a small segment of the market that you can win in the next 3-18 months (whatever your runway is) and build your way up the market from there onwards by utilising the traction in the initial segment - beachhead segment and building stronger and stronger cases and value propositions before you can conquer the market. 

By aligning your efforts and resources into a single direction and staying laser-focused on winning “one beach at a time”, you will generate a critical mass of traction and relevance that will help you push forward. 

Examples:

  • Facebook: the beachhead segment was Harvard University. Later on, they expanded to other Ivy League collages and only later to the mainstream. 

  • Figma: one of their first market segments was game development studios.

  • Uber: they strategically chose San Francisco as their initial market. 

Geek tip: If you have multiple ideas for the beachhead segment and value propositions, you can use Maja’s Market-Problem Map framework, which will help you find the best candidates for your go-to-market strategy. Here is a Miro workshop with an example and video explainer.  https://miro.com/miroverse/market-problem-map/ 

Geek fact: The beachhead strategy originates from military tactics, and gained prominence and its modern form during World War II, particularly with the Allied landings in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. However it dates as far back (and likely further) as the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

2. Early Customer Profile (ECP) 

So how do you choose the right Beachhead segment? 

You already know that the Beachhead segment should be small enough to conquer in the next 3-18 months. To help you call the right shots, here are 4 questions to research: 

  1. Is there a high pain point? Willingness to solve this problem now? 

  2. Does the segment display a sufficient Willingness to Pay? 

  3. Can you reach this segment's critical mass in the next 3-18 months? Your proximity to the segment?

  4. Will the segment refer the solution to the adjacent segment? In simple words- will they recommend your product and create relevant case studies that will help you win further traction? 

To validate these assumptions, you need to use market validation techniques. 

You can choose among different validation methods based on your product readiness and the confidence you aim to achieve with the research. Maja recommends using higher-confidence methods, such as co-creation with a client, presale, or testing MVP, if it is mission-critical to validate the business model in addition to problem-solution fit, which is often the case for bootstrapped companies. 

Don’t be surprised or disappointed if your early beachhead segment doesn’t perfectly reflect the Ideal Customer Profiles you envisioned from the get-go. Before an Ideal, there is often a customer profile that you’ll focus on as you aim to get early traction. To acknowledge this difference, Maja likes to define an Early Customer Profile (ECP), which represents a realistic target audience for your early go-to-market efforts. 

Most Early Customers have a higher tolerance for risk, a burning need solutions (even suboptimal) for the problem space you are tackling, and a drive to communicate or work with you until you can get there. You usually find them in online groups where they are already passionately searching or comparing solutions for the underserved problem, or they even find you.

ExampleAt Snyk the ECP was developers building applications using Node.js who wanted to ensure that the open source dependencies they were pulling into their apps were secure. It was an intentionally very narrow focus on a single persona with a single context and use case.

Geek tip: Based on my ICP framework, Maja created an ECP framework that can find and use here.

3. GTM Power Hour 

OK so this is less of a framework and more of an exercise that pulls in a handful of frameworks, but very effective nonetheless.

When it comes to go-to-market strategy development, it’s easy and common to overthink it. At this stage, you’re operating with many unknowns, so the best place to start is learning by doing. 

To help companies get things done and start validating go-to-market assumptions as soon as possible, Maja created an exercise called the GTM Power Hour that helps you formulate the go-to-market assumptions that you need to validate before you get the rubber stamp out and start calling them your go-to-market strategy. 

Everything is determined by the selection of the target audience: 

  • Product

  • Pricing and packaging

  • Channel selection

  • Positioning

  • Messaging

A winning Go-to-Market Strategy is proprietary and plays on your strengths. 

And don’t expect it to happen overnight. There is a sequence of validations you need to do to iteratively get to product-market fit and to the growth phase. Inspired by First Rounds’s 4 Levels of Product Market fit framework, the GTM Power Hour exercise includes a set of 5 Proofs that you need to collect on your go-to-market journey: 

  1. Proof of concept - product delivers value to test users

  2. Proof of monetisation - you can get 5-10 paying customers 

  3. Proof of a scalable GTM motion - you can sell to the next 100 customers predictably 

  4. Proof of sustainable business model - you can turn a profit and support growth 

  5. Proof of market expansion - you can win new markets

Example: In this video, Maja shows a real example of how to list initial GTM assumptions for an ed-tech product.

Geek tip: Get the Miro template shown above from here.

4. Implement Growth Loops in your GTM 

You all know how much I love growth loops. I don’t need much of an excuse to talk about them.

In growth, you need to build leverage. One of the best ways to do that is to create growth loops that can become a lever that provides you with an unfair advantage on your go-to-market mission. 

Maja and Ognjen Bošković (prev. Head of Growth at CXL Institute) shared 5 types of growth loops: 

  • Viral - product-related content or recommedation shared on other platforms attracts new users to the product  

  • Usage - user creates something (video, prototype, email, stats) and shares it directly with other users, encouraging them to try the product

  • Collaboration - a user starts creating an asset in the product (website, code, design, email, etc..) and invites colleagues to co-create and collaborate in product with them

  • User-Generated Content - The user discovers the product through indexed content and starts to create more content there, which is itself indexed and attracts more users to the product 

  • Referral - after experiencing the value of the product, a user invites others to use the product in an exchange for some capital (credits, premium features, compensation)

Examples: Take a look at these two deep-dives into some of the most effective loops at Snyk:

Geek tip: Here’s my slide template for documenting growth loops.

Geek note: Reforge identifies 3 top-level types of micro-loop (viral, content, paid) with various sub-types, that can be connected for amplified growth impact through macro loops. It’s a more complex and nuanced view, but can be harder to comprehend when getting your first GTM motion off the ground. I don’t think it matters too much where you begin as you learn to identify loops for your startup as long as you’re able to think about and establish unfair advantage through a loop-based growth model - but knowing all the frameworks will ultimately be beneficial.

5. Launch Plan with an organic viral teaser

A launch plan is critically important when you're bringing a new product to market. 

It's the roadmap that shows everyone in the company what to do and when to do it.

A well-executed launch plan can significantly impact the success of a product or service in the market. 

I asked Maja if she’d be up for sharing some of the details behind the launch plan for her new product - The 100-Step Go-To-Market Checklist. 

She not only agreed but has shared the actual plan, including website and launch post copy, analytics screenshots, campaign structure, and selection of channels for scaling and launching the product. 

Companies earlier in their journeys likely don’t have multiple SDRs and large budgets to spend on acquisition, and this framework provides pragmatic and inexpensive solutions that help companies get there. 

I’ll end this post with what resonates the most with me about this - the underlying philosophy of focus:

Do less to achieve more, which helps to navigate the wild waters of go-to-market and stay committed to the mission by asking yourself, “Is it mission critical?” for everything that you are tempted to add in the backlog.

Maja Voje

Thinking in those terms brings clarity and peace of mind to the often overwhelmed psychological state of anyone working on go-to-market.

Example: Get Maja’s 100-Step GTM Checklist launch plan here.

A big thanks to Maja for working with me on this post, and particularly for being so transparent with the details behind the recent product launch!

PS: If you’re not already, please follow Maja on LinkedIn and her newsletter where she shares weekly insights on go-to-market strategy, tools and tactics. 

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