Go To Market! GTM Plan? What It Is & Why You Need One

By Niven Singh, Published: 04/11/2016, Last Updated: 04/11/2016

In every developer’s life, there comes a magical moment in time—when your product is finally released. While there is a lot that goes into building the product, when it comes to release time, it’s not quite as simple as throwing your product out there and waiting to see what happens—you need a creative, well-considered go-to-market plan, one that will help your product find the right audience, and attract their interest. Like many of the other business topics we’ve discussed here, this is another one that's better decided upfront. In order to get the most bang for your buck, and to really get the word out, you'll want to get started as soon as possible.

Ask yourself this: How do I get the most out of the resources I have available? The key to a good go-to-market plan is creativity. Even if you have funding and a big staff, you’re going to want to make every last dollar and hour count.

Read on to learn more about creating your go-to-market plan, including the best ways to leverage your network, and how to be smart about connecting with potential customers.

Get to Know Your Customers

The first step to selling your product is figuring out who your customers are—and making sure you have a product that they want. This might seem obvious, but it’s always a good reminder that even the best go-to-market plan isn’t going to help sell something that isn’t what your customers asked for or doesn’t solve the right problems. Market validation is a great way to test your product idea, and you can read more about it here.

Decide What You’re Going to Say

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of creating a solid value prop—a single sentence that helps communicate what you do, for whom, and why. Once you have that nailed down, you can create your actual messaging.

The goal of your messaging is to inspire and attract. It needs to speak to the actual benefits of your product or your app, both the tangible and the emotional benefits while eliciting excitement.

It’s also important to think about where your messaging will be used, and tailor accordingly. You might have one version for attracting advertisers, and a different version for speaking directly to customers.

Find Out Where Your Customers Hang Out

Your go-to-market plan is not just about who your customers are, or what you say to customers—it’s also where you say it. This a big piece of the puzzle that is often forgotten about. Every customer goes through a journey when it comes to purchasing something, and it begins before they’re even ready to buy. It starts when they first become aware of a new product or hear about a new concept.

For instance, to find new games, your customer might read gaming blogs or head over to  Reddit. If something looks interesting, they might check out a trailer—all before heading to your website or searching for you on an app store. The more often you can put your product in front of your customer during this journey, the more likely they are to buy it.

Here are some questions to ask as you try to understand your customer’s purchasing journey:

  • What is your customer’s typical path to purchase? What channels do they frequent on the way? Consider websites, blogs, social, advertising, and app store listings where they might come across your genre, industry or product.
  • What motivates them to try or buy a new product? Expert reviews? Video trailers? Free trials?
  • Do they pride themselves on being early adopters? If so, consider making a beta version available so they can earn the bragging rights they want, and you can earn a new customer.

Make Smart Connections

Once you understand the customer's purchasing journey, you need to develop a plan to connect with your customers along the way, in the language that fits those spaces. Here are some ideas to get your started:

  • Leverage family and friends. Think creatively about who the people you know might know, and how those people can help get the word out. Can someone you know introduce you to a blogger or a YouTuber?
  • Social. Remember to think beyond your own favorite social networks. Which ones do your customers frequent? How do they use those social networks to learn about new products and apps?
  • Paid advertising. With digital, it’s possible to spend a small amount on a media buy for a highly targeted audience that can be closely measured. You still want to leverage free opportunities, but targeted, thoughtful paid media can be very impactful.
  • Shareable image or GIF. Is there a funny way to think about your product or the problem it solves? Any memorable images that come to mind? Creating images or GIFs ahead of time can be a great way to capture attention and encourage people to spread the word.
  • Mini-game. Can you extend the image or GIF idea into some kind of game? Something simple and fun that's connected to the product idea, and easy to pass along?
  • Trailer. Do your customers like watching trailers? If they frequent gaming blogs and app stores, they might like seeing your product illustrated in a video. Review your competitors to understand how you can differentiate, and what customers expect to see.
  • Viral sharing. To encourage sharing, gamify the act of sharing itself! Make it easy, and truly fun, and you’ll create evangelists. Prizes can be credits or points—Share my app and get 5 free credits!—or whatever makes sense based on your product, audience, and message.

Adjust as You Move Forward

As always, your go-to-market plan will need to be reviewed and optimized after launch. What worked? What didn’t? Did you find the right customers, and did they engage the way you expected them to? Everything digital is measurable, and the smarter and more thoughtful you can be about processing results and learning from them, the better your product will be. This will be an ongoing effort, so track, measure, optimize and repeat!

Can you think of an example of a really creative way that a company has created buzz for its product? Share it in the comments!

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