“You know what we need… is a Go-To-Market plan.”  

Did you feel a shiver down your spine, like someone just walked over the graves of your past failed product launches?

Go-to-Market (GTM) plans are a hallmark of every new product introduction, and yet all too often, organizations don’t have a clear concept of what a GTM plan should look like… or worse, the “plan” is just a tactical checklist of deliverables, campaign webinars, and maybe a few website updates.

A great GTM plan becomes the backbone of any product launch. It provides a framework that specifies the most important elements for all functional areas involved. It answers questions like: 

  • What are we selling? 
  • Who’s going to buy it? 
  • Why would they buy it? 
  • How much will we expect them to pay? 
  • How will they find out about it? 
  • Who’s selling it? 
  • How will we measure success? 

Getting all these common sense elements aligned seems like it should be easy. Yet, it’s surprising how many conflicting opinions, miscommunications, and unresolved questions lurk in the shadows when it comes to assembling this information.

Before we talk about what’s needed for a rock-solid GTM plan, though, let’s establish the basic components of any GTM plan for a product launch. After that, let’s take a deeper look at what’s required to go beyond the templates to make your GTM plan a true backbone for your launch.

Getting from “blank page” to a first draft of a plan

Here are the six components that should be part of any GTM plan – especially for B2B and enterprise products:

The target market

So, who’s buying? Identify your ideal customer profile and understand your buyer persona: their pain points and challenges, their preferences.

To collect that market data, run surveys, talk to internal stakeholders, interview customers, attend events, conduct win-loss calls, and engage with analysts and industry experts. Group your personas into segments based on commonalities in buying behavior. Oh, and when you’re done, don’t forget to test your hypotheses, too.

The value proposition

Why are they buying? Put together an internal messaging framework that communicates a primary message, key benefits, and true differentiators. Align features, proof points, and customer stories to reinforce those points. Prune away any marketing fluff or inconsequential features that well-meaning extra chefs try to toss into the product descriptions you’re baking.

The pricing and packaging

What are they paying, and what do they get for their money? Understand your costs, your revenue targets, and the levers you have within the product. Then look for a pricing strategy that matches your goal of scaling up as you deliver more value. Compare what you assemble to the alternatives to make sure you’re not way over or under market expectations.  Do what you can to test the price point before launch.

The promotion

How do they hear about it? The world won’t beat a path to your door for your better mousetrap. Find out what the product has for a marketing budget, or work backwards from targets and propose one. 

With messaging and budget in hand, go to your demand-gen team to devise initial campaign plans, be they driven by digital, print, social, event, direct mail, or account-based marketing. Get an idea for what content is needed to support that marketing mix, especially once you need to convert prospects from the shiny top-of-funnel campaigns to the middle of their buyer journey.

The selling channels

Who’s selling it? Call out approaches for options like value-added resellers, partners, white-labeling via OEMs, or pure digital sales.

Consider multiple groups within your organization: account managers, business development, sales teams targeting your segment, or maybe that new SWAT tiger team that’s hitting up your base for upsell revenue. Recognize these answers may change for anything sold beyond your country’s borders. 

Measuring success

What’s the score? Track progress by assembling a set of quantitative measurements, however you formulate them: KPIs, OKRs, SMART goals, or simply key metrics. Define tools, methods, and clear ownership associated with collecting and analyzing that data – ideally via an accessible, actively refreshed report or dashboard that doesn’t depend on an external group to pull your results.


As you see above, there’s a lot of information to gather for just the fundamental components of a GTM plan. It’s not something you whip together the weekend before that Monday kickoff meeting. Fortunately, templates (from the PMA and elsewhere) can help you capture and represent these elements until you develop your own favorites.

Getting from “first draft” to a decent plan

Following the templates can be a great way to get started as you collect all this information. Nevertheless, if you don’t also put some thought into the exercise, the templates can lead you astray. Go from information collection to creating a decent plan by taking into account these considerations.

Consider the “jobs to be done” 

No one disagrees that making data-driven decisions is a good thing.  With so much data available these days, however, it’s possible to miss the forest for the trees. 

If you are poring over product adoption metrics, analyzing market sizes, or compiling demographic and psychographic persona data, you might not learn your customers’ “jobs to be done”.

Ask yourself and your teams: what problem is this product solving? What value are we delivering? What’s the “so what” that our customers care about? Identify that kernel and use it to drive your value proposition and the rest of the messaging framework, which is the linchpin for the rest of the plan.

Collaborate with your product and sales teams

Avoid the temptation to create everything from within product marketing. Your product managers and developers may have already spent a lot of time talking to customers. Mind you, their focus has been on the users, while yours is on the buyers… but their discovery process still finds insights into what your customers are trying to solve. 

Likewise, your sales teams and their supporters are on the front lines, talking to customers every day. They have insights into larger trends, shared pain points, and other customer commonalities. They won’t be shy about pointing out flaws in your GTM plan.

Invest your time in “outside-in”

Above all else, make sure you get out of your organization’s ivory tower and talk to customers yourself. The info from those conversations with your product teams, sales reps, support teams, and industry analysts may certainly help, but the groupthink of your managers and peers from within your organization can lead you to unchallenged assumptions about what your customers value. 

Ultimately, there’s nothing like sitting down with a customer or potential prospect for a sanity check on what you think is true. So join sales meetings, give your presentations, handle win-loss calls yourself, be in the booth at that industry event, and set up individual interviews with customers and prospects outside of the sales cycle.

Getting from “decent” to a rock-solid plan

All of the above is common sense not commonly practiced. Still, it’s not too different from what you’d read elsewhere about go-to-market planning.  These last three points, however, can make the difference between a “decent” GTM plan that is at risk of faltering, and a rock-solid plan that your teams can rely on.

You may own it… but that doesn’t mean you do it all.

The easiest trap for product marketing to fall into is to attempt to be in charge of everything in the GTM plan.  Other functions are famously capable of hand-waving away tasks and tough questions with a dismissive “oh, that’s for product marketing.” This abdication can bury the product marketing team under the weight of unachievable expectations for a launch. 

The role of the launch leader is best described as making stone soup. Identify a team of stakeholders – ideally functional leaders or their designates – who will take ownership of their sections of the GTM plan. 

Put the onus on them to provide the strategy ingredients for readiness, and ask them to track their list of deliverables and milestones themselves or use a shared project manager. Working together with contributions from each team gets a final product everyone is proud to be a part of.

Once your organization is mature enough, help establish a launch team outside of product marketing to be in charge of project management so you can focus on the GTM strategy as well as executing on product marketing deliverables. 

Use checklists… but don’t slavishly rely on them

GTM plans often manifest as cookie-cutter spreadsheets with a grueling list of deliverables.  Oh, and almost every item on that checklist is assigned to product marketing by default. “Sorry, everyone, but that’s what the checklist says! So can we have those datasheets and videos by Thursday?”

To paraphrase Captain Barbossa, checklists are more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules. Use them to make sure you’re not missing any good ideas from the past, but resist the temptation to rely exclusively on them.

It’s painfully easy for launch managers to fall back on tried-and-true checklists, and to dive into the tactics of a launch, without considering the larger context and strategy of a go-to-market plan. Each launch is different. Deliverables must have a purpose and a priority, or else your team is just committing random acts of marketing.

Get executive sponsorship, input, and buy-in… or force their hand.

If you’re fortunate, your leadership team uses a new product introduction process to greenlight new ideas. They vet new product ideas at their inception, commission others to elaborate on the project scope and feasibility, then follow progress through delivery, with check-ins or stage exits along the way.

Smaller or fast-moving companies, however, may not inject such rigor in their product introduction process. That means it’s dangerously easy for products to make their way forward from a development team without alignment on their raison d’etre

Find the executive who cares about this product’s success. Maybe the CTO or head of product has been championing its on-time delivery for months.  Perhaps your head of sales is depending on the product for her third-quarter forecast.

Your CEO may even be the one watching closely. Get them to validate your strategy, to articulate target metrics, and to wrangle other executive stakeholders who disagree. Failure to do this puts you at the mercy of unattainable expectations.  

But what if you can’t find an executive invested in this product’s successful launch?  Then it’s time to question why you – or anyone, really – are spending any time on the project in the first place.

You can’t guarantee success, but you can mitigate risk

No GTM plan is truly bulletproof.  Market conditions change. Products get delayed. Executive sponsors change their mind. Companies pivot. 

Nevertheless, armed with a rock-solid, documented go-to-market strategy, you’re better able to navigate those unforeseen obstacles and reduce chaos.  


As President Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” 

The process of gathering information, exploring options, and achieving alignment results in a plan of record – one that cross-functional leaders and execs have contributed to and agreed is the source of truth. 

When circumstances do change, cut down on the corporate game of telephone with some effective change management, and drive everyone back to the plan. That way, you’ll give your product launches the best opportunity to succeed.

Go-to-Market Certified: Masters

Having a strong go-to-market strategy helps to elevate and align Product, Marketing, and Revenue teams to established goals, narratives, and motions related to new product offerings; it ensures everyone understands exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it when you’re doing it, who you’re doing it to, and how you’ll do it.

That’s why it’s so important to get right. And what better way to truly optimize your GTM strategy than taking our Go-to-Market Certified: Masters course?

This course will help you:

  • Grasp a proven product launch formula that’s equal parts comprehensive, repeatable, creative, and collaborative.
  • Gain the expertise and know-how to build and tailor an ideal product blueprint of your own.
  • Equip yourself with templates to facilitate a seamless GTM process.

So what are you waiting for?