In this recent post, we discussed how to identify your customer and the importance of confirming that they’re willing to buy your product. Now it’s time to use that information to build your business plan and go-to-market strategy. Your business plan represents your long-term goals and your strategy for achieving those goals. Your go-to-market strategy describes how you’re going to take your product through its lifecycle.
Here are 6 steps that will help you create a bulletproof business plan and go-to-market strategy to accelerate your growth.
Step 1: Prepare and Create a Business Plan
Creating a business plan isn’t something that can (or should) be done alone. Make it a group activity so everyone on the team is involved and has a voice in the process. Your plan will be more robust and actionable with multiple perspectives and buy in from stakeholders.
Your business plan begins with your vision statement. Everything that follows is about how you make that vision happen. Typically, you keep your business plan high level, and your team aligns to it by providing details on how they’ll contribute to meeting goals.
The biggest thing to remember when building your plan is that it’s all about the customer, always. Give your team a single point of reference as questions arise — post customer personas on a wall, write reminders on the whiteboards. Keeping the customer center stage allows you to “just say no” when you’re figuring out what is and isn’t in your business plan and your offering.
Your plan can take many forms. At Salesforce, we create a V2MOM. It describes what the company wants to accomplish in the year. Every employee creates their V2MOM.
Step 2: Build a Go-to-Market Plan
Your go-to-market plan helps you with everything from ensuring that you’re building the right product for the right customer, to supporting that product after it’s launched.
There are many templates available online that include some version of the following:
- Target market segment
- Key customers attributes
- Value proposition
- Sales and customer service channels
- Financial model and budgeting
- Marketing and awareness plan with a complete sales kit
Step 3: Create Your Value Proposition
How would you like to be identified in the market? How does your offering stand out from your competitors? Your value proposition articulates the answers to those questions. Create a simple and direct statement that describes what you’re offering to the market. Don’t get caught up in business lingo — the simpler, the better.
Step 4: Develop a Distribution Strategy
Where will customers go to purchase your offering? Will you go to market with other app companies or system integrators? And how will you provide support to them after they’ve purchased it? The answers to these questions define your distribution strategy.
AppExchange is a great place to market and sell your app because it has a large audience. If you also use your own website, you can provide support options like training, a question and answer forum, a Success Community, and a case filing system.
Step 5: Build and Execute Your Marketing Plan
The last item in your go-to-market strategy is your marketing plan. Let’s look at the key parts.
- Create Brand Awareness: this isn’t just about official colors or a fancy logo. It’s about articulating your value proposition and company vision into memorable words or phrases for your target audience.
- Build a Marketing Calendar: your marketing calendar is a great way to organize all the events, campaigns and social activities you want to pursue to get your offering in front of customers.
- Sales Kit: create a sales kit so that everyone knows how to engage your customers at events. The kit ensures best practices and a consistent message every time.
Step 6: Don’t Forget to Align Your Teams
Great plans, but can you pull them off? A common mistake is not taking the time to build alignment with your team. Discuss your plans with the team and get their feedback. This exercise provides invaluable feedback on how to reach your goals.
Experience has shown us that if you take time to build strong business and go-to-market plans and create alignment with your team, you have a better chance of success.
If you want to learn more, check out our Marketing Power Hours, where industry leaders come to share their best practices. Or poke around the Marketing section of the Partner Community, which contains resources for doing everything from making your AppExchange listing stand out to sponsorship opportunities.