Go To Market

Kiran Deshpande

Kiran Deshpande

Our Global Trustee and an inveterate marketeer, Kiran Deshpande (founder, Mojo Networks) shared his inputs on the very vital go-to-market strategy at our webinar last week. Here we publish a few pointers from Kiran’s notes.

“Most founders at the very early stage of their company are focused on the product or service and not so much on the market. Founders need to focus as much on the target market and customers” says Kiran. “Start-ups often face the tricky issue of creating customers at an early stage in their life. This is a crucial test for the founders. However, it is also an aspect that is often overlooked.” Here is a set of simple guidelines that can be used by start-ups.  Before you Go To Market, let’s ask three questions:

  1. What are we selling – a product or a service?
  2. To Whom are we selling it?
  3. Where are we selling?

The answer to the first question can be, “Whatever the company is building”, be it a product, service or both? Even if you sell a product like footwear, some service may be required. For example, a product return policy. You buy a footwear, and it turns out to be defective or doesn’t fit you. Your customer wants to return it. So, the company needs to have a return policy backed by a service. For some products, warranty and annual maintenance support is required. Laptop computers, for example, fall in this category.

On the other hand, let’s say someone is planning to launch a CRM or an enterprise networking product. Now, deployment  and ongoing operations and maintenance are needed. Some start-ups may only have a service offering. Most IT service companies fall in this category. They don’t sell packaged products like Microsoft or Apple do.

The Second question is to whom?  Any of the following scenarios are possible: 

  1. You sell to organizations (Business to Business or B2B)
  2. To individual consumers (Business to Consumers or B2C)
  3. To organizations who in turn sell to consumers (Business to Business to Consumers or B2B2C).
  4. To organizations who use it for consumers (Business to Business for Consumers or B2B4C).

Go To Market Strategy 

How do you reach your defined market that you have identified it? Go To Market strategy is your answer. Go-To Market is a strategy where you define what to sell, whom to sell, where to sell and the mechanism of how to create awareness in the designated market.

Go to market strategy evolves over time. Founders and the core team define strategies in the beginning and need to iterate to create Version 2.0, Version 3.0 and even intermediate. It is an ongoing process. Timeline for each stage will be based on the specific offering, geographies and the capital available to build the marketing and sales organization. Triggers for Version 2.0, 3.0 can be discrete events like funding, major customer acquisition or achieving certain milestones. Founders, investors, advisers and employees all have a role to play. Founders are the fulcrum. The CEO needs to think through this and gather a team around her / him to put this in motion. It can also be imagining the company in future time and putting together the strategy.

Centre of attention in most startups is the product. Founders and the core team often assume that once a good  product is built, the market will adopt it and the growth will follow. It does not happen that way many times. Founding teams can be in for rude shocks.

In summary, Go To Market strategy will involve the following:  

  1. Change product mix and strategy
    i) Introduce new product(s)
    ii) Discontinue a product or a product line
    iii)  Introduce a Freeware (for a software company)
  2. Introduce channels and partnerships
  3. OEM / White label
  4. Branding / rebranding
  5. Introducing a brand ambassador
  6. Pricing
  7. Product management

Some of these are expanded below:

Changing product mix by announcing end of life (EOL) for products, making software products  freeware can be part of marketing or Go To Market strategy. Early stage companies don’t  experience it but start-ups with products that have long sales cycle or operate in markets such as  telecom, Government will experience this.

  1. Counterintuitive strategies such as discontinuing a product line, exiting a market are part of Go To Market strategies.
  2. Technology start-ups may need to look for white label channels with industry brands that have complementary offerings in a mutually beneficial relationship. The start-up needs to carefully weigh her own brand while others create products using her technology. Advantage is the market of the established brand and its vast channels.
  3. Introduction of a brand ambassador such as a well-known media (Cinema, TV, Internet) or sports personality is a major event to grow the brand and motivate channels and the sales team. Pricing is integral to Go to Market strategy and is a critical part of it. Whether it is premium pricing  or value pricing; does it include channel margin etc. discounting strategies have to be decided  before creating even the first customer. Most software products startups assume SaaS based pricing as given. It may not be the best way in early stages.
  4. Like pricing, product management is required from the very early stages. Product management lays down the product road map (features that will be available over the next few versions). A startup does not have all the features in the first version of its products. It is always a promise of future, innovation and speed which startups bring to the table.

Shantanu Deshpande

According to Shantanu Deshpande, founder, Bombay Shaving Company, “it’s simple really. Find out what the consumer is doing on their phone, and when they are MOST LIKELY to stop doing that and buy. So, we listed the onion oil on our website and drove consumers there from TikTok  (when consumers are most vella). We also realized ‘beard growth’ keywords had sizeable search volume on Google and Amazon – clear purchase intent was established. So, we bid PPC and listed high quality across ecommerce, esp. Amazon and Flipkart. Then, we drove traffic while marginal cost per transaction was less than Rs. 75. This led to an initial cohort size of ~50000 and post that, look-alike and remarketing  efficiencies were sizeable enough to scale through a basic CCC (Content→Community→Commerce)  approach.”

Scale Up:  
We tracked PMF (Product Market Fit) across efficient media and efficient platform. For e.g. Facebook – website and Google – Amazon was a great fit but TikTok – Nykaa was not. So, once we got that + content, that worked, we accelerated spends. After 25 LPM, we moved to ATL content, i.e. influencer, and used that across the board.”

If you are interested in more on this, you can contact rohini.joshi@tiepune.org and sign up at TiE’s  GTM Value Circle where Kiran and TiE team will help you to design your strategy.

Contact us if you have a story to tell: rashmi.ghosh@tiepune.org

Share This
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments