Do you have a Go-To-Market Strategist on your founding team?
The role of the Go-To-Market Strategist hasn’t yet been clearly defined in most Technology Markets globally. It is however, often referred to indirectly in the United States. Indeed, upon reading the startup literature, it becomes self-evident that Americans (Californians in particular) are about 10-15 years ahead of Europe and Australia in terms of their Go-To-Market thinking. This news won’t come as any surprise to those interested in Tech Startup.
But what is a Go-To-Market Strategist and how does it differ from a Product Manager?
In his book ‘Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers’ Geoffrey A. Moore, breaks down the role of Product Manager even further, as it evolves over the life cycle of the venture and product adoption (see Figure 1):
- Product Manager (more of a product focus)
- Whole Product Manager (equal focus on product and market, substantiating the Product Company)
- Product Marketing Manager (more of a market focus)
Figure 1: The evolution of Product Manager role over the life cycle of venture and product adoption
In my experience the Go-To-Market Strategist bears closest resemblance to Role 2 (Whole Product Manager), but more at the Strategic and Tactical level. It is in fact the job of the Go-To-Market Strategist to assist less experienced Whole Product Managers to successfully navigate the transition between having a Generic Product (i.e. Minimum Viable Product, MVP) and consolidation into a properly functioning Product Company. By this stage the Product Marketers need to take over and drive the product, complete with its positioning, into the marketplace.
To refresh your mind – The Product Manager covers the UX, Tech and Business issues while the Go-To-Market Strategist is focused almost exclusively on Business strategy (see Figure 2), while also keeping an eye on the other two domains in order to structure execution accordingly.
Figure 2: The not so subtle difference between Product Manager & Go-To-Market Strategist
In an ideal world, resources for executing on this plan would come from elsewhere, the mind of the Strategist must remain free from the grind of day-to-day delivery. Outsourcing content creation and other routine tasks to a lower cost economy can make a lot of sense.
The next article I will write about is: “Why domain expertise is not enough for launching discontinuous innovations”. It is often difficult to understand how a Go-To-Market Strategist can greatly assist the launch of products where the Product Owner has 10+ years of domain expertise.
In order to unpack this pivotal role, I shall need to write at length:
(1) (More about) What a Go-To-Market Strategist is?
(2) What he does?
(3) In what cases he is needed?
For now let’s look at some other similar / interrelated roles, within the context of a Case Study:
- Product Owner;
- Sales Strategist; and
- Marketing Strategist.
Case Study: YouTeam (A Digital Platform Startup in the Whole Product > Product Marketing Phase)
Unless we are talking about a VERY big project the Product Owner or Chief Product Officer will need to fulfill all the requirements of the Whole Product Manager. Within YouTeam this role is fulfilled by Yurij Riphyak. This is a role he is very proficient at because of his 10+ years of product startup experience. Yura has a preference for starting up Digital Marketplaces, this isn’t his first. It isn’t the easiest of business models to execute upon and he is doing a good job so far.
However, he can’t do it alone, because of the mind-boggling amount to think about and execute upon. In many ways, Anton Mishchenko is YouTeam’s Go-To-Market Strategist (and Marketing Strategist), obviously he has some interest in the Product Development, but his primary focus is not product but market.
Alas, Anton cannot be both Strategist and Executor, so he needs a highly-skilled and highly-productive Product Marketing Manager, which is Yuliana Oselska’s role. The effective execution of the High-Tech marketing strategy is one of the high-level critical success factors, so Yuliana needs support and access to additional marketing resources.
The Whole Product Manager phase involves putting together (and executing upon) most of the commercialisation strategy required to make the transition from Early Market success to mainstream product adoption. This involves the creation of a lot of other pieces of the puzzle like marketing and sales infrastructure.
Figures 3 & 4 depict what a ‘Whole Product’ might contain. Mainstream customers of your product won’t adopt anything less than the Expected Product (Figure 3), because they are expecting an off the shelf solution.
Figure 3 – Geoffrey A. Moore’s Whole Product Model – MVP (Generic Product) is not the Whole Product
Figure 4 – An example of a donut diagram, expressing the requirements of the rest of Whole Product
Please let me know if this was a useful article for your project and if you have any questions or you know anyone who could benefit from my Go-To-Market insights. My contact information is below.
LeverPoint Advisory: Founding Partner & Go-To-Market Strategist
YouTeam: Product Marketing & Blogger
www.leverpoint.co.uk (currently under development)
Skype Handle: Tristan Senycia (Senyctone)
“Go-to-market excellence required for product success”
Helping Product Owners with Market Entry & Product Adoption, while avoiding costly errors // Start-ups, SMEs and Technology-Enabled Businesses