If you are running a business, you know expanding one is no easy feat. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and of course, they all go beyond the initial business idea and launch to get you fully into the growth phase. One such big responsibility is launching your product or service in a new market.
While launching your product or service can be something really exciting, it can also be overwhelming to enter a market - especially when you are expanding your business to the international market for the first time.
That's why it's very important to have a solid go-to-market strategy in place. You must have often heard established business owners talking about market strategy, and today we will be discussing everything about it.
So whether you are a startup or an established business, In this guide, you’ll learn to create an effective go-to-market plan and get actionable insights to help you get your product or service in front of the right people!
What's a market strategy?
A market strategy is a plan that can help your business reach and engage its target audience, promote your products and services and achieve goals in a competitive market.
In simple terms, your market entry strategy can help you to outline your entry into the new market and what your expectations are. Here, you will be covering the aspects like what you are selling to your customer, what kind of market you will choose and how you will be entering the market.
So, imagine that you are a startup company that produces eco-friendly household cleaning products. Here, you can develop a market strategy to reach environmentally conscious consumers who are looking for non-toxic cleaning options!
A solid marketing strategy is unique and tailored to the needs and characteristics of the target audience and the competition involved. So, you should be prepared for careful planning, research and analysis to identify the best tactics and channels that can help you create desired results.
Typically, entry into domestic markets is easier than entering international markets due to multiple factors - like the size of your target group, the customer potential, demand for your product and cultural differences.
Why do you need to develop a go-to-market strategy for your business?
So before you develop your market strategy, you will be required to understand the reasons for entering a particular market and if it's the right step to take.
Usually, it’s recommended to create a fresh market strategy for every new market you enter, here are some additional reasons why it can be a smart choice:
- It can help you to identify your new customers and enable you to sell your products and services more. This can be a great way to increase your revenue
- Expanding into new markets can be a great way to grow your business
- A comprehensive go-to-market strategy can reduce the risk since a good performance in one location can compensate and overlap the issues in another location.
- A solid strategy can help you to allocate your resources at the right places and maximise your return on the investment.
What are the international market entry strategies?
When you plan to enter into international markets, you will need to think about ways that can give you the best control over your product and services, your sourcing intentions and the predicted returns. This completely depends on the size and type of business you run. But in general, there are a few market entry strategies that you can consider for entering a market.
- Exporting: Direct exporting means you will be selling your products or services to customers directly into a new international market. This is relatively a low-risk strategy which allows businesses to test the waters in the new market - without having to invest a significant amount.
- Licensing: Another way to enter a market is through Licensing. Here you will be allowing another company to use a business’s intellectual property such as trademarks, patents, or copyrights. This will be in exchange for royalties or other payments.
- Franchising: You must have heard of this one! Franchising involves allowing another business to use your business’s brand name, operating procedures, and other assets in exchange for some fees or ongoing royalties.
- Joint Venture: A joint venture means that you will be partnering with another company to enter a new market. This can be a great way to share the risks and costs of running a business in a new country. On top of this, you can also seek benefits from the partner’s expertise and resources.
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) involves setting up operations in a new country through acquisition or by establishing a new subsidiary. This strategy is best suited for businesses with a long-term commitment to a specific market or industry.
How to prepare your go-to-market strategy
Once you’ve decided to enter a new market, it’s important for you to draw a plan that navigates you to the market. This process can often be a challenging one if you don’t have a strong plan in place. Your plan will depend on several factors like target market, business objectives, available resources and regulatory environment. So, it's smart to consider various factors and come up with an appropriate strategy. Here’s how you can create one:
Step 1: Define your target audience
Defining your target audience can bring you closer to a specific group of people that are likely to take interest in your product or service and may possibly also buy it. It further involves understanding their needs and preferences. Let’s understand this through an example:
Let’s say you are launching a new line of vegan snacks. You can further break them down into a category such as "people who follow a plant-based diet." Now, to define this audience, you will be considering their age, income level, geographic location and lifestyle.
So, for instance, your target audience can be defined as young adults in urban areas with a disposable income, who are interested in health and wellness trends.
To identify this, one strategy that can come in handy is creating buyer personas. These personas are fictional representatives of your ideal customer, based on research and data. Personas are a great way to understand your customer’s motivations, buying behaviours and even their pain points. These personas can be created through conducting surveys, interviews and understanding customer data.
Another effective way to define your audience is through conducting market research. Here, you can gather data and analyse data about your target audience and the market in which you operate. This way, you can identify trends, opportunities and challenges to make informed decisions.
Step 2: Identify your unique value proposition
Consider that you have planned to launch a new line of vegan snacks in the UK market. Now, it’s time to ask yourself what makes your snacks stand out from the competition.
One easy way to figure out your Unique Value Proposition is to jot down the benefits that your vegan snacks offer compared to other similar products in the market. For example, let's consider that your snacks are made from all-natural ingredients - which come with low calories, less sugar and are gluten-free.
It's worth noting that when you do this, you will also be researching your competitor's products. Understanding your competitors is a really important aspect as it helps in recognising the position of your product in the market and discovering ways to improve it.
The UK market comes with a lot of competition and challenges. Identifying your UVP and understanding the needs of your target audience is the only way to set yourself apart from the competition and create a loyal customer base!
Step 3: Develop a messaging strategy
Once you have your UVP, it's time to decide your communication strategy with your customers. Let's circle back to the same example of vegan snacks - here your messaging should focus on promoting the health benefits of your snacks, how they resonate with your customer's pain points and how they are unique when compared to the other snacks in the market.
It's also a good idea to study how your competitors are communicating with their target audience and how to review how you can do better!
There are a few ways to develop a strong messaging strategy:
- Keep it simple! This means, your messaging should be easy to understand and should be able to communicate your features and benefits clearly.
- Don't be too salesy, because nobody likes when you push them to buy your product! Simply put, your messaging should avoid using salesy language and must focus on solving your customer's problems.
- Talking about pain points is another great way to create a convincing message. Make sure you highlight how your product will solve your customer's pain points and make their lives easier.
- Make sure that whatever messaging strategy you choose, you are sticking to it. Consistent messaging can help in creating a brand identity and enable your customers to recognise you in the crowd.
Step 4: Choose the right channels and tactics
The next step is about choosing the right channels and tactics. Typically, companies will need to choose different channels to reach their target audience. So, for example, if you are selling vegan snacks, then you can use social media ads to reach a wider audience and target your ads that focus on health-conscious people.
Influencer marketing is another great and effective strategy to release your product information among your customers. Here you can partner up with popular vegan bloggers or health influencers to promote your product. You can also look into content marketing benefits and how they can come in handy to garner traffic to your business.
It's important to note that customer preferences and behaviours play a major role in selecting a channel or tactic. So, for example, if your target audience mostly uses Instagram, then you need to show up for your customers here. However, if your audience is older and less-tech savvy, then you can host in-person events or advertise your product through health food stores.
Additionally, you need to take care of your budget and the available resources when you choose your tactics. This means that while some tactics can be expensive. They can have a greater impact on your sales and can be really handy to spread awareness. On the other hand, there are tactics which are less expensive but may demand more time from you.
Step 5: Define your sales strategy
Defining your sales strategy can attract your customers and help to convince them that your product is worth investing in. Considering the same example of a vegan snack here, you can decide on how you would want to sell your products or service to your target audience - this means that you can either sell it online, in UK’s health food stores or at farmer’s markets. These are just a few ways to sell it to your target audience. Your selling strategy will entirely depend on the type of product or service, the location, the buyer’s persona and the resources available to you.
You will also need to take other factors into account like pricing, distribution and sales channels. We have a few handy tips for you to help you define your sales strategy with ease:
- Consider the pricing and distribution strategies of your competitors and analyse what they are doing in the same market
- Research the costs involved and what benefits you can seek from sales channels. Also, try understanding how you can fit these strategies into your potential market.
- Brainstorm about any extra services or incentives which you would like to offer to your customers - like free samples or first-time buyer discounts.
Step 6: Use numbers to optimise your strategy for long-term growth
Creating a successful strategy is all about the numbers! You should always be able to track your progress, measure them and monitor the results to check if your plan is working in your favour or not!
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Check your website's visitors and analyse if the content you have put up is bringing value to your business or not
- Track your costs as it will introduce well-performing and under-performing areas of marketing
- Customers that rank you highly are the biggest supporters of your business. It's worth incorporating NPS in your business as it measures how likely a customer is to recommend your products to others - this is usually based on a rating of 1-10.
- It's also a good idea to track the length of your sales cycle. Calculating your sales cycle comes in handy to reduce your conversion time and helps you gain better results and speed up your revenue.
What to consider when creating a market entry strategy
Now that you have a market entry plan, you must be ready to hit the ground running. There are still a few things to keep in mind:
- Firstly, it's important to research your target market deeply. You can't simply enter a new market with little information as it can jeopardise your business in no time. You need to list all the needs and preferences of your audience, as well as study the competitive landscape and possible barriers to entry. Of course, it can be a long process, but you cannot create a successful business without deep research!
- You also need to consider the regulatory and legal requirements of entering a new market. Every international market has its own business laws and requirements that you need to follow - such as corporate taxes, company registration process, filing accounts etc. So, make sure to research the entire regulatory framework of the country to avoid any issues in the future.
- Think about your resources and capabilities - this means that you will need to check human resources, operational capabilities, financial resources and business knowledge.
- The timing of the entry also matters! This can probably be an underrated aspect of entering a new market but can turn out to be the biggest strength if you choose to understand it. Here, you will need to analyse if the market is ready for your product or service, if there are any seasonal or cultural factors to consider etc.
- Develop realistic goals and include all the timelines and budgets for the same.
- And finally, build a strong team that can help you in executing your business plan. This includes having the right talent, skills and expertise in place so that they can navigate you through the challenges of entering a new market.