Focus Areas

Going To Market (GTM)

The objective of this part of the Startup Secrets series is once again to provide you a framework to think through the various elements of a Go To Market (GTM) approach. This is a huge subject, yet as a startup I believe there is a simple framework that can be used to organize your thinking. It’s illustrated below.

On the left hand side it essentially covers what you will probably need to think through in getting awareness of your business all the way to taking customers to purchasing your product or service.

Using this as a starting point, the columns to the right are essentially about how you define strategies and tactics to reach your target audience and what channels you might use for leverage.


I recommend you start with defining your Brand. It’s all about who you are and what you represent. See this presentation from our prior workshop.

Once you have your Brand essence, it’s vital to think about how you will Position yourself clearly and message consistently. The good news is that this builds on your Value Proposition.

Rather than assuming you will market and sell directly to your potential customers, I then recommend taking time to think about what Distribution / Channel you will use. This is usually intertwined with your Business Model. The key principal here is to think about what leverage you can build into your GTM and Business Model by working with partners who can mutually benefit from carrying your product or service to your desired market.

That brings me to the final piece. This is all about getting really clear and specific about who you are selling to. Here the key is one word. FOCUS! That’s best done by targeting and segmenting your market and identifying your buyer personas and then ensuring you know who will play (Actors) what part in what stage (Scene) of the sales cycle.

With this framework as a starting point, per the bottom line of the diagram, I recommend instrumenting everything to become Results Oriented, Metrics and Execution Driven so that you can Continuously Iterate and Improve your GTM strategies and tactics.

Phew! As I suggested, this is a big area, but these are the bare minimum things you will need to think through as a startup to get going.

In order to bring this to life, I will endeavor to bring subject matter experts and case studies to bear to give you a sense of what this really means in practice.

From our first series of workshops,  see the following resources below

  • A discussion of the importance of Brand
  • Targeting & Segmentation and the case example from Demandware (NYSE:DWRE)
  • Channels and Distribution – Unidesk case example
  • Guerrila marketing - because startups are always challenged to be resource efficient

From our second session, see the following resources below

  • Inbound Marketing - from Brian Halligan, CEO Hubspot (to be posted shortly)
  • Outbound Marketing - a counterpoint to the above from Mark Lorion, CMO Apperian
  • Sales Funnel Design and Optimization - by David Skok, Matrix Partners

And finally because startups invariably need to get referenceable customers, there is a discussion on using Services as a Competitive advantage. See below or linked here.

Note, I’m not aiming to have answers as much as to bring scaffolding to you to erect your own business, and develop your own insights into your own specific situation and therefore learn experientially rather than prescriptively.  What I can say with conviction though is that there are some really interesting startup secrets I’ve learned over the years that are pretty universally worth considering. For example - creating early reference customers that can provide you credibility to build on. As obvious as these may be we will try to highlight enough of them to ensure you’re getting your unfair share of competitive advantage as a startup! 

As ever please share your thoughts and learnings back here to help others in the community benefit.


An overall strategic and tactical framework for your GTM
Jeff Whatcott shares his startup secrets

Case Examples

Jeff Whatcott shares his startup secrets
Guest post by Jeff Whatcott, Chief Marketing Officer at Brightcove
Rebranding a Startup after a Pivot: Case Study with Apperian
Minimum Viable Segment & Demandware case example
Unidesk case example on how to create multipliers in your GTM
Unidesk case example - measuring everything
When Outbound marketing makes sense


Forbes, April 10, 2014, Michael J. Skok
7 golden nuggets and 7 deadly sins to get you thinking
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