22 min read

The ultimate guide to Go-to-Market product launch for startups and SMEs in 2023

Published on
January 12, 2023
Patrick Mehrhoff
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Creating a new product is an exciting but challenging task. Launching a product means understanding your customers and your competition is essential. Find the story only you can tell, and use it to create a unique product.

I have extensive experience bringing successful fintech and crypto financial services startups to market. I helped start two of the most successful fintech startups in Switzerland; I have since been leading the marketing and business development strategies at MEHRHOFF DIGITAL, where I help our customers successfully bring their businesses and products to life and make their vision a reality.

Product marketing can mean different things to different organisations. The role of product marketing is challenging to define, and therefore it is difficult to determine how it fits into an organisation.

From my experience as a marketing manager at MoneyPark and Crypto Finance, and later as a consultant for fintech companies from buy-side to sell-side, there is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding product marketing. Sometimes product marketing is part of the marketing team, but I've also seen it be part of the product team. Some product marketing teams focus on sales promotion (often with enterprise products), while others concentrate on product announcements. The role of product marketing is challenging to define, and thus also how it fits into an organisation.

Product marketing begins before the product launch

The common analogy that product managers put the product on the shelf and product marketers take it off the shelf is fundamentally flawed. The best products you develop with the market in mind, and product marketing should play its part long before anything is ever put on a shelf.

Regardless of the industry, product or organisational structure, a common mistake I see is that companies start to implement product marketing - usually during beta testing.

Have you ever heard your line manager say: "Product or service XY is almost ready; can you announce it?" That's a recipe for an announcement that will probably fail but certainly not reach its full potential.

If you wait until the beta stage to start product marketing, you miss out on the work that makes your launch a success, as you can see below in the steps of launching a new product.

  1. Who are your customers
  2. Who is your competition
  3. What is the problem statement and solution
  4. How do you position your product
  5. How you create your product messaging
  6. Beta testing of your product
  7. Develop Go-To-Market Campaign
  8. Q&A of the product
  9. End-to-end user testing
  10. Educate and train your employees
  11. Execute Go-To-Market Plan
  12. Measure and improve

Who are your customers

Marketing teams must understand customers and customer-facing teams to create a successful product. This way, they can answer important questions such as:

  • What tasks do customers entrust us with?
  • What are the most common feature requests?
  • What are the workarounds or unintended use cases for the product?

"People have a hard time imagining technologies that don't exist yet. They think incrementally, not disruptively. So, figure out what they need instead of asking customers what they want."

Many startups fail because they build a "solution in search of a problem". They are so excited about their new product or service that they need to pay attention to whether there is a demand for it.

Most successful businesses take the opposite approach: they identify a significant pain point and then develop a solution to address it. This is why it's so important to be able to shift your focus from your technology/solution to the underlying problem.

When you identify a potential pain point, make sure it passes the depth/breadth/frequency test: how big is the problem, how many people are affected by it, and how often does it occur?

After reviewing the answers, product marketing should direct the go-to-market teams to collect data and synthesise it into information that the product manager can use to improve the roadmap. To this end, data on sales wins and losses, customer support and industry trends should be collected to list and prioritise the functional needs of your Go-To-Market strategy.

Who is your competition

Competitor research is essential for product marketing to understand what features customers consider imperative, which could help tell a compelling story. By understanding the competition, product marketers can determine what functionality is industry standard but flawed, what to build to have a working product, and what to build to differentiate the product. Ultimately, the goal of conducting competitive research is to find out what story this product can uniquely tell.

What is the problem statement and solution?

As we build new features and products, we must clearly define what we want to achieve. This is where solution stories come in. A solution story describes how our product or service will solve a specific customer problem.

It is essential to know what potential customers think to be able to craft compelling problem-solution statements that not only guide your product development process but also sell. You should be able to answer all of their questions, such as:

  • What worries them?
  • What benefits are they hoping to find in your product or similar products?
  • What do they want and not want?
  • Why do they buy from you or not buy from you?
  • What motivates them?
  • What are they doing now?
  • How do they feel about your competition?

Use language that they will understand to connect with them on a personal level.

It's important to note that these are not just empty promises - they must be based on accurate data and customer feedback. Having a well-defined solution story helps us to prioritise features and resolve conflicts more effectively. So next time you think about what to build, ensure you have a robust solution story to guide you.

How do you position your product?

"You can't create a great message until you understand product positioning."

Creating a compelling message for your products starts with understanding how to position them in the market. Knowing where your products excel and where they fall short compared to competing products is essential for developing messaging that resonates with customers and drives sales. This crucial information will make creating an accurate and impactful ad or sales pitch easier. By ensuring that everyone in your company understands the positioning of your products, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Marketing segmentation aims to provide a tailored experience for each group, ensuring that your company's message and products align with their needs. Marketing strategies like these are used by startups and established brands alike as they allow you the opportunity not only to reach out more effectively but also to offer something unique from what others might do on an individual level.

Behavioural segmentation

Behavioural segmentation divides customers into groups based on their behaviour towards a product.

Psychographic segmentation

Psychographic segmentation is achieved by studying customers' activities, interests, and opinions to understand their lifestyles.

Demographic segmentation

Demographic segmentation is based on customers' characteristics like age, gender, occupation, education level and income level.

Geographic segmentation

Geographic segmentation is the division of a population into different groups based on their location.

Occasional segmentation

Occasional segmentation refers to a marketing strategy that doesn't focus on demographics but on specific occasions. Coca-Cola doesn't care about who you are; they want to know if you're thirsty.

Cultural segmentation

Cultural segmentation is the process of classifying markets according to their cultural origin.

How do you create your product messaging

As the face of your company, your message must be on point. You need to be able to describe your products, their benefits, and how they work in a way that resonates with your audience. Collaborating with design, sales, and support teams is the best way to achieve this. They have first-hand experience with what works and what doesn't, so their input is invaluable.

You can create messaging that is the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts. It will guide everything from demand generation and content creation to public relations and sales strategies.

Your brand's positioning & messaging is vital to its success. By thinking carefully about each of the 6 P's, you can shape your brand's narrative and influence how consumers perceive it.

Beta-testing of your product

The beta invitation is essential in identifying your customers' needs and wants, which will help you build a better product. It's also great to test out different messaging with these participants before releasing it publicly so they can provide feedback on what works well and areas where there might be room for improvement.

Develop Go-To-Market Campaign

Making an effective announcement plan is a more than one-size fits all endeavour.

A successful Go-to-Market campaign must at least include

  • SEO Strategy
  • Content Strategy
  • PR & Media Strategy
  • Social Media Strategy
  • SEO Search-Engine-Optimisation (Organic Search)
  • SEO Audit
  • Keyword Research & Analysis
  • Linkbuilding
  • Content-Marketing (Organic Search)
  • Content Audit
  • Copywriting
  • Content Types
  • Blogs & Articles
  • Website Copy
  • Landingpage Copy
  • Press Releases
  • Social Media Posts
  • Public Relations
  • Press Releases
  • Media Pitching
  • Press Distribution
  • Guest Posting

Q&A of the product

Companies must often remember the Marketing Asset Ready milestone in their launch processes. Product marketers are nothing without understanding and insight into how a product will work. This can only come through testing it as much as possible before releasing anything to your customers. The benchmark known as "Marketing Asset Ready" is a summary of the characteristics or functions of the product that will be highlighted in promotional materials. By giving information in advance, the product team may provide higher priority to changes that will be included in marketing materials, assisting marketing in meeting their deadlines. The product's components that weren't displayed in the announcement can then be refined closer to launch.

End-to-end user testing

"Customers encounter your organisational chart far too frequently."

Too frequently, clients see your organisational structure. Because different teams are in charge of various aspects of the experience, it doesn't imply those aspects should seem divided. Product marketing must offer a seamless experience from initial contact through product activation.

Is the process that begins with an advertisement (demand generation), proceeds to the landing page (product marketing), moves on to the selection of the product or service (growth), and then culminates in contacting demand and use of the product?

All personnel in charge of brand design, product marketing, content strategy, product management, product design, and engineers assessed the experience from beginning to end to ensure that the "handoffs" were cohesive before they released the Kraken. Straightforward and clear.

Educate and train your employees

Internal training is driven by product marketing. I advise holding "town hall"-style meetings with lots of opportunities for questions for small to mid-sized businesses. Create a video and a public Q&A knowledge base for big, dispersed companies.

"All teams must comprehend messaging and positioning to ensure every customer has a consistent experience."

To explain the value and how it differs from the competitors, the product manager should demonstrate the product, and the product marketer should present the pitch, regardless of the format. All teams must know messaging and positioning for every customer to have a similar experience.

Execute Go-To-Market plan

The announcement day is always exciting, and the product marketer should guide the launch team to execute the announcement at the right time and in the proper sequence. Product marketers should monitor press coverage, social media channels, and customer support on the day of the announcement.

To be ready, it is essential to make a thorough launch day checklist with designated owners, reviewers, and backup plans. Clear and timely communication should be maintained (war room or video call if everyone is in a different location).

Once it goes online, you keep working. Product marketers should monitor press coverage, social media, and customer support inquiries on the day of the announcement (and constantly!) to make sure everything is going according to plan.

Measure and improve

"The real work starts the day following the announcement."

The challenging task starts the day following the announcement. Measurements of announcement reach, signups, income, and product use should be made in product marketing to consistently identify possibilities to advance business objectives and enhance the following go-to-market initiatives.

We understand the importance of data and reporting and use marketing and business development data to ensure that we are moving in the right direction and providing our customers with their own data & report suite.