How to Strategize

by andy on May 11, 2010

The most essential task for an entrepreneur or business strategist is to plan the Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy.   A GTM strategy defined by Larry Friedman is:

“A game plan for reaching and serving the right customers, in the right markets, through the right channelsGTM strategy, with the right products and the right value proposition.” (Italic emphasis his)

That’s a mouthful, and in my opinion, more or less correct.  One might argue that the “right” market is not as important as simply finding “a” market.  Or that of course a “right” product will have a “right” value proposition.  Nevertheless, the focal point of the definition is that a Go-to-Market strategy is a game plan.  You need to strategize to develop this plan.

But how does a person effectively strategize?

This is where many entrepreneurs seem to get brain freeze.  We get lost in data gathering.  Or we get locked on an idea and can’t let go even when data tells us otherwise.   A couple great resources on how to effectively develop this game plan are “Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank and “If You Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams.

But according to Andy (me), here are the main things to remember about how to strategize.

1)      Develop a hypothesis. Right away, you want to develop a hypothesis on what customers need and what you can build to satisfy that need.  Maybe you had a spark of genius, overheard a conversation, or saw something in the news that gave you a really good idea.  You need to be open minded to changing, refining and potentially abandoning this hypothesis.  In other words, fast fail.  (Admittedly cliche but please excuse for brevity.)

2)      Gather market data. To borrow some italic emphasis from Larry Friedman, this should be the right data.  It’s easy to get sucked into the Internet vortex and wind up with analysis paralysis.  For an effective GTM strategy you need two buckets of information, and each bucket is important.

a)      Primary research. Interviews with customers and potential customers.  Primary research will tell you specifically what your customers want and how much they are willing to pay.  If it doesn’t get you this information, you haven’t done it correctly.   Rob Adams covers this part of market analysis well.

b)      Secondary research. Industry reports, articles, surveys and the like.  Secondary research will give you an idea of trends, market size, and competition.

3)      Check out your competition. You need to do a deep dive on competitor’s websites, press, personnel, revenue, and everything else you can unearth.  This is a crucial part of the process and can help you decide whether this is a market worth pursuing, and if it is, how are you going to be better than the competition?

4)      Think. Ok, this one may be obvious to folks but it’s really important.  You really need to stop, assess what you have learned, and think.  Go somewhere other than your office.  A park or relatively quiet coffee shop can be good.  For me, taking my dog for a run works really well.

5)      Sell. If you are an entrepreneur marshaling investors or development resources, you need to be able to sell your Go-to-Market strategy.   In a larger organization, you need to sell to other departmental stakeholders.  You need people to believe in what you are doing, and you also need to get their input.  They may have some really smart feedback that enhances your thinking and your plan.

6)      Lather, rinse, repeat. As necessary.

There is more to an effective GTM strategy than this list of six steps, but first you need to know how to strategize.  And for me, this is a good way to do it.

What do you do?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 sanjaybanjay December 2, 2010 at 3:22 am

Andy you are awesome. thanks for all the good advice.

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