Thoughts on Key Go-To-Market Tactics

Posted on May 16, 2011

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My previous marketing related blog posts focussed on strategic elements of building a marketing plan – purpose of marketing, determining goals of marketing plan, determining value proposition and determining the marketing budget. In this post, I want to focus more on the tactical elements of a marketing plan; specifically key go-to-market tactics.

The tactics I want to talk about are:

  1. on ground events,
  2. webinars,
  3. email outreach,
  4. search engine marketing,
  5. online banners
  6. public & analyst relationship outreach
  7. social media outreach

These tactics are the ones that I have the most extensive experience with and can comment on meaningfully. I have not included print and TV advertising ’cause firstly I have limited experience using these tactics and secondly, perhaps more importantly, if you are considering print and/or TV advertising then you probably have large marketing budgets and can hire experienced advertising agencies to help plan and execute your campaigns and I will have little to add to their advice.

A marketer’s goal is to build relationship or engagement with her target audience. However, in building such relationship, she needs to be cognizant of the costs of using specific tactics. The adjacent graph plots the 7 tactics I mentioned along two axes – intensity of engagement possible & cost per contact.

One observation jumps out of the picture – there is no tactic that scores High on Intensity but Low on Cost. This should neither be surprising nor disappointing. It shouldn’t be surprising because if there indeed was such a tactic then life would be simple; a marketer would simply put all her budget behind such a tactic. It shouldn’t be disappointing because even though no tactic starts off in this most desirable quarter, a smart marketer can indeed over time, through persistence and innovation, get some of her tactics deliver results that map them closer to this quarter.

Some quick thoughts on each of the tactics:

  1. On Ground Events – Events are a great way to engage with customers and prospects. Examples of events are either industry events – conferences, tradeshows, etc. or company organized events – user conferences, workshops, etc. In either type of events, there is a great opportunity to engage customers in both structured (presentations) and unstructured (demos, Q&As, how-to sessions) format. Unfortunately, events are expensive to attend (and even more expensive to organize). You need to not only invest a lot of money to ensure quality presence at the event but also invest time of all those that represent your company at these events.
  2. Webinars – Webinars have emerged as a popular alternative to events. A webinar usually requires attendees to connect over a telephone (or a VOIP) bridge to hear the speaker and view the presentation over the internet. Both organizers and participants enjoy substantial savings as a webinar eliminates travel. Moreover, you could record the webinar and make it available for on-demand viewing for those that couldn’t attend; something you can’t do with your events. Webinar content is usually inexpensive to create and can be delivered by your best speaker supported and assisted by subject matter experts. Clearly for the speaker not being able to view the attendees greatly reduces the engagement and interactivity as compared to a live session. The flip side of not travelling means that your audience attend webinars as part of a regular workday and often times other priorities either prohibit them from joining the session or dropping off before the end.
  3. Email outreach – Email continues to be the killer application on the internet. For most product categories, your audience is reachable via email. Email outreach therefore is the most extensive way of reaching your customers. Unfortunately, in using email as a go-to-market channel, its popularity is also the Achille’s heel. We all get so much email every day, that unless you write and design an effective email title and copy, chances are your customers are deleting your emails without even bothering to open them. The cost per contact for an email outreach program dramatically decreases if you can build a permission enabled email database of your customers. If you own the database then you can reach out to your audience regularly at minimal cost. Moreover, a marketer who designs and executes an email campaign like an ongoing dialogue around a particular theme, greatly increases the sense of engagement and involvement for his audience.
  4. Search Engine Marketing – You can be certain that your customers head to a search engine (usually Google but increasingly Bing) when they begin researching for products that meet their needs. As a marketer you can not do much better than getting in front of customers searching for products like yours via search engine. Search engine marketing has now evolved to be an almost scientific practice and you can hire a number of capable and talented agencies to help design and execute your search marketing programs. Of all the go-to-market tactics discussed, search engine marketing is the most data driven and the most precise to measure tactic.
  5. Online Banners – Display advertising through online banners is the grand-daddy of all digital go-to-market communication channels. Unfortunately, online banner have become so ubiquitous that it’s getting increasing hard to get your customers to notice them, let alone click on them. Nevertheless, online banners still are the best way tp reach a large number of your customers at a relatively low cost. They remain an effective channel to build brand awareness if not brand engagement or drive traffic to your website.
  6. Public and Analysts Relationship outreach – Designing and executing a successful public and analyst relationship outreach program remains the most effective way to build positive reference network in the medium term. A well designed PR/AR program allows you to build strong and interactive engagement with your audience. However it requires significant investment in dedicated resources to design and manage and effective PR/AR relationship outreach program.
  7. Social Media Outreach – Social Media is the new kid on the block of digital advertising. As more and more people get hooked on to these platforms, social media has the potential to eliminate email marketing and online banners completely from a marketer’s repertoire. That said, social media as a marketing outreach channel is still new. For a marketer, there aren’t enough best practices and tools that can make social media as easy to use as email and online banners. Using social media outreach as part of your marketing arsenal will require dedicated resources and plenty of patience. However, social media is clearly the future and marketers will do well to start experimenting and learning to use this emerging go-to-market tactic.

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Posted in: On Marketing