Go-to-Market vs Marketing Strategy

Shahin Hoda 10  mins read March 1st, 2024 (Updated: April 16th, 2024)


Being a B2B marketing company is always exciting. This statement is more true in 2024 with the broader adoption of generative AI. Businesses worldwide are embedding this technology in their existing products and launching new ones quickly. 

Go-to-Market vs Marketing Strategy

With all this buzz and the rapid change in the B2B landscape, it’s easy for any organisation to lose track of the marketing fundamentals. One of these is the difference between a marketing strategy and a go-to-market strategy. This article highlights the differences between these two crucial concepts and provides insight into their purpose, application, and value for brands and marketers. 

At a high level, marketing strategy is an overarching plan formulated by a business to identify its unique selling proposition, target demographics, and methods to use these components to achieve its business goals. 

B2B go-to-market strategy is more specific. It is a tactical action plan that outlines the steps a company needs to take to sell its products or services to businesses. This strategy covers everything from pricing, product marketing, and positioning to distribution and promotion, detailing how the company will reach and convince its business customers to buy its product or service.

The distinction between a marketing strategy and a go-to-market strategy can often vary based on the brand categories. Some brands may need to focus more on marketing strategies, while others may find more value in implementing robust go-to-market strategies. 

This "marketing strategy vs go-to-market strategy" debate is not about which is better but about understanding their unique roles and leveraging them effectively.

Why is this distinction important? It's simple. Understanding the difference between a marketing strategy and a go-to-market strategy can help brands tailor their messages, align their teams, and execute their plans more effectively.

You would be surprised to know how many people are confused between the two. This confusion leads to the misallocation of budgets and resources. It also sets the wrong expectations with your leadership regarding the results they should expect from each of the two strategies. 

B2B marketing is becoming more challenging every year, so having a clear strategy is no longer a luxury - it's a necessity. 


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    What is a B2B Go-to-Market Strategy?



    B2B go-to-market strategy comprises the actions that your pre-sales, sales, marketing, product, and post-sales teams will take to launch a new product or service offering. 

    For instance, let’s look at Slack in its early days of launch, in 2014-2015. During that time, Slack relied heavily on offering free trials. This free trial was one of the ways it was “going to market” and capturing share from incumbents like Skype for Business. 

    Slack had a freemium pricing model that created network effects, encouraging more businesses and people to use it. Besides a free trial, account executives and sales development representatives would invest time in outbound activities such as cold-calling and emailing. 

    Slack’s product and marketing team would conduct webinars on organisational productivity and attract potential customers.

    All of the above that I described are parts of a GTM strategy. Depending on an organisation's size and scale, it can become more complex.

    To summarise, here is how Gartner defines a go-to-market strategy.

    A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan that details how an organisation can engage with customers to convince them to buy their product or service and gain a competitive advantage. A GTM strategy includes tactics related to pricing, sales, and channels, the buying journey, new product launches or service launches, and product rebranding or product introduction to a new market.

    What is a Marketing Strategy?



    As described in the introduction, a marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan formulated by a business to reach and engage with its target audience and ultimately convert them into customers. It contains the company's value proposition, key messaging, data on its target customers, customer demographics, and other high-level elements.

    It is a long-term approach to planning with the fundamental goal of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.

    Marketing Strategy vs Go-to-Market Strategy: What’s the Difference? 

    With the basic definitions out of the way, let’s examine the difference between a marketing strategy and a go-to-market strategy from four parameters. 

    We will also explain the differences using an example of a hypothetical B2B SaaS company - Alphaforce, that sells customer relationship management software to small and medium businesses.


    Parameter 1: Objective


    Marketing Strategy vs Go-to-Market Strategy: Objective

    Starting with the objective, a marketing strategy is a broad approach focusing on a product or service's long-term growth plan. It covers everything from developing the ICP and unique selling proposition to choosing the proper marketing channels and setting the budget. Eventually, a B2B company aims to generate a sustainable competitive advantage and drive brand equity through its marketing strategy. 

    A go-to-market (GTM) strategy, on the other hand, is narrower. As described in the previous section, it specifically addresses the steps required to introduce a new product or service. The GTM strategy is all about maximising sales and gaining market share. The scope is usually limited to one product or service and does not concern the company's entire marketing plan.


    The Objective of Marketing Strategy and GTM Strategy at Alphaforce

    Let’s take the example of our hypothetical company, Alphaforce. The company’s marketing strategy aims to identify and engage with key decision-makers within targeted small and medium businesses that require CRM software. By deploying a tailored marketing mix that includes content marketing, precision marketing, and direct outreach, Alphaforce aims to raise awareness about its offerings, educate potential clients about the value of its CRM software, and nurture leads through the sales funnel. This strategic approach strives for efficient resource allocation, maximises ROI, and drives revenue growth by converting prospects into loyal customers. 

    On the GTM side, with the advent of generative AI, the company plans to launch a suite of AI features within its CRM. The objective of the GTM strategy, notably for Alphaforce, revolves around detailing actionable plans to maximise sales and gain significant market share.

    In this context, unlike overarching marketing strategies that span the company's full product line, the GTM approach is acutely product-specific. Alphaforce's GTM strategy delineates targeted steps to effectively introduce these AI enhancements to its CRM. It aims to distinguish them in the competitive B2B SaaS space, primarily focusing on small to medium-sized businesses. The goal is to ensure the market not only recognises but also adopts the AI features.


    Parameter 2: Components


    Marketing Strategy vs Go-to-Market Strategy: Components

    Marketing Strategy vs Go-to-Market Strategy: Components

    A marketing strategy typically includes market research, segmentation, targeting, positioning, competitive analysis, and the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion). Collectively, these components form a company's strategic marketing plan.

    In contrast, the components of a GTM strategy are more tactical and product-specific. They include product positioning, pricing strategy, distribution strategy and promotional plans. These components are designed to ensure the product's successful entry into the market.


    Components of Marketing Strategy and GTM Strategy at Alphaforce

    From the context of Alphaforce, market segmentation via tools such as B2B intent data providers helps it identify subsets of SMBs with distinct needs or characteristics, optimising resource allocation and messaging. Targeting allows it to focus on segments most likely to benefit from its CRM software, such as technology-forward retail businesses. 

    Positioning involves distinguishing Alphaforce's CRM solutions in the market, emphasising unique features like customisable user interfaces or integrative capabilities with existing systems. Competitive analysis ensures Alphaforce understands market trends and counters the strategies of competitors, maintaining relevance. 

    The marketing mix—product features tailored for SMB efficiency, pricing strategies for market penetration, selective channels for software distribution, and targeted promotional efforts—cohesively drive Alphaforce's market appeal and customer acquisition.

    Alphaforce's GTM strategy to launch new generative AI features in its CRM has the following components. First, for product positioning, Alphaforce targets businesses seeking innovative AI to enhance customer relations, differentiating its CRM with advanced AI capabilities not found in standard offerings. 

    The pricing strategy is competitively structured; Alphaforce might price its AI features at $50/month for existing customers as an add-on, undercutting competitor prices by 10%. For distribution and sales channels, Alphaforce leverages direct sales through its website and partners with leading software resellers. Lastly, its promotional plan includes targeted online ads, webinars showcasing AI benefits, and free trials for early adopters, creating buzz and demonstrating value.


    Parameter 3: Execution


    Marketing Strategy vs Go-to-Market Strategy: Execution

    A marketing strategy has a long time horizon, often several years. It is implemented through various activities, such as advertising, content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and more. These activities are designed to reach the target audience, communicate the brand's value proposition, and drive customer engagement.

    On the other hand, a GTM strategy has a shorter timeframe, typically focusing on the period leading up to and following the product launch. It is executed through specific launch activities, such as product demos, launch events, sales promotions, and more. These activities create awareness, generate interest, and drive sales for the new product.


    Execution of Marketing Strategy and GTM Strategy at Alphaforce

    Let’s look at the execution of a marketing strategy from the lens of Alphaforce. Alphaforce tailors its marketing strategy to directly address the unique pain points and needs of its target market. It segments its ideal client base using an account-based marketing approach, focusing on high-value accounts with customised messaging and engagement strategies. This involves deploying targeted content through various channels such as LinkedIn, direct email campaigns, and industry-specific webinars. 

    Additionally, leveraging customer success stories and detailed use-case scenarios in its promotions, Alphaforce effectively communicates its CRM software's tangible benefits and ROI, fostering trust and encouraging decision-makers to consider their solution.

    The GTM strategy is compact, mainly spanning a few months around the product launch. Initial steps involve Alphaforce conducting exclusive webinars to unveil the AI capabilities, serving as educational sessions and hype builders. Simultaneously, the company launches aggressive email marketing campaigns targeting its existing customer database, offering a sneak peek into how the AI features can revolutionise its CRM experience. 

    Additionally, Alphaforce participates in key industry trade shows, setting up demo booths for live demonstrations. In terms of sales promotions, Alphaforce provides an early-bird pricing model, offering the AI upgrade at a 20% discount for the first three months post-launch. Client success managers are upskilled on cross-selling strategies for B2B to further drive adoption in existing accounts and customers. These concerted efforts aim to educate the market about the novel features and strive to induce trials and adoption, thereby driving initial sales momentum for Alphaforce’s AI-enhanced CRM.


    Parameter 4: Metrics


    Marketing Strategy vs Go-to-Market Strategy: Metrics

    Finally, the metrics for assessing a marketing strategy include brand awareness, customer acquisition and retention rates, customer lifetime value, and market share. These metrics provide insights into the effectiveness of the sales team and marketing activities and the company's performance.

    The metrics for a GTM strategy are more focused on the new product's performance. They include product-specific metrics such as sales volume, market share, customer acquisition cost and customer feedback.


    Metrics of Marketing Strategy and GTM Strategy at Alphaforce

    Alphaforce employs several crucial metrics. For brand awareness, Alphaforce tracks social media mentions and website traffic increases after launching a targeted ad campaign, with goals of a 20% traffic boost and doubling social mentions quarter over quarter. Regarding customer acquisition, the company aims to grow its customer base by 15% within the first six months post-campaign, using lead conversion rates as a key performance indicator. To measure customer retention rates, Alphaforce examines the percentage of customers renewing their subscriptions post the initial term, aiming for an 85% retention rate. Additionally, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is calculated based on average purchase value and frequency, aiming for a 10% increase in CLV within a year through upselling strategies. Lastly, market share progress is tracked through industry reports and sales data, with the company aiming to capture an additional 3% of the market within the year. Collectively, these metrics provide insights into the effectiveness of Alphaforce's marketing and sales strategies and overall market performance.

    For its generative AI GTM strategy, Alphaforce measures the following metrics. Firstly, sales volume is tracked, aiming to reach 500 units sold in the first quarter. Secondly, market share is targeted to capture 5% of the SMB segment within six months. And lastly, Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is meticulously calculated to keep it under $250 per new customer by optimising marketing channels. 


    Summarising the Differences

    Having gone through the details, this section briefly summarises all the parameters we used to differentiate between market strategy and GTM strategy.


    Parameter Marketing Strategy  GTM Strategy
    Objective Engage key decision-makers in SMBs for CRM software adoption, focusing on awareness, education, and lead nurturing to drive growth and loyalty. Maximise sales and market share for new AI features in CRM, targeting SMB adoption with a product-specific focus.
    Components Market research, segmentation, targeting, positioning, competitive analysis, and marketing mix. Focus on efficiency, competitive pricing, selective distribution, and targeted promotions. Product positioning, pricing, distribution, and promotional plans. Emphasises AI capabilities, competitive add-on pricing, direct sales, and targeted promotions.
    Execution Long-term approach using advertising, content marketing, SEO, targeted content, and customer success stories to drive engagement and address market needs. Short-term focus on product launch through webinars, email campaigns, trade shows, and early-bird pricing to educate the market and stimulate initial sales.
    Metrics Tracks brand awareness, customer acquisition/retention, lifetime value, and market share, aiming for specific growth targets in these areas. Measures sales volume, market share, acquisition cost, and customer feedback, with specific targets for each to gauge product success.


    Similarities in Marketing Strategy and Go-to-Market Strategy

    Similarities in Marketing Strategy and Go-to-Market Strategy 

    While they serve different purposes, marketing and go-to-market strategies do share common principles and elements.

    Firstly, both strategies are customer-centric and based on understanding the target audience. They require in-depth knowledge of the customer's needs, preferences, and behaviours. Whether crafting a broad marketing strategy or a specific go-to-market plan, the focus revolves around reaching the right customer with the right message.

    Secondly, both strategies involve the concept of segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP). The marketing strategy determines the STP for the brand as a whole, while the go-to-market strategy does the same for a specific product or service. 

    Thirdly, both strategies necessitate a mix of product, price, place, and promotion – the classic 4Ps of marketing. Both strategies must effectively manage these elements to ensure the product or service reaches the target audience and resonates with them.

    Finally, both strategies involve robust planning, execution, and evaluation. They require setting clear objectives, implementing tactics to achieve these objectives, and then measuring the results to assess the strategy's effectiveness. 


    Final Thoughts

    We are at the end of the article. I hope this was valuable and provided you with clarity between the two topics at hand.

    Creating successful go-to-market (GTM) and marketing strategies demands specialised knowledge, accurate data, the latest tools, and the skills to craft precise messaging, track progress, and analyse outcomes and feedback.

    At xGrowth, we excel in developing bespoke, highly personalised GTM strategies for B2B enterprises, with ABM at the centre of it all. Our approaches are rooted in comprehensive data analysis and extensive research, leveraging our expertise and experience within the B2B sector.

    Contact us to learn how our seasoned marketing professionals can help you get ahead of the competition.

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