The 4 C’s of Effective Go-to-Market Strategy Design

Editor’s Note: This is OpenView founder Scott Maxwell’s fifth post in a series about go-to-market strategy design. Read his previous posts to learn:

All buyers go through a distinct journey on their path to purchase.

By the time you engage them, some buyers are totally unaware of your existence. They have never heard of your product and may not understand how or why it could help them. Others may be further down their journey. They are aware of your solution and are perhaps even interested in learning more about your product, but they haven’t yet begun to perform research or engage your sales team.

Regardless of where you find buyers on that journey, however, most buying processes have a bottleneck — points at which your buyers’ momentum slows and they struggle to acquire the information or motivation necessary to move forward to the next stage in their journey.

Those “sticking points,” as I like to call them, can make or break your ability to grow.

Transforming the Sticking Points in Your Buyers’ Journeys

Left unaddressed, you will find it difficult (and expensive) to effectively progress buyers through their journeys and to the point of purchase. If, however, you invest some time into identifying those sticking points and can determine how to overcome them, you can actually transform those sticking points into leverage points — achieving vastly improved sales results by “unsticking” more and more potential buyers.

Sticking/leverage points in a very simplified five-stage buying process might look like this:

Buyer Journey Stages

Let’s assume, for instance, that your buyers’ biggest sticking point is the awareness stage. Maybe prospects know who you are and what you do, but they aren’t becoming interested in your company.

How can you address that?

Breaking Through Bottlenecks: The 4 C’s of Effective Go-to-Market Strategy Design

In my experience, there are four steps companies must take to turn a sticking point into a leverage point, and those steps will ultimately yield a core design building block that can be used to construct a comprehensive go-to-market strategy.

1) Create a Conversion Goal for Each Sticking Point

Essentially, you want to start with your end goal in mind by answering this question: What is it that you want buyers to do?

Let’s say, for example, that your sticking point is awareness and you want to encourage buyers to engage with your company further and gain interest in its products or services. Your conversion goal could be to get buyers to:

  • Opt-in for marketing emails
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Join a social media group
  • Begin a free trial or request a quote

Regardless of the specific conversion goal, you must define how that goal will be achieved and pinpoint the actions that will indicate whether a buyer has become “unstuck.”

Once you know your conversion goal, you can streamline your go-to-market design process and solidify your sales and marketing channels in such a way that you are maximizing your time and focusing your efforts.

2) Understand the CONTEXT of Your Buyer’s Journey at Each Sticking Point

Organizations today have access to an overwhelming amount of data about their buyers and the factors that impact and influence their decisions. When you want to bring a product to market, that data is crucial to creating contextual clues that will allow you to shape your interactions and outreach to a specific point in a buyer’s journey.

For example, if your goal is to move prospects from awareness to interest, you might invest some time into better understanding the following for your buyers:

  • Their purchasing priorities
  • Professional goals
  • Reasons for potential interest
  • Reasons for disinterest in your product
  • Personal and professional interests and issues
  • Sources for information
  • Biggest influencers

Ultimately, the more you understand about your buyers and what they care about at specific stages of their journey, the easier it will be to market and sell to them at the right time and in the right way.

3) Develop Content with Conversion and Context in Mind

Understanding what your buyers care about and identifying what you want those buyers to do are big steps, but they are mostly meaningless if you don’t do anything to act on that insight.

Developing a content strategy that is framed around specific conversion goals and buyer context is critical to a modern go-to-market strategy because it allows you to give buyers the information they need at the right time and in the right format.

Assuming again that your goal is to move a buyer from the awareness stage to the interest stage, you might create content that:

  • Provides clear benefits to moving forward with your business
  • Offers a free download, trial, or quote
  • Allows buyers to calculate the ROI of your product
  • Delivers product specs or prices that are contextually relevant to the buyer’s stage
  • Highlights customer use cases, testimonials, or success stories

The bottom line is that creating content without any regard to buyer context and conversion can be an enormous waste of time. To be effective, your content must maximize conversion, resonate with specific buyer contexts, and deliver on your own brand promises and aspirations.

4) Identify the Contacts for Optimal Content Delivery and Conversion

Once you have developed highly contextual content that is designed to achieve a particular conversion goal, the next step is to get it in the hands of your buyers.

There are numerous channels through which you can do that, of course, but content is generally delivered through one of three mechanisms: You contact the buyer directly (outbound), the buyer contacts you (inbound), or someone else has contact with the buyer on your behalf.

Having a strategy for each of those types of contact strategies is critical. Here are just a few contact tactics you might consider:

  • You contact them: Email marketing, outbound prospecting, in-person meetings, direct social media outreach.
  • They contact you: You set up an inbound marketing program so your buyers can easily find you through search engine query, online forums, social media, corporate blog and, yes, advertising.
  • Others contact on your behalf: You develop relationships with indirect sales channels, industry analysts, customer reviews, word-of-mouth, organic public relations, and other influential people that have contact with your buyers.

Your goal should be to study the channels that most effectively engage your buyers at specific stages in their journey and prepare a content distribution strategy well in advance that will allow you to utilize the right channels in the right context.

Tip: Focus on opportunities that are low-cost/big-reward.

It’s important to remember the best channels are often the ones that require the least amount of work and deliver the greatest impact. For instance, if calling a prospect is just as effective as meeting in person, why would you opt for the latter? The idea is to make engagement as simple as possible for you and the buyer.

Fusing the 4 C’s to Create a Go-to-Market Design Unit

By identifying the proper conversion, context, content, and contact for a particular sticking point in your buyer’s journey, you will create a design unit that can be used to create a building block for your go-to-market strategy.

You can then take the individual building blocks for each leverage point in a buyer’s journey — whether it’s awareness, interest, research, or purchase — and combine them into a comprehensive go-to-market strategy.

There’s one critical point to remember, however: Avoid the temptation to do too much at once. As I’ve already written in this series, go-to-market strategy design is all about focus and clarity.

Start with a very targeted customer segment, hone in on the key buyers in that segment, establish a specific conversion goal for those buyers’ biggest sticking points, narrow your focus on the context of those buyers’ issues, and then develop content and contacts that most efficiently transfer customers along the path to purchase.


Photo by: Leo Reynolds

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Scott Maxwell
Scott Maxwell
Founder & Partner

As the founder of OpenView, Scott focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest in application and infrastructure companies, and businesses that are addressing the next generation of technology, including SaaS, cloud computing, mobile platforms, storage, networking, IT tools, and development tools.
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