Dear Type A personalities:
You’re going to have to bear with us on this one. It’ll be hard to hear what we have to say in the next few paragraphs of this post, but we promise that—in the end—going with the flow and planning less will actually help you plan better when it comes to your go-to-market strategy.
Hear us out.
Our New Favorite Metaphor
Think of your strategy like a rock concert. Sure, the band all walks out on stage with a set list and a general plan/idea of the show they want to give their audience. They (probably) know what city they’re in. And each member might individually put on their favorite rocker garb to match their personalities, but unless we’re talking about Kiss here (and…we’re not), these outfits aren’t works of coordinated costume art. Each member excels in their respective instrument/role, and they know where they generally fit with other members of the band.
But once the drummer kicks off the show with that click of his sticks, the band responds, interacts, and adapts to the audience.
Even if they’re on a 50-city tour with the same set list, they’ll never have the same audience twice. Some are easy wins: Happy, easily excitable, in a mood to listen to your new slow ballad. Others might be a little tired or not as easily impressed. So maybe the lead singer takes off his shirt or has to react to an audience member throwing something on stage. Or maybe the guitar player is shredding so hard, a string breaks.
In each case, the unexpected is met with an in-kind response, and, ultimately, the show is better for it. The whole band feeds off the audience, and the vice-versa.
That’s not to say they hit it right every time. Maybe Boise, Idaho, wasn’t the spot to spray the audience with forties of PBR. With some thoughtful reflection on the booing, perhaps the band will keep the Peebs capped for the next show.
Over-planning for a show can be confining. The band would be locked into rigid guidelines, and not be able to respond on the fly to an audience that needed…something, anything…more to get them going.
Comparatively (and speaking of rigid guidelines), a symphony orchestra’s concerts are fixed in place, playing the same 200-year-old music notes cellists have played for generations. They’re not dependent on the audience’s response, and there’s little room for improvisational jamming. (That’s not to say there’s no place for symphonies, to be clear!) Orchestras bring sometimes hundred-years old pieces to life in stunning form, but wild and unplanned flourishes and last-minute changes to the set list aren’t on the playbill.
It’s Your Go-to-Market Team. That’s Who We’re Talking About Here.
Every customer is different. Everyone has different needs, priorities, and opinions. It’s like seeing a different audience every night in a different town.
An incredibly prescriptive go-to-market plan inhibits what a live performance is meant to provide. A memorable experience just for that audience. Falling into “orchestration” mode with your sales and marketing teams means that you’re just going through the motions and not treating it like a live gig. Anything can happen, so your go-to-market teams need to remember the three words below.
Adjust, Adapt, and Improvise
As you’re launching your go-to-market strategy, if you orchestrate your marketing and plan your campaign to a T, you could be missing out on trends in the market or what’s resonating best with your audience.
This works for each stage of your marketing timeline. As you begin planning your ideal customer profile, target audience, and building sales/marketing alignment, be prepared to blow up what you thought your audience might be.
Sure, it may look good on paper, but the engagement phase could prove otherwise. You may learn that some target segments are engaging more with your brand compared to others. Or that your messaging is really resonating with one audience, but maybe not the other. That’s okay! It’s all part of the process, so adjust and adapt in that moment, as a rock band would.
Advertise across multiple channels (we’re talking like four or five to start with). Do A/B testing. Track engagement data and intent data to see if any particular accounts or segments are surging. Go-to-market teams now have access to more channels, data, and analytics than ever before, so use it to your advantage to understand what’s working and what’s not.
This is important because then your sales or customer success team will be able to act on this data (not just look at it) and prioritize their accounts and outreach accordingly. This is how your go-to-market rockstars stomp their feet to keep tempo with one another and mouth “you’re in the wrong key” when they’re trying to wow a prospect. Data is the vibe. Putting it plainly in front of your entire go-to-market team is how they respond to it.
Then after that, measure and optimize some more. Analyze account-level and campaign-level reporting to “read the crowd” and determine which “songs” to play for the next show. Save what worked and kill what didn’t so each new go-to-market campaign becomes better and better. Remember: being reactive and adaptive is an important part of your ABM strategy.
We may not want to admit it, but all of our GTM teams are improvising all the time. Embrace it. Give your teammates the hype, the data, and the feedback they need to make sure every gig is their best one yet.
Keep rocking it out and let us know how we can help in the meantime. Side note: who’s ready for live music again?