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Hiring Go To Market (GTM) Specialists For Strategy, Planning & Execution

In January 2019, Los Angeles based Liquid Death began selling water-in-a-can, a product feature that doubled as a sizable portion of the brand’s go to market strategy.
Aron Kressner

With the tagline “Murder Your Thirst” accompanied by a screaming skull emblazoned across a reflective black and gold tallboy can, Liquid Death managed to amass over 1.3 million Instagram followers and has just completed its second capital raise at a valuation of $US700 million. In just under four short years, the brand is on track for annual revenue north of $120 million.

Quite impressive for a company built on de-positioning the established brands in a mature marketplace and a subversive digital campaign that successfully won the attention of millennial and GenZ target audiences ready to adopt a new brand selling nature’s most ubiquitous resource. Utilizing an ingenious go to market plan, Liquid Death set about sponsoring punk and metal tours, partnering with foul mouthed, anti-establishment comics and podcasters all the while developing a litany of viral stunts such as selling a limited range of skateboard decks painted using real blood from skateboard legend Tony Hawk.

GTM planning for SaaS & fintech apps

Currently, over 85% of businesses use project management software. While the market is expected to reach a valuation of $7 billion by 2026, it’s important to establish the principle components of a successful GTM strategy whether you’re transacting with consumer packaged goods (like Liquid Death) or SaaS (software as a service).

As of July 2023, publicly traded fintechs represented a market capitalization of $550 billion, a two-times increase since 2019. During the same period, there were more than 272 fintech unicorns, with a combined valuation of $936 billion, a sevenfold increase from the 39 firms valued at $1 billion or more five years ago.

While largely unknown to those outside the world of tech, one of the current fintech wunderkinds is Stripe. Many consumers have unwittingly used its services. Two Irish brothers, Patrick and John Collison, built a system that links merchants like Amazon and Ford Motor Company with payment networks operated by Visa and Mastercard, saving businesses the trouble of grabbing their own licenses or striking deals with different banks.

In return, Stripe takes a fee on each transaction. One of the company’s star products is called Connect. When a customer orders food through Uber Eats, Stripe splits the transaction into different parts and directs payment to the restaurant, the delivery driver, and to Uber.  Furthermore, Stripe’s software can process increased payment volumes without a proportional increase in cost. With nearly 60% of tech startups that went public in 2021, including food delivery firm DoorDash using the company’s services, Stripe’s own success has been well documented as a beacon of fintech success; further still, the company also plays an instrumental role in fintech at large.

Perhaps you are not onboarding your GTM specialist at a startup. Rather, a fully scaled company may be looking for a specialist with a distinct background strategizing the release of new products.

Another prime example of a successful GTM strategy can be found in Slack’s “Future of Work” campaign. Launched in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the “Future of Work” promoted its communication and collaboration platform to businesses of all sizes, focusing on the benefits of remote work and how Slack could help businesses stay connected and productive in a new digital landscape. While 47% had not even used a collaboration platform prior to the pandemic, the campaign was seen as a colossal success, enabling Slack to increase its user base by 40% in 2020 alone.

However, market trends have shown that most tech companies — new and old — are lagging when it comes to GTM teams and future strategy. In a recent Mckinsey report analyzing the digital reinvention of enterprise GTM, the consulting firm generated what it believes to be the top priority for emerging transformations in the market, emphasizing tech companies’ need to “rebuild their GTM models from the ground up.” The report highlights 4 key drivers of reimagined GTM:

  • Insights. By further investing in data and analytics, companies can overhaul their approach to lead generation and segmentation to create customer “health models” that identify an account’s opportunities and risks that subsequently trigger neces­sary actions across the GTM value chain. Top performers are investing in data architecture to develop insights about customers and partners, leveraging these new insights by creating “revenue operations” (RevOps) teams that combine sales, marketing, and customer success to create a holistic view of the customer.
  • Tools. More than 30 percent of a seller’s time is spent on low-value activities that can be automated. Some leading vendors are addressing this inefficiency by introducing new sales and RevOps tools, an investment that is driving 20 percent annual growth in the sales enablement software market. The goal of RevOps is to create a seamless customer experience and to drive revenue growth.
  • Talent. Companies embracing the new enterprise GTM model need employees with industry expertise and skills such as CS, strategic advisory, and sales analytics. Leaders are prioritizing hiring industry talent and exploring other new-talent sources as well as doubling down on early-in-career programs; they are also redefining sales training by adopting modern capability-building and upskilling approaches.
  • Agility. Shifting to cross-functional teams that can work together throughout customer journeys is a key ingredient for delivering on expertise and simplicity. This change involves new ways of working, shared metrics, and technology infrastructure that enables collab­oration. For instance, RevOps teams typically include members from each of the GTM functions, as well as from other departments like finance, operations, and IT.

In a shifting landscape, recent data suggests that the industry should enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.2% between 2022 and 2030, making it one of the fastest growing sectors within finance and thereby an industry expected to proliferate in its available job titles as new fintech GTM strategies will need to evolve quickly over the next decade.

5 Question Demonstrating Knowledge of Successful GTM Strategy

Whether you’re the hiring company or a prospective employee applying for an open GTM position, it’s imperative to prepare for an interview by using a series of questions that will not only illuminate a candidate’s experience and expertise but also demonstrate a uniquely ingenious or insightful point of view into your company. Ideal candidates will be able to contextualize their vision into actionable strategy within the structure of your company and the five successive pillars of product strategy: product analysis, product messaging, the sales proposition, marketing strategy and the sales strategy.

Here are some questions to consider and prepare for when seeking new GTM talent:

What’s the last good marketing campaign that caught your eye?

For this question, there isn’t a right or wrong answer, there is only your answer. You want to understand an individual’s intellectual curiosity. What kinds of campaigns spark their interest? What do they pay attention to? What does ‘good’ look like for them? For interviewees, make sure to focus your answer on the why. There are lots of marketing campaigns out there, so be sure to talk about why this one stood out to you and why it’s different from the others.

How do you measure the success of Product Marketing?

Without measuring your impact, it’s hard to know how effective you are as a product marketer. This question gets at your understanding of how to A) identify the right metrics to measure your work and B) drive results. Metrics and measurement are important for understanding what outcomes or goals you’re working toward and whether you’re on track to achieve them, so for interviewees, be sure to talk about which ones you’ve focused on in the past and why. Make sure you also articulate enough details about your past roles that it’s clear why certain metrics were important to your specific position.

Can You Talk About a Cross-Functional Project That You Worked On? What Was Your Role, and How Did You Contribute to the Impact/Success of the Project?

This question is principally designed for understanding how a candidate works with other people and how he or she may be able to make an impact on a large team. When a candidate answers this question, be sure to mention the nature of the project, the key stakeholders, and the end objective. The candidate will also have to discuss the position they had and the part they played in helping achieve the team’s ultimate outcome. A common mistake in answering this question is talking about the project, but failing to get into the specifics of what you did.

Tell me what you think about the messaging on our site.

An interviewer posits this question to comprehend what a candidate thinks as well as to understand how they perceive messaging. Since creating good messaging is a core tenet of product marketing, it’s imperative to have a good answer to this question. Furthermore, implied in this question is that you’ve taken the time to actually research the company and to review the products they sell. For applicants, elucidate a clear point of view on the company’s messaging based on your own analysis. Come with ideas or suggestions for how you would make it better, which only demonstrates ingenuity. In order to avoid criticism, a candidate can frame a suggestion as a potential opportunity to embolden a team’s creativity.

What Markets or Industries Have You Focused On, and In What Ways Are Those Similar to or Different From Ours?

For this question, it’s all about the candidate’s answer in applying their expertise to a new GTM product or campaign. It demonstrates that you can make the transition to a new company or industry based on your prior experience. Candidates want to show their skill sets are transferable. Furthermore, candidates should reveal an in-depth knowledge of the new marketplace they are about to enter.

Building a GTM Strategy By Capitalizing on a New Market.

Let’s take a recent example of a pre-existing company, Oatly, emerging into a new market: the United States.

Oatly saw an incredible rate of growth in the run-up to, and during, the pandemic with an impressive 2020 global sales growth rate of 295% across all of its product categories. With the brand’s tremendous success, Oatly went public in 2021 and witnessed its valuation surge to nearly $13 billion after an IPO that raised $1.4 billion.

However, Oatly isn’t your standard startup. Rather, it’s a prime example of how to transform a company’s image for a new market: strike a chord with the zeitgeist by composing and implementing a clever GTM campaign.

Formulated in Sweden by food scientist Rickard Öste during the 1990s, Oatly was created to appeal to people who have a lactose intolerance while providing a healthier, environmentally sustainable alternative to cow’s milk.

Given that some 68% of the world is lactose intolerant and that oat milk offers a solution to a variety of consumer pain points (sustainability, allergies, and personal health), Öste’s oat milk product was destined for great things in the current marketplace.

Rather than investing in a relentless barrage of Google Ads or going directly for the social media kill, Oatly decided to expand its reach and raise vital product awareness in the US by going to the front lines of a related marketplace — boutique coffee shops.

Riding the wave of plant-based alternatives, Oatly placed its product and branding right before a captive coffee-drinking audience. The company teamed up with a selection of artisanal coffee houses where patrons were more likely to seek an alternative to dairy instead of hitting your standard supermarket only to get drowned out among a sea of soy, almond, and other competing oat-based alternatives.

Oatly’s clever campaign didn’t stop there. Oatly knew how to do digital too. In fact, the company’s recent ‘Help Dad’ campaign identified the demographic least likely to convert to plant-based milk. The videos targeted well intentioned teens, inspiring them to convert their more conservative, cow’s milk-leaning fathers to plant-based alternatives using a series of humorous and provocative digital ads. Oatly even created a dedicated microsite to help middle-aged men switch to Oatly with info, tips, and recipes.

With GTM strategies shifting to interpret the holes, pain points, and gaps in the marketplace, with practices developed and championed specifically within the tech sector before expanding to CPG and other markets, it’s no surprise that business leaders appreciate its inherent win-loss framework. Did the marketing plan successfully launch this new product, brand or company? Or not? Whether it’s a startup or the launch of a new product, hiring the right specialists may ultimately determine the immediate growth and success of your product. As always, the ability to integrate new thinking by forming modern, cross-functional teams like RevOps is going to be essential.

Product Launch
SaaS marketing