Top 3 reasons why go-to-market strategies fail according to Harvard Business Review:
- Not understanding the problem
- Creating an unrealistic strategy that the company can’t execute
- Not understanding the time needed for execution
Mistakes are costly, and Harvard says the second reason why 60 to 90 percent of strategies fail is because companies create an unrealistic strategy that the company can’t execute.
This is probably the number one reason why I always advice to create a strategy with somebody who knows how to do strategies because companies will often create strategies that are impossible to execute because we don’t have the team to execute them.
We can’t do Facebook if we don’t know how to do Facebook
We can’t have a good Facebook advertising if we don’t have a good Facebook advertiser in our company, right? We can’t expect to compete on Facebook, for example, if we then employ a junior social media manager who just finished university. Nothing against them. They will learn and become good, but they don’t have the ability to compete on Facebook right now.
So we can’t, unless this is a three year plan, we just won’t be able to compete on Facebook. This person needs to learn, needs to make mistakes and so on.
So creating a marketing strategy or a go-to-market strategy that’s based on Facebook is just nuts, right?
But tons of companies are still doing it that way and then can’t execute.
From experience I can tell you that it comes down to two things.
The idea trap
The first one is what I call an idea trap. It’s basically when we’re brainstorming about the possibilities of what we can do. We all have a lot of ideas, right?
We all have.
Oh, we could do this and we could do that and we could do the third thing and then too many things pile up and basically we’re trying to do too much. It looks good on paper. But when we’re trying to do too much, we just execute every part of that strategy at 60 percent and then it obviously doesn’t work because we just don’t have the expertise to do it.
And the second thing that ties into this is that there is an internal pressure to perform. So that means that the CEO is going to say: ‘All right, but we should be getting new leads.’
For example, this is what happened with one of my clients in the last couple of months. We were like: ‘Hey, let’s create a go-to-market strategy. We have an email list of about 3000 people. (And this is B2B wholesale, right? So 3000 is a lot). And so we have this email list with 3000 people. Let’s try to sell to them. Let’s try to revive some of that list.
Let’s create a go-to-market strategy to… To basically revive them and get new conversations started with the existing 3000 people.’
And the CEO was like: ‘All right, sounds good, et cetera, et cetera.’
And after one hour meeting, he said: ‘All right, but we should also create a strategy to get new people in.’
How? We have 3000 people, if we want to call them all, we’re gonna get swamped
So, the strategy was basically. We send emails to 3000 people. We track who is interested. So, we track the click through rates and all of that, and who is reading the blog posts and so on.
The newsletter was going to the blog post and we could measure, basically who is interested in a new product. We got 250 people clicking like crazy onto the blog site. We now have to basically call 250 people and have quality conversations with them. Why would we add getting new clients into that strategy. Doesn’t make any sense.
Like, if we start calling all these people, we’re going to get more sales than we can possibly handle and we don’t need new people.
So there is this internal pressure to perform and the CEO usually has the last word and the marketer can’t really say, or sometimes doesn’t have enough power to say: ‘Hey this is unrealistic. And so, we create a strategy where parts of the strategy just don’t make any sense and we can’t execute them. That’s why when I’m doing strategies, it’s really, really important as we learned in the last newsletter to test them against the market.
But It’s also important to test them against the team.
What can the team actually achieve? That’s why one of the the first questions when starting to work with a client or even before starting to work with a client is:
‘What kind of assets does the company have right? What can we use to make this strategy good? How can we play to our strength?’
Usually, I see companies just chasing shiny things like ‘Oh, we should do Facebook!’ or lately, for example, ‘We should use this tool. It has an AI CRM whatever. It does the outreach for you.’
Yeah. But do we know how to do that? Because if we don’t have somebody who knows how to do that, those leads are still not gonna convert, we won’t be able to execute.
So, for example, we can do inbound marketing. Let’s say we create the perfect go-to-market strategy that’s gonna bring in 500 people, that’s gonna get clients to reach out to us via email, right? But if there is nobody on the other side that handles those emails, we haven’t done anything.
So how can we test this against the team? Usually, what I found was that the simpler the strategy, the better. Right?
The simple strategy
A go-to-market strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to be well executed. And if you base it off of a user need, it’s going to work.
It’s going to produce results. It’s not rocket science, but companies tend to overcomplicate this. So, for example, with one of my clients, this is a consulting company working in the M&A space. Our strategy is to pick up the phone and call people. That’s what it came down to because the CEO simply had a lot of good network connections that he didn’t use.
He basically didn’t pick up the phone and call them. And that’s all it took to make him 15 K a month. Sometimes it’s the simplest things.
For example, when in the beginning I was thinking about, ‘Hey, how can I bring in the first hundred people to this newsletter?’
And, you know, I was thinking about all sorts of things, all sorts of marketing hacks and growth hacks and I could offer this and I could offer that and I could do referral programs and I could do whatever. I can post about it on LinkedIn, etc, etc.
But what worked best was contacting my existing followers on LinkedIn saying, ‘Hey I’m starting a newsletter. If you’re interested in startup growth, if you’re interested in strategies, if you’re interested in positioning, Give it a try. Sign up.’
And that’s how I got the first 150 people into my newsletter. It was a simple strategy that I could execute. And it brought in the first 150 people.
So why wouldn’t you do it? Why is Facebook advertising that much more sexy than keeping it simple?
The more time you spend thinking about the strategy, the simpler the strategy will get. And often the simplest strategies will bring in the best results.
So think about that. And if you need help, reach out. I’ll help you create a simple strategy you can actually execute: BOOK A CALL