Developing Early Stage GTM Strategies While Focusing On Product-Market Fit

Scott Gartenberg is an NYC product manager with PracticePanther, a legal practice management software that allows law practices to manage their work. This article originally appeared in Scott’s Working in Product newsletter. We’re sharing it to explore the best practices and philosophies that drive product managers today.

As someone who concentrated in entrepreneurship in college, much of my time in classes was spent analyzing startups, brainstorming potential business ideas and, most importantly, mapping out a plan for launching one.

There were some major takeaways that stick with me, and they are tremendously relevant to my mindset today as a PM. PMs work on GTM strategies, which essentially outline what a business needs to do to capture the eyes and wallets (if applicable – some features are released at no additional charge) of customers as they roll out new features.

At the end of the day, building great products is fundamentally about leaning on the market, which will articulate its most pressing pain points in an effort to gain a solution that alleviates them. Marc Andreesen discusses this here in a great post worth reading. Whether you are releasing a feature as part of a publicly-traded company or are launching a startup, leaning on the market is always a good idea.

Understanding who your customer really is and the problems they are experiencing is an essential exercise in getting to product-market fit.

So, when going to market with a new product, one of the central goals is feedback. But — especially if you are a startup with limited resources — you want to be thoughtful about the personas that are your likeliest potential customers and how to best capture them (the right marketing channels and the right brand & value prop messaging). Steps that might accomplish this include:

  1. Arriving at 1-2 customer personas that you believe resonate with the product’s value proposition.
  2. Figuring out how to reach these individuals and try to make this a low effort / high value and volume activity (i.e. targeting personas in 1,000-person groups instead of reaching out to them 1 by 1!) However, targeted outreach and in-depth 1:1 conversations with potential users also have their place and are tremendously helpful.
  3. Maximizing the first impression — whether this is a very basic prototype or landing page that clearly articulates the problem your product is solving. Anyone who stumbles upon your product is a potential customer, and every at-bat should be treated that way. This is a good chance to incorporate engineering as a way to market.
  4. Iterating on solutions that you know at least solve a problem that customers have a willingness to pay for.

 

Overall, an essential takeaway here is that understanding who your customer really is and the problems they are experiencing is an essential exercise in getting to product-market fit. Of course, you’d love to get to that fit before investing in growth (when you might not even know exactly what it is you are growing yet). However, innovation today is moving faster than the speed of light, and investing in a GTM strategy at the same time can actually help to refine your product-market fit.

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