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How to optimise your go to market strategy, with Elizabeth Coleon

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The ability to expand and manage growth beyond one home market is often when a successful company enters billion-dollar company territory. So many promising companies have failed to do so, in spite of initial successes.

Elizabeth Coleon has successfully driven this effort not once but three times at PayPal, Qonto, and Withings as Chief Marketing Officer. She has developed frameworks and put them to the test at each of those companies. In this Micro-learning for Pollen, she shares her best practices to optimize your go-to-market strategy.

1. What are the go-to-market fundamentals ?

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is not merely about launching a product; it involves delivering a product to the market in a manner that maximizes its impact. Essential questions every company must answer include the "who, what, when, where, and how" of their product offerings.

“Are you clear on your who, what, when, where and how?”

It is crucial to be clear about whom you are targeting, the unique selling proposition of your product, the acquisition channels you will use, and the timing of your market entry. Additionally, understanding the reasons behind your chosen go-to-market strategy is important.

For instance, let's examine Withings’ GTM approach:

The “Who”: Initially, Withings focused on the health-conscious individuals who, while not necessarily ill, are proactive about their health and willing to invest in premium products. Over time, they have increasingly targeted individuals with chronic conditions, recognizing this group as a significant potential market.

The “What”: The priority products are smart scales and hybrid watches. The unique selling proposition of these products lies in their ease of use and aesthetic appeal, combined with advanced clinical features.

Acquisition Channels: The primary strategy includes prioritizing direct sales through their website, alongside leveraging retail partners and platforms like Amazon where they have a strong presence. To attract new users at the upper funnel, they capitalize on large events such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and IFA in Germany, which offer extensive reach through public relations and opportunities to connect with global retail partners. Additionally, they engage with tech and health influencers to broaden their reach and conduct some non-digital upper-funnel advertising, though this is less scalable across different markets.

2. How do you define & prioritize your segments and channels ? (What are the main challenges when using those tools ?)

For segments, I look at insights in current happy users as well as market potential especially if it is at an early stage.

The purpose of segmenting is to help increase the chance of success in using marketing and other investments, so I consider various options for grouping and their practicality. Needs can be clearly defined by aspects such as company size, or they might be delineated more by industry. For B2C, the focus isn't necessarily on demographics but rather on behavioral tendencies. For instance, in the case of health products, this might mean distinguishing between customers who are health-conscious and want to see data, and those who are indifferent to data regardless of age or specific health issues.

Then, the traps to avoid are creating segmentations that are too limited, too complex, or not practical—you might need to adjust and focus on practical areas. For example, while out-of-home advertising may be based on demographics, considerations for graphic design and tone of voice should be more behaviorally focused in digital marketing, adjusting for insights around look-alikes.

It is important to remember that different segmentations and priorities can be effective; typically, the key is to ensure that the team and investments are aligned.

3. How do you balance the ability to audit and plan vs the immediate operational needs ?

I determine the appropriate frequency for conducting audits and taking a step back to evaluate what is working and what isn't, and then I allocate time accordingly for these activities versus operational demands. This approach varies depending on the company's stage of development and the rate of change within the business.

Each time I join a new company, whether it be PayPal, Qonto, Withings, or now LumApps, I face the challenge of balancing the immediate operational needs with strategic planning. This includes addressing ongoing marketing campaigns, making team organizational decisions, and developing a longer-term strategy. It is crucial to demonstrate some immediate results and build relationships quickly. However, it is equally important to allocate time to devise a midterm plan that can potentially have a greater impact.

4. How do you evaluate markets and define your country priorities ?

I use a framework that evaluates various factors crucial to determining potential success or failure. While this framework is not flawless, it facilitates thorough analysis, stimulates discussion, and aids in decision-making. The criteria considered extend beyond just the size of the market and its potential for growth. They also include regulatory risks, competitive landscape, marketing costs, alignment with my company’s existing strengths, and synergies with current go-to-market strategies. Additionally, the framework takes into account the traction achieved so far and our ability to execute plans effectively.

Liz, an expat herself, has led diverse teams based in France to grow outside their ‘home’ countries. She is currently CMO at LumApps, the cloud-based social intranet for the enterprise. Prior to LumApps she led the marketing & sales team at Withings, leader in connected health, and at Qonto from Series B and 20 to 150 growth team members at Series D, scaling France and developing IT, DE and ES. She was also director of Commercial Growth for Western EU at PayPal and started her career seing many business models in M&A and investing. She has an MBA from Harvard and BA from Georgetown University.