Planning a go-to-market (GTM) campaign is not for the short-sighted. Pam Didner, our guest on Marketing Smarts Episode 546, compares it to writing a book.

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"When you write a book, or when you read, it doesn't matter if it's fiction or nonfiction, they have a title and they scope it in a certain way to address that specific topic....It's a journey," she says. "So, you kind of know the scope. Then you actually have a chapter to describe in terms of what happened. A marketing plan is very similar."

And that scope, as she calls it, is always changing. A six-month GTM plan can look totally different by the end of the six months.

"In the meantime, the product is still being developed, the product is not finalized," she explains. "Some features are added, some features are not added. There's a constant changing of the features that will impact the positioning and messaging of your go-to-market plan."

Ultimately, the plan has to be a living thing, continuously affected by research and audience monitoring. It's not done just because you've started "plotting."

"Listening and research actually never stop. A lot of people will think that they do listening and research and then they do a go-to-market plan...The listening and research continue even while you are creating."

For more about GTM campaigns—including a swift answer for what the heck they actually are—check out Episode 546 now. You can listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.

"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.

Full Transcript: How to Build a Successful Go-to-Market Campaign Plan

George B. Thomas: Do you ever think about GTM? What the heck is GTM? Go-to-market. Do you ever think about how to build a successful marketing go-to-market campaign plan? If so, then Pam Didner is going to help us out today. We talk about what keeps her up at night, some hurdles along the way, what success looks like, and of course we talk about tips, tricks, templates, attacks, all the things that you as a B2B marketer might need, want, or have at your fingertips.

Pam Didner is a B2B marketer, speaker, author, and podcaster. She understands the challenges business professionals face every single day. Her expertise is in strategic planning, B2B marketing, sales and marketing alignment, content marketing, sales enablement, and more. Pam is a natural strategic thinker and tactical in execution. She has written three books: Effective Sales Enablement, The Modern AI Marketer, and Global Content Marketing. She also launched her podcast and YouTube channel, B2B Marketing and More.

It's how to build a successful marketing go-to-market campaign plan for you. Ladies and gentlemen, let's get into the interview.

I'm super excited because we get to talk about a conversation that I don't think we've actually talked about on the podcast, at least since I took over last year. However, I'm also excited because I get to talk to somebody who I always love being with when we're doing events, whether it be MarketingProfs webinars or on the podcast. Of course, I'm speaking to the lovely Pam Didner.

Today, we're talking about how to build a successful marketing go-to-market campaign plan. Pam, how are you doing today?

Pam Didner: I'm doing very well, George. Thank you so much for having me again. I'm so happy to be back.

George: Absolutely. I always love the tidbits of knowledge and wisdom that you sprinkle in all of our conversations and the value that you add to the world. It just made sense with B2B Forum coming up and you speaking there, and this new topic that I hadn't touched, I'm like, let's get Pam on the show.

With that said, I like to always kick it off with kind of a fun question. I think it's fun. It definitely leads people in to either funny or interesting answers. What keeps you up at night when you think about B2B marketers regarding their actual marketing go-to-market campaigns, what are your nightmares, what are your dreams? Talk us through that.

Pam: That's a great question. I actually did go-to-market planning several times in the past. Anybody who has done a go-to-market plan will understand exactly what I'm talking about in terms of once it's launched and we actually do go to market, will that be successful, if it's launch related, will that go well, and will it eventually meet an objective I set out to achieve. There were times I would actually have nightmares, especially prior to product launches.

For example, we have a major launch in New York City. I have a nightmare that my speaker didn't show up, or the press are not there, and that kind of stuff. What keeps me up at night is if I created a go-to-market plan, at the end of the day, after three months or six months, will the go-to-market plan showcase the success that I'm envisioning?

George: I love it. On the Marketing Smarts Podcast, I love to level-set because I think sometimes folks who have been in the industry for a while have this curse of knowledge. If you look on the internet, people will use GTM, and some humans are like, "What is GTM?" They'll even say it's go-to-market, and those same humans will be like, "Huh?"

So, let's start real simple here. For any listeners who are just getting into the marketing space or haven't had to actually go through this marketing go-to-market plan, what the heck do we even mean here, what does this look like, feel like, smell like when we're talking about a go-to-market plan?

Pam: Go-to-market, just the three words by itself, is really you are taking a product to market. That's really it in a very simple way. But I would like to expand that a little bit.

It's more like you introduce a product to a market with a greater chance of success. You aren't like, launch a product and then hope everybody knows. You create a plan, you introduce that product out, and hopefully you introduce to the target audience that you want to go after, they are aware of the product, or maybe they are interested in talking to you about the product.

It's really like introducing a product to market with a plan that provides a greater chance of success. But no one can guarantee the product's success. Nobody, including the CEO or the product managers. It's more or less what can we do or what can marketing do with the best possible effort to create a plan to bend the odds to your favor.

George: I like the bending it to your favor. I love that you're being honest about the fact of you can't just say it's going to be successful. I love that you're leaning into this plan and this strategy, because that leads me to want to ask the question, what are some key elements that B2B marketers should make sure they're including in their go-to-market marketing campaign plans? Is there a framework, or these three things, or these five things? Talk us through that.

Pam: I have worked on go-to-market plans myself and I've also worked closely with several marketing managers in the past. The way I see a go-to-market plan is a little bit different than how marketing teams actually create it. Most of the time, what I have seen, the go-to-market plan tends to just have one element, and the element is marketing. It's a marketing campaign, marketing outreach, marketing launches. That's part of it.

Honestly, to make a very successful go-to-market plan or make it very holistically, there are actually three key elements that you have to take into account. Marketing is one of them, obviously, but the most important thing is product and also the product distribution. I see that as one category. When you are promoting a specific product, you are talking about the product, but how people can buy that product, how the product will be distributed is also very important. Do they just download the product, or do they have to go to a certain website and actually buy it and somebody ships it? What is the product distribution?

The other one is sales. Obviously, salespeople are selling the products. To me, it's a three-legged stool. Number one is product and product distribution. Number two is marketing. Number three is sales. When you create a holistic go-to-market, your plan should include these three elements.

George: I love that. Marketing Smarts listeners, it might be the rewind point. Understanding those three pillars and then breaking down what needs to happen in each one of those pillars for your success. That almost leads me to my next question. We can think about this in the overarching GTM strategy or we can now start to think about it in each of these pillars, however you want to go.

The question here is, are there any tips, tricks, dare I say hacks, or templates that B2B marketers could be using when creating a successful marketing go-to-market campaign plan? Of course, we all have a hard time starting from scratch. That's the hardest part is getting started. So, what are some of these tips, tricks, hacks, or templates that we might be able to leverage or use?

Pam: I'm going to broaden my answer a little bit and then get down to go-to-market. When you create any kind of marketing plan, I always feel that creating a marketing plan is like writing a book.

When you write a book, or when you read, it doesn't matter if it's fiction or nonfiction, they have a title and they scope it in a certain way to address that specific topic. Or as a journey of a couple, for example, from getting married down to getting old or getting divorced. It's a journey. So, you kind of know the scope. Then you actually have a chapter to describe in terms of what happened. A marketing plan is very similar, it's kind of like writing a book.

When you write a book or when you create a plan, the number one thing, it doesn't matter what kind of plan you're doing, you need to know your scope. I talk about that in a perfect world your go-to-market plan should have product, product distribution, sales, and the marketing. But I have worked with many marketing managers that basically say, "I have no control about the products, I have no control on the sales side. The only thing that I'm going to focus on is marketing." That's okay. Know your scope.

You have to understand if your scope is limited like that, that means there are other factors like salespeople are not doing, or product teams are not doing, or the product is not great that are going to be detrimental to your marketing success. You need to understand your scope and also identify what are some potential factors or risks that are the factors that aren't in your control in your scope might impact your success. You need to document that as a part of the go-to-market plan that you are writing. Does that make sense?

George: Oh, yes.

Pam: A lot of times with the marketing plan, everybody talks about it's going to be successful, we're going to do this, we're going to do a campaign, this is the creative. I always add a disclaimer, I have no control on these things, therefore it might impact to my success. You need to have a disclaimer. To me, one of the takeaways is if you don't have total control of your go-to-market plan, you're only focused on a portion of it, then you have to understand what other people are not doing might impact your success. Know your scope.

The second thing you have to know is timeline. This is go-to-market. What is the timeline? Maybe it's just a product launch over two weeks. Maybe it's three months. Maybe it's six months. The timeline is very important and tends to be overlooked. Number three, if the timeline is set, your plan needs to show in a rolling calendar what you are doing during that timeline. If it's six months, you have to create a six-month plan, what your campaigns will look like in that six months. It's not one campaign. The other one is to identify table of contents for your go-to-market plan. Your second slide or your third slide should be the specific things that you will do, kind of like writing a book.

Number five most important thing is the go-to-market objectives and target customers. They are critical. I cannot say it enough. How many times when I've created go-to-market plans and I have a massive disagreement between the sales side and the marketing side. From their perspective, to support them, they should focus on decision-makers, but I really want to focus on end users. If you are not aligned on the target customers, make sure you that you align. It's going to impact the success of your go-to-market plan.

George: I love that you brought up the personas, the ideal client profiles, whatever name you want to use for it in your organization. What I like to say is the fact that you brought up the actual humans that you're trying to go-to-market to. I'm glad that you brought that up because I really want to ask the question around something that might sound sideways, but I feel in my heart is actually very important. We'll find out because I'm going to ask the question.

How important is listening or researching when thinking about creating a successful marketing go-to-market campaign plan? How do we implement that in something maybe before we even set out for the go part?

Pam: That's so important. Thank you so much for bringing that up, I appreciate it. Listening and research are a prerequisite, if you will, of a go-to-market plan. I would like to create 2x2. If you have listening and research as your X axis, on the Y axis is internal and external. You have internal listening and internal research. You also have external listening and external research. When you are looking to do listening and research, you have to look at both internal and external.

The internal tend to be, I would say, more on the listening side. When you create a go-to-market plan, especially enterprise, or even in a SaaS startup, there's always too many cooks in the kitchen. If I say that and you understand exactly what I mean, you probably would laugh. It's just because a lot of people have a lot to say. The CEO has something to say about the go-to-market plan. The product team has something to say about the go-to-market plan. The sales team has something to say about the go-to-market plan. From time to time, even the CMO and the VP of marketing have something to say about it. The internal is more listening. You go talk to different people and gather their feedback ahead of time.

Also, by the time it's time, their feedback may change over time. In general, I know that in a big launch or in enterprise, and even in the startup, the go-to-market plan started planning like six months ahead. Especially if you want to book a venue in San Francisco or New York as part of the launch, you have to plan that out, I would say, sometimes a year in advance because you want to book the venue. If nothing else, at least give yourself six months for planning.

During that six months, you go talk to different people. In the middle of it, you still need to talk to them again because things may have changed. The problem got pulled in, the product got pulled out, or they decided they cannot create a feature in time, so it's slotted for the next launch and not here. You have to talk to different customers. That's the listening part.

The research has a lot to do with the competitive analysis, compare your product with the competitors. The other thing is competitive analysis of your own product. There's a competitor level and there's competitive analysis in terms of product. There's third-party and secondary research about the customers. George, you brought up a very good point, I'm so happy you did that, in terms of customers. Are they addressing your customers' pain points?

Listening and research actually never stop. A lot of people will think that they do listening and research and then they do a go-to-market plan. I hate saying this. The listening and research continue even while you are creating your go-to-market plan.

George: I love that so much. It makes me think about the episode I did with Nate Brown where we talked about voice of customer and having that in place. He even mentioned internal and external. I want to dive a little bit deeper on that same question, more focusing on external. I try to put my brain into where the Marketing Smarts listeners might be.

My question, and I'm thinking their question would be like, I want to do that, but how? This might be a process, it might be a tool, I'm not sure, but I'm going to ask the question and we'll let Pam let us know. How might one go about listening and researching externally so that you can gather the smart data that you need for your go-to-market plan?

Pam: Okay. That's actually a great question. I always like to address how because I will listen to a podcast, or watch a video, or even read a blog post, but a lot of times they don't go down to detail talking about how.

How, unfortunately, in this specific context, depends on your products and your industry. It depends on how you sell your products and your sales model. Is your product in a very competitive world, a SaaS based product, or you are in the number one market position with a very high market segment share? If you are doing a CRM, and there's a lot of CRM tools out there, my take on this is have a conversation with the sales team and understand in terms of what your customers are talking about your product. That's one way of getting the research is from your customers and also from your sales team.

The other one is within your industry. Especially in the US, every single industry is very established. There's a lot of associations, there's a lot of research firms that are doing research for your specific product. I would definitely find out who they are. Like I said, they are different. Research firms that focus on your products, and also if you have a marketing research team or any research team within the product teams, go to them directly and see if they have any kind of research report that they can pull to actually help you. That's the second one in terms of the research firms within the industry you are in.

Number three, I hate saying this, obviously if you're in the industry for a long time, you have peers. I would go to your peers for information as well. Sometimes I know a lot of marketers even talk to their competitors because they are friendly, frenemies. Talk to your competitors, it doesn't hurt, and also do a lot of research.

Number five, ChatGPT. Why don't you ask ChatGPT that question? Do a little research using ChatGPT with very specific prompts and specific questions, and see if it provides additional insight.

George: I love the idea of leveraging AI a little bit for some of that research, and all of the ones before that. I also love that's the last one you gave, like hey also this, not that you should weigh on that heavily, but it's a nice little addition. It reminds me of the interview I did just a little bit ago with Chris Carr about ChatGPT, AI, AI-assisted writing. Marketing Smarts listeners, if you haven't listened to that episode, definitely go check it out. It is quite intriguing, to say the least.

Pam: I just did a presentation for a client of mine, the title is "How to Improve Your Sales Game Using ChatGPT," as a talk to all of their sales professionals on how they can use ChatGPT. So, I created multiple different prompts to share with the salespeople in terms of how they can use it. It was fascinating. I learned a lot along the way.

George: You can't start messing with AI and not learn something. Speaking of that, you can't listen to this podcast without learning something. What I want to learn next is as marketers start to go in this direction after they learn what we've talked about today, what are some of the hurdles you've seen marketers face when trying to build a campaign for their go-to-market efforts, the things that get them stuck in the ditch?

Pam: There are several because it does take six to eight months to build a go-to-market plan in general. Let's assume you are a small team, you don't have a lot of budget, and you create it in a very short period of time. That can happen, too. In general, one of the hurdles tends to be time. Do you give yourself enough time to actually put the plan together? That's number one.

Number two is lack of budget. I know a lot of management folks will say, "Marketing, we need to launch this product. We need to do go-to-market," but they say it without actually giving additional budget for the marketing people to actually do that. For anyone creating a go-to-market plan, here's my number one advice. If you have one takeaway from this, don't do a go-to-market plan unless you have budget, you're going to fail. I hate saying that.

There's only so much you can do organically. There's only so much you can do with your small team. There's only so much you can do to reach out to influencers to give you freebies. No budget, no go-to-market, it's that simple. I'm not trying to be cynical. I'm just stating the fact. Lack of budget, go fight for your budget. This is very critical. B2B marketers are all nice people, we don't like to fight, but you have to go present it and appeal, and get your budget. That's number one.

Number two is because you have six to eight months and then you're working through your go-to-market plan, but in the meantime the product is still being developed, the product is not finalized. Some features are added, some features are not added. There's a constant changing of the features that will impact the positioning and messaging of your go-to-market plan. That frustrates the heck out of many go-to-market marketing managers. They just hate that. I need to change that again? Did we just say that we are going to have that as our key features and key talking points? Then three weeks later, it has changed. That's one thing.

In addition to that changing, another thing that changes all the time is the dates. They pull in, they push out. The push out, I worry less. It's the pulling in. You're like the launch date is in October. No, wait, the launch date is the first week of September. Ugh.

George: It's time to go into marketing meltdown when you hear those words. On the flip side of the hurdles, what does success like? How do we know we have the right go-to-market campaign plan in place? What does GTM nirvana look like?

Pam: It actually depends on your go-to-market plan objectives. It's very much objective-driven. In some cases, if it's a big enterprise, they launch a product with a massive product launch playing around the world. It's not necessarily right away the sales. It's the indication of the press coverage, the analyst pickup. For SaaS, the product launch or go-to-market has to do with a number of trial runs they can pick up or the number of free trials they can pick up. In some cases, you do a soft launch, which is you launch existing products with additional features. That can be sales inquiries that people would like to upgrade.

So, it really depends on your go-to-market objectives. My recommendation on that specifically is have a very in-depth conversation with your management and also your sales team. Ultimately, your go-to-market plan needs to impact sales somehow. Have a conversation with your management. Understand what kind of success metrics they envision and have in mind, and that you somehow align with that. It may not be 100%, but you need to somehow align with that. That would be my recommendation in terms of have a conversation with your management to determine your go-to-market plan objectives and then your success metrics should be part of objective-driven measurement.

George: I love when everything points to have a conversation with the people that you actually work with. That is such an amazing thing that sometimes we forget to do. Truly, what I hear is in that conversation it's understanding and setting expectations for how you're going to be moving forward.

Pam: That's true. Well said.

George: This has been exciting. I still have another question that I'm going to ask here in a minute. You're speaking at the B2B Forum later this year. If people attend, what else can attendees plan on learning about building a successful marketing go-to-market campaign plan if they attend your session in October at the B2B Forum?

Pam: I'm doing a workshop and I'm also doing a session. I'm doing both. Like you indicated, I'm doing a go-to-market plan workshop. I will share the detail templates that you can use. I also will share some of the know-how, specifically in terms of how you can address the questions of getting additional budget. I will answer any questions you have about go-to-market plans, and I'm not kidding.

Another thing I would like to talk about is how do we create service-oriented go-to-market plans. Services tend to be a category that's overlooked in terms of how to create a go-to-market plan. I want to have a point of view and share that as well. In addition to that, I have a session, and that is talking about how you can quantify marketing ROI. If you are interested in that topic, please do come to Boston and attend B2B Forum.

George: Be there or be square, people. It's the place to be. I'll be there. Pam will be there. There's a whole bunch of other folks that we'll have on the podcast coming up soon that are going to be there as well. Back to our GTM conversation. Pam, what are the words of wisdom that you want to share with the Marketing Smarts listeners as we send them back to their regularly scheduled day?

Pam: If you are frustrated with your go-to-market plan, you are frustrated with your management constantly changing direction, you are frustrated with your product team that aren't able to give you clear answers in terms of your value propositions of the new product, I would like to let you know that you are not alone. A lot of times, we B2B marketers work so hard, we are inside the company, and we don't necessarily have that support from our peers unless we attend a conference. Sometimes, in the moment, you are so frustrated that you feel like you're the only one having that problem. No. That's not true.

I want to let everybody know that the problem that you have, we all have it. From time to time, it's okay, just pat yourself on the back and say, "You know what? It's okay. This happens to everybody. Not just me." You have to tell yourself that. Otherwise, you get deflated very quickly. Especially doing marketing. It's never easy in the world of digital and the modern era. Take a break. Drink a lot of tea. Just keep it at arm's length sometimes. Do the best you can. Don't feel that you are the only struggling. You are not. I struggle all the time, by the way.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.

I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.

We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Marcus Sheridan about world-class studies, they ask, you answer, and building trust on the internet, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

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