The difference between marketing and go-to-market strategies

I’ve recently found it quite difficult to navigate the newer requirements or interpretations of marketing functions, and have decided that a post must be in order. Understandably, marketing knowledge and skills are very much applied cross-functionally; it can look like sales, it can look like design and heck, it can look like business development efforts. Especially, now that I’ve completed my MBA and have allegedly, have the correct, academic ideas to differentiate the variety of marketing consulting offerings to the modern client.


Marketing pertains to the macro level strategy of all foundational marketing-related activities: branding, public relations, online/content marketing, etc. It helps your brand or product create value through creating or amplifying existing desire or need. Keep in mind it still isn’t marketing’s objective to validate your product-market fit hypotheses for you. At its core, it provides a traditionally informational framework for your derivative marketing tactics and plans: Market Segmentation (where consumer preferences are diverse and differential), Targeting (; can you reach them?), Positioning (; where in the market and how is your product differentiated?). These things have to be coherent to these other things: Product, Price, Promotion, Place. It is a very curious discipline because a lot of the innovation that helps businesses survive actually depends on the product itself and price.

Regarding Product Marketing

Features make the product. There is a specific class of venture capitalists who have a solid product background from running products at large tech firms, and they really believe that features make the product. Then they go on to run products at unicorns. The premise here is that they’re firmly in the camp that product features make the unicorn. This is often explained to be intuitive user design; changing the color of a call-to-action improves conversion rates drastically, it is easy to use compared to existing more complex offerings in the market. How about features that ensure interoperability and platform integrations into existing supply chains? These features aren’t usually not that well-advertised because they’re more catered towards the developer audiences. Developer audiences are important because they integrate new platforms and indirectly create new ecosystems. If you’re disrupting an existing supply chain, bypassing the usual intermediaries, chances are you’re in the early stages of creating a new supply chain. Essentially, there is an anticipation of the impending tech innovation with the obsession in product development. Are you able to envision the futuristic state of the customer? Secondly, are you able to bring it to reality?

Much ado about brainstorming. From an outsider looking in, the discovery process of new features appears to be birthed from an arduous brainstorming process. If you’re at the beginning of product conception, this means understanding in its entirety, the problem the customer has. The next step would be feature brainstorming that’s catered to offering a solution whether your customer knows they want or not. Feature identification means suddenly going from identifying the solution to identifying the user experience on the product. I’ve always thought this is much of a leap from business use case to behavioral economics.

Titles; that by which another name would have the same functionality. It is very telling what companies have open positions for, or even existing roles. For an early stage startup, it is up to you to create the only necessary roles. Sales enablement? Enabling sales to boost revenue? Customer success (customer enablement)? Enabling the customer to succeed? Does enabling more sales revenue necessarily mean the customer is succeeding at the same pace? Another philosophical conundrum. This is clearly not about an activity exerting mind control though it would be a helpful superpower to have. You could argue this is about helping the customer to logically arrive at the conclusion that they would require your product. What information is the customer missing that would get them to make the ultimate buying decision? Are you able to provide that? Better yet, if your organization doesn’t have a VP of Engineering, does it mean the responsibility falls entirely on product to make the final product decision and the engineering team gets the product reliably executed? And yet, these are specific nuances that indicate cultural attitudes within each organization.

Market Inefficiency.

We’re collectively obsessed with solutions. There are problems in the market. These problems are opportunities with a financial / market valuation price tag. Does it need a service (process consulting) or does it require a product (behavioral solution)?

Go-to-market strategies. We’ve now arrived at the final conclusion: the over-arching go-to-market strategy that encompasses both business development, marketing and even possibly, product functions. If an hierarchical chart could be made sense of, go-to-market strategies require figuring out the best methods to reach your customers in relation to your business goals. Are your marketing methods required? These strategies actually require a lot of research and insightful inquiry into the specifics of the target customer journey to purchase, often unique to your particular industry.

Thoughts on re-evaluating the effectiveness of your current go-to-market or marketing strategies? Drop me a message at Jacqueline [dot] gotomarket [at] gmail [dot] com and we’ll schedule a time to chat about your needs.



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Jacqueline Chan

Jacqueline Chan

An online diary regarding reflections, thoughts on emerging tech, sales and stuff. Drop me a message at Jacqueline [dot] gotomarket [at] gmail [dot] com