Want Customers? Start with Go-to-Market Innovation

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Want Customers? Start with Go-to-Market InnovationDeveloping a product without a go-to-market strategy is like trying to fly an airplane with an empty fuel tank. You’ve invested huge sums of money into designing the plane, building the plane, hiring a staff and servicing the plane, but if you don’t add fuel, it’s not going anywhere. And yet this happens all the time—great products, painstakingly developed, with very little consideration for the needs of the customers. Until the product is ready to be launched, that is. At best, that could result in a failed product launch; At worst, a failed company.

That’s where go-to-market innovation comes in. Having an effective go-to-market strategy is really all about starting with go-to-market innovation. As a leader, adopting an innovation mindset will serve as the catalyst for not only bringing better products and services to the marketplace, but also helping your team and your company develop a competitive advantage. To me, there’s not much more exciting than that. What about you?

Let’s explore go-to-market innovation and what best-in-class, go-to-market strategies look like.

Attributes of a Go-to-Market Strategy

As I mentioned, the most effective go-to-market strategies is to focus on innovation. The focus on innovation must start early—ideally in the product development stage. This means focusing on defining the target customer base and their needs, how your product or service will meet those needs, and how you’ll reach those customers. The benefits of a go-to-market strategy are many, and starting early in the product development stage can reduce the time and costs it takes to go to market, clarify direction, and maximize your chances for a more successful launch

Most successful go-to-market strategies entail:

  • Identifying and targeting your customers
  • Including features and benefits in your products and services to best meet your targeted customers’ needs
  • Setting a price that is appropriate for each target group
  • Determining the best channels for reaching customers
  • Tailoring a marketing message that pushes the product innovation and how it appeals to your targeted customer group(s)
  • Developing a unique value proposition that differentiates your product and company from competitors in the marketplace
  • Having a system in place to evaluate feedback from your customers to further drive product enhancements and future product development

Success Stories from the Field

Best practices are one thing—execution another. At HP, we start our go-to-market innovation processes by understanding the attributes that matter most to our customers in their technology products—productivity, reliability, functionality, and a focus on substantially reducing total cost of ownership. As a result, our go-to-market strategy has fueled some of our most important product innovations and success stories.

This innovation-driven focus has enabled us to perfect core technologies and even invent entirely new product categories to meet emerging customer needs. Examples of HP’s go-to-market innovation abound, and in every case the reason for their success was our team’s focus on understanding and meeting the needs of our customer base.

For example, in the category of large-format printing, we focused on our customers’ need for high productivity and dependability in developing our page-wide inkjet print heads. One of our greatest innovations in this category is our HP T360 Color Inject Web Press. This product is the culmination of years of product development and technological breakthroughs that have enabled us to meet the need for a reliable, cost-effective, long-lasting, dependable, and practical page-wide printing solution.

Another example is in the 3D printing category where we focused on how we could innovate to meet our customers’ interest in and need for 3D printing solutions. This effort resulted in the HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing solution, developed with an eye toward cutting-edge technology that meets the current and future needs of designers, engineers, and corporate leaders. This 3D printing technology is second-to-none in quality and offers speeds that far outpace any alternative technologies that exist on the market. This product has given HP a substantial competitive advantage in this fast-growing market segment.

HP’s innovation in 3D printing shows our commitment to pushing the limits of product performance. As tech industry analyst Patrick Moorhead writes in Forbes, “[HP isn’t] satisfied with doing 3D prototypes, they want to fundamentally shift the way manufacturing is done. And that’s a really big deal and a very lofty goal.”

Our go-to-market focus also enhanced development of Sprout, a fully integrated desktop 3D scanning solution that includes 3D object capture, editing, and multiple streamlined 3D print options. Sprout’s innovative design came from our desire to deliver a better experience for people who engage in creative pursuits—or as Moorhead aptly explains in his Forbes article, it’s a product HP targeted to “the maker in all of us.” The overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received confirms that Sprout is the creative tool that the market has been waiting for. It’s a perfect example of go-to-market innovation at its best.

What’s Your Go-To-Market Innovation Strategy?

As you can see, I’m passionate about go-to-market innovation and how you can use go-to-market strategies and a laser focus on your customers and delivering solutions that help them grow their businesses. Innovative thinking—and product development—begets innovation, and it’s an exciting cycle to be a part of, both when it’s your company doing the innovating and when the solutions you can deliver for customers allows them to innovate as well. What do you think? Does your company embrace go-to-market innovation and have go-to-market strategies in place? What challenges have you faced in that regard and/or success stories you can share? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Photo Credit: johnlakianlegacy via Compfight cc

Christoph Schell

Christoph Schell is the President of the Americas Region and is member of the Executive Council of HP, Inc. In this role, Christoph is responsible for the go-to-market strategy and overall financial performance of the Americas business across all products, services and go-to-markets. Christoph has been with HP for over 17 years and has held a number of senior management roles across all three worldwide regions, Senior Vice President and Managing Director HP Americas, Chief Operating Officer HP Asia Pacific and Japan, for Printing and Personal Systems; Vice President of HP Inkjet Printing, Web Services and Consumer Go-to-Market Americas and Country Manager Printing South Pacific. Christoph has rich leadership experience managing multiple product lines at the regional and country-level.  You can follow Christoph on Twitter @christophschel  and you can also find him on LinkedIn .