When rolling out a new product or introducing an existing product to a new market, businesses often focus their go-to-market strategy around marketing and sales. Marketing and sales teams, after all, are the ones to create demand by acknowledging customer pain points and demonstrating the product’s ability to solve a problem.
But this leaves out an important piece of the puzzle, which includes the essential data that marketers can glean from a company’s finance department. Whether through forecasting or competitive analysis, it is strategic financial leadership that can help product marketers plan for success. For businesses looking to go to market, a CFO or fractional CFO can provide the industry and financial expertise necessary to carry out a more effective plan.
The key players
The core of any go-to-market strategy is to identify a problem and position the product or service as the solution. You can think of this as a roadmap to measure the viability of a product’s success and predict its performance from competitive data, market research and prior launches.
Companies typically assemble a go-to-market team from three core areas of the business:
- Identify the market and customer personas
- Create and test product messaging
- Optimize ads based on test feedback
- Build brand awareness and generate demand with inbound and/or outbound activities
- Create content to obtain leads
- Choose a sales strategy
- Optimize the pipeline and increase conversion rates
- Analyze and shorten the sales cycle
- Reduce customer acquisition costs
- Assist sales and marketing in creating product messaging
- Review the product prior to launch for potential improvements
- Assign a product team member to serve as contact person for the process
- Make a plan for post-launch customer support
For startups and small businesses, the go-to-market team may be founder-led, with business owners taking full ownership of product sales and marketing. As a business grows, the go-to-market team will evolve to include dedicated sales professionals and, eventually, a complete marketing department.
Where does financial leadership fit in the go-to-market team?
Including the head of finance may be an afterthought for businesses that don’t yet have a complete finance department or a dedicated CFO. For a growth company, an outsourced or fractional CFO with niche industry expertise and go-to-market experience can provide both founder-led and fully developed teams with key insights throughout the process. A fractional CFO will have the ability to identify and eliminate wasteful spending, increase operational efficiencies and build relationships cross-functionally to execute a more cohesive strategy.
The need for project-based or fractional support increases as strategies become more complex. As companies scale, they may find that communication, processes and product priorities are challenging to manage. These increasing complexities can lead to a lack of information, product launch delays and poor strategy implementation. To combat these challenges, businesses need additional support to help guide their decisions and be a partner to the owner or to marketing and sales leadership.
Data to power your launch
A CFO can provide businesses with more than financial control and oversight, especially when partnering with the marketing team. This partnership is becoming more valuable as marketing teams seek growth strategies and look to improve cross-functional collaboration.
So, why does this collaboration work? It’s because of data. These two professionals working together can bring out the best of both worlds: marketing can use their customer knowledge while the CFO can offer results-focused efficiency. Mastercard, for example, found success by appointing a CFO to its marketing department, which helped the team develop more credible metrics and better reporting. Better data helps marketing become more efficient and align more transparently with their finance counterparts.
In addition, CFOs can guide marketing in its go-to-market strategy by:
- Achieving scalability
- Choosing the right growth strategy
- Creating a competitive market analysis and financial forecasts to predict a successful launch
- Setting KPIs to track launch success and prove value to stakeholders
- Citing potential cost-savings
- Determining what products and markets deliver revenue or margin growth potential
- Organizing and structuring the financing of key investments to generate a competitive advantage
These data-driven insights can be empowering to marketers as they define what success looks like for their launch. In conjunction with more abstract measurements of success, such as brand awareness or brand value, these insights and concrete financial metrics can create a more holistic picture of the go-to-market team’s goals.
How can your finance department support marketing and sales?
For businesses with a finance department, or for businesses that choose to outsource these roles as needed, a finance team can provide additional value to the CFO and go-to-market partnership.
The finance department can:
- Create financial forecasts to predict potential outcomes and identify growth opportunities
- Analyze price to increase profits
- Review campaign finances to help the marketing team invest their resources and optimize their budget
- Decide if the business should hire in-house or outsource to meet its growth goals
In addition, the finance team can help the go-to-market team identify which marketing or sales initiatives are driving the most revenue, as well as the long-term value of each acquired customer.
When finance is aligned with the rest of the team, your business can build stronger relationships and ensure buy-in from all parts of the business. You’ll also receive more value from your CFO, as leadership will be supported with the information it needs to offer strategic guidance.
Are you ready to go to market?
Perhaps you want to launch your first product, review a product that is overpriced or remedy poor customer service. Or, your company may be planning the relaunch of a product that now has stronger growth potential and has been updated to attract new users. Strategic financial advisory can provide the data and experience you need to augment your plan before you go to market. Ready to define and implement your go-to-market strategy?