The term “Go” is a Chinese board game that has been played for over 2,500 years. The rules of the game are simple:
1. Players take turns placing black and white stones on the intersections of a 19×19 grid, trying to capture one another’s pieces or form groups of three in an unbroken line.
2. If no legal moves can be made, the player with more territory wins by either capturing all opponent pieces or forming two sides equal at 49 points each (a draw).

It is always dangerous to enter new markets. A well-thought-out go-to-market plan, on the other hand, may ease the transition into a new market. This guidance is intended to assist firms in developing a data-driven go-to-market plan to reduce the risks associated with growth. 

In a word, a go-to-market strategy is a well-thought-out method for distributing and delivering products and services to a new target market, which includes, among other things, marketing messaging and brand values communication. 

A GTM strategy aims to create a company’s position in the market by attaining product-market fit in a certain area or niche.

To achieve brand recognition, improved revenue, and company stability, many firms must expand into new areas. Assembling a plausible go-to-market plan is critical for such enterprises, and this is what our guide attempts to assist with.

When your firm decides to enter new markets, it takes on a risk that is comparable to that of starting a business. It requires meticulous, strategic preparation, which does not happen by accident or overnight.

Here are some crucial elements to think about while developing a GTM plan.

Before committing to expanding your business internationally, make sure everyone is on the same page regarding your company’s international expansion. Begin by addressing the following issues to get the process started:

  • Alignment of objectives and goals. You should ask yourself this question before making any strategic decisions: what do I want to accomplish with global expansion? When it comes to your ultimate goals, be explicit and make sure they’re quantifiable. 
  • Internal resources. You should think about the qualities you’ll need to succeed on the worldwide stage. Is it necessary for you to invest in new infrastructure? How much would it cost, and can you afford to set aside more funds for it? 
  • Human Resources is a term used to describe a group of Consider your Human Resources department’s present situation and any skill shortages you may have. Consider this: do I have the necessary skills to oversee the expansion? Is it possible for my current staff to devote time to global projects? Do I need to recruit additional team members or engage an outside firm?
  • The best possible moment. Last but not least, you’ll need to figure out when the optimal moment is to take action. This will include a thorough examination of the target market, its present political atmosphere, global economy, and other factors.

Before evaluating a new market for growth, you must first evaluate your product-market fit in the existing location. However, when it comes to developing a go-to-market plan, your job is to thoroughly investigate and assess the demand for your ideal prospective clients.

Without doing extensive and expensive market research, you can use SEMrush’s Market Explorer to examine the possible market and determine whether there is adequate demand for you in the area and if it is worth studying the subject further.

To begin, you may either utilize your own domain or one of your possible rivals who is currently active in the market. Remember to choose a particular nation.


The first thing to look at is the market traffic from the previous year. If traffic falls, it means the market is becoming less appealing to company. If market traffic is increasing, this might be a fantastic investment and company growth opportunity.

When you did your first market assessment, you should have taken note of some of the unique characteristics of the selected area or niche; now it’s time to dig further into the details so you don’t run into any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Examine the status of the economy in the area you’re considering to determine whether it’s a suitable match.

Starbucks has been successful in a number of overseas countries, but not in Australia. 

To begin with, it entered the market without completely comprehending its clients. Although Starbucks began to sell coffee as a commodity, for Australians, visiting a coffee shop was more of a social interaction experience than simply another “fast food” item. Furthermore, the corporation did not grasp the coffee tastes of Australians, since Starbucks coffee was just too sugary for them.

Second, the state of the economy had a significant effect in restraining Starbucks’ growth in Australia. Because the spending power of prospective consumers in the new market was impacted by the global crisis in 2008, it was compelled to shut two-thirds of its outlets in Australia. 

Starbucks has the financial means to continue operating, but not every brand would be able to do so.

Even well-known companies might run afoul of local rules and regulations. 

When Uber sought to grow into South Korea, many felt it would be a slam dunk. After all, the corporation had created marketplaces in a number of countries throughout the globe. Uber, on the other hand, failed to comprehend its target market, which had disastrous effects. 

The taxi sector in Seoul is in decline due to an excess of cabs and a decrease in population growth. Seoul alone has around 70,000 cab drivers (compared to 13,000 in New York City). The government began to decrease the number of cabs on the road, and taxi permits are no longer issued by government offices. As a consequence, the cost of buying and selling taxi permits has risen dramatically.

The taxi business would have experienced a significant decline if Uber had entered the market. The government was concerned of a negative response from industry representatives, and as a consequence of these regulatory concerns, Uber’s growth in South Korea has been hampered.

What’s the takeaway? Any market growth strategy that isn’t properly prepared is a fool’s errand.

You need a detailed grasp of local politics to have a hold on a location’s business environment. Because of an investment-unfriendly political atmosphere or general volatility, certain markets may not be as attractive. 

This is represented in the PEST(ELI) test, which the global business community often uses when evaluating market growth.

4. Take into account any linguistic obstacles.

Take, for example, WhatsApp’s growth in Germany. WhatsApp has successfully scaled up to 1.2 billion users throughout the globe. However, they forgot to adapt their terms of service into German before expanding into Germany. 

As a consequence, the German Consumer Organizations Federation launched a complaint against the corporation, alleging that the technical terminology was “mostly unintelligible” to German users. The corporation lost more than a quarter of a million euros due to a minor error.

A lesser company would have struggled to overcome this obstacle.

5. Look at pricing sensitivity.

Consider things like the typical amount of disposable money in the area. Residents may not be able to afford your items if the margin is too low.

6. Be aware of seasonal changes.

Last but not least, geographical realities such as the Northern and Southern Hemispheres having reversed seasons may have a significant influence on customer demand.

Because not all prospective markets follow the same consumer behavior patterns, cultural variations might be a stumbling barrier when designing a GTM strategy.

From nation to country, communication, acquisition, and decision-making differ. As a result, you should constantly do preliminary research and answer questions such as:

  • Do your target clients usually make purchases in groups or do they buy things separately by swiftly inputting their credit card information?

  • Do they need the same level of personal connection as those in Brazil and Japan, where face-to-face meetings are preferred over phone calls and video conferencing?

Consider the failure of DoorMint’s growth into India. DoorMint began as an on-demand, online services marketplace that connected clients with service providers (such as plumbing and pest treatment).

They opted to specialize as the firm grew, concentrating entirely on online washing and dry-cleaning. In India, where traditional launderers or dhobi have long met this requirement, this decision proved disastrous. Tradition was too strong for DoorMint to overcome.

Aside from a solid cultural foundation, you should also consider the demographics and interests of your target market. In a new location, they may turn out to be quite different.

The SEMrush Market Explorer tool enables you to research the audience characteristics of your new market. This degree of detail will assist you in planning a successful expansion while avoiding unpleasant surprises.


Consider what clients may anticipate in terms of benefits and what your major differentiators are. Answer the following questions:

  • What issues does your product or service address or improve?
  • What advantages may buyers look forward to?
  • Why should buyers choose you above your competition? Than put it another way, how are you superior to your competitors?

Then, come up with a value proposition that is a combination of all three.


Research your unique market carefully, since what works in one location or specialty may not work in another. It might be that your service is too complicated or irrelevant for the new market, that the price is too expensive, or that there are a variety of additional roadblocks. Even well-known businesses discover that their goods and services aren’t in great demand in certain areas.

Don’t make the same mistake as Coke, which tried to sell two-liter bottles in Spain. Despite the success of the brand, their effort failed because Spanish refrigerators could not accommodate such large bottles. Consider the lesson General Foods learnt in Japan. Despite the fact that the corporation spent millions of dollars promoting cake mixes, sales remained low since just 3% of Japanese houses had ovens!

To summarize, you must correctly describe your value proposition: it may assist you in achieving product-market fit in the target area provided it is backed by the identified consumer profile and unmet requirements.

Companies’ distribution techniques have altered as a result of globalization.

When it comes to physical production, we can now extend manufacturing around the globe and supply items to markets on a just-in-time basis. It’s comparable to e-commerce companies that may coordinate the delivery of items from local vendors. Geographic boundaries, on the other hand, are frequently only relevant to software firms in terms of regulation, talent recruiting, and language hurdles.

Economic uncertainty, on the other hand, may affect even “globalized” enterprises. This implies that when entering a new market, you must carefully consider your distribution routes. Consider the following channels:


Direct distribution takes place via company-owned channels, and more companies are following suit. Direct distribution allows businesses to bypass the intermediary and control every aspect of their operations, resulting in increased consumer satisfaction.

Partnering with other parties to market and fulfill your company’s value proposition is known as indirect distribution. This strategy is used by many big-name firms to leverage ties with third-party partners. 

With the support of a digital marketing firm called oRo, SEMrush was able to break into the Japanese market. This strategic cooperation aided in doubling the market’s performance outcomes.

A hybrid distribution system, which combines company-owned and third-party processes, is also an alternative for businesses. This concept is used by many organizations today (for example, Nike), providing them the best of both worlds.

Consider the payment methods of CP (card-present transaction) and CNP (card-not-present transaction) in various nations.

Did you know that credit cards are preferred by 33% of Americans, followed by mobile/digital wallets, and finally debit cards?


Other sections of the globe depend on a variety of payment methods. Consumers in Germany prefer to pay through bank transfer by 29%.


Debit cards are still the most common method of payment in Russia, accounting for 28% of all transactions.


Finally, in China, digital/mobile wallets are used by 71 percent of clients, followed by credit cards and bank transfers.


Entering one of these areas without first preparing to accept the most common payment methods might have a detrimental impact on your prospective sales. 

What if you tried to break into a global market focused on a certain area or continent? This strategy is a bad idea. After all, Africa is home to 54 nations, whereas Europe is home to 44. Each of these nations has its own culture, language, and even payment methods.

You may start constructing a marketing funnel to bring in leads and assist conversions with some previous information about the market and your target demographic. Ask yourself the following questions as you go:

  • What is the best way for customers to find you?
  • What method will they use to convert?
  • What strategy will you use to convert them into long-term customers?

The most effective sales funnels bring in new consumers while also encouraging recurring business. Keeping existing clients is significantly more profitable than obtaining new ones.

In terms of brand recognition, consider launching a multi-pronged campaign to bring in new customers. Everything from digital and print materials to events might be included.

What is a tried-and-true approach to developing a marketing strategy? It all starts with a thorough examination of your rivals’ strategy. Competitor analysis isn’t as difficult as it may seem if you have the correct tools. 

SEMrush Traffic Analytics can provide you with useful information about your rivals’ achievements and failures.

Take, for instance, Square’s Japanese traffic. Japan is rated third in terms of traffic volume, as you can see.


The bulk of the traffic they get is direct, as seen in the Traffic Sources Overview. This reveals a large prior investment in brand recognition in order to attract people who come to them directly.


Furthermore, searches account for around one-third of their traffic. This graph should spark your attention enough to visit their Top Pages. You can tell whether content marketing is providing them an advantage there.

When it comes to referrals, having traffic-sending partners may assist. If you’re a rival of Square, the referral firms that crop up might become your affiliates or resellers in the new market.

You may use insights from rivals’ tactics and the present market to your benefit when you consider your purchasing funnel and how you’ll effect the market.

You may now create a one-page market growth strategy. 

You may either create your own go-to-market strategy template or utilize one that we’ve put prepared. Make sure it has the following information, regardless of the format:

  • GEO Expansion;
  • Goals;
  • Budget;
  • Your unique selling proposition;
  • Go-to-market;
  • Organization.

You may visualize efforts and view timetable details at a glance by structuring your strategy in a one-page document.


It will take time to develop your go-to-market plan. To prevent the kinds of mistakes that have afflicted huge firms like Uber and Coke, it takes a lot of study and additional digging.

Make sure your decisions are well-calibrated and data-driven as you go ahead with your worldwide expansion objectives. Make a comprehensive examination of the market you’re contemplating, and don’t leave anything to chance. As a new market entrance checklist, consider the aspects described in this article to guide your growth.


Are you prepared to do the essential research in order to design a market growth strategy? Learn how to use competitive landscape research to determine market potential.

Make an informed decision based on the information you’ve gathered.

SEMrush Market Explorer is a useful tool.

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