Go-to-Network: What It Is, and Why It’s the Future of Growth
A go-to-network (GTN) strategy details how an organization can grow and engage networks of potential customers in order to build connections and authentic relationships, and ultimately convince them to buy their product or service.
We're at a major inflection point for marketing, sales, and growth. Both B2B and B2C go-to-market need a total overhaul.
Markets are more saturated than ever.1
The cost of acquisition through traditional channels is skyrocketing.2
Ads are becoming less and less effective.3
Sales teams aren't hitting their quotas using the same methods they're used to.4
The numbers don’t lie — the way we have been marketing and selling our products for decades isn’t cutting it anymore. Traditional go-to-market (GTM) strategies are failing.
Email and digital ads are easily ignored. Demo forms are enough to cause friction. A pushy salesperson? Forget about it.
Customers want to trust the brands they buy from. They want to try the product, chat with existing customers and, once they buy, speak with other customers instead of working in a vacuum. They know what they want — and they’re willing to go somewhere else if you don’t give it to them
It’s time for go-to-market to evolve.
It’s time for Go-to-Network.
What is go-to-network?
A go-to-network (GTN) strategy is a plan that details how an organization can grow and engage networks of potential customers in order to build connections and authentic relationships, and ultimately convince them to buy their product or service.
GTN will enable your company to grow faster and more efficiently by leveraging the power of your networks of employees, customers, fans, community members, and more.
Modern growth strategies are all go-to-network
At their core, all these growth strategies have the same underlying philosophy. Implicitly or explicitly, they set out to foster deeper connections between the company and a specific network with a variety of tactics:
Building a community is all about creating a network where like-minded people can connect as members. Community-led companies create a symbiotic relationship where both members and the business benefit from the community.
Creating a network of free and low-cost customers that are able to experience and engage with your product’s core features and differentiators.
Both events and content are network-building strategies where companies engage customers by providing value through content — from blog posts to webinars to large annual conferences and everything in between.
Creators might be external to your company (influencers) or may be internal members of your team (personal branding). Either way, being creator-led means enabling and leveraging the networks that individuals have curated around themselves.
In this strategy, customer experience and relationships are strongly emphasized within an org. Customer feedback is religiously collected and used to shape product and company decisions.
One of the original go-to-network plays. A partnerships strategy involves developing and leveraging strategic relationships with other organizations to augment product (through integrations, plug-ins, etc) and co-sell and co-market complementary offerings.
Companies that build their entire growth strategies on one of the GTM models above zero in on one type of network.
There are certainly examples of companies that do this well. But this hyperfocus means they’re leaving plenty of potential in all their other networks untapped.
Why should you consider Go-to-Network?
Network-building and cultivating strong relationships with those connected to your company comes with a host of benefits, which largely impact two big business goals: revenue and retention. Here’s just a few of them.
Increased trust: Strong relationships result in increased trust between the customer and company, making it 28% more likely that the customer will buy from you, and 33%5 more likely to stay loyal.
A better understanding of what customers actually want: Cultivating relationships with prospects and customers means frequent, high-quality feedback, allowing you to tailor your product and offerings to them.
Word-of-mouth marketing: With a network of engaged fans comes organic word-of-mouth marketing, meaning companies can reduce those steadily rising marketing costs mentioned above.
Reduced costs of support: Cultivating networks of fans or Communities of Product creates a hub for users to share best practices and ask questions, decreasing your support team’s load.
Reduced cost of resource creation: Your members, customers, and fans are experts in their field, and have knowledge that would be hugely beneficial to their peers. Giving them a platform to share it through your marketing channels elevates both them and your company.
Less time spent on nudging deals forward by sales people: Fostering connections between prospects and customers offerings a genuinely helpful way to push deals forward.
More warm leads: Tapping into the networks that surround your business in an authentic, engaging way means those you’ve cultivated relationships with will be more willing to make introductions within their networks.
How to implement Go-to-Network
Go-to-Network isn’t a template, checklist, or playbook to follow. It’s a shift in mindset that involves changing the way we think about doing business.
The best part? These networks already exist. A GTN approach involves growing, engaging, and activating these networks in an authentic way.
What does that mean, exactly?
You’ve heard it time and again: “It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know”. Growing and cultivating your networks lets you reach more people who fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), increases your potential to acquire new customers, and makes your network more valuable to those in it and those who should be in it.
Engaging your networks fosters deeper, more meaningful connections between your company and customers, building invaluable trust and rapport. It will also result in a better understanding of your ICP, a crucial exchange of ideas and value, and a customer base that feels appreciated and taken care of.
Activation may well mean a sale, but this is not GTN's only goal, nor path to revenue. It might also mean converting a customer to a fan, co-creating content that converts another customer, hosting an event for your brand, and more.
What makes GTN unique is that it’s a strategy that focuses on people rather than brands, building connections rather than broadcasting into the market, and building relationships rather than chasing transactions.
Principles of go-to-network
Brands first → People first
GTN means looking at members or customers as people first and foremost and employees of their companies second. Brands aren’t buying your product — people are, and a GTN approach involves recognizing that people are more than just the brand and the company they work for.
Broadcast → Connection
Traditional communication between a business and its customers is linear, broadcast through one-to-many channels, directly from the organization to the customer (usually seen as the ‘audience’). But the goal of a GTN approach is building relationships rather than the one-to-many of traditional marketing and communication.
The organization sets up and supports the infrastructure for individuals in their networks to connect and build relationships with each other as well as the org and its employees.
Capturing demand → Creating demand
Capturing demand means relying on people who have intent — those who are already in the market for a product like yours. The problem: this only applies to a tiny chunk of the market. Conversely, demand creation involves tapping into the other 95% of the market: meeting people in your ICP where they are to educate and connect with them on a pain point they may not even know they can solve.
Transactions → Relationships
Unlike the traditional approach of chasing accounts en masse to bring in revenue, a GTN company sees prospects and customers as more than just the money they bring in. It creates an environment where teams intentionally build relationships and increase trust with the people behind these accounts, whether that’s through community, events, customer success, or marketing.
Building relationships elevates the link between the company and the customer from purely transactional to personal, where everybody involved wins.
Third party → First party
The old way to get customers relied on buying third-party data, whether that’s an email list or social media following.
Companies with a GTN approach focus on building experiences, connections, and community; on nurturing those connections and relationships to help them directly engage with and understand the customer — no third-party involvement necessary.