Published March 26, 2024

Testing GTM Messaging: A Tactical Guide for Startups

7 min read

Your Go-To-Market (GTM) messaging is how you communicate effectively and draw customers to your business. You may have an ingenious product and a stellar team as a startup, but you’re shouting into the void without crystal-clear messaging that resonates with marketing and sales.

Anthony Pierri 🎸, our favorite product marketer, highlights a common issue faced by companies, particularly startups, where there’s a significant disconnect between the messaging used in sales calls and what is presented in marketing materials, such as the company’s homepage. 

Early-stage founders often handle sales themselves and are adept at understanding what resonates with prospects during direct conversations. Based on these interactions, they know the nuances of what works and what doesn’t. However, translating this effective sales messaging into marketing content proves challenging.

What you say in your marketing material… is NOT what you say in the sales call.

Avatar of the person that wrote the post

Anthony Pierri 

Cofounder & Partner, FletchPMM

Let’s demystify the process of crafting and, more importantly, testing your GTM messaging to ensure it lands with the impact you envision.

Understanding the Essence of GTM Messaging

GTM messaging is the linchpin of a successful product launch. GTM, short for “Go-To-Market,” is a framework that companies, especially startups, deploy when introducing a new product or service. But what exactly is GTM messaging, and why does it hold such significance?

GTM messaging should be shaped around a new product launch.

The Heartbeat of Your Market Introduction

GTM messaging is your brand’s voice in the crowd, the way you communicate the value of your product or service to your target audience. It’s not just about broadcasting what you sell but articulating the why and how of your offerings in a way that resonates with your potential customer’s needs and aspirations.

Imagine GTM messaging as a bridge connecting your product’s features with the customer’s pain points. This messaging isn’t a one-size-fits-all slogan but a strategic narrative tailored to engage different segments of your market, from end-users to decision-makers. It’s how you tell your product’s story, highlight its benefits, and distinguish it from the competition.

More Than Just Words

However, GTM messaging is more than just crafting compelling copy. It involves a deep understanding of:

  • Your Audience: Identifying who the end-user is, their challenges, and how your product can make a difference in their lives or work.
  • Your Brand: Maintaining a consistent voice that aligns with your brand’s values, persona, and promise.
  • Your Goals: Defining clear objectives for what you wish to achieve with your messaging, whether it’s raising awareness, generating leads, or driving sales.

The GTM Messaging Spectrum

The attached image from the LinkedIn post we’re discussing delineates the spectrum of GTM messaging. It shows how messaging should adapt depending on whether it’s marketing-oriented or sales-focused. On the marketing side, the communication is broad, targeting many and focusing on shared use cases and immediate benefits. It’s about simple, memorable ideas that stick with the audience. On the other hand, sales messaging is more direct, 1-to-1, targeting decision-makers with in-depth product overviews and complex ideas tailored to a company’s specific challenges.

A Symphony, Not a Solo

It’s crucial to understand that GTM messaging isn’t a solo act but a symphony. Every department—from product development to marketing to sales—must play harmoniously. The insights gained from direct sales conversations inform the broader marketing narrative, ensuring that every piece of content, advertisement, and sales pitch sings the same tune—one that’s music to your audience’s ears.

GTM messaging is your strategic melody in the grand orchestra of market introduction. It requires knowledge of your product and audience and the skill to test and refine your message until it perfectly hits the note of what your market needs to hear. It’s about striking a balance between specificity and broad appeal, ensuring that your message is as effective in a one-on-one meeting as it is on your company’s homepage.

Messaging can be tested to optimize comprehension

Imagine you’re on a sales call, and your pitch is flawless. You’re in the zone, the prospect is nodding along, and the deal seems as good as closed. Yet, when they visit your website later, they bounce off faster than a superball on concrete. Where did the magic go?

Many startups trip up because of the disconnect between personalizing a 1-to-1 sales pitch and the broad appeal necessary for marketing messaging. The key to aligning these lies in testing—rigorous, relentless testing.

How to Test Your GTM Messaging

Rapid Helio testing of your marketing messages allows you to transition from sales-specific jargon to clear, relatable language that resonates with a broader audience.

You can use these tests to effectively find messages that engage our specific professional audience.

1. Ideal Audience Testing

Your product appeals to a spectrum of users. Early-stage founders are adept at pinpointing what clicks in direct sales conversations, but the true art translates that into marketing that speaks to everyone.

Split Testing: Run an A/B test on different audience segments with varied messaging to see which sticks.

For instance, Storylane recently updated the text on their homepage, replacing ‘Product’ with ‘Interactive.’ Let’s explore insights gained from using Helio to evaluate the two versions of their go-to-market (GTM) copy.

When using ‘product,’ individual contributors found value in the free trial. 

Two versions of GTM messaging.

View the Helio Test Report

When we replaced ‘product’ with ‘interactive’ in our terminology, individual contributors preferred the quick setup time to the free trial.

Messaging changed on the homepage.

View the Helio Test Report

Segmentation Testing: Measuring how different demographics react to the same message. Tailor it until it sings the right tune for each group.Utilizing Helio’s filtering feature allows us to analyze question 1 responses based on the professional level. Click data reveal that individual contributors lean towards creating an account, while managers and executives are more inclined to ‘Book a Demo

Most managers and executives clicked ‘Book a Demo’ on their first click.

Click test with filters.

View the Helio Test Report

Individual contributors clicked ‘Start for Free’. 

Individual contributors liked the free trial.

View the Helio Test Report

2. Surface-Level Pain Points

Each customer faces a unique set of daily challenges. Your messaging should address these without drowning them in complexity.

Multiple-Choice Surveys: Ask your audience to select their top pain points from a list. This will help you pinpoint and prioritize.

Understanding the pain points of participants allows us to refine our messaging to highlight easy onboarding and straightforward product descriptions. Specifically, 52% of participants cited challenges with the onboarding process, while 45% struggled to understand the product and service.

Onboarding results filter.

View the Helio Test Report

Multivariate Tests: Pitch various messages addressing pain points and see which hits home.

Minor changes can be significant. For instance, when we swapped ‘interactive’ for ‘product’ in the Storylane homepage copy, audiences interacted with the page differently. 

Homepage v1


Homepage v2

3. Shared Use Cases

Demonstrate how your product fits into the user’s world. Make it as real for them as it is for you.

Scenario-Based Testing: Provide scenarios for your use cases. Ask for candid feedback on their relevance and resonance.

Use Case for product interest.

Card Sorting: Let users prioritize use cases by relevance, giving you a direct line to what they find most valuable.

Using a card sort, we learned that positioning product demos towards customer service teams are best, as they are the most likely to educate customers (53%), gather feedback (56%), and reduce support requests (72%).  

Matrix view.

View the Helio Test Report

4. Immediate Benefits

Instant gratification isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a hook. Highlight the immediate wins your product delivers.

Rank Surveys: Have users rank the appeal of different benefits. What do they value most?Quickly creating high-impact demos was perceived as Storylane’s most valuable benefit. 

Creating high-impact demos was perceived as the most valuable benefit.

View the Helio Test Report

5-Second Tests: Flash a benefit-focused message for five ticks. Can they recall it? Was it compelling?

After viewing the page for 5 seconds, participants remembered words such as ‘Demo’ and ‘Product.’

5-Second Tests: Flash a benefit-focused message for five ticks.

View the Helio Test Report

5. Simple, Memorable Ideas

You want your message to stick like a catchy tune, looping in potential customers’ minds.

Recall Tests: Test memorability. Will they remember your message after stepping away?

When we tested the ‘interactive’ go-to-market copy for 5 seconds, replacing ‘product’ with ‘interactive’ made participants focus more on the benefits.

Testing go-to-market copy for 5 seconds.

View the Helio Test Report

Word Association: Do users link your brand with the concepts you’re pushing? It’s a good sign if they do.

Replacing ‘product’ with ‘interactive,’ we found participants still recognized the offering as a product.

6. Product Highlights

Features are the bread and butter of your product, but which ones will users spread the word about?

Feature Rank Testing: Determine which features stand out to your users as must-haves.

Participants ranked development collaboration and tracking the lowest valuable features:

View the Helio Test Report

Clickmaps: Analyze which parts of your product presentation grab the most attention. What’s the highlight reel according to your audience?

Video within homepages typically attracts the most attention, Storylane’s video earned 54% of user’s first click. 

Filtered click tests help us pin point certain user actions.

View the Helio Test Report

Leveraging the Right Tools for Testing

Tools like Helio can transform this testing process from daunting to doable. By offering a platform to conduct these tests efficiently, you can iterate on your messaging until it communicates and captivates.

Final Thoughts

Testing your GTM messaging is about finding harmony between what resonates on a sales call and what captivates in a marketing spiel. It’s about tuning in to your audience’s frequency and adjusting your pitch until it’s music to their ears.

Since founders aren’t usually marketers (at least statistically) and neither are VCs, there’s often a giant gap that needs to be closed in order to turn on effective marketing.

Avatar of the person that wrote the post

Anthony Pierri 

Cofounder & Partner, FletchPMM

Remember, in the realm of GTM messaging, it’s not just about being loud; it’s about being listened to. So, test, refine, and test again. Because when your message hits the sweet spot, it’s not just heard—it’s felt

GTM Messaging FAQ

What is GTM messaging, and why is it crucial for startups?
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GTM messaging is a strategic approach to communicating the unique value and benefits of a new product or service to the market. It’s pivotal for startups because it serves as the brand’s narrative, connecting product features with customer pain points in a resonant and compelling manner. Effective GTM messaging informs and engages the target audience, ensuring that potential customers understand and appreciate a startup’s innovative product.

How does GTM messaging differ from general marketing communication?
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GTM messaging is specifically designed for launching a product or service and is crafted to introduce and position that offering in the market. Unlike general marketing communication, which can address a range of objectives, GTM messaging is more focused on articulating a new product’s unique selling proposition and value, making it essential for a successful market entry.

What are the key components of effective GTM messaging?
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Effective GTM messaging must be audience-centric, clearly defining who the end-user is and their challenges; brand-consistent, ensuring that the message aligns with the brand’s values and persona; and goal-oriented, with a clear understanding of the desired outcomes of the messaging, whether that’s awareness, lead generation, or sales.

Why is testing important in GTM messaging, and what methods can be used?
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Testing is critical in GTM messaging to ensure the message is understood and resonates with the intended audience. Methods such as split testing, surveys, scenario-based testing, and clickmaps can be used to gather feedback and optimize the message for clarity, engagement, and effectiveness.

Can you explain the GTM Messaging Spectrum and its significance?
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The GTM Messaging Spectrum illustrates how messaging should be adapted for marketing versus sales. Marketing messaging is broad and aims to reach many with simple, memorable ideas and immediate benefits, while sales messaging is direct, detailed, and tailored to decision-makers specific challenges. The spectrum’s significance lies in its guidance for businesses to develop coherent strategies catering to customer engagement.

How can a startup ensure its GTM messaging aligns with sales and marketing?
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A startup can ensure alignment by integrating insights from sales conversations into the marketing narrative, fostering cross-departmental collaboration, and consistently testing and refining the message. This holistic approach ensures the messaging resonates across all touchpoints and meets the broader audience’s needs while catering to specific client interactions.

What tools or platforms can assist startups in testing their GTM messaging?
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Platforms like Helio provide tools for startups to test their GTM messaging through various methods like A/B testing, surveys, and analytic tools such as clickmaps. These platforms can streamline the process, making it more efficient to identify the most effective messaging that communicates the product’s value to the audience.

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