Planning the Right Marketing Activity When Entering New Markets


Entering a new market—whether it’s simply expanding into a new region, or you’re transitioning from a local to a regional or even national brand—is a massive step for any business. And like any other such inflection point, it’s a critical time to ensure that there’s alignment within your business.

That means a couple of things—of course, organizational alignment around your business goals and how you’ll work to get there is important. But alignment around marketing, from its importance to the new market entry process to its own goals and methods, is important as well. Here’s what it looks like.

Organizational alignment

As a leader, you’re likely to be thinking about this intuitively during any time of major change within your business. You’re expanding the reach of your organization, and likely its size as well. These changes require significant clarity across your business regarding what you’ll be doing and why, and commitment to ensure that the job is done and done right.

For example, as you move into your new market, you might:

  • Grow your operations to support a new level of production, in order to satisfy the larger demand created by your expansion
  • Grow your sales team to support your entrance into the market, including new hires on the ground, adding regional sales leadership to direct a local team, or outsourcing BDR opportunities
  • Grow your financial team to support the increased costs of doing business at this new level—as well as the added complexities that growth brings

As these changes take hold, it’s critical that everyone’s on board with what’s happening. Alignment between management and the rest of the organization on where the business is going and what you’re trying to accomplish will ensure that you’re moving in the right direction as you enter your new market.

Marketing Alignment

Organizational changes—and working to maintain alignment through these changes—are obvious parts of the process of new market entry. But marketing alignment can sometimes fall by the wayside.

In a way, that makes sense. After all, if you’re expanding into a new market, your business has been quite successful. That’s due in large part to smart marketing, more than likely. You may think that sticking with what got you here will help you win anywhere. But that’s not necessarily true.

If your marketing makes it through the market entry process without changing, it’s likely that something’s going to feel…off. What’s happening is that the same tactics you’ve always used may not fit your new market. But the positive is that the strategic thinking that devised those tactics is repeatable.

To figure out where marketing fits into your new market, ask these questions.

What is marketing’s role?

For marketing to fit your business within your new market, it needs to fit your business period. How do you determine marketing’s proper role in your company? There are three things that you’ll need to draw from to answer this.

Business model

If your business is successful enough to be expanding into a new market, you may have a fairly good handle on your business model already. But it’s not guaranteed. Plenty of great products or services lead to rapid success, with or without a greater strategic framework in place. 

And even if you’ve gotten this far, this inflection point is a great time to reassess where you stand, and what is and isn’t working.

One tool you can use to build or examine your business model is the “Business Model Canvas”; this is what we use with our own clients. No matter where your business stands currently, the business model canvas will allow you to self-analyze with vision and clarity.

The Business Model Canvas breaks your business down into its nine building blocks:

  1. Customer segments
  2. Value propositions
  3. Channels
  4. Customer relationships
  5. Revenue streams
  6. Key resources
  7. Key activities
  8. Key partners
  9. Cost structure

Don’t race through this—truly interrogating each step is key to making sure you get the full picture of where your business stands. But once you have that picture, it’s going to be a lot easier to see where marketing fits in—what its goals should be, its audience, and what success will look like.

Business strategy

Your strategic approach to how you do business is critical information for marketing to be able to succeed. There are many different ways to approach a strategy—we often use the “Playing to Win” framework with our clients.

Playing to Win centers on making five choices as a business:

  1. What is our winning aspiration?
  2. Where will we play?
  3. How will we win?
  4. What capabilities must we have?
  5. What management systems are required?

What’s the purpose of your business; why are you here? Where will you be competing—geographically, product categories, consumer segments? What does success look like? What do you need to be able to do in order to succeed? And what are the support systems that must be in place in order for your organization, from top to bottom, to be able to do their jobs?

If these choices fit together and align with each other, strategic direction follows. But each part influences the others, so any lack of alignment can lead to a less effective trajectory.

Business goals

All of this feeds into more granular decisions about the specific goals of the business. And, of course, marketing needs to be working towards achieving these goals, rather than just doing its own thing.

If your Q1 goal is to get 200 new customers onboarded, marketing should be generating solid, qualified leads throughout Q4 and into Q1. If your immediate goal is to enter a new market, then marketing should be working towards introducing your brand to your new audience, whether that’s a geographic change or an audience shift. Brand awareness tactics will be key to meeting that goal.

How do I invest in marketing intelligently?

Market research is key. Know your audience, and know what questions they’re asking. Your initial strategy should be built around the initial goal of marketing—introducing your brand to the new market.

Answer their questions and show how you’ll solve their problems. If you’re targeting the right people, you’ll see the ROI in the decrease in effort every other acquisition tactic requires as you move forward into chasing more complex strategic goals.

How do I hold marketing accountable to the goals of the business as a whole?

This is where alignment really comes into play. There must be clarity within and throughout your organization regarding what your goals are, and how you’re going to achieve them. There must be commitment to those goals and to the methods your organization plans to use to achieve them.

If your marketing team is clear about what your business needs to do and committed to getting there, only then will they be able to strategically work towards meeting business goals. And if you’ve done the work of getting clear on your business model and strategy, as we discussed earlier, that alignment around goals will be much cleaner.

Regular communication between marketing and the executive team is necessary, whether that means an executive sponsor working closely with marketing or a marketing chief having direct contact with the exec team as a whole. Don’t drift back out of alignment as the market entry process becomes “the new normal.”

Don’t let a major change take your business off-track

Entering a new market is an exciting time for a business. It’s a sign of growth, a sign that what you’re doing is resonating not just locally, but in a broader sense. But it’s also a time where many businesses can get out of alignment, and can lose momentum rather than continuing to grow.

At any major inflection point in the history of a business, it’s important to make sure that the organization remains internally aligned, and that marketing remains aligned with the overall goals of the business. That way, you can maintain your upward trajectory.

Related resources.

Dealer vs Manufacturer: Who owns the customer relationship?

Dealer vs Manufacturer: Who owns the customer relationship?

Lead, MQL, Opportunity: Why You Need Shared Internal Pipeline Definitions

Lead, MQL, Opportunity: Why You Need Shared Internal Pipeline Definitions

Why Brand Strategy is a CEO Responsibility

Why Brand Strategy is a CEO Responsibility


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