A B2B Marketing Strategy Won’t Win Without Maneuverability

A B2B Marketing Strategy Won’t Win Without Maneuverability

Quite a few years ago, I was captivated by this bold headline in an article on marketing in the {grow} blog by Mark Schaefer:

The Most Important Word in Marketing

I know Mark, and he’s one of the most respected marketing minds on the planet. If he could sum things up in one word, I wanted to know that word.

According to Mark, the word is “maneuver”.

“The number one priority for a marketing professional is to determine where the company can best maneuver. Is it through product development, investment in branding, being the low-cost leader, developing a new distribution channel, or even through social media prominence? The key to successful marketing is figuring out where you can create strategic leverage against your competition — where you can maneuver.” 

Mark Schaefer

Your maneuverability improves the outcome of your marketing strategy

The word maneuver is associated more often with the military and sports than marketing. Still, it’s very relevant to all three.

I found six components of military maneuvering that I believe are as relevant to marketing as warfare

It was Napoleon who showed his maneuverability to significant effect. He used a combination of cavalry and fast infantry movements to defeat superior forces while they were still moving to their intended place of battle.

Napoleon's lessons for marketing strategists

War theorist, Martin van Creveld, identifies six main elements of maneuver warfare.

Although I don’t think warfare is the best analogy, you can see how these terms relate to marketing.

  1. Tempo – According to this idea, the key to victory is to create situations wherein one can make appropriate decisions more quickly than one’s opponent. 
  2. Focal Point – The center of effort or striking the enemy at the right place and time.
  3. Surprise – Based on deception.
  4. Combined Arms – Strategic optimization of resources
  5. Flexibility – A military must be well-rounded, self-contained, and redundant.
  6. Decentralized Command – Rapid changing situations may outpace communications. Lower levels must understand the overall intent.

I’ve always considered marketing to be more of a sport

What better example of maneuverability than the trick play in football that requires timing, focal point, and, most of all – surprise? Surely, you’ve heard of the famous “Statue of Liberty” play, first made famous by Clarence Herschberger.

Trick plays for your marketing strategy

A game theory article on trick plays in football says it this way:

Trick plays are among the least elegant and most exciting plays in football. Although teams frequently try to confuse opposing defenses as to whether they will run or pass, more exotic forms of deception are exceedingly rare. There are good reasons for such reluctance: such tactics require players to demonstrate skills they were not hired for at positions they rarely play. And the schemes work best when the defense expects them the least.

Could a few trick plays improve your B2B marketing strategy?

Mark closed his article with these thoughts:

“So, the most important word in marketing is “maneuver.” Determining where you have room to maneuver in your marketplace will align all the pieces of your strategy and tactics. This seems like such a simple concept, but many overlook it. Does “maneuver” seem like the most important word in marketing to you or would you choose another?”

I’ve been a marketing professional for decades, and there are few people I’ve met with as much marketing experience and wisdom as Mark. But because we are such good friends, I find great sport in disagreeing with him occasionally, which brings me to my closing point.

Maneuver is the second most important word in MARKETING. In my opinion, the most important word in marketing is OUTMANEUVER.

Your marketing strategy must consider your competitive marketing landscape. Your competitors are not likely to be standing still, and your customers and prospects won’t wait on you for information about solutions to their problems and needs.

Win the hearts and minds of more customers and prospects by positioning helpful and engaging content where and when they are looking for it. Content marketing is a familiar concept, and most, if not all, of your competitors are aware and active enough to either be ahead of you or close behind. So much content is available that your customers and prospects may have “content shock“. That’s no reason to retreat to an all-traditional marketing strategy. It’s a reason to think smarter and work harder. You must continuously test and learn new tools and tactics to improve your marketing efforts. 

Napoleon and Clarence Herschberger weren’t facing static opponents, and neither are you. Align your marketing strategy for timing, focus, surprise, resourcefulness, and flexibility. And decentralize your efforts beyond the marketing department to include sales, customer service, and HR. Everyone in your company can contribute to your marketing success if you challenge, equip, and recognize them for their efforts. 

So, what are you doing to outmaneuver your competition?