Maneuverability. Your Marketing Strategy Won’t Win Without It.

marketing maneuverability

by Billy Mitchell, {grow} Community Member

A few weeks ago, I was captivated by this bold statement in my twitter feed:


The link went to an article here on the {grow} blog by Mark Schaefer. 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.

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

I agreed with Mark’s argument at first but now I believe he’s wrong.

The word maneuver is more often associated with the military than marketing. War theorist Martin van Creveld identifies six main elements of maneuver warfare:

  1. Tempo – According to this idea (see the OODA loop), the key to victory is to be able 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 at the right 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 Commmand – Rapid changing situations may out pace communications. Lower levels must understand overall intent.

I can see how these terms relate to marketing and support Mark’s argument, but I’ve always considered marketing to be more of a sport.

A recent game theory article in Forbes on trick plays in Football includes the maneuver factors of timing, focus, and surprise:

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

Could a few trick plays improve the maneuverability of your B2B Marketing?

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 on occasion and that brings me to my point.

Maneuver is the second most important word in marketing.

The most important word in marketing is “outmaneuver.”

Your marketing strategy must take your competitive landscape into consideration. Your competitors are not likely to be standing still and your customers and prospects no longer have to 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 no longer a new concept and most if not all of your competitors are aware and active enough to either be ahead of you or close behind. There is so much content available that your customers and prospects may have “Content Shock.” That’s no reason to retreat back to an all-traditional marketing strategy. It’s a reason to think smarter and work harder. You must keep testing and learning new tools and tactics to continuously 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 even HR. Everyone in your company can contribute to your marketing success if you challenge, equip and recognize them for the effort.

What are you doing to outmanuever your competition?

Billy-Mitchell-MLT-CreativeBilly Mitchell is a founding partner with the Atlanta-based marketing agency, MLT Creative. Known as “the idea launch lab for B2B marketers”, MLT Creative helps clients build their brands, perfect their positioning, grow key accounts and sell more to their end users through more creative and compelling content-driven marketing.

Illustrations courtesy MLT Creative.


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