Last Updated: November 18, 2020

In the globalized business world, the competitive playing field is tougher than ever. Start-up businesses from around the world open shop every day to carve out a place for themselves in crowded markets. The only way for any company, new or old alike, to remain competitive is to find ways to grow their business.

Keeping that competitive edge is often easier said than done. Growth is one of the hardest things to manage in business because it involves large amounts of risk and uncertainty. Any time a company decides to offer new products or expand into new markets, they are investing large sums of money in the unknown.

However, companies who successfully manage growth receive more opportunities in the long run. Growth, while uncertain, allows small businesses become the leaders of their industries. Companies like Microsoft and Google both started small but grew to be major players by constantly rethinking who they are and what they could do. These companies were willing to accept certain risks and take chances that others were unwilling to make.

What is expeditionary marketing?

It is easiest to think of expeditionary marketing as marketing for growth. Its goal is to move companies in to new markets to create value for the firm as a whole. In many ways, it is similar to entrepreneurial marketing, with emerging firms often using expeditionary marketing strategies (See also Entrepreneurial Marketing). Unlike entrepreneurial marketing, it is not limited to start-ups. In fact, some of the largest and most well-established companies in the world use expeditionary marketing strategies.

Analyzing the physical, financial, and intellectual resources of a company, and then finding new markets where those resources apply is at the heart of expeditionary marketing. Consider a computer monitor company looking to expand by selling outside of the home computer market. After a careful self-analysis, they realize that they have the engineers, technicians, factories, and sales staff to start creating digital billboards for business customers. While this is a drastic new approach for the company and involves a lot of risk, they believe they will generate huge new profits if they are successful. The process of analyzing opportunities, designing products, and introducing them to new customers is all part of the expeditionary marketing tactic.

Expeditionary marketing identifies new opportunities and minimizes the risk of new corporate strategies. It tries to give companies an advantage by helping them move into new markets before their competitors do. Expeditionary marketing is less about designing advertising messages and more about the research and planning necessary to develop new products and markets. Since it is such an aggressive strategy, it involves a high-level of boldness and out of the box thinking. Many traditional marketing theories go out the window when a company tries to fundamentally change what it does. (See also Traditional Marketing)

Apple Computers and Expeditionary Marketing

Apple is considered to be one of the greatest expeditionary marketers of all time. Up until the year 2000, they were thought of almost exclusively as a computer company. But over the next ten years they would invent three revolutionary gadgets that would change the way people thought about the company. The release of the iPod (2001) iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010) were all risky moves into uncharted markets for the company. Each has been a hugely profitable success. The chart below illustrates how Apple’s sales have grown since the release of the first iPod.

Principles of Expeditionary Marketing

  • Pro-Activeness – Taking advantage of new opportunities and being willing to move into untested markets
  • Calculated Risk Taking – Willing to accept certain risks and also being able to manage the consequences of those risks
  • Innovativeness – A focus on new products, services, or markets. Willing to try what others have not
  • Opportunity Focused – Constantly looking for new opportunities to grow. Avoids a complacent business philosophy
  • Resource Leveraging – Uses the physical, financial, and intellectual resources within the company to facilitate growth
  • Customer Intensity – Strives to create the strongest possible link between the customer and the product
  • Value Creation – Focused on creating value for the customer though innovation, price, or utility

It is easier to understand these principles if they are applied to a real scenario. In the late 1990s, a marketing executive left his job to start producing New Zealand’s first premium vodka. Initially manufactured in his own home, 42 Below Vodka grew into an international brand and was eventually sold to Bacardi for $138 million. It is no small feat for a small, local liquor to become an internationally recognized brand in just a decade. Here is a look at how 42 Below Vodka managed their growth through an expeditionary marketing approach.

  • Pro-Activeness – The company looked for new opportunities to promote their vodka in nontraditional ways. They developed a risqué viral video campaign that generated buzz in their target demographic.
  • Calculated Risk Taking – Growth into international markets was done selectively. They began in places with large communities of expatriate New Zealanders. This slow expansion helped the brand to build recognition and manage the challenges of growth.
  • Innovativeness – 42 Below used a 6 stage distilling process and offered unique new flavors like kiwi and passion fruit.
  • Opportunity Focused – In the late 1990’s, premium, international liquor brands were just beginning to take off. The perceived purity and natural splendor of a place like New Zealand made it an ideal branding image for a new vodka brand.
  • Resource Leveraging – The vodka was sourced from unique ingredients like pure new Zealand water and organic wheat. These ingredients reinforced the image of the brand as clean and natural.
  • Customer Intensity – Targeted a demographic known as the “cocktail elite” who take pride in discovering and promoting new brands of liquor.
  • Value Creation – A combination of new flavors, premium pricing, and highly selective distribution positioned the brand as something exclusive and elite.

Who implements expeditionary marketing?

Generally speaking, almost any company has the ability to grow. The principles of expeditionary marketing can apply to any business that wants to move into larger markets or expand their service offerings (See also Global Marketing). However, it is important to differentiate growth from the kind of expansion that is involved in expeditionary marketing.

For example, if a hair salon opens up a second location across town, they have grown, but not into a new market or product line. They are just doing more of what they have done before. Expeditionary marketing is about new opportunities and untested markets. In practical terms, only companies looking to grow rapidly will use expeditionary marketing strategies.

How is an expeditionary marketing plan developed?

Expeditionary marketing is one of the most strategically difficult kinds of marketing to employ because it involves changes in every area of the firm. If a company decides to introduce a radically new product they must hire staff, build production facilities, establish sales networks, and work out dozens of other logistical questions. Both established and emerging companies should answer fundamental questions about how they want to run their business. No expeditionary marketing effort can move forward without a careful and detailed plan of action.

The first and most important step will be for the company to carry out a detailed self-analysis. They must establish goals for the company as a whole and for any existing and future products. By establishing overarching goals, the marketing plan can be refined to best meet those goals. They must then examine their institutional capabilities and make a careful survey of markets. This data is used to figure out what is possible to do, both inside the company and in the world’s markets.

Once a company has identified promising markets they have to tailor new products to sell in those markets. The firm must coordinate its design, production, sales, and marketing staff to ensure that they are working towards a common goal. Expeditionary marketing involves radical new approaches to business and cooperation across departments is crucial for success.

While the products are being designed, marketers must identify new sales channel partners, train inside and outside sales staff, devise logos and packaging, establish price points, and generally find the most effective way to introduce the product to the market (See also Channel Marketing).

For example, Storage Technology Corporation, a maker of computer backup systems, refined their technologies and were seeking the best way to introduce their newer technology to the market. Their research revealed that the demand for the product was greater than their ability to engineer and produce it, and that the only way they could capitalize was to rush a model to the market. They decided to seize the moment and introduced a basic model followed by a regular series of upgrades. By the time they had finally perfected the technology, they had established themselves as the leaders in the market.

Careers in expeditionary marketing

Strategic Planner

What do they do?

Salaries of Expeditionary Marketers

  • Strategic Planner
    entry level – $50,000-$75,000
    after 10 years – $80,000-$130,000
  • Channel Marketer
    entry level -$60,000-$85,000
    after 10 years – $100,000-$130,000
  • Market Researcher
    entry level – $50,000-$70,000
    after 10 years – $80,000-$110,000


Strategic planners are responsible for guiding a company’s efforts as they try to grow and evolve. They consider the company’s resources and position in the market to make informed decisions about a company’s future. Future marketing strategies are one of the most important areas that they will consider as they try to maximize the profitability of new business strategies.

Education and Skills

An MBA degree will be necessary for strategic planners working in firms large enough to carry out expeditionary marketing plans. This will need to be complimented by years of experience focused in the industry their company operates within. Many of the most successful strategic planners have additional training in marketing, management, and advanced business theory.

Channel Marketer

What do they do?

Channel marketers are responsible for marketing to a specific sales channel, a retail store or a mail order network for example. They will identify new channel partners and customize advertising to meet the demands of their channel. Companies that are growing use channel marketers to help introduce their products into new markets.

Education and Skills

A bachelor’s degree in marketing will be necessary to become a channel marketer. This is a position that is often open to entry level marketers and provides lots of potential for growth. Additional training in business administration and information management can also be helpful.

Market Researcher

What do they do?

Market researchers conduct research into customer demographics, real estate availability, competitor’s strengths and international business laws amongst many other topics. They collect as much data as possible and then analyze this data to turn it into actionable information for a company.

Education and Skills

All market researchers will need to have a bachelor’s degree in marketing and many have degrees in statistics as well. Strong organizational skills, an eagle eyed attention to detail and a love of quantitative research are all necessary traits of the market researcher.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

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The decisions made by expeditionary marketers can have serious effects, both positive and negative, on the future success of a company. These decisions must be backed with empirical data and research methods honed in marketing degree programs.

Marketing programs provide students with information about complicated marketing models that help predict the behavior of consumers and competitors. This is much more technical than trying to come up with a catchy tag line or an eye catching print campaign. Expeditionary marketing requires advanced and wide ranging business skills, including entrepreneurial marketing strategies and strategic communication.

It is currently not possible to earn a degree focused on expeditionary marketing, but the principles and theories learned in marketing programs provide a solid foundation in marketing for growth. Companies will require any employee engaged in expeditionary marketing efforts to have extensive education and experience.