play-calling and shot-making: strategizing and preparing for your brand distractions


Hohoho! This is literally the only day of the year when you can begin a blog post as such. Fitting we should discuss distractions in this blog, as you’re no doubt distracted by holiday consumerism, pie, and the in-laws. MERRY CHRISTMAS (and get off your internet-connected device). But only after you read this blog.

This is the end, guys. The end of 2017, the end of the series…this is it [dun dun dun]. In this blog, we’re exploring the strategy you must craft and leverage to differentiate yourself from the competition and the distractions (detractions) from your brand. The specifics of each strategy are specific to your position and your special, special snowflake situation. However, in this blog, we’ve outlined the four things you absolutely must consider before you put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, thumbs to screen – however you draft your idea, this is what you need to think about first. Whoever you are, wherever you’re at, these are worthy things to consider. Think first, then do. It’s basically a tenet to live by. Your new year mantra? You’re welcome.


your hand

What are your genuine, differentiating assets? This is the time to think honestly about your brand. The only thing that’s going to work, stick, and resonate with your audience/market is something that’s real. Everyone’s got something going for them. If you’re not sure what you’ve got, we recommend jumping back several [several] blogs and pursuing some self-exploration. It’ll be fun, we said.

Come up with five or fifteen, depending on your confidence and actual chops. This list is just for you, so be free with the self-directed compliments – shameless, daring, shoveling admiration with abandon. It’s not quite time to think about packaging this identity – just start sketching out what you’ve got that maybe others don’t. This will be helpful when you begin thinking about their cards. You’re encouraged now to actually start writing things down. Draw a picture. Stab the paper dramatically. Whatever your private, creative process – roll with it. And now is to what we’re going to talk about in the next section: their cards. As is appropriate.


their cards

So, of course, if you’re in the boat of people who don’t really know who their competition is, revisit last week’s blog – you on the field. But, if you hung with us through that, you’re ready for the next part – thinking about what they’ve got going for them. What’s in their hand? You’ve thought about this for yourself. Now, honestly and vulnerably think about everyone else in your sphere. Write these things down. Stab your paper (not your eye) with your Sharpie. Get a emotional snack. Come back. Work through the great things about everybody else so you can think constructively about what you’re going to do about it. Much better to have a private moment of fear in the face of competition then to blindly walk out onto the field without doing any sort of reconnaissance on your opponent. For real.

So, what should you look for in your competitors? Well, for starters, their assets will probably not be obscure and hidden. They’ll be touting those puppies as all good brand should, so take a gander at their website. What are they highlighting? How deep is their squad? How clutch is their product? How established is their biz? Who are their capital “P” People? What communication channels are they using and what is their following/engagement like? What are they playing with? Get in the game.

the stakes

Now let’s think about the big picture: goals and what’s up for grabs. Who are Your People? How many people (lowercase p) are in your market? What portion of the market is already spoken for? There are really two things to consider here: what do you have to invest (time and money) in this and what’s your potential return? What are you going to need to do to be a Major Player in your field? There’s a certain amount you have to do to make a splash, particularly if the competition is steep (and loud). So, now’s the time to determine what you’re comfortable putting into it and what you’re really going after. If you’re in it to win it (all), then there’s going to be skin (in the game).

If your plan is to go big or go home, then your strategy will differ from that of the Dabbler. You’re going to have to try things that you probably haven’t done before and maybe hadn’t even thought of doing. This is okay. New things aren’t scary things, unless you give them the power (or you have absolutely no ability to do them. Then it’s daunting. But we can help! #shamelessplug). So, figure out what it (your goal) is worth to you and what you have to put behind it. What’re you raising to and what’s your play?

the play

At this point, you should have two scribbled pieces of paper – one about you and one outlining competition. You’ve analyzed your cards and their hand. You’ve determined the cost and the value.  You’re ready to make your move. It’s game time. Your strategy will be multi-pronged, as all strategies should be. You’re not going to throw everything behind one thing – you’re going to diversify your portfolio of things you’re going to try. You’re going to include social media, traditional marketing, press releases, and you’re going to grow your email list. You’re going to go back to your 12 month goal. You’re going to work backwards, outlining the Big Things. You’re going to drill and drill it down until it’s actionable, every day.

The only way the strategy works is if It’s informed by good information, solid analysis, and packaged in a form that you can actually do something about it. The only point in having a strategy is for it to work (or for you to quickly identify when it doesn’t work) so you’re not done creating your strategy until you know what you’re going to do literally tomorrow to make Big Things happen. Map it out, create a schedule that works with the cadence of your work, and then just make the play, man. See what happens. See how the chips fall. Be better next time.


Next week…next year. There are big (huge) things coming in January. If you aren’t on the Duchesne Digest email list, we wonder out loud what you’re waiting for. If your ears are burning, take that as a sign. Jump on it and get on it. Over and out.

Hannah Duchesne