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The underlying fundamental of strategy. Never play someone else’s game. Once you play by someone else’s rules, you’ve already lost. All strategies boil down to finding ways to change the rules in your favor.

From a marketing perspective, you can apply this to a number of situations.

If you’re the underdog, competing against bigger, more well-known brands, you need to change the rules of what people value for your industry. Maybe it’s by offering a service or a feature that is hard to duplicate. Perhaps it’s in identifying a niche market that can be catered to. Change the rules of the customer consideration points.

If you’re an old established brand, who perhaps has lost relevance, you need to change the rules of how people perceive you. They know you for A, B and C. Then consistently, focus on highlighting your X, Y and Z. A, B and C are your foundation. So don’t worry about losing them. They’re easy to get back because people already have that preconception. Flank them with the new and use your core to reinforce your brand.

If you lack marketing resources, look for other ways to communicate your message. Try everything your competitors aren’t. See what works and what doesn’t. Build on that. Do outrageous things. Comfortable, reliable creative is for other people. Make it about the saying something that’s meaningful, and not about how much money is spent or how wide an audience can be reached.

If you recovering from a PR nightmare or a social media disaster, change the story. Rather than playing defense and providing justification for the mistake, apologize completely, succinctly and move on. Use it as an opportunity to improve areas of your business. Show people how as a result of the error, not in spite of it, you’re going to be an even better company. Use it as an advantage, instead of a hindrance.

It’s also important to note that strategies are only needed when there is a lack of something. If you’re accomplishing all of your goals, you don’t need a new strategy. Therefore, the key is to identify the deficit and develop your plans accordingly. End goals are necessary, but they begin with an absence.

Write your own rulebook. It’s the only way.