Thinking strategically as a communicator is a matter of taking a step back and first considering where you want to go—and only then which approaches, messages and tactics will best get you there.
Putting this simple principle into practice has many challenges, of course. Often one of the hardest consists of breaking unproductive patterns of action in order to innovate. The biggest barrier to innovation among communicators is that our dance card is already full. Too often, we fall into a pattern of simply going through the motions and producing the same old, same old because that’s all we have time to do.
But thinking strategically means paying attention to the opportunity costs of this pattern. Put simply, if your organization has always invested its time/money/staff in X, it’s coming at the expense of Y. If your time and budget are fully maxed out in producing events and trade shows, it’s at the expense of doing other worthwhile activities that may in fact be more beneficial to your organization (for instance, exploring social media or improving your internal communication).
If you want to have breakthrough results, you have to break the pattern. It will require the strategic discipline of asking tough questions and making decisions that include careful consideration of opportunity costs. Validate that you’re investing your limited resources in the highest-yield activities possible. As a general rule: aim to do less, but do it better.