I was taught the planning cycle at a relatively early age - not quite as early as my times tables, but I had it drummed into me in a similar way.
Where are we now? (With our brand or business)
Where do we want to be?
How do we get there?
Are we getting there?
I have the feeling that because the whole area of marketing has exploded into so many specialisms, t the focus has slipped right onto “how do we get there” in its intricate detail of touchpoints, new tech, personas and all the rest without any consideration of where we’re going with this and why.
I recently had a brief that went along the lines of - we have to develop an app that’s going to do x, y & z - without any thought given to why, or even who this app might be for.
I’ve seen this wonderful picture recently from The Proper Marketing Club (Matt Dillon) , which gently reminds marketers of the starting point if you want to be the brightest brand on the beach.
Even if your business can’t afford stacks of ad-hoc quantitative surveys, desk research on markets and trends plus a couple of questions on an omnibus and a few intelligently-conducted stakeholder interviews are always a good start.