We were having an informal chat with a retailer recently and they were telling us about some of their marketing tactics. After about 10 minutes of listening and nodding and agreeing there were lots of good things happening we asked what the big picture was; where did they want the business to be in ten years’ time?

This had them stumped. They knew what they need to action each and every day but weren’t entirely sure where it was leading – the plan was detailed (brilliant news) but the big idea was all a bit vague (very bad news). At this point Woolworths popped into my head. It was a much loved brand but one of the reasons it went bust was that it didn’t know what it was and where it was going.

So before you start talking about advertising campaigns, PR or printed collateral, or even more strategic marketing elements such as positioning, brand values or pricing strategies, make sure you’ve got a big idea. Once you know where you want to be then start planning the detail (website, PR, CRM etc) and do it fast because without the detail the big idea won’t materialise and if you hang around someone else will get there first.

Your big idea doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t need a massive document, but have one, have a vision, have something to aim for.