It's a rather simplistic, conceptual process - but I think it speaks a lot.
First, whatever media/communications planner do is essentially facilitating a shift in business results. Without any well-defined business goals, I believe that a planner can't do much really. Surely, there are other components of the marketing mix that are beyond the control of the planner. But the goals are there to make sure that whatever plans are designed are aligned with the ultimate, measurable business goal of the brand.
Second, whatever state a business is in is a result of current behaviors of consumers towards the brand. Similarly, a necessary shift in business will also necessitate a shift in behaviors of consumers towards the brand. (I should add, ceteris paribus.)
Third, the behaviors of consumers are driven by or are founded on beliefs, perceptions, or attitudes that they have of the brand. Beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, expectations - all these drive the behaviors of the brand.
Fourth, the goal of the planner is to identify what the current beliefs are - and how strong these beliefs are influencing their current action. And then identify what should the new beliefs be that would result to new behaviors and new businesses.
This is highly debatable, I admit: In psychology, the gap between attitudes and action is not entirely clear-cut and direct. Someone might say "I am definitely for eco-friendly products" and could vehemently describe themselves as ardent anti-climate-change. It doesn't necessarily mean though that they would get out of their way to choose, say, eco-friendly cars over non-eco-friendly cars.
And some shampoo users might say "This is the only brand I will buy" - but may not necessarily be open to going out of their way (say, their shampoo brand is out of stock in their favorite neighborhood store) to look for that brand "I will only buy".
In these cases, my view is that the attitudes or the beliefs therefore are not the real attitudes or beliefs that people have. They may have other, stronger, underlying beliefs that supplant and supersede these "stated beliefs" (e.g., in the case of the car example, the belief of "I need a car with a higher resale value" may be far stronger than the belief of being eco-friendly; in the case of the shampoo buyer, "convenience is key" is stronger than the belief in the brand).
It is therefore very critical to identify and understand the real underlying beliefs amongst consumers that support their behaviors. These can only be uncovered through a thorough questioning of research studies and data, and of consumers - something that will necessitate deep research into the minds and hearts of consumers.
And this is also where the fifth step comes in: identifying the barriers. One can think of barriers as dimensions of the current beliefs. "I am not really open to eco-friendly cars" could be an amalgam of different sub-beliefs - "Eco-friendly cars are expensive", "I don't know much about them", "My electricity bill is going to shoot up", "What if I lose power in the middle of nowhere?", and "My friends will tease me".
By identifying the barriers, one just might be able to dissect further the current beliefs into manageable 'chunks', that when addressed will lead to a shift in beliefs.
It sounds simple and simplistic - but it is not.
Getting down to the real beliefs and the sub-beliefs supporting the behaviors can be a very taxing exercise. It takes significant effort of integrating results from quantitative and qualitative research (tonnes of them!), from observations of the audiences, and from change influencers to determine these beliefs underneath behaviors.
Well, no one said that media/communications planning is easy.
It could, however, be rewarding - intellectually and financially (for the client, at the very least) - to know exactly what beliefs prop up current behaviors and what new beliefs can lead to new behaviors that will lead to profits.