If you don’t know PR Smith’s SOSTAC® model, it’s worth getting to know if you’re involved with planning marketing strategies or campaigns. SOSTAC® was voted the third most popular model in the CIM poll on marketing models because it’s easy to remember and it makes it easy to structure plans for different planning activities. Whether you’re creating an overall marketing or digital marketing strategy or improving individual channel tactics like SEO or email marketing SOSTAC®, is your friend.
SOSTAC® is a planning model, originally developed in the 1990s to help with marketing planning by PR Smith, who is my co-author on Emarketing Excellence.
SOSTAC® stands for:
We’ve referenced this approach in creating our digital marketing planning template and I’ve also used it in my books applying it to the core aspects of digital marketing. You can see it gives a logical order for tackling your plan (with iterations) and you should also use it to critically assess your processes. Ask, for example, what you may be weak at? Ask, do we fail to complete situation analysis?Are our goals unclear? Do we have a strategy? Do we control performance using analytics?
In 2012 I worked with Paul and the designers at First 10 on a new SOSTAC® infographic which summarises the key issues to consider at each stage when developing digital marketing plans.
We hope this is useful as an aide-memoire you can print and use for your planning.
I think SOSTAC® has become popular since it’s simple, easy to remember and covers all the main issues which you need in a marketing plan or business plan.
You can find out more about the SOSTAC® approach for marketing planning in this ebook available on Amazon for Kindle, iPad and other ebook readers: The SOSTAC® Guide – to writing the perfect plan by PR Smith.
Here are some tips on how to use SOSTAC® based on my experience of applying it in companies and seeing how students apply it in assignments.
We also have an example SOSTAC® plan for premium members available in Word for members to update for their plans.
Before looking at how you apply SOSTAC® at each step to create a marketing plan, my first tip is to use it to review your planning process and how you manage your marketing.
Ask yourself critically about the activities you personally, and your organization, are good at. Maybe you spend too much or too little time reviewing the situation. Perhaps you’re not so good at setting SMART objectives, or developing strategies to support them or the control stage of assessing how effective your strategies and tactics are and adjusting them?
Often there is too much time spent on analysis within a plan and not enough on setting the strategies. I’d also say that for a student assignment, it’s best to make reference to AC relatively brief, incorporating them into other sections.
So as a rule of thumb, this is how your balance of content could look:
S (20%) O (5%) S (45%) T (30%) = 100%
To give focus to your situation analysis I recommend the so-called TOWs form of SWOT analysis. This helps integrate SWOT with strategy.
Since digital marketing is so measurable, it makes sense to be specific as possible about your goals by developing a funnel conversion model. You should also set up specific goals in Google Analytics.
But it’s worth thinking about the full range of goals indicated by the 5Ss.
Often there isn’t good flow relating sections in a plan. To help this I recommend summarising your entire SOSTAC® plan within a table which integrates strategies, situation, objectives and tactics.
Do let us know if you have any other tips on the best way to apply SOSTAC®.