Here is the interview I did with PR Smith for my website : Unfreezemarketing.com.
Qamar Riaz. Hello Paul, Welcome to Unfreeze Marketing. Thank you for sparing the time.
PR. Smith: ‘Dia Duit’ which is the Irish for ‘hello’, or literally ‘God Be With You’ which is beautiful and similar to your beautiful greeting ‘Salam-o-Aliakum’.
Qamar Riaz. Please, tell me briefly about the intellectual journey you undertook that led to SOSTAC®. Was there any defining event in your career that motivated you to create SOSTAC®? I mean tell me when you realized that there was a management problem that needs to be addressed with something like SOSTAC®?
PR Smith: When I was doing my Masters (part-time) in Cass Business School in London,I was marketing Christmas Crackers in America to pay for the MBA.
I was also starting to do some lectures, and talks i.e under pressure of time mostly. When I read ‘marketing plans’ and structures, I was frustrated as they all seemed cumbersome, and sometimes lacking a logical information driven process.
So I asked both cohorts (2 years) to send me their content pages from their future marketing plans. I studied them and it took me ten years to develop and refine the whole thing. Finally, I came up with SOSTAC®, and everyone loved it. I remember how people chanted ‘S_O_S_T_A_C ‘ during my lecture at IBM.
Qamar Riaz. Please, tell me why a business owner or manager should use SOSTAC®?
PR Smith: Planning saves time, saves money (no more nasty ‘rush rates’), gives direction, brings team together (if presented correctly i.e. internal marketing/’actions’).
It also reduces heart attacks and stress – once it is in the plan, budgeted for – it can and will get executed. Planning also helps with the bigger picture and drives data driven decision making = better decisions/more informed decisions.
Qamar Riaz. You must have got feedback from a lot of professionals. What are the common mistakes that a manager or someone implementing SOSTAC® is likely to make?
PR Smith: (1)Spend half your time on Situation Analysis – don’t skimp – do it right – this is the foundation for a great plan.
Tip: collect the information all year round. Discover new sources that give the answers. (2) Develop strategic options – before choosing the final strategy.
Qamar Riaz. How many trainings of SOSTAC® have you delivered worldwide so far? Please, tell me a little about your plans for this last quarter, and for the year 2020.
PR Smith: Over 100 sessions delivered and looking to do many more. I am speaking in Dublin, London, Bucharest, Kuala Lumpur in Q4.
Next year, I am stopping to write my books to devote myself totally to SOSTAC® – workshops, developing SOSTAC® Certified Trainers ,and SOSTAC® Certified Consultancies/Agencies. CIM have asked me to do an annual ‘Audience with PR Smith’ , and some universities are interested too.
Qamar Riaz. Do you recall any feedback from a company or manager who reported impressive results after using SOSTAC®? Was there any situation that people were doing creative things with SOSTAC® that you yourself didn’t realize could happen?
PR Smith: Yes professionals are kind enough to give me wonderful feedback all the time – it really is inspiring. If you look at my Linkedin Profile, PR Smith Marketing , recommendations – people say really nice things. In fact, I’ve creatively captured some feedback on my website PRSmith.org . People use SOSTAC® for business plans, marketing plans, digital transformation plans, project plans, personal plans and even, recently , a wedding plan!
Qamar Riaz. Websites are now difficult to grow and some people say that online advertising is also not that effective as it is being portrayed by the gurus. Don’t you think we also interrupt people with online advertising( just like the TVCs). What’s happening here?
PR Smith Timing is everything. The time when the customer wants information is far more important than the time we want to interrupt them with a film,article, a post, or with an ad. Using data helps get the timing right.
Even simple data and AI chat bots – answer questions when you arrive into a website (or app or social media platform or email) i.e. when you have a need to ask questions and get answers in real time. Without this, websites are like un-staffed stores – no one around – no one to help you – just a great big ugly form to fill in.
Most of these forms (66%) do not get followed up anyway! So what a waste and bad CX. Real time answers via bots, marketing automation, clever navigation will make life better for all.
Qamar Riaz. What trends do you see dominating the marketing scene in 2020? What’s coming ahead that we can’t ignore?
PR Smith. AI & Data (your biggest asset).
Qamar Riaz: What would be your advice to a marketing student or marketing professional who would like to succeed in their career?
PR Smith. (1) Think through the customer’s perspective and then apply marketing – understand what customers are trying to achieve (2) write great plans with crystal clear strategies driving all the tactics (3) learn about integrated digital marketing including AI.
Qamar Riaz. Do you have any plan to visit Dubai any time soon?
PR Smith Yes, I will be in Kuala Lumpur in Oct. delivering an ‘Integrated Marketing Communications’ and the AI, Data and Creative Thinking Marketing workshops.
I will visit Abu Dhabi to see some family and friends for a few days. I would like to come back, and do some workshops in Dubai.
Qamar Riaz. What about KSA, have you delivered any training there?
PR Smith. No, never. But I would like to do this also.
Qamar Riaz. Please, recommend 3 best books on marketing that every entrepreneur must read
Cancel & Gerhardt (2019) Conversational Marketing, Wiley
Smith, PR (2019) SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan, Amazon
Sun Tzu (written over 2,000 years ago!), The Art Of War, Shambhala
I guess I shouldn’t really include my own, although I do really believe it is essential for entrepreneurs, so let’s add in my favourite marketing book of all time:
Cialdini, R. (2007) Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion, Collins
Qamar Riaz. How was PR Smith in School, college or in a university? Was he a good student?
PR Smith: I went to St Michael’s (primary) and Rockwell College (secondary), and just loved Rockwell boarding school – played rugby – many sports – many lifelong friends – brilliant teachers – inspirational. After that Dublin Inst Technology (BSc conferred by Dublin University/Trinity College), PG Dip Marketing (part-time – Marketing Inst Irl), then moved to London and did a part-time PG Dip Finance (South Bank Uni) and my part-time MBA (Cass Business School)& continual learning since then – learning more now than I ever did previously.
Qamar Riaz. What was the best thing about growing up in Dublin?
PR Smith: Playing football on the street until midnight in the summer – long summer evenings. Learning to lift the ball over the curb, around parked cars, and trying not to break windows by keeping your shots low! Still friends with all of the guys I played football with on my street in Dublin – except we play golf now!
Qamar Riaz. What do you remember the most about your mom? Any advice or thing she used to say or do.
PR Smith: A loving and inspirational hard-working Mum – who owned and ran a small chemist shop in Dublin city center, yet found time for holidays, homework, housekeeping, ,and sharing a lot of love. ‘Mocking is catching’, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ and ‘if you’ve nothing good to say, say nothing at all’ were some of her gems.
Qamar Riaz. What food did you enjoy the most from your mom?
PR Smith: A big breakfast fry-up!
Qamar Riaz. What would be Paul Smith legacy in this world apart from SOSTAC®?
PR Smith: My Not-For Profit is the Great Sportsmanship Program www.GreatSportsmanship.org . We share short stories about acts of kindness, respect and friendship in sport to inspire a new generation of global citizens; and extend the hand of friendship between nations, and people everywhere. I’ll come and do a talk next time I visit in a school, university, orphanage or wherever you like .
I did a TEDxTalk – if you google PR Smith & Ted you’ll find it …. Or click ‘How Sportsmanship Can Save The World’ – we categorize the stories by country and by sport. Children and youths love the stories – sometimes spontaneously, they stand up and clap when they see a powerful video that we show them.
Teachers say it changes their lives and their behaviour within weeks. It is a joy to tell these stories – please do pass them on and share them with the world. Or maybe even become an ambassador (looks great on your company web page, your Linkedin page or your CV!
Qamar Riaz. Ok. Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate you for doing this interview with Unfreezemarketing.com
PR Smith: My thanks to you. See you soon.
Here are some of the links to PR Smith official websites: