Hi there, this article is going to explain the 6 easy steps of Marketing planning using PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan.

In the end, I’ll share some important info-graphics explaining how the model can be used in a digital marketing environment.

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Why Use PR Smith SOSTAC® Marketing Planning Model

PR Smith SOSTAC® Marketing Planning Model is a tool designed to help managers create effective marketing strategies and campaigns.

Ok, the claims made by SOSTAC® might seem pompous because every entrepreneur or manager faces a different set of challenges.

I agree that it cannot ultimately solve the unique problems faced by your team. However, it is considered a good planning companion. It provides a solid road map to achieve the organizational marketing objectives.

Hey, why not develop your own SOSTAC framework to manage the processes in your workplace.

What does SOSTAC® stand for?

SOSTAC stands for Situation, Objective, Strategy, Tactics, Actions, and Control.

These six concepts make up the SOSTAC® model and this article would explain each of them as steps in the next section.

You might think that these are just simple management concepts mostly understood by managers or entrepreneurs. In fact, managers do apply all the above steps from SOSTAC®.

That’s all true, but you need to understand that SOSTAC® is a practical tool that facilitates a manager through the 6 steps. I can say that it should make your life easy as a manager. After all, it is a paid tool, it should get you results.

Let me explain the steps one by one.

6 Easy Steps of the SOSTAC® Model 

  • Situation
  • Objective
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Actions
  • Control

1.Situation

 If you are a manager or an entrepreneur, you know very well that a situation analysis is a very complex and a demanding process. Often you need to rely on your guts as a last resort.

It is, especially, true when the firm is faced with uncertainty and it is hard to choose from available options. You’ll have to do a complete situation analysis and endure the pain.

The process of Situation analysis involves external and internal environment analysis.  It is often a troika: your organization resources(strength), the opportunity outside, and the market situation.

The process can be triggered by a changing business environment. You might even be losing business if you misunderstand the situation. You need to figure out the appropriate response to the changes in the market.

As a manager, it is your task to find the fit based on your firm capacity and resources to gain the desired market share. Sometimes, you might see an opportunity in front but you don’t have the team (resources/skills) to take advantage.

That’s what you need to figure out in a situation analysis- a strategic fit out of the troika.

Example: You would like to build a website. The current situation in online market offers huge challenges to build and grow a website. Giants like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium etc have taken away most of the online traffic.

By the way, this has triggered a reaction from some people who now thinks that websites might be dead or at least that is the case mostly with the new ones.

Similarly, there a few big websites for every popular or profitable keywords that occupy the top search results on search engines.

Now how much do you want to spend? Do you have a team to compete with big websites in the topic of your interest?

If you can find the fit, go and build your website.

(Note: PESTLE and SWOT can also be useful to execute a situation analysis.)

2. Objectives

Once you do a good situation analysis you are in better position to decide on your objectives. These objectives(goals) should be both short and long-term.

To make your objectives clear to your team and somewhat inspirational, it is recommended normally in management that you use the SMART approach.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time-related. Once you make your objectives according to the SMART framework, your team is likely to have an optimal performance. For a quick start on SMART, you can also take a look at SMART criteria and George T. Doran

3. Strategy

Strategy is a plan that would tell your team how they would get to their goals or objectives.  Simply put, Strategy is your personal or team’s answer to the question “How”.

But this should be based on differentiation, otherwise you would have no competitive advantage. Hence strategy is a different and a better approach.

We can say it is a different but better answer to the question of “How is it done? How do we create the customer value? How do we create the customer experience?” etc.

4.Tactics

These are specific actions that your company needs to take to execute the strategy. The situation analysis above should inform you which tactic to use.

The use of tactics depends on the nature of a business and its leadership style. An ambitious management would go more for a frontal attack requiring aggressive tactics. It means a lot more spending on promotion of a business.

Examples: Email marketing, Google Ad Campaigns

5.Actions

This step of  SOSTAC® requires you to align and deploy your staff efficiently. Simple ask:

Who is going to do What and When?

Tactics are your answer to the 3 Ws questions: Who, What & When.

Example: You can assign the tasks to an in-house team or can hire someone from the market to help you execute your email marketing plan.

Sometimes, it is just better to find a highly specialized agency to run the email marketing or online ads campaign for you.

6.Control

How can you control and measure the processes? This is where you can assign KPIs and create a system of accountability at individual and team level. It is an internal management issue.

Your sole objective is to monitor the performance of your team and get a timely feedback to correct it.

It is a lot easier to measure an online marketing campaign as there are established and test tools available. However, the usual communication programs are difficult to measure. You can always get a research firm to help you out with an audit survey if you can afford to do so.

Benefit of Paul R Smith SOSTAC® Marketing Planning Model

It provides a clear and easy method of marketing planning. It is easy to implement and apply to the marketing processes.

If applied the right way, you should be able to get a positive marketing or business outcome with SOSTAC® Planning . However, you’ve to pay for the tool to get it.

Using SOSTAC® Planning Model in Digital Marketing

Please, take a look at these images from PR Smith’s SOSTAC® and I’m sure you’re going to find them useful.

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan Example
Reproduced with kind permission of PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan www.sostac.org
PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan
Reproduced with kind permission of PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan www.sostac.org
PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan Easy to understand
Reproduced with kind permission of PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan www.sostac.org

Main Reference

SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith. For more information on SOSTAC® Planning & becoming a SOSTAC® Certified Planner visit www.SOSTAC.org .

 Reading References and Additional Reference Material

  1. SOSTAC® Video (4 mins from PR Smith) www.PRSmith.org/SOSTAC (scroll to bottom)
  • SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan (2019) book   http://tinyurl.com/qe79473
  • SOSTAC® Blog (posts from PR Smith): www.PRSmith.org/blog
  • SOSTAC® Groups are also on Facebook & Linkedin  
  • SOSTAC® Instagram    https://www.instagram.com/sostac_planning/
  • SOSTAC® Course (60 mins videos from PR Smith) – online Udemy course    https://www.udemy.com/_sostac_plan/
  • SOSTAC® Certified Planner (20 hours) – online course www.SOSTAC.org  

Books by PR Smith

Smith, PR  & Zook, Z. (2020) Marketing Communications – offline and online integration,
engagement and analytics, 7th ed., Kogan Page*            

Smith, PR (2019) The SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan   

Smith, PR  (2017) Digital Marketing Excellence – planning, optimizing & integrating online marketing, 5th ed., Routledge 

Smith, PR (2011) SOSTAC® Guide to writing the perfect plan, Amazon

Smith, PR (2003) Great Answers to Tough Marketing Questions, 2nd ed. , Kogan Page

Smith, PR, Berry C. & Pulford, A. (1999) Strategic Marketing Communications, Revised ed.

Smith, PR (2009) Great Moments of Sportsmanship, PR Smith self-published.

* Released in Nov 2019

Note: The article will be improved and revised.