SOSTAC® is a simple, logical and highly effective planning methodology that you can learn in 3 minutes.
It is successfully used in business plans, marketing plans, campaign plans and even personal life plans.
How SOSTAC® helps organisations
- Efficiency (saves time everyone uses same simple framework)
- Effectiveness with more informed decisions
How SOSTAC® helps individuals
- Confidence (write great plans and inspire others)
- Your Position as a SOSTAC® Certified Planner
What others say…
Voted in the Top 3 Business Models Worldwide by CIM.
Used by Linkedin and KPMG Digital and thousands of other marketers.
“The single best workshop I’ve ever attended”
Kevin Browning, Senior Global Brand Manager, Linkedin.
Get the Book
SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan by PR Smith
Take the Introductory SOSTAC® Course
1-hour online course by PR Smith listed in the Top 3% of all courses in Udemy
Become a SOSTAC® Associate
15 hour online course by PR Smith for anyone over 18, without a degree or 5 year’s management experience.
Become A SOSTAC® Certified Planner
15-hour online course by PR Smith for anyone who is already a SOSTAC® Associate or has 5 year’s management experience.
What is PR Smith’s
SOSTAC® is a simple aide-mémoire with a full planning methodology behind it. SOSTAC® is now used all over the world by professionals to produce great plans to boost results – business plans, marketing plans, digital marketing plans, digital transformation plans, advertising plans, even HR plans, Health and Safety plans (and, we even discovered recently, a wedding plan).
SOSTAC® stands for:
• Situation analysis (where are we now?)
• Objectives (where do we want to be?)
• Strategy (how do we get there?)
• Tactics (the details of strategy i.e., the Marketing Mix)
• Actions (how to ensure we execute the tactics with excellence and passion)
• Control (how do we know we are getting there? – metrics and measurement)
Click on a section to expand…
Situation Analysis (where are we now?)
includes a Customer Analysis, a Competitor Analysis, a Company Analysis (strengths and weaknesses) and an External Analysis (those uncontrollable PEST factors, or PESTEL factors). These variables include Political, Economic, Social and Technical trends that affect your business. Some like to separate Environmental and Legal variables that affect your market. Others include these under Social and Political variables. Customer Analysis must answer the critical ‘Who? Why? And How?’ questions about your customers. Company Analysis includes performance/results (what’s working and what’s not working). Competitor Analysis includes Hyper-Competition (new entrants and substitutes) and competitive advantage, ideally, sustainable competitive advantage.
Note: Half of your plan is the Situation Analysis section as it helps you to make more informed strategic and tactical decisions later in the plan. You can put the bulk of it into the appendices at the end of the plan and just put the summary Situation Analysis (key findings and insights) at the front of your plan.
Objectives (where do you want to be?)
include the big ones such as Mission and Vision right down to the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). KPI’s include sales, profit/ROI (Return on Investment), market share, enquiries, conversion rates, cost per conversion, cost per sale (new customer) and cost per customer retained, cost per enquiry, cost per visitor and more – these are action-orientated
objectives i.e., marketing objectives. While Marcomms objective are more about the state of mind of your customers/prospects and customers e.g., awareness, preference and consideration objectives. Like the old-school AIDA objectives (Attention/Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (purchase). A different approach to Objectives are The 5Ss (Sell, Serve, Speak, Save and Sizzle) which I developed when the internet arrived.
Objectives must be SMART
(Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound)
Strategy summarizes how you are going to fulfil the objectives.
It is the shortest part of the plan, yet the most important, as it gives direction to all the subsequent tactics. It should address any barriers stopping you from achieving your objectives. Although the shortest part of the plan, it is, in my experience, the weakest part of most plans. Strategy makes tough choices. If you get the strategy wrong all the tactics will be wrong. And no matter how hard you try, you won’t succeed.
As Strategy clarifies your positioning and your target markets plus seven other key variables addressed in the TOPPP SEED strategy acronym. Target Markets, Objectives, Positioning, Partnerships, Processes (new processes like AI), Stages/Sequence, Engagement, Experience (Customer Experience) and Data.
Kenichi Ohmae, the Japanese strategist once said to me:
‘There’s no point rowing harder, if you are rowing in the wrong direction.’
Tactics are the details of strategy
The marketing mix, communications mix and channel mix. From setting prices to tweaking the product/service range to choosing channels to help prospects and customers to move along their lifetime journey. From automated personalised customer journeys to intelligent 1-2-1 conversations with customers at scale, revealing deep insights about their preferences and automatically adjusting ads (and messages). Both communicating and delivering to customers presents new challenges as marketers fight to get customers’ attention, interest, desire and action in an ever-increasingly cluttered marketspace. ‘Always-On’ campaigns are being tweaked 24/7 by using feedback and data i.e. insights drawn from the marketplace.
This is where today’s marketers have nurtured their new listening skills
to win and keep customers better than ever before.
Actions are the details of tactics
Specifically how to ensure the tactics are executed with passion and excellence. This is Internal Marketing – motivating, communicating and training your team (and your agencies) to execute the tactics with real passion and ultimately, maximise impact. This is often the second weakest part of a plan (in fact many plans ignore internal marketing completely). Actions also include the details of: who does what, when and how? What processes are required to make things happen? Do we have the skill-sets (if not,
how do we get these skills – externally or internally)? Each tactical tool, or channel, is a mini project that needs to be managed carefully. So what actions have to be taken, for example, to create and optimize a dynamic website or to develop an insights-driven ad campaign etc.?
As Peter Drucker once said: ‘Everything degenerates into work!’
Control (‘how do we know we are getting there?’)
The Control section of your plan lists what you need to measure (metrics), when you measure these, how much it costs and what happens when you see a blip. Some of these metrics take time and money (like an awareness survey). Others need data (analytics) and specific skill sets. So, plan (and budget) for these. The control section of the plan ensures you know whether you are succeeding or failing – before it is too late. This constant reviewing or monitoring creates a more ‘agile-planning’ approach as 90-day plans (are reviewed and tweaked). The metrics that you measure can, and should be, fed into the next Situation Analysis (company analysis /performance/results – what worked and what didn’t work). This then informs and helps to set more realistic objectives for the next period.
Hence there is a mini-loop between Situation-Objectives-Control.
The 4 Key Resources in SOSTAC® Plans – The 4Ms
The four key resources you need to get the job done:
1: Men and women (the human resource)
2: Money (budgets)
3: Minutes (timescales)
4: Megadata (data!)
SOSTAC® is a simple, logical system that delivers a reassuring sense of order and creates a structure that allows departments, divisions and different products to use the same planning template, which, in turn, allows product plans to be aggregated into a single master plan more easily…. Delivering more efficient and more effective plans that boost results.