What is SOSTAC®?

What Is SOSTAC® in Marketing?

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® model is a strategic planning framework used that helps businesses and organisations to develop and execute effective marketing plans.

What Is the Purpose of SOSTAC®?

The purpose of the SOSTAC® analysis is to provide a structured and systematic approach to marketing strategy development. It helps organisations develop effective marketing strategies by guiding them through the key steps of analysing the current situation, setting objectives, formulating strategies, implementing tactics, taking actions, and monitoring and controlling progress.

A SOSTAC® marketing planning methodology aims to ensure that marketing efforts are well-planned, aligned with business goals, and executed in a coordinated and measurable manner. It helps organisations assess their market position, identify opportunities and challenges, make informed strategic choices, and ultimately achieve their marketing objectives.

Ultimately, the SOSTAC® analysis serves as a roadmap for marketers, providing a framework for effective planning, execution, and evaluation of marketing activities.

What Are the Key Stages of SOSTAC® Planning?

There are six key stages of conducting a SOSTAC® analysis. These provide a structured approach to marketing planning and help organisations systematically move from assessing the current situation to setting objectives, formulating strategies, implementing tactics, and monitoring progress. Each stage builds upon the previous one, ensuring a coherent and well-planned marketing approach.

Credit: Reproduced with kind permission from PR Smith

Here’s a summary of each stage:

  1. Situation analysis: This involves assessing the current marketing situation by analysing the market, customers, competitor analysis, and internal capabilities. It helps identify key opportunities, challenges, and insights.
  2. Objectives: Clear and specific marketing objectives are set based on the organisation's overall goals. Objectives should be measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). They provide a clear direction and purpose for the marketing efforts.
  3. Strategy: The strategy outlines how the objectives will be achieved. It involves making strategic choices regarding target market segments, positioning, value proposition, and competitive advantage. The strategy sets the overall approach for reaching the target audience effectively.
  4. Tactics: Tactics refer to the specific marketing activities and initiatives that will be implemented to execute the strategy. It includes decisions on the marketing mix elements (product, price, place, promotion), digital marketing channels, communication strategies, and customer engagement tactics.
  5. Actions: Actions involve implementing the tactics and executing the marketing plan. This step includes assigning responsibilities, setting timelines, and ensuring proper coordination and communication within the marketing team and other relevant stakeholders.
  6. Control: Control refers to the measurement, monitoring, and evaluation of marketing efforts against the set objectives. It involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), analysing results, making adjustments if necessary, and ensuring accountability and continuous improvement.

4Ms - Four Key Resources

To be effective, SOSTAC® requires four critical resources:

  • Men and women: The human resource(s) equipped with the right blend of skills to required to make the plan happen.
  • Money: The budget required to deliver the plan and how to measure return on investment.
  • Minutes: How you prioritise time in the decision making process in the absence of information.
  • Megadata: How you decide what data you need and how you will use it.
"Conducting a SOSTAC® analysis can be a roadmap for effective business planning. It offers a structured approach, comprehensive analysis, goal alignment, strategic development, tactical implementation, and control. However, many boardroom executives are not aware of this framework and are missing a trick!"

Paul Mills
CEO & Founder, VCMO

An Example of SOSTAC® Marketing Plan In the Smartphone Sector

Here's an example of how a smartphone company may apply SOSTAC® when entering a new market:

  1. Situation Analysis: The company analyses the market, including customer preferences, competitors, and market trends. They assess the demand for smartphones, identify target customer segments, and understand the competitive landscape.
  2. Objectives: The company sets objectives such as capturing a certain market share within a specific timeframe, increasing brand awareness, and achieving a certain level of sales volume. These objectives provide a clear direction for their marketing efforts.
  3. Strategy: The company develops a strategy focused on product differentiation and targeting a specific customer segment, such as open-minded, ambitious tech-savvy professionals, working in early-stage scaleups in the SaaS sector. They aim to position their smartphones as high-quality devices with advanced features and exceptional user experience.
  4. Tactics: The company decides to implement various tactics to execute their strategy. They design sleek and innovative smartphones with cutting-edge technology, set competitive pricing to attract their target segment, establish partnerships with local distributors for effective market penetration, and launch a targeted digital marketing campaign to create brand awareness and engage customers.
  5. Actions: How to execute the tactics with excellence and passion? This requires communication, motivation and training to ensure staff are able to execute the new plan’s tactics.
  6. Control: The company monitors their marketing efforts by tracking key metrics such as sales volume, market share, website traffic, and customer feedback. They analyse the data, compare it against their objectives, and make adjustments to their marketing tactics as needed. This helps them stay on track and make informed decisions for continuous improvement. This phase also includes usability testing.

Through the SOSTAC® analysis, the smartphone company follows a structured approach to market entry, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the market, setting clear objectives, formulating an effective strategy, implementing targeted tactics, and monitoring the results. This helps them optimise their marketing efforts and increase their chances of success in the new market.

Benefits of SOSTAC® Analysis

The advantages of using SOSTAC® analysis in marketing planning include:

  • Structured Approach: SOSTAC® provides a clear and structured framework for organising and conducting marketing planning activities. It guides marketers through a step-by-step process, ensuring that all key elements are considered and addressed.
  • Comprehensive Analysis: SOSTAC® encourages a thorough analysis of the current situation, including market dynamics, customer behaviour, and competitor landscape. This helps identify opportunities and challenges and enables informed decision-making.
  • Goal Alignment: SOSTAC® emphasizes the importance of setting clear and measurable objectives that are aligned with the overall business goals. This ensures that marketing efforts are focused and purposeful, driving results that contribute to the broader organisational objectives.
  • Strategy Development: SOSTAC® facilitates the formulation of a coherent marketing strategy. By considering target markets, positioning, value proposition, and competitive advantage, marketers can develop a well-defined strategic direction that guides their marketing activities.
  • Tactical Implementation: SOSTAC® helps translate the marketing strategy into actionable tactics. It enables marketers to identify the specific activities, channels, and initiatives that will be implemented to execute the strategy effectively.
  • Control and Evaluation: SOSTAC® emphasises the importance of monitoring and controlling marketing efforts. It encourages the measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs), allowing marketers to evaluate the effectiveness of their activities and make necessary adjustments.
  • Collaboration and Communication: SOSTAC® promotes collaboration and communication among stakeholders involved in the marketing planning process. It provides a common language and structure for discussions, ensuring a shared understanding and alignment of goals.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: SOSTAC® is adaptable to different business contexts, industries, and marketing scenarios. It can be customised and tailored to suit the specific needs of an organisation, making it applicable across diverse marketing situations.

Overall, SOSTAC® analysis offers a systematic and strategic approach to marketing planning, enabling organisations to develop well-informed strategies, execute targeted tactics, and drive effective marketing outcomes.

What Other Tools Can be Used With SOSTAC®?

SOSTAC® analysis can be complemented by various tools and frameworks to enhance the effectiveness of marketing planning. Some of these tools include:

  • PESTEL Analysis: PESTEL analysis helps assess the external macro-environmental factors that can impact the organisation, such as political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors. It provides a broader context for SOSTAC® analysis and helps identify key trends and influences.
  • SWOT Analysis: SWOT analysis is often used in conjunction with SOSTAC® to evaluate the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, as well as external opportunities and threats. SWOT analysis provides valuable insights that inform the strategy development stage of SOSTAC®.
  • Customer Persona Development: Creating detailed customer personas helps understand the target audience's needs, preferences, and behaviours. This information supports effective segmentation, targeting, and positioning strategies within the SOSTAC® framework.
  • Customer Journey Mapping: Customer journey mapping helps visualize and analyse the various touchpoints and interactions that customers have with the organisation. It helps identify opportunities for improving the customer experience and informs the tactical implementation phase of SOSTAC®.
  • Marketing Mix (4Ps): The 4Ps framework (product, price, place, promotion) complements SOSTAC® by providing specific guidance on the tactical elements of marketing implementation. It helps determine the right product offerings, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and promotional activities to support the marketing strategy.
  • Digital Marketing Tools: Various digital marketing tools and frameworks, such as SEO analysis, social media monitoring, content marketing planning, and marketing automation platforms, can be integrated with SOSTAC® to support the execution of digital marketing strategies and tactics.

By integrating these tools and other frameworks with SOSTAC®, organisations can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their marketing environment, customers, and tactics, leading to well-informed decisions and effective marketing planning.

Recap on SOSTAC®

SOSTAC® is a strategic marketing planning methodology that provides a structured approach to guide organisations through the planning process. Its numerous benefits include a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the current situation, goal alignment, clear strategy development, tactical implementation, and control and evaluation.

Some Useful SOSTAC® References

SOSTAC® Certified Planner

Build the perfect marketing, digital or operational plans to boost business results by becoming a SOSTAC® Certified Planner. This 20-hour CPD accredited online program equips executives to build more effective business plans using the renowned SOSTAC® Planning Framework - ranked among the Top 3 Business Models by the Chartered Institute of Marketing Centenary Poll.

Register for program.

SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan (2022) by PR Smith

This is the extremely popular, short book that explores SOSTAC® Planning methodology.

Get book on Amazon.

Marketing Communications – Integrating Online and Offline, Customer Engagement and Digital Technologies 8th Edition (2024) by PR Smith and Ze Zook

The final chapter in part 1: Chapter 10 is dedicated to SOSTAC® Planning methodology. Each of the 10 chapters in Part 2 has a case study showing how SOSTAC®  is applied to advertising to PR to Sponsorship to Merchandising to Owned Media and more.

Get book on Kogan Page.

Digital Marketing Excellence – Planning and Integrating Online Marketing 6th Edition (2023) by Dave Chaffey and PR Smith  

Chapter 10, the final chapter, is devoted to PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning methodology. Chapter 1 also introduces SOSTAC®.

Get book on Routledge.

Marketing Insights From PR Smith

Get cutting edge blog videos and blog posts by PR Smith.

Visit blog.

SOSTAC® Plans Club

Taking place every Friday at 1pm (GMT) live on LinkedIn Audio Events. Join PR Smith for a lively 30-minute weekly update on all things AI, Innovation and Ethics in Marketing plus SOSTAC® Q&A – if you got any questions.

Join the chat.

SOSTAC® Group on LinkedIn

There is a special group on LinkedIn that is only open to SOSTAC® Certified Planners.

About VCMO

VCMO helps SMEs and investor-backed portfolio companies with a £2 million or higher turnover that operate without a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. Our Fractional CMOs and tailored services transform marketing potential into a competitive advantage that delivers scalable and predictable growth, increased profits, and enhanced enterprise value.

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