PR Smith’s SOSTAC® The Art of Planning

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® The Art of Planning

Are you blindly battling through your social media and content marketing activities without a definitive plan? Are you behaving more like a ‘busy-fool’ than an efficient content marketing machine?

Could it be that you have side-stepped the most important planning stages - simply to get to the act of doing?

If any of those questions have hit even a tiny nerve, you may have to take a few steps back and re-examine the processes and operational stages of your activities, or indeed the lack thereof.

Let’s looks at PR Smith’s SOSTAC® a tried and trusted tool, developed for planning marketing strategies or campaigns. Voted the third most popular model in the CIM poll on marketing models in 2011 because it is easy to recall and is easy to use for different types of marketing activities.

Firstly, where did it come from & what does it stand for? It was originally developed in the 1990’s by PR Smith and it quickly became industry standard as an acronym, planning tool.

SOSTAC® stands for:

  • Situation – where are we now?
  • Objectives – where do we want to be?
  • Strategy – how do we get there?
  • Tactics – how exactly do we get there?
  • Action – what is our plan?
  • Control – did we get there?

It is so incredibly simple that it is easy to construct a plan in around 4 minutes as PR Smith tells us in this video. *I would beg to differ with the four minute estimation, however it’s veracity of use is hugely apparent.

So, what alternatives are there? David Sealey over at Smart Insights tells us that there are 40+ marketing and delivery channels marketers need to manage & monitor today, but, what else is out there for business owners, or marketing teams? Neil at Viper tells us in this blog post Marketing Leadership & Planning ‘effective marketing leadership and planning theory is paramount in any organisation… You would be amazed at how many organisations, large and small, forge ahead with tactical, short term marketing campaigns without a thought for the longer term, strategic position they will be creating.’ So, this is certainly not an uncommon need.

Let’s take a look at the RACE method by Smart Insights providing a further funnel marketing analysis approach.

The RACE system is simply defined as: (Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage

‘For all marketers in the digital age, there is a substantial challenge in gaining interaction and participation with prospects after the initial customer touchpoint.’ Meaning that engagement should be nurtured way beyond advertising or content posting - and further cultivated still.

RACE was designed in 2010 to help digital marketers plan and manage their activities in a more structured way as their analysis uncovered that most marketers lacked in digital planning processes, covering the full customer life cycle. For more insights on marketing models that have stood the test of time - take a look here for their poll on the best & most useful marketing model.

At Viper we believe that nurturing business through digital marketing should be based on a sound evaluation and ongoing monitoring processes using digital analytics, which shows in a clear and concise manner what marketing activities are working, against those that aren’t. This provides a clear road map for our clients, and marketing strategy which is symbiotic to brief, enabling fine-tuning where necessary.

Final thought? Whichever planning tool you choose to use remember that planning is paramount to success, but adaptation dependent on consumer preference of engagement is knowledge to be mined & refined.

More from Viper? Do You Stand Out? A Short Guide to Market Positioning


PR (2011) SOSTAC® Guide To Writing The Perfect Plan (eBook) published by PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith.