Developing a marketing communications plan using the SOSTAC model | Growing Pains
Ask any consultant, business adviser or successful business owner what you need when starting or developing a business?
The answer will invariably include “A Good Marketing Plan”.
It is certainly the case that if you want to successfully build a business, a plan of where you are going is essential.
But it can be little help if this plan is simply an overview of objectives and strategy. It is important that the plan is a practical
document, actively used in the ongoing management of the business, rather than a nice report that sits on a shelf gathering
dust. Over many years working with clients in developing effective Marketing Plans, I have found that the SOSTAC Model
developed in the 1990’s by PR Smith is difficult to beat.
It is a straightforward model that goes systematically through the steps to build a marketing plan, and helps to ensure that
all relevant factors are considered, without the need to go into excessive and expensive detail. The model then continues to
look at the practical issues of putting the plan into practice.
SOSTAC is an Acronym for the 6 basic elements of the Marketing Plan:
Situation Where are we now?
Objectives Where do we want to go?
Strategy How are we going to get there? – The Big Picture
Tactics How are we going to get there? – The tools we need to use to implement the strategy
Actions Who is going to do what and when?
Control How can we control, measure and develop the process?
Each element relates to a key step in the process. Simply work through the Pro-Forma on the following pages step by step
and fill in the gaps to suit your business and your goals.
One thing you need to be aware of: Often people deal with the SOS as a wish list of achievements and then fail to develop
and implement a detailed, controllable & measurable action plan (the TAC). This leads to a statement of great goals with no
clear idea of how – or even if you can achieve them.
If however you would like some help in developing and, more importantly IMPLEMENTING, a marketing plan, I would be
delighted to talk to you.
SITUATION ANALYSIS: WHERE ARE WE NOW?
How are we performing?
What are our distinctive competitive (marketing) advantages?
How effective is our Marketing Mix?
Are we focusing on the best segments with the right type of customer?
Are we using the most appropriate channels for communication and distribution?
What uncontrollable event(s) or trend(s) can impact my business?
What are our competitors, our customers and the market doing?
What is our reputation in the market like?
What are the effects of technology and the digital environment on our business?
Are there new laws that are influencing our business?
What are the results of our last SWOT analysis?
SET OBJECTIVES: WHERE DO WE WANT TO GO?
Marketing Objectives - Business Development?
Marketing Communication Objectives?
What KPI’s are we benchmarking against?
What is the ‘R’ on our ROI?
Are our objectives short-term or long-term?
Are our objectives reasonable and achievable?
Use the SMART Test for Objectives. Make sure your objectives are practical and measurable.
Do they fit the following criteria?
Specific (with numbers)
Measurable (to monitor progress and confirm achievement)
Actionable (can we do it?)
Reasonable (realistically attainable)
Timed (incorporate deadlines)
STRATEGY: HOW DO WE GET THERE?
How do we want to divide up the market(s)?
Which segments of the market do we wish to focus upon?
Are we covering demographic, value-based, lifecycle and behavioral personalizations?
How do we want to be perceived in each different target segment?
Are we reinforcing the core proposition?
How do we prove credibility?
You need clear messaging hierarchies to effectively communicate your positioning both in online and offline media.
Proposition and the marketing mix
How can you provide differential value to customers through varying the 4Ps online through Product, Price, Promotion and
Place and how can you add value through service?
TACTICAL PLAN: HOW DO WE IMPLEMENT THE STRATEGY?
Which Communication Tools are we going to use?
How are we going to use them?
What message(s) do we wish to communicate?
Are we being consistent across different tools and messages?
Do we have the necessary resources/budgets?
What are the timelines (consider 90 days)?
Is the message going to be campaign based?
Are we optimizing digital channels?
Search engine optimization (SEO + SEM)
Social media marketing
Improving results from your website and Landing page conversion
ACTION PLAN: WHO, WHAT, WHEN?
Who is going to do what?
Is this within company policy, structure and systems?
When are they going to do it? (Timelines and long-term roadmaps)
What is the resource allocation for the action? (People and budgets)
What are the key performance measurements that relate to tactics, strategies and objectives?
How is performance going to be recorded?
What are acceptable variances?
CONTROL: KEEPING TRACK OF PROGRESS
Do action performance measurements relate to objectives?
Responsibility for measurement?
Frequency of measurement?
Resources for measurement? (Who and how)
Review of measurements?
Actions on variance?
Some general advice to keep in mind when planning
• Start with the customer. Build your plan around customer insights and needs - not around your products and tactics.
• Keep it flexible. Situations and plans change, especially online, so ensure plans are usable by a clear vision for the
year and keeping detail to a shorter term 90-day focus
• Set realistic goals. Include specific objectives in your plans but keep them realistic by fact-based and state
assumptions, so they’re easy for others to buy into.
• Keep it Simple! “Jargon light” is best. Again it helps others buy into what you’re saying
• Keep plans up to date. Review and update monthly or quarterly.
• There isn’t a perfect plan. What’s needed changes according to each business!
Creating a plan is just the beginning of the journey to making the most of marketing whether it be digital, social media or
We hope our guide has helped you on your way and would appreciate feedback and comments email@example.com
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Brent Spilkin has owned and managed several businesses from manufacturing and distribution to property management
and media consultancies and found that at different stages of these businesses he lacked knowledgeable mentorship that
helped him advance his business and deliver long-term results. He now wants to share his experiences and help steer you
and your business in the right direction.
Brent facilitates an environment, which allows non-opposing business owners of all sizes and ages to express their pains,
frustrations and goals as well as find solutions to everyday challenges, which hinder corporate growth, no matter how big or
small. You will be part of a professional objective team who support one another with work related issues.
Once a month, for at least two hours, Brent sits with you, the business owner or executive and reviews all the systems and
functions that will help you achieve the goals you have set in your business. Brent also helps the business owner identify
opportunities, misconceptions and find solutions to challenges, which hinder success and growth. Previous month’s goals
are reviewed new objectives are set and measured. Communication is encouraged between monthly sessions at no further
Brent also sends researched articles and insight to you on a regular basis and recommends a monthly business book to
Are you the owner or CEO of a newly started to mature business who is experiencing frustrations in growing your business
as well as finding solutions to topics such as sales and marketing, human resource, procurement, distribution, exit strategy
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