SOSTAC allows you to take a structured approach to marketing. When applied, it means each element of your marketing fits together, impacting the next element – like cogs, they all have to be working well to make the whole machine work.
Let’s take a quick look at SOSTAC, what it is and how you can apply each stage.
Situation Analysis– where are we now?
This is where you do your marketing audit and reviews.
Your company might need to do a full audit, looking at your strategic marketing such as products, markets, positioning. This could include market scanning, competitor analysis, product portfolio analysis, updating mission and visions etc.
You might just want to hone in on one area, such as looking at how you are marketing to one key segment.
The key point of this stage is that you come away knowing what your starting point is and what you are ‘lacking’ or need to improve.
Objectives – where do you want to go?
These are your high level marketing goals. You need to take your business objectives then break them down into strategic marketing goals, usually defined by market and product.
Business goal: income of £1m this financial year
- Strategic Marketing goal 1: £500k income selling products 1, 2 and 3 to market A
- Strategic Marketing goal 2: £250k income selling products 1 and 2 to market B
- Strategic Marketing goal 3: £250k income selling products 2 and 3 to market C
You need to finish this step having set your strategic marketing goals to achieve the business goals, making sure you use the information you found out in the Situational Analysis.
Strategy – how are you going to achieve these goals and get there?
This is where you decide your STP:
• Which Segments you are going after in each market (e.g. in Market A we want to work with the large corporate clients)
• How are you going to Target them (in other words, how will you reach them with your messages and engage them)
• How do you want to Position your business in the market place and to each customer segment?
By the time you have finished this step, you should know your organisation’s approach to achieving your goals. This Strategy defines your detailed marketing plans and tactics.
I really recommend working your way through my, ‘Five Conversations to unlock your growth‘ blog posts as they systematically help you think about each element of your strategic marketing.
Tactics and Action– what do we need to do to get there?
This is the stuff most people think of as marketing. It involves creating those detailed plans around marketing campaigns. This might be a media schedule, a social media schedule, a campaign plan.
It involves looking at all areas of your promotional marketing, your product offering, your prices, where you sell your product as well as the service levels you offer. Are you doing all of this in the way your customer want it and respond well to it? Are all of these areas working well together?
When you finish your tactical marketing you should have detailed plans that you are ready to put into Action.
Your Action Planning has to include marketing resource planning, with detail around costs, timescales, and the marketing skills and knowledge needed.
Control – how do you know if you’ve achieved your goals?
This is about measurement. At this stage are you measuring the right things, at the right time, so that you can state categorically, ‘Our tactical marketing did / didn’t work and we know this because of XYZ, which means we have / haven’t achieved our Strategic Marketing goals.’
My post, Marketing Metrics – some fundamentals provides an excellent overview to what you need to know about how to measure your marketing.
SOSTAC is a model designed by PR Smith and has formed the basis of many marketing models and approaches to marketing. It’s simplicity is deceptive – followed through SOSTAC provides a comprehensive and structured approach to marketing from the highest level down.
About the author
Kara Stanford is a Strategic Marketing Consultant at KMS Marketing specialising in reviewing and planning organisation’s marketing.
She works out of Hampshire, UK and is also a lecturer with the Oxford College of Marketing.