Jonathon Roberts

How to use the SOSTAC Model

What is the SOSTAC model?

The model was first developed by PR Smith in the 1990s and has since been updated in all of his 6 books including the latest SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan 2023.

The model is very useful when analysing your business’s online presence and is also a great framework to use to develop and structure your business strategy. The framework has also been used for wedding planning in the past!

What does SOSTAC stand for?

  • Situational Analysis
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Action
  • Control

1. Situational Analysis

The Situational Analysis part looks at the current use of Digital marketing platforms and techniques by your company/charity or for yourself and also analyses the current use of digital marketing and online presence by your competitors.

There are many different models and ways you can write the situational analysis:

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis enables you to look at where your business or yourself are at the moment and any key goals that you need to focus upon to improve your growth.

SWOT Analysis

TOWS Analysis

TOWS Analysis is similar to a SWOT Analysis but enables you to think about strategies around the internal and external areas of your business or for yourself, there are four key sections of a TOWS Analysis, that is:

  • Strength/Opportunity

  • Weakness/Opportunity

  • Strength/Threat

  • Weakness/Threat

TOWS Analysis

Competitor and Market Analysis

There are many different models that you could use to analyse your competitors, you may want to look at your Competitors’ current SEO efforts for example, by using a platform like SEMRush or SE Ranking, to see how they are performing, and will also enable you to extract keyword gaps to write content to improve your rankings to get your website in front of your target audience.

There are two main models that you can use to conduct a competitor and market analysis:

PESTLE Analysis

A PESTLE Analysis looks at the external factors that may be affecting you or your business (depending on what you’re using the model for), the six factors to look at to complete a PESTLE Analysis are:

  • Political factors
  • Economic factors
  • Sociological factors
  • Technological factor
  • Legal factors
  • Environmental factors
Porter’s Five Forces

Created by Michael Porter back in 1979, Porter’s Five Forces has become a very popular model to use when analysing business strategy. The five forces are:

  • Competitive Rivalry
  • Supplier Power
  • Buyer Power
  • Threat of Substitution
  • Threat of New Entry

Current Target Audience / Customers

Think about who your target audience is write content and optimise your marketing to target these audiences.

Digital Channels Landscape

Look at how your current channels are performing and analyse which platforms are getting better results.

2. Objectives

The Objectives part of the framework looks at the objectives of the Digital Marketing campaign you are creating, to be able to check that the Objective is suitable it is recommended that the objective use the SMART technique (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) which enables you to create effective objectives for your digital marketing campaign.

An example of a SMART objective is to increase online reach to millennials by 25% within 24 months

3. Strategy

Strategy looks at how you plan to meet the objectives set for the Digital Marketing Campaign. To structure the Strategy section of the model, the best model created by Dave Chaffey is the P.R.A.C.E. model, which stands for:

  • Plan
  • Reach
  • Acquisition
  • Conversion
  • Engagement

Making sure that you have a strategy for your digital marketing campaign is key, as you need to plan what you need to do to help get results from your digital marketing. Strategies can enable you to make sure that your marketing message is consistent across all your platforms and channels to enable you to more easily control and look at which channels are best for you.

To reach your audience, the best way is to publish and promote your content, for example, by writing articles answering questions that your target audience is searching for related to your products or services so that you can get in front of them within search results. This relates to SEO and why Google focuses on making sure that content is useful for searchers, so making sure that your content is helpful for your target audience, can then help increase your reach through search engines.

To get your target audience to act, you need to make sure that your customer journey is slick and there are no issues with your website, for example, so that you can get visitors to your site to convert.

In summary, this is the RACE Model created by Dave Chaffey – this is a great link to help you with the strategy side of the model and will enable you to more easily plan out your marketing strategy.

RACE Framework by Dave Chaffey Image from Smart Insights

4. Tactics

Tactics look at the specific digital tools which will be used to meet the objectives of the Digital Marketing campaign. Tactics can include using the following digital tools:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Your website

Another factor that you need to evaluate when looking at tactics is to look at where your target audience is, as choosing digital tools that your audience does not use is a waste of money. For example, if you have a Generation Z (Gen Z) audience, then you could have a look at Social Media Marketing and maybe specifically TikTok as this is one of the platforms that your audience uses regularly.

5. Actions

The Action part of the SOSTAC® model looks at how you are going to bring the plan to life. The action part also looks at what needs to be achieved for each of the tactics listed in your plan. This enables you to plan for your digital marketing. For example, what are you going to post on social media? What are you going to do to the website to help improve its performance in search results?

This section should include a plan on what you’re going to do to market your business’s products and services. For example, using a GANTT chart can help you plan your marketing, especially if you’re looking to use multiple channels to reach your audience.

6. Control

The last part looks at how you are going to monitor and measure your performance to see if you achieve the objectives you have set. This also looks at KPIs (Key performance indicators) to see how successful your digital marketing campaign has been. This makes sure that you are getting results from the digital marketing campaign that you are running.

You may want to use platforms like Google Analytics to track your website conversions, which can help you make sure that you’re reaching your KPIs.

You can see an example of the SOSTAC Model applied to Social Media Marketing for a charity.

SOSTAC Guide to your perfect digital marketing planVisit the SOSTAC® Model website to learn more about the Model, PR Smith. On the website, you can also find certified courses and for SOSTAC® resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are six steps to complete a SOSTAC analysis, these are: Situational Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control.

SOSTAC was created by PR Smith, and has been widely adopted by businesses for marketing and business planning. However, some people have even used the SOSTAC model to plan their wedding, and many other different activities.

SOSTAC provides an easy-to-use structure when analysing a businesses marketing activities and can help you make sure that your marketing strategies are aligned to the objectives of the business. SOSTAC can also be useful for planning your marketing budget, tracking your performance and the impact of your marketing activities.

SWOT Analysis looks at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Whereas SOSTAC looks at a bigger picture, and looks at planning your overall strategy and budgeting. SWOT Analysis can be used within the Situational Analysis part of the SOSTAC Model.

Jonathon Roberts

Jonathon Roberts

Jonathon has been working within the SEO and Digital Marketing industry since 2019. Jonathon started in the industry while completing his degree in Business Management & Marketing Management at the University of Chester. He's now Senior SEO Executive at Fly High Media, helping businesses to grow their presence through SEO. Previously working at other local digital marketing agencies.
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