How to write a digital marketing plan (SOSTAC Model)

Introduction:

This post will give you an idea for writing a digital marketing plan using SOSTAC model. Go on reading to know the various components of SOSTAC model using which you can write a very effective digital marketing plan.

The concept of marketing in the contemporary society has been greatly influenced by the significance of technological inventions that have reshaped the manner of communication and access to information across the world. Various economists have come up with various new models to redefine the scope of marketing in this new environment. In the 1990’s, an economist named PR Smith created one of the most commonly used digital marketing plan models: SOSTAC, considered significant to be very concise in the creation of wider-scope marketing strategy. The applicability of this model to various business operations marketing strategy has grown over the years with slight improvements, to the extent that is paramount for business students to understand the context of the SOSTAC model and how to write and execute the same plan. In this regard, this analysis delves into these areas to give insightful information about the SOSTAC model.

SOSTAC model is essentially a logical step process to the creation of marketing plan, with every element assuring that each relevant factor is considered. The model has been dealt with various economists through the assumption that it is a collection of two major variables: SOS- a set of target goals that are the focus of the marketing plan and finally a well-regulated measurable implementation strategy (TAC). With this knowledge, it is easily comprehensible to understand the nature of details required under each step as represented by each acronym in SOSTAC (S- Situation, O-Objectives, S- Strategy, T- Tactics, A- Actions, and C- Control.) The following paragraphs will explain the various elements  under each category to comprehensively help in writing a digital marketing plan using the SOSTAC model:

Situation Analysis

Under this category, the marketing team is guided by the need to answer the question of exactly where the whole firm currently is, i.e., where are we now? To answer this question, the following points help the marketer to perform the situation analysis best:
• Market Analysis: can be done using SWOT as explained below.
• Current customers composition (Who, why)
• Carry out competitors’ analysis
• Explain the current market trends
• Current performance clarification.

There are various techniques that can be applied in responding to this inquiry, such as the SWOT analysis which offers insightful perception into the internal environment within the firm. The external environment can be well-defined by using the PEST analysis approach. These models will enable the marketing team to evaluate the conditions as well as the nature of competition among firms in the same industry and the circumstances relating to consumer markets. Situation analysis duly extends to determining the firm’s competitive advantage by assessing the current competitors and their influence on possible future operations (Schlegelmilch, 2016).

To resonate with an effective marketing strategy, other factors that should be considered during situation analysis relates to current financial performance in terms of sales revenue and return on investment for existing shareholders. There is also the need to define the composition of the ideal consumer market target, which will help in describing the value attached to them. Other factors such as product mix, pricing strategy, business location, and promotional activities will help in determining the current situation which is vital in the creation of a digital marketing plan (Bryson & Daniels, 2015).

Objectives

Under this category, the marketing team is guided by the need to answer the question relating to the future goals of the firm, i.e., where do we see the firm in future? In the overall context, this is already described under the mission/vision statement used by the firm; it is important to grasp departmental goals that all add up to the firm’s vision statement. The following guidelines are important to a marketer when writing the digital market plan:

• Company mission and vision.
• Customer acquisition and retention targets.
• Quantifiable efficiency gains such as advertising costs.
• Targeted added value

This is in line with the idea that the vision lays out the long-term objectives which can be realised when divided into easily attainable short-term objectives. Furthermore, the contemporary business environment is subject to variations depending on market movements which would be easier to reflect when dealing with short-term goals. In relation to digital marketing, there are various platforms available for channelling marketing strategies. Thus, the reasons for selecting one over the others should be analysed to enable efficacy during implementation.

For digital marketing, there specific objectives that can be summarised to represent the wide scope of any business. These include the aim to increase sales, create a closer bond with the clients, additions of value derived by clients from the firm’s goods and services, and save costs on previous strategies used for marketing. It is also important that the listing of objectives follows the criteria of SMART rule, which requires every target goal to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (Cowley, 2016).

Strategy

Strategy essentially involves the need to answer the question of how the firm will be able to arrive at the intended targets or to achieve the results required from the digital marketing plan. As any other business firm that offers either goods or services, the marketing strategy defines the nature of a firm’s communication with their customers so as to create awareness and finally selling the particular products. The following are important guidelines during the composition of a digital marketing plan:

• Possible strategic partnerships.
• A well-thought tactical tool to be used plus database integration.
• Positioning in regards to how the firm wants to be seen.
• Highlight of key tactics
• Level of engagement with customers and prioritisation.

Per se, the marketing mix concept is ideally a combination of a distinct features of a product that would persuade clients to choose a firm’s services over those of competitors. The common model was fashioned by Neil Borden, which was later summarised by Jerome McCarthy to The 4P’s, which represents product, price, promotion, and place that ultimately would define the marketability of any product or service (Schlegelmilch, 2016). Invariably, other factors such as competition, distribution and communication channels also play vital roles in the marketing of any given service. The interdependency of the different variables means that careful planning is required to guarantee the firm’s ability to meet set targets in each market.

According to Ackrill (2014), marketing target strategies encompass all the deliberations that go into determining the right audience or clients within a definite economy for certain products. The best case setting of decisive determinants in the target marketing strategy can be displayed by the nature of the economy in diverse consumer markets. Secondly, the target strategy involves the determination of the market size plus the number of similar competitors already operating in the said segment, when the ratio seems probable for a break-even entry and consequent profit, then the decision is made to place the company’s products within the said market.

Product marketing strategy entails all the efforts that go into introducing a new or remodelling of a product or service for it to satisfy the needs of the consumer finally. The ability of the product to create both values for the clients and the bank is also another vital element since various organisations are shareholder’s company who have certain wealth maximisations goals that have to be achieved concurrently (Schlegelmilch, 2016).

Tactics

Tactics are used to define the specific details that will be used during the implementation process to choose the appropriate marketing mix and the communication channels. A digital marketing plan tactics plan will focus on the essence of considering three categorical factors: consumers, processes involved, and the ability to relate using physical proof. The following steps are important in writing a good tactic approach:

• Build a contact plan (sequence of contacts over the customer lifetime)
• Build a content plan (including which topics and platforms and a content calendar).
• Gantt charts showing which tactics when each tactic will be implemented.
• Apply the same Magic Marketing Formula consistently to each tactical tool

This section is vital in digital marketing since it relates with the need to expound on the communication techniques relating to digital media channels. Some of these channels include the use of emails, interactive ads, the use of social media or mobile technologies such as phone applications. The contemporary consumer market retains bias towards service providers that offer the best service delivery in every aspect of their operations through the use of instant technology that is easily accessible without unnecessary hassle. The mobile technology is intertwined with the social media aspect of operations by the concept of the internet. The internet provides contemporary marketers with the easiest and cheaper tool of marketing in the form of social media. On the other hand, consumers’ access to this content is through the mobile handsets and the social media accounts (Cowley, 2016).

Actions

Actions define the small details within the tactics that are tasked with ensuring excellent execution of each plan or strategy. Under this category, a digital marketing plan will definitely define the need for responsibilities and the structure to be applied, a number of checklists and guidelines, processes to be followed, and the need for any training before implementation. This will comprise of:

• Checklists and Guidelines
• Systems and Processes
• Responsibilities and Structure
• Training, Motivation and Internal Marketing (to ensure excellent execution).

This encompasses the whole aim of the action phase to explain who, what, and when. There are various project management tools that allow for the execution of the action phase to every minute detail. Some of these tools include the Gantt chart. Project scope management entails organisation of all products, services and results which are being provided by a given project. Apparently, project scope refers to all the work that needs to be done in order to make sure the project fulfils its intended purpose which is to deliver accordingly (Mahapatra, 2013).

In order to come up with the manner in which the project scope relates to the issue management, there are the question which evolves into a change request. Such questions are; is the change feasible? , does the change increase the overall benefit of the organisation? , is the project team in a good position to make such a change? , and what would be the best time to do that particular change? It is imperative to define upfront the scope before the start of the project, to agree on it and to come up with an effective baseline (Bryson & Daniels, 2015).

During the action phase, the Project Management Networks happens to be one of the most critical pieces of information that a team manager need in order to effectively plan and conduct the marketing strategy. The project networks contain a network breakdown structure, and this helps to determine when the project will end and which activity follows a certain critical path within a project plan. Network schedule enhances in figuring out how the project management allocates resources over the project time period. It also helps the management to assess the cash flow to be involved within the project time period.

Control

Control involves the measurement and the metrics used to estimate the effectiveness of the strategies being used to attain the set objectives. Control also involves the re-modification of tactics and actions when the results targeted are not being attained. This is some of type of risk mitigation process. The following steps should be covered under the Control phase:
• What needs to be measured (which Objectives/KPIs)
• By whom, how often and at what cost (e.g. Usability Testing, Customer Surveys and NPS)
• Report process (what happens when a 10% blip is spotted?)

The digital marketing plan will have control measures that ascertain consumer views and opinions, web analytics to ensure the objectives are actualised. Every project manager is obliged in making sure that his project team have well understood how to use such useful tools which help in identifying the critical path of the project. Additionally, there are other techniques which would be relevant such as performance measurement, additional planning, and scope change control system. Performance measurement tool helps the project management team to determine the occurrence of any variations within the project. Additional planning techniques are used in case of the prevalence of alternative methods. The technique of scope change control system entails authorisation of changes within the project scope (Nasir, 2015).

Lack of strategic criteria which is facilitated by lack of project management tool impacts the project by lack or inadequate critical path. However, there are practices of steering the future performance back toward the baseline. By definition, a baseline is a study copy of a plan data. One of the useful practice is constructing a Gantt chart which helps to compare the baseline dates and visually show the differences. Another practice is setting the baseline for entire project for own individual groups of tasks and for an interim plan before implementation of that plan. Some of the relevant information is such as feasibility and analysis which are found in Gantt chart tool. Feasibility entails development of presentation and making of the particular presentation. The analysis is a wide aspect because it encompasses development of logical presentation, design, construction, testing, implementation, administrative closure, and project closure (Sokowski, 2015).

Below is a pictorial flowchart showing the different segments in the SOSTAC model:

Digital Marketing Channels

The development of a quality digital marketing plan involves the acknowledgement of the various available digital channels. The channel to be used is often determined by the nature of a firm’s business operations and the needs to be achieved by the marketing strategy. The focus of marketing is to create improvement within all areas of a business organisation; this can be done through three steps:

• Creating the marketing strategy
• Delivery of results through implementation
• Content marketing strategy guide.

Often, marketing will also involve other offline communication channels which are not captured under this digital aspect analysis. The online marketing strategy is gaining increased popularity due to the power of the internet, whereby billions across the world have access to the internet or social media sites. During the initial stages of writing a digital marketing plan, it is vital to note the specific role that is the target for marketing. For instance, this can be to develop more brand awareness or change the perception of customer relations of the firm. Additional, innovation plays a big role in the era of digital marketing. The packaging of content intended for digital channels are increasingly becoming more innovative to outdo content created by other competitors. For instance, media such as Twitter which allow the posting of short videos are best applied when the contents are extremely innovative such that they become viral. When such a trend happens, the exposure reached through such media is quite huge in terms of consumer reach. The role of marketing has been made easier to the basics of availing information required by customers during a simple search using different search engines such as Google. This has also significantly reduced the costs of advertising from traditional trade marketing strategies to the use of digital marketing. Some of the available tools for digital marketing include:

Search engine marketing- This involves co-operation with search engine sites such as Yahoo and Google to offer click-throughs when certain words are used during the search. The click through will redirect the customer to a website linked with details about the organisation’s products and services. This majorly increases traffic with the company able to maximise by increasing the possible keywords list and generation of back links that are posted on social media sites (Peter & Donnelly, 2011).

Mobile technologies– The mobile technology is intertwined with the social media aspect of operations by the concept of the internet. The internet provides contemporary marketers with the easiest and cheaper tool of marketing in the form of social media. On the other hand, consumers’ access to this content is through the mobile handsets and the social media accounts. As such, firms have the best opportunity to create further consumer engagement in a way that overlaps between marketing and customer care service provision. The instantaneous nature of communication over social media platforms creates awareness through trending, while allowing the company to engage with the consumer market.

Pay per click– This is different from the search engine marketing as the advertising firm have to pay for their ads to appear rather than being offered freely due to the keyword used by a customer. Depending on the nature of cost per click charged by the web designers and return on investment per click, this method is not quite popular as it does not guarantee the success of the strategy (Peter & Donnelly, 2011).

Opt-in Email Marketing- This involves the direct email communication with clients after they have directly agreed to the terms of being sent emails periodically on company products and services. Some of the common contents used in this method include newsletters, ongoing promotions and brochures. This method of digital marketing is effective since it assumes the ability to retain existing clients and attract new ones on the pretext of favorable consumer relations (Neti, 2014).

Social media marketing – Currently, this is the increasingly popular channel among marketers as it offers the cheapest strategy with a vast possibility on outreach in terms of clients. There are billions of people with registered accounts in popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The ability to communicate directly with the customers also increases brand awareness and facilitate goodwill based on customer service provision (Sokowski, 2015).

In summary, the theoretical concept of SOSTAC marketing strategy is based on the ability to gather vital information before setting up the desired marketing strategy. The digital characteristic of the plan is embodied in the communication channel chosen to interact and broadcast the intended message about products and services. The online marketing success will thus be hinged upon the content created after reliable data is collected from the use of the SOSTAC model. Ultimately, the brand awareness, promotion and consumer market target is achievable by a concise step-by-step implementation plan using social media, company website, and other digital marketing strategies.

Image Courtesy:Pixabay

©2017Digitaldimensions4u.com The content is copyrighted to Reji Stephenson and may not be reproduced on other websites.

 

References

Armstrong, G., Kotler, P., Harker, M., & Brennan, R. (2012). Marketing: an introduction. Pearson Prentice-Hall, London.
Berthon, P. R., Pitt, L. F., Plangger, K., & Shapiro, D. (2012). Marketing meets Web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy. Business Horizons, 55(3), 261-271.
Bryson, J. R., & Daniels, P. W. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of service business: Management, marketing, innovation and internationalisation. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Cowley, M. B. (2016). ‘Jellies & Jaffas’: Applying PR Smith’s SOSTAC Marketing Model to an Online Confectionary Start-Up.
Koskinen, S. (2016). Increasing Social Media Engagement through a Digital Marketing Plan. Case: Plootu.
Mahapatra, Lisa (2013). “Social Media Marketing: How Do Top Brands Use Social Platforms?”. IBTimes.com International Business Times. Retrieved 10 June 2014
Nasir, S. (2015). Customer relationship management strategies in the digital era.
Neti, S. (2014). “Social Media and Its Role in Marketing” . International Journal of Enterprise Computing and Business Systems 1 (2).
Peter, J. P., & Donnelly, J. H. (2011). Marketing management: knowledge and skills: text, analysis, cases, plans.
Phillips, J. (2013). PMP, Project Management Professional (Certification Study Guides). McGraw-Hill Osborne Media.
Schlegelmilch, B. B. (2016). Marketing: A Global Discipline. In Global Marketing Strategy (pp. 1-19). Springer International Publishing.
Sokowski, D. W. (2015). Mastering project management integration and scope: A framework for strategising and defining project objectives and deliverables. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

 

 

 
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6 Comments

  1. Robin Khokhar September 12, 2017
    • Reji Stephenson September 12, 2017
  2. Awogor Matthew September 12, 2017
  3. Elisa September 27, 2017
    • Reji Stephenson September 28, 2017
    • Reji Stephenson September 30, 2017

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