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Ask any successful marketing consultant, adviser or strategist what you need when creating a digital marketing strategy and the answer will invariable include “a solid marketing plan”.

Marketing plans shouldn’t be a document that once written, sits on the shelf gathering dust. It is important that it is a practical document, actively used in the ongoing management and development of your business.

It would also be of little help to your digital marketing strategy if such a plan was simply an overview of your objectives and tactics. To help formulate your marketing plan, a model that systematically outlines relevant steps and helps to ensure that all relevant factors are considered, without the need to go into excessive and expensive detail, should be sought.

Luckily, such a model already exists…

The SOSTAC system, developed by Paul Smith in the 1990’s, details the business objectives, the strategy and actions needed to meet those objectives, assigns accountability for each action, and encourages those involved in the business to perform.

SOSTAC is a tried ad tested framework for building a solid marketing plan.

The SOSTAC planning system is one of the most powerful planning models ever developed. Simple yet extremely effective, it contains all the vital elements for the perfect marketing plan. Let’s explore the SOSTAC marketing model for planning a profitable digital marketing strategy…

SOSTAC Model Of Marketing

The SOSTAC model includes six elements, including:

S stands for Situation Analysis – which means where are we now?
O stands for Objectives which means where do we want to go?
S stands for Strategy which summarises how we are going to get there.
T stands for Tactics which are the details of strategy.
A is for Action or implementation – putting the plan to work.
C is for Control which means measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying.

The framework implements a control process to track business progress towards its objectives, while keeping the everything moving forwards. The relative simpicity of the SOSTAC model, with only six elements to plan and consider, has has a strong impact on it’s increasing popularity.

It is now seen as a leading marketing planning model and should be the first theoretical framework marketers draw on when planning digital marketing campaigns.

Digital Marketing Strategy: SOSTAC Infographic

Planning A Profitable Digital Marketing Strategy - Sostac Model

Image courtesy of Smart Insights

Think of each of the six elements as part of the process to planning a digital marketing strategy. Let’s examine each section further…

Situation Analysis

Take 20% of your time to analyse the situation to see where you are now. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • How are we performing?
  • What are our distinct 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 events or trends can impact my business?

Digital Marketing Strategy - SOSTAC - Situation Analysis


Take 5% of your time to understand where you want to get to. Questions to consider include:

  • What’s my business mission and vision?
  • What’s my business, marketing and communication objectives?
  • Use the SMART framework to qualify objectives (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound)

Digital Marketing Strategy - SOSTAC - Objectives


Take the bulk of your time, around 45%, to consider what you need to do to reach your objectives. Questions worth answering include:

  • How do we divide up the markets? (Segmentation)
  • Which segments of the markets do we want to focus on? (Targeting)
  • How do we want to be perceived in each of the different target segments? (Positioning)

Digital Marketing Strategy - SOSTAC - Strategy


Use 30% of your time to plan how you will implement your strategy. Key questions include:

  • What tools do we use?
  • How are we going to use them?
  • What content are we going to share?
  • Are we being consistent across different tools and content?
  • Do we have the necessary resources and budget?

Digital Marketing Strategy - SOSTAC - Tactics


Only now is it time to proceed and take action. You will need to understand:

  • Who is going to do what?
  • When are they going to do it?
  • What are the resource allocations for the actions?
  • What are the key performance indicators? (KPIs)
  • How is performance going to be recorded?


You need to be able to control your digital marketing strategy and keep track of your progress. You need to know:

  • Do the KPIs relate to your business, marketing and communication objectives?
  • Who is responsible for measurement?
  • How often do we take measurements?
  • What resources are allocated for measurement?
  • How do we review our measurements?
  • What actions do we take on variance?

SOSTAC – How To Write The Perfect Plan

PR Smith describes his SOSTAC Planning System which has been listed in the Top 3 Business Models of all time by the Chartered Institute Of Marketing. It is so simple, it has been adopted by both blue chips and SMEs across the world. Learn how to use it in 4 minutes.

Planning A Profitable Digital Marketing Strategy

In order to plan a profitable digital marketing strategy, the SOSTAC framework can be used to ensure all key factors are considered.

Using such a model provides structure to your planning practices. It allows you to assign actions to objectives, and resources to actions. It has been used by many top marketers to create successful digital marketing strategies and is still seen as the leading model to use for marketing planning.

Here is a Marketing Planning Template you can use to plan a profitable digital marketing strategy, courtesy of MultimediaMarketing

If you haven’t used the SOSTAC model to plan your digital marketing strategy, then take some time to go through the framework with your current situation. Chances are, you will discover something new that could improve your marketing potential and profitability.

Have you used the SOSTAC framework in your marketing planning?

What did you miss out when planning a previous digital marketing strategy?