“Focus on the right message for the right people at the right time.” – Russell Glass

We’ve all heard the terms, ‘strategy’, ‘plan’, ‘goals’, ‘objectives’ and so on thrown around before. These words are often used interchangeably, inevitably causing confusion for busy business owners who just give up and shelve the whole thing for another day. So, let’s have a little pause and think, “What IS a marketing plan anyway?!”

The definition of a ‘plan’…

1. a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.

2. an intention or decision about what one is going to do.

The marketing plan specifically outlines all the steps involved when it comes to selling a product or service. It needs to include steps on how you can get in front of your audience and ideal clients, turning them into customers and service users.

Here at Octima, we like the SOSTAC (sometimes known as SOSTIC) method of marketing planning.

What is SOSTAC?

SOSTAC is a model we use for ourselves and our clients. Below we will delve into what these letters stand for, and how you can use each element of SOSTAC to create comprehensive marketing plan.

Situational analysis

This is a thorough audit of the business – looking at the business as a whole, including current marketing presence and past activity. We see where we are now, what’s worked well thus far and also what hasn’t worked.

It’s a chance to gain a broad overview of the situation we are in right now, before we embark on any marketing journey. It doesn’t make sense to clear the decks completely if a particular area is already working well for you. Likewise, there’s no point ploughing on with things that DON’T WORK, so it’s an opportunity to really scrutinise your activity.

Objectives

This is where we take a look at high level business goals – the direction that the business is going and where you want to be in a few months, a year, 5 years etc. The objectives for the marketing plan must be linked to business goals.

It is also worth noting that these objectives must be SMART.

  • This means that they must be specific- what exactly do you want to achieve? Don’t be vague. For example, more followers on Facebook is vague. 100 more followers on Facebook is specific.
  • They must be measurable, so we are able to set something which is an indicator for success.
  • They should be assignable; who is responsible for achieving the objective?
  • Make sure they are realistic; don’t set something you know you won’t be able to achieve as this will only dampen your spirits.
  • Finally, objectives must be time-bound. When should the objective be reached by?

Strategy

The next part of the SOSTAC method is the actual strategy (yes that word that gets applied to every level of the plan!).

If your objectives tell you where you want to be, your strategy shows you how to get there. So, what needs to be done? What steps need to be followed in order to achieve your SMART objectives?

At this stage, defining your customer segments is critical. Who are they? Where are they? What do they care about? How can you position your business to demonstrate you can fulfil their needs?

Tactics

This is the nuts and bolts of the marketing plan. You know what questions any experiment or investigation needs; what, where, when and how?

What type of content to produce, which channels to share it, what software is needed, when shall each task be delivered? If you’re an organised person, this stage is a pleasure. If not, it’s actually EVEN MORE important!

Action (or Implementation)

The actions of the marketing plan is the ‘doing’ bit – when it’s all practically delivered. You write up a daily/weekly/monthly schedule and follow through. This give you the feedback necessary for the next step, keeping you accountable.

Control

The final element to SOSTAC is the review stage. After the activity has taken place, its time to check the results, against the measures that were set. Was it the right message, for the right people at the right time? With targets already pre-defined this should be abundantly clear.

The marketing planning cycle

Ultimately, SOSTAC is a planning cycle that can be used for any aspect of business and indeed – life. As you can see, once you reach the end ‘Control’ stage, we are back to a situational analysis of what worked well, or what didn’t work. The whole process then starts again.

There are many marketing models out there, but this one works so well for me. When it comes full circle, you don’t feel lost, you feel empowered and ready to take on the next cycle. Learning as you go is the key, as we adapt to our audience’s pain points and adapt our plans to suit.

So, why do I need a marketing plan?

I hope the above article has helped you to see that a marketing plan can really enable you to make things happen. A marketing plan helps get the right message for your business, to the right people, in order to turn the leads into customers and inevitable grow your business.

If you would like assistance with your marketing plan or any particular aspect of it, get in touch with Octima today.