Digital planning – real world SOSTAC

By Paul Morris

… Paul Morris reworked version:

digital sostac enlarged

Copyright: By Paul Morris 

Planning is amazing. Seriously. Without it the marketing world would not turn.

I started to truly understand the planning process when a rather dour Dave Chaffey (intelligent tinterweb guru) taught part of my Certificate in Digital Marketing course in 2005. He introduced me to SOSTAC (Situation Analysis Objectives Strategy Tactics Action Control = VERY TOP ABOVE) and it was like a light going off in my e-planning wilderness.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve realised that whilst it’s a great structure I rarely follow the detail.

As a result I thought it worthwhile to document how I have tailored this great planning tool (2nd FROM TOP ABOVE).

Situational Analysis

Ignore everything in the above (top of page) SOSTAC diagram apart from…

Obtain customer insight and brand perception information from internal teams.

Follow it up with a TOWS analysis (an adaptation of SWOT and below).

I never bother with stuff like PEST or Porter’s Five Forces.




Ignore everything in the above (top of page) SOSTAC diagram apart from…

Understand what your organisation offline and online objectives are and what your department digital objectives are.  Make sure yours are SMART.

I generally do not bother with the following advice however it’s sometimes worth developing an Ansoff’s Marketing Objective matrix. Below.

I never bother with stuff like BCG matrix’s (despite my love for Cash Cows).

Ansoff’s Matrix

ansoff matrix


Pay attention to everything in the above (top of page) SOSTAC diagram…

Ascertain Segmentation, Targeting, positioning and your brand / product(s) Online Value Proposition.


Ignore everything in the above (top of page) SOSTAC diagram…

Instead use ‘Paid Owned Earned’ and my adapted Customer Lifecycle.  Below.

Paid Owned Earned

earned owned paid development

Customer Lifecycle

customer lifecycle standard

Then I sprinkle on top specific models/ thought pieces depending on what the ‘SOS’ out of SOSTAC throws up to in turn focus the Tactics piece. E.g. ROMPOD, ROPO, Reverse ROPODual Screening, SOLOMO(CO), Social Search, etc

Actions and Control

Pretty much pay attention to everything in the above (top of page) SOSTAC diagram however I ignore the 5Ss as I think they’re naff.

Et voila. Digital planning made easy.