Preparing your Marketing Plan for 2018

As you consider your marketing priorities and budget for 2018, it’s important to take a close look at what’s really happening in your market to select the activities that will best position your company for future growth.

To help you with this, I would like to recommend PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Plan, an easy way to structure effective marketing plans. Whether you’re creating an overall marketing or a digital marketing strategy this plan should be your best friend.

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning Method is used by professionals across the world and was voted in The Top 3 Business Models worldwide by the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Centenary Poll.

The SOSTAC® Planning Method

  • Situation analysis – Where are we now?
  • Objectives – Where do we want to be?
  • Strategy – How are going to get there?
  • Tactics – The details that support the strategy
  • Action – Implementation – putting the plan to work, What, when, who?
  • Control – Measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating, modifying.
  • 3M’s – Men, money and minutes

In our first article we will start by looking at the situation analysis. Allowing you to take a step back and look at your business from a customer’s perspective and challenge or support your business objectives.

Taking the First Step

Think about what information you currently know about your business environment?  For example; market size, analysis of business performance, competitor benchmarking. It’s important to identify goals, and to understand marketing’s contribution.

  1. How do your customers buy from you? How do they become aware of the need for your product, service and brand? Where do they go for more information, is this online, offline and are you present in these places. Then prioritise the main action points.
  2. Why would a potential customer buy from you and why wouldn’t they, what are their needs and wants?
  3. How do they see you? What are their thoughts? What other Customer and prospective customer insights do you have access to?

Positional Analysis – Where do you sit in the Marketplace?

Here’s an example to show what you might include in this analysis.

Market Leader Highest market share, big operational margin Keep customers, expand market share, invest in defensive position
Challenger One of two companies, spends aggressively to grow Clear competitive strategy and economic resources to attack leader
Follower Low share & resources, often competing of price Needs differentiation strategy
Nicher Focused on small segment Needs to protect position against leaders
Fast Movers Small with pretensions, disruptive Can deliver radical new products, dangerous if ignored

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities open to you and the Threats you face.

For this one we’d like you to take a look at your competitors; how and why might they have lost clients and identify any opportunities for your company.

Consider the strengths of your competitors Examine your competitors’ weaknesses
Determine the opportunities left by your competitors Pinpoint the threats that your competitors pose

Key Tips:

  1. Start by writing a list of your company’s competitors
  2. Analyze the competition’s products and services including, features, value, and targets
  3. Look at what makes your competitors products so great. If they are growing rapidly, what is it about their product or service that’s promoting that growth?
  4. Observe how your competitors market themselves through offline and online marketing channels, partnerships and media relationships.
  5. What is the market outlook? Establish what the current market is doing in your area, is it growing? are there enough customers to go around or is the market flat and you are looking at tough competition.

Writing a competitive analysis can be a challenging and an interesting piece of work. You’ll learn a lot about your industry and in the process will become a more valuable resource for your company or clients.

TOWS Matrix

The next step is to summarise your situation in a TOWS matrix form of SWOT to give focus to your analysis. This helps integrate your SWOT with your strategy.

The only difference between TOWS and SWOT is that TOWS emphasizes the external environment whilst SWOT emphasizes the internal environment.

Opportunities How can you use your strengths to take advantage of these opportunities? How can you use your opportunities to overcome the weaknesses you are experiencing?
Threats How can you take advantage of your strengths to avoid real and potential threats? How can you minimize your weaknesses and avoid threats?

With the help of a TOWS Matrix, you can easily identify how to take advantage of the opportunities, reduce threats, exploitation of the strengths and can prevail over the weaknesses.

Used after detailed analysis of your threats, opportunities, strength and weaknesses, The TOWS Matrix will help you to consider the best way to use the external environment to your strategic advantage, and then identify some of the strategic options available to you.

S.M.A.R.T Objectives – Where you want to go

Now to think of your business goals to set right now. Your goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. And I would also add in here that you might want to add in a Stretch goal to help you think BIGGER!

Here’s an example of some S.M.A.R.T objectives:

  1. Increase lead generation revenue to provide 30% contribution to sales pipeline for safety equipment for haulage vehicles by 2019.
  2. Increase market share for our new cyclist detector in EMEA to 20% by the end of December 2018.
  3. Defend and increase on our leading market position by 2% in key territories.
  4. Cross sell new lines to existing customers generating £100,000 of new revenue by end of the financial year.
  5. Launch our new product in EMEA for cyclist detection during 2018 and generate lead pipeline of £10,000 by January 2019.

We hope you’ve found this first step useful and it sets you on your way to producing an effective Marketing Plan.

If you’d like to continue the journey please let us know by getting in touch and we will send you the next article straight away.


PR Smith
Smith, PR (2017) SOSTAC® Guide To Your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan
Smith, PR (2017) How Trump Won
SOSTAC® Analysis

SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith. For more information on SOSTAC® Planning &
becoming a SOSTAC® Certified Planner visit

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