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SOSTAC® Marketing Planning

Planning your Marketing for the New Academic Year.

The summer holidays are looming and attentions will soon be turning to the preparations and plans for the new academic year. With competition for students so high and many schools now using sophisticated marketing campaigns to stay ahead – a marketing plan for your school should be high on the agenda. With this in mind we want to share a near foolproof method to plan your marketing!

The SOSTAC® planning method has been around since the 90’s and although the way we market has developed significantly since then, the founding principles & general strategy remain.

Developed by PR Smith, the SOSTAC® method is the third most popular marketing planning tool out there and the reason we still have such a soft spot for this method? Because it works!

SOSTAC® is an acronym for 6 elements that should be addressed within your marketing plan.

S – Situation Analysis:
An overview of your schools current situation. How is the school performing? Is the school under subscribed or oversubscribed? How is your schools reputation in the community? A SWOT analysis can help to identify any opportunities.

O – Objectives:
An overview of what you want to achieve through your marketing. Set SMART objectives that allow you to track the progress.

S – Strategy:
1) Who are targeting? Although you might be targeting “prospective parents” as a whole, this target market should be segmented further – perhaps based on geographic or demographic elements, as the way you communicate messages to these audiences is likely to differ.
2) How can your school reach its marketing objectives & what platforms or strategies will you use to help do so?

T – Tactics:
This is the nitty gritty on what you’ll do to ensure you follow your strategy and meet your objectives.
E.g. – Improving communications with parents; how will you do this? Email Marketing/App push notifications? If so, what providers or platforms will you use and who internally will manage this area?
E.g. – Clearer, more easily accessible information; How? A new, clean & professional website? Again, which providers do you want to consider and who will be responsible for launching the new site?

A – Action:
Implementing your plan! This is a great time to create an implementation schedule for when you want things & how regularly. E.g. want to try app notifications to parents? When should this process start & how regularly should communications be made? Investing in a new website? When does this need to go live?
From the implementation plan, you can 1) map out a marketing calendar for the entire academic year of what is happening & when, and 2) allocate your budget accordingly.

C – Control:
What will you do to measure the success of your marketing efforts? For each “tactic” outlined in your plan – you should define how you will know if it is driving you towards your objectives.
For instance – If you want to improve communications with parents and you decide to have an app built for your school so you can send push notifications; you could measure success based on complaints from parents decreasing, download & engagement rates, or you could send out a survey to parents to ask them if they think communications have improved.

Once you have completed your SOSTAC® model, you have the framework to be able to implement your marketing plan. This action plan should be referred to monthly or quarterly to ensure you remain aligned with your overall marketing strategy and push towards meeting your objectives. Measuring the success of each campaign will let you know what is working and you should do more of...and what isn’t working and needs to be tweaked.


At FSE Design, we specialise in helping schools with their marketing strategies, so to discuss your planning in more detail, please feel free to give us a call on 01933 303520 or contact us.

For more on PR Smith's SOSTAC® Planning visit or check out his books on amazon!

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