An alternative to SOSTAC®?



I read about a new planning model for digital marketing communications today, which is not something that happens that often.

It is called PASTA (do you think the food connection caught my eye?) and is put forward by Theo Zweers on the SmartInsights blog .

The PASTA method is intended for operational plans rather than strategies and it consists of:

Problem definition





Strategy, it is suggested, could also be thought of as the Concept that the plan is based on, and it has four elements:

  • Target group
  • Objectives
  • Proposition
  • Positioning


From my perspective, working with clients of all shapes and sizes, I can see this working well.

Problem definition is the natural starting point.  What does the client want to do better, to change, to stop doing? Why?

Analysis is where as a consultant I can often add value, by having the time and resources to look around the problem.  Looking at the information provided by the client but also taking time to look around the sector and to consider comparators as well as competitors.  A full understanding of where we are now is always a good foundation for taking action, whatever model or method you are using.

Strategy is more problematic I find.  Partly because some people say “strategy” when they want to make their action plan or their idea sound more important, partly because in business use it can quite reasonably mean a fully thought out approach to business or it can be more limited, referring to how to approach a particular problem.  I don’t think the term “strategy” is ever going to be tied down to one or other of these definitions, but the PASTA approach, by defining it clearly with four aspects, makes it easier to use in a focused way.

Action is of course necessary. The best thinking in the world is no good if it can’t be or isn’t put into action.  “Paralysis by analysis” and so on.

For regular users of planning models (like me) there is a lack of a measurement or control element. But maybe PASTAC not only didn’t sound so good but was also too reminiscent of the leading planning model, PR Smith’s SOSTAC®? I don’t think Zweers means us to not worry about measurement and control and certainly it would not be difficult to add your own approach to those into any project.

My conclusion

Important to remember that this is intended for communications projects rather than for entire business strategies. A really interesting model that I would like to try out on a project. When I get a chance to do so I will report back.


What do you think about this digicomms planning model or planning models in general?  Let me know


September 2017




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