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Ever seen a marketing plan with SWOT analysis included? It may have confused you a bit. You may not see the importance of doing an entire analysis just for marketing. But here’s the thing: by not including SWOT analysis into your marketing plan, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

The analysis helps you understand the crucial internal and external elements that will affect the success of your company. You can’t be successful without an effective marketing plan. And you’re likely to struggle if you don’t understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats affecting your company. First, let’s start with the basics to understand the importance of SWOT (in general) and how it influences marketing campaigns.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a study used by business owners, analysts, and anyone interested in understanding the internal and external factors about a service, product, business, or location.

It’s also an acronym(strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). The first half (strengths and weaknesses) are internal influences. The second half (opportunities and threats) are external influences.

Together, SWOT helps identify benefits, problems, and advantages in a simple and succinct way.

SWOT analysis complements a marketing plan.

What is a marketing plan?

In most cases, a marketing plan is used to sell a product or service. You can be the CEO of a national brand or a solopreneur with less than $20 in the bank. No matter what you’re selling, a fully vetted marketing plan is necessary.

Note: If you don’t have a marketing plan just yet or are thinking about updating your current one, we’ve made it easy for you. This article includes a basic template of what the average marketing plan includes. Perfect for beginners.

A marketing plan includes actions and strategies for the coming year. It should include your unique selling proposition, information about the target market/customer, and which actions the company will take to sell to the customer.

Every business needs a detailed plan for marketing themselves or products. You can’t leave out timelines, expenses, and the expected outcome of your marketing efforts. You can choose how detailed the plan is — some marketing plans are more than 20 pages long.

As long as the marketing plan contains all those details, you’ve got yourself an effective document.

You might’ve noticed I didn’t mention SWOT analysis at all. This is because it’s not necessary in a marketing plan — but it still has a place there, if you want. And you should want to add it.

Where does a SWOT analysis fit into your marketing?

With SWOT analysis, you can identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for:

  • Your company
  • Your products or service
  • Your customers
  • Your marketing mediums

The SWOT analysis results are evidence for your marketing decisions. For instance, maybe a company uses direct mail to reach customers. And that’s it.

Others say this is a dead medium, but if you get 75% returns with it, and you understand the strengths and weaknesses of it, why change it?

You can also identify new opportunities and reduce threats associated with direct mail. All with a simple analysis.

When this type of information is included in your marketing plan, it makes it clear why you’ve made certain decisions.

You don’t need to do only one SWOT analysis. You could do an analysis for your company, products, customers, and marketing mediums. Or you could combine all of this information into one SWOT analysis and use the information as needed.

This is the beauty of SWOT analysis — it’s what you make of it. The premise is simple; following the model is easy. You choose what you want to do with that information.

But now that you have the results and you’ve decided to include it into your marketing plan, are you now finished?

Not necessarily. Your marketing plan is one document that can fit into another… known as the business plan.

Where do a marketing plan and SWOT analysis fit in your business?

A business plan is a crucial document for all companies. Inside of it are strategies and objectives for your business. The marketing plan should be in there too. Think of the business plan as a giant document that houses everything about your company — financials, operations, and even various types of analyses.

Without the marketing plan, your business plan is incomplete. Companies who don’t market will not survive. Even if you just use referrals and word-of-mouth, that’s a strategy. And this should be detailed in your SWOT analysis, which goes somewhere in the middle to the end of the business plan. This article explains in further detail.

Some people will pull the SWOT analysis results out of the marketing plan and insert it into the business plan separately. This is common when the SWOT analysis is discussing more than just the business plan. If you’re thinking of doing multiple SWOT analysis, this may be the better option for you.

But rather than worrying about where the SWOT analysis fits, focus on putting it in somewhere, either the marketing plan, a subsection of the business plan, or both.

Final thoughts about using SWOT analysis in your marketing plan

Should you incorporate SWOT analysis into your marketing plan? Yes. It’s a good idea because all companies, regardless of where they are financially, will benefit from clearly understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of their brand, customers, or products.

This information will help with your marketing objectives and the results of your SWOT analysis should be added to your marketing plan. These results clearly explain why you’ve chosen specific strategies to anyone who reads it.

If you decide to do additional analyses, you can include them into your business plan as its own identity. You can do multiple SWOT analysis for your business and insert them where it makes the most sense. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

But by doing a SWOT analysis, you’re giving yourself a competitive advantage. You’ll understand the inner and outer workings of your marketing plan. This way you can position yourself strategically. In doing so, you may see a greater return on investment (ROI) than if you hadn’t completed a SWOT analysis.

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