How to Get in the SWOT State of Mind for Your Marketing Plan

A SWOT analysis is a vital tool for your marketing plan. It’s essentially the first step in building your company’s strategy, right after setting any broad goals like driving sales or rebranding a message.

The results of an in-depth analysis will be a constant resource and source of strategically driven thinking throughout your entire marketing plan. As in any successful endeavor, you must know who you are, where you fit in and what makes you different.

What is a SWOT?

The main purpose in analyzing your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats is to identify Unique Selling Points (USP). Your company may have multiple elements that will make you stand out, but each has at least one statement that should be highlighted through your marketing plan to keep your messaging cohesive and achieve your objectives.

Internal Factors

The first place to begin defining your USPs is by turning your focus inward to dissect your company’s own internal strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths help determine what sets you apart from other companies, while your weaknesses play devil’s advocate for those same elements.

For instance, if you have a small print supply shop in Orlando, Florida that only uses recycled paper stock, a main strength may be the size of the business since smaller companies have the ability to provide a more intimate customer service experience. On the other hand, it will be harder to compete with the larger well-known print franchises with multiple locations. Different elements of the same trait can be used as both a strength and a weakness within your SWOT analysis.

From these understandings about your business, you are then able to brainstorm ideas that will play up the value of working with a smaller business and how you can use this aspect of your business to gain market share. As with anything, there are pros and cons to all unique elements of your business. This initial step is where you determine which are the best to focus on for your USP.

External Factors

The next step in the SWOT process is analyzing the external opportunities and threats. These elements help marketers put the finishing touches on defining their USPs.

The same small print business may consider their location to be a great opportunity based on their strengths. Orlando consists of many small to mid-sized businesses that prefer working with other locally-owned and operated companies instead of franchises. Their conservation efforts offer them an opportunity in the socially conscious business space as well.

Analyzing the threats to these opportunities will help protect the success of their marketing efforts. A well-rounded marketing plan will include tactics that emphasize the value of having better customer service and a more localized product, since their prices might be higher than their competitors. Identifying threats early on can produce a more effective marketing plan that is monitoring for the risks and prepared to be agile in responding and adjusting accordingly.

The Unique Message

Once marketers complete this analysis, they will have a stronger understanding of what messaging to emphasize in their tactics, branding, and of course – goals. This message can be summed up in the USP.

The print company’s SWOT Analysis would include elements like:

Strength– Uniqueness of being a locally owned company using only recycled materials.

Weaknesses– Smaller budget and limited staff.

Opportunities– Local market is very supportive of small businesses and conservation/green initiatives.

Threats– The target audience has less expendable budgets, and might find it difficult to find value in paying more.

The companies main USP would look something like this:

We seek to provide the highest quality of print pieces possible through personalized, local service and conservation efforts to preserve natural resources.

Referring back to the USP keeps marketers in a SWOT state of mind, resulting in a research-driven marketing plan based on both internal and external observations and critiques.