As marketers, we know how important it is to do your research — especially when it comes to your own strategies, campaigns and all decision-making therein. Yet in my experience, being balanced in your assessments ain’t easy when you’re on the inside looking in.
Luckily, that’s exactly where a marketing SWOT analysis comes into play.
A SWOT analysis helps you identify the strengths, weaknesses, potentials and pitfalls of your company so you can refine your strategies for the future.
So in today’s blog, you’ll learn how to use a SWOT analysis to identify problems and strategize solutions in marketing. I’ve also included plenty of customizable templates to give you a leg up.
Let’s get started!
Click to jump ahead
- What is a marketing SWOT analysis ?
- Why should marketers conduct a SWOT analysis?
- How to create a marketing SWOT analysis
- What are common SWOT analysis mistakes?
- SWOT analysis in marketing FAQs
What is a marketing SWOT analysis ?
Hint: It’s no fly-shooing action, nor an internet prank gone wrong.
A SWOT analysis is a simple and practical evaluation model that helps you understand the internal and external conditions that can make or break your marketing plans. Here’s a quick video on the topic for more context:
Shorthand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT analyses are strategic tools that allow you to visually showcase these insights by organizing them within columns or a matrix.
Typically, each section explores aspects of a company’s performance, resources and competitive position in the marketplace. Here’s a brief overview of each category:
Strengths (internal) – Your strengths are the advantages you have in relation to the market and your competitors – AKA your core competencies, Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) and the areas your brand should focus on to differentiate from others. A strong online presence, diverse service offerings and in-house talent are some examples of strengths.
Weaknesses (internal) – Your weaknesses are the characteristics of your company that place you at a disadvantage compared to others. Limited resources, poor differentiation from competitors and negative customer perceptions are all examples of weaknesses that affect marketing.
Opportunities (external) – Opportunities are elements in your business’s environment that have the potential to improve your position if used to your advantage. Some examples include: the emergence of new technology and new consumer behaviors or buying preferences.
Threats (external) – Threats are elements in your business’s environment that hurt your company’s potential to compete in the market. Economic downturns, tighter regulations and increasing competition are all examples of threats that can impact your marketing efforts. (Psst – check out the FAQ below for more information!)
Spoiler alert: the easiest way to build a SWOT analysis is to use a free SWOT analysis template, like the one shown below. Keep scrolling for more templates that you can customize for your own marketing needs.
Why should marketers conduct a SWOT analysis?
Similar to how a financial balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company’s assets and liabilities at a point in time, a SWOT analysis offers this same level of insight to marketers. (Hint: your sales organizations should do a SWOT analysis too.)
From launching new campaigns and exploring new channels, to considering new technologies and responding to industry trends, SWOT is designed to provide actionable information that helps marketers — and their organizations — achieve their goals.
This process primes their strategic approaches, allowing them to use their strengths and potential opportunities to balance out, reduce or limit any weaknesses and external threats.
What’s more, a well-executed SWOT matrix is a crucial ingredient for conducting a competitive analysis — AKA gaining insight on competitors’ marketing tactics, products and performance.
This is key for understanding your relative positioning and resulting competitive advantages, helping you get ahead in the marketing game.
Check out the competitor SWOT examples below for inspo…
So in sum, by providing a clear understanding of the market, industry competition and company’s strengths, a marketing SWOT analysis can help you answer questions like:
- How successful is a given marketing strategy?
- How are market changes impacting our business operations?
- How is our company performing financially?
- What marketing tactics should we be using?
- What advantage do we have over our competitors?
- What are we doing that our competitors are also doing?
- What products or services are performing/not performing well?
- What current marketplace trends can we take advantage of?
- What new target markets are available?
- What tools and resources do we have to reach at our disposal?
- What factors are pulling time away from our employees?
- Where are we failing to connect with our target market?
You know, just to name a few.
It’s worth noting, these types of analyses are extremely useful in industries where things change quickly. For instance, a SWOT analysis in healthcare would’ve helped organizations during the pandemic stay on top of these unprecedented events.
How to create a marketing SWOT analysis
Creating a professional and polished SWOT framework is easy with Venngage’s SWOT analysis templates and drag-and-drop visual editor. Here’s how to get started:
Define your focus
The first step to creating an effective marketing SWOT analysis is to identify what your intention is.
For example: are you looking to create a marketing plan? Or alter your current trajectory? Are you thinking about entering a new market with your existing product/service? Or trying out a new channel/technology?
No matter the specific use case, know that the more specific your intention, the more useful the outcomes of your analysis will be.
Compile your data
It’s time to get all your ducks in a row – and by that, I mean your data!
Gather your team members and brainstorm points for each section of your matrix, then do your best to condense each into a few succinct point notes. It’s best to keep things as concise as possible to avoid derailing your strategic efforts (more on this below).
Sign up for a Venngage account and choose from hundreds of templates
With Venngage, it’s easy to serve up information in a sleek, versatile and professional way.
All you need to do is fill in your user information and your desired use cases to access hundreds of customizable SWOT templates. Once set up, you’ll be able to create beautiful charts without any graphic design knowledge or technical expertise.
Note: there are hundreds of templates available that you can design and share for free. If you want to access other designs, take advantage of in-editor features like My Brand Kit/Team collaboration and download your files, you’ll need to upgrade your account to a paid plan.
Customize your SWOT analysis template
The beauty of Venngage’s drag-and-drop editor is its a simple and powerful design solution for business communications. Once you’ve logged into your account and selected a template, you have the freedom to customize your templates and swap out or add any assets (i.e. text, icon and colors etc) into your design.
But wait, there’s more!
Looking to keep your branding consistent? Venngage’s My Brand Kit lets you apply your brand colors and logos to any template with one click.
Want to get more eyeballs on your SWOT analysis before you present it? Team collaboration feature lets you invite members to your team, edit designs together in real time, leave comments, create folders, save your creations and more.
Download your SWOT analysis diagram
Last but certainly not least, you can share or download a high-resolution version of your framework for immediate use in presentations and business communications.
Sharing is available free-of-charge, while a Premium or Business plan allows you to export your creations to PNG, PDF, HTML and Powerpoint. (And gives you access to the other nifty features I mentioned above!)
What are some common SWOT analysis mistakes?
Congrats – you’re well on your way to becoming a SWOT-ting savant!
That being said, there are some mistakes even seasoned marketers still make that you’ll want to avoid. Let’s take a look…
1. Listing too many items
Look, I get it: there’s nothing quite like a good brainstorming session to make you come up with 101 ideas and then some.
But the key to an actionable SWOT analysis is being able to present those ideas in a clear, concise and compelling way. That means having a defined focus, and avoiding overloading readers with information.
Try to condense and categorize your individual insights into a few overarching points. Use point-form to convey your ideas in a short space, then organize the information so your most important ideas come first. This will help you decide what to tackle foremost when creating your strategy.
2. Making generalizations
While being concise is important, make sure not to fall into the trap of oversimplifying. This only leads to incorrect, misleading assumptions that hurt your decision-making in the end.
A good rule of thumb in strategic planning is to avoid black-and-white scenarios. Your data should reflect real-world preferences and campaign performance – not brash assumptions.
3. Overestimating strengths
Often, people over exaggerate their business’ strengths. While it might feel good in the moment, this idealism only harms your ability to make well-informed strategic choices moving forward. So repeat after me: objectivity is key! Being honest about the facts will help you uncover your true opportunities and risks.
4. Minimizing weaknesses
The flipside of overestimated strengths? Underestimated weaknesses. So for good measure, I’ll say it again: objectivity is key.
Even the most successful businesses have areas that need improvement. If your organization is aware of its weaknesses, it becomes that much easier to mitigate future roadblocks, meet your targets and achieve long-term growth overall.
SWOT analyses in marketing FAQs
What do you do with SWOT analysis data?
Data gained from a SWOT analysis is your key to making smart marketing decisions.
By evaluating your company’s strengths and weaknesses, you can determine how to allocate your resources efficiently — helping you achieve maximum revenue growth and profitability.
And when you’re aware of what your company can achieve, it’s that much easier to adapt to market trends and changing dynamics.
How important is the SWOT analysis for marketing managers?
In a word? Very.
Similar to how market research is vital, without SWOT, it’s nearly impossible to gain a balanced view of your company’s positioning and potential.
Marketing managers who know their external circumstances, strengths and limitations can base their campaigns around informed decisions rather than idealistic assumptions. This helps them adapt to the rapidly changing world of marketing more successfully, and be proactive in their approaches.
What are examples of threats in a marketing SWOT?
Remember: threats in a marketing SWOT analysis are external factors affecting your businesses’ ability to carry out your marketing objectives successfully. This involves assessing the actions of competitors, the emerging trends in the market and the overall landscape your business finds itself in.
Some good questions to ask are:
- What strategies are our competitors using?
- What advantages do our competitors have over us?
- What overlap exists between our services and our competitors?
- What technological challenges are impacting our business?
- What adverse market changes are we facing now or in the future?
Like other external challenges, these factors might not be in your control. But the understanding you gain from this process puts you in a prime position to adapt to competitor action and economic changes.
TLDR: fewer surprises = less last-minute course corrections needed.
Ready to create a SWOT analysis for your marketing team?
To create a well-executed SWOT analysis that communicates your marketing prospects and pitfalls, you’ll need a way to showcase these insights in a visually appealing way.
While you could draw a matrix out by hand or Word doc the day away, it pays dividends to have a data visualization tool that can do this for you in a flash.
Venngage’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor helps you create beautiful, professional graphics quickly and easily. Choose from tons of ready-made SWOT analysis templates and swap out the text with your own insights and icons, then export your content in a few clicks.