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Creating a Marketing Plan

Need to write a marketing plan? This guide will offer tips and link you to resources such as books, articles and website to get you started.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis examines a company's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the company; opportunities and threats are external.

Strengths

A firm’s strengths are its resources and capabilities that can be used for developing a competitive advantage, such as strong brand names, unique resources, patented products or services, good reputation, valuable assets, positive financials, access to resources, unique or innovative technologies, and so on.

Weaknesses

A firm's weaknesses may be obsolete technology or aging infrastructure, financial concerns, legal issues, lack of resources, how the company is perceived by its customers or the public, poor reputation or low brand recognition, leadership instability, labor conflicts, or ethical issues.

Opportunities

Marketplace opportunities might be consumer demand for new products or functionalities, regulatory changes, opening of new geographic markets, or new technologies. 

Threats

External threats come from new competitors entering a specific market, shifts in consumer demand away from a company's offerings, restrictive regulatory and trade conditions, etc. 

Source for SWOT Analyses

You can use the database below to find SWOT Analyses which have already been created for various companies. Typically, the SWOT Analyses found in these databases are for larger companies, but they may provide a good jumping-off point for your own.

Use advanced search mode. Under the publication type menu, select SWOT Analysis. Enter a search term related to your industry to pull up SWOT analyses for similar companies.

Creating a SWOT Analysis

If there isn't a SWOT analysis from the sources above, you can do your own SWOT analysis by collecting information from multiple sources, such as company profiles, industry & market information, and news.  

If you are doing a SWOT analysis on a private company, here are some suggestions:

  • Interview the company, if possible. Call and ask politely, stating that you are a student researching the company for a class. Most of the "internal information" (e.g., HR practices) of small private firms is highly unlikely to be available in secondary sources, so talking with the company may be the only way to obtain this information.
  • Explore the company website and consider the following:
    • What kind of service/product do they provide?
    • What kind of customer needs are they meeting?
    • Are they meeting these needs better than their competitors, at a better price?
  • Take a look at their competitors (you can find them through ReferenceUSA or LexisNexis) and consider:
    • What kind of service/product do the competitors provide?
    • What are your company's competitive advantages (e.g., unique product/service, location, size, customer service, price, etc..)?
    • How does your company differentiate itself from others (i.e., what's its niche)?

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