Only include it if there is an action or change that needs to take place. This is a process to synthesise and link together different pieces of information so that they tell a story of “this is what we should do about it”.
If you look at our hypothetical example here, this is a brand with a typical mix of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
But where you should focus in this SWOT are the 4 key take-outs.
Take-out 1 : Digital marketing
In this case, we have a marketing activity / channel (digital marketing) which data shows drives consideration of our brand when we use it (a strength). But we also know that competitors have been slow to carry out digital marketing (an opportunity). So when you put these two facts together, digital marketing becomes a key activity to pursue in this marketing plan.
Take-out 2 : Loyalty program
Here, we identified that the brand has an issue with loyalty (weakness). When competitors go on promotion, some of our consumers switch away from us. But we also know that our loyalty program has yet to have a high sign-up (opportunity). So, we can put these two facts together to recommend a plan to beef up the loyalty program. We want to encourage consumers to NOT switch when competitors go on price promotion.
Take-out 3 : Launch new products
In this case, there is a more straightforward opportunity. To launch new products that meet new purchase occasions.
This may be products that are already in development or which require investment to develop and launch in the next 6 to 18 months.
Take-out 4 : Regional strategy
Finally, for this brand we identified that the brand was strong in 2 regions, but in 2 other regions it had a significantly smaller salesforce on the ground.
So, a recommendation for more investment in the two weaker regions became part of the marketing plan. The plan would recommend the activity and business case. This would include targets to justify the investment to expand in these areas.
Your ability to carry out this audit will very much depend on your knowledge of the market. Any market research such as qualitative, quantitative or secondary research can be invaluable to help you to complete a SWOT.
Where possible you should use objective facts. Be as honest and customer-focussed as possible.
It may also be the SWOT identifies some gaps in your knowledge. That’s perfectly normal. These gaps become research questions that you can drop into the market research process.
The SWOT analysis is a page that you come back and re-assess and update as new information comes in or circumstances change in the market.
At a minimum, you should update and review your SWOT should be reviewed at least every 12 months.
But as you write subsequent parts of the marketing plan, you may find that you come back and adjust it until it fits properly. It needs to tells the story that connects your marketing audit to the decisions that you make in your marketing plan.