Marketing Planning – Don’t Do SWOT

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Alternatives, Threats) is a well-liked framework for creating a advertising technique. A Google seek for “SWOT” and “planning” turned up nearly 93,000 hits (August 2004), most all of which laud using SWOT. Some college students have mentioned that it’s the most necessary factor they realized on the Wharton Faculty.

Though SWOT is promoted as a helpful method in quite a few advertising texts, it’s not universally praised: One professional mentioned that he most well-liked to consider SWOT as a “Important Waste of Time.”

The issue with SWOT is extra critical than the truth that it wastes time. As a result of it mixes concept technology with analysis, it’s prone to cut back the vary of methods which are thought-about. As well as, individuals who use SWOT would possibly conclude that they’ve completed an sufficient job of planning and ignore such smart issues as defining the agency’s targets or calculating ROI for alternate methods. I’ve noticed this when enterprise faculty college students use SWOT on instances.

What does the proof say? Maybe probably the most notable indication is that I’ve been unable to seek out any proof to assist using SWOT.

Two research have examined SWOT. Menon et al. (1999) requested 212 managers from Fortune 1000 corporations about latest advertising methods carried out of their corporations. The findings confirmed that SWOT harmed efficiency. When Hill and Westbrook (1997) examined using SWOT by 20 corporations within the UK in 1993-94, they concluded that the method was so flawed that it was time for a “product recall.”

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One advocate of SWOT requested: if not SWOT, then what? Borrowing from company strategic planning literature, a greater choice for planners is to observe a proper written course of to:

  1. Set targets
  2. Generate various methods
  3. Consider various methods
  4. Monitor outcomes
  5. Achieve dedication among the many stakeholders throughout every step of this course of.

I describe this 5-step process in Armstrong (1982). Proof on the worth of this planning course of, obtained from 28 validation research (summarized in Armstrong 1990), confirmed that it led to higher company efficiency:

  • 20 research discovered greater efficiency with formal planning
  • 5 discovered no distinction
  • 3 discovered formal planning to be detrimental

This assist was obtained though the formal planning within the research usually used solely a number of the steps. Moreover, the steps have been usually poorly carried out and the circumstances weren’t all the time splendid for formal planning.

Given the proof, SWOT will not be justified underneath any circumstances. As an alternative, use the excellent 5-step planning process.


Armstrong, J. S. (1982) “The Worth of Formal Planning for Strategic Selections,” Strategic Administration Journal, 3, 197-211.

Armstrong, J. S. (1990), “Evaluate of Company Strategic Planning,” Journal of Marketing, 54, 114-119.

Hill, T. & R. Westbrook (1997), “SWOT Evaluation: It is Time for a Product Recall,” Lengthy Vary Planning, 30, No. 1, 46-52.

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Menon, A. et al. (1999), “Antecedents and Penalties of Marketing Technique Making,” Journal of Marketing, 63, 18-40.

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