Marketing Planning – Do not Do SWOT

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a well-liked framework for acquiring a marketing strategy. A Google look for for “SWOT” and “planning” turned up pretty much 93,000 hits (August 2004), most all of which laud the use of SWOT. Some students have claimed that it is the most vital thing they uncovered at the Wharton College.

Despite the fact that SWOT is promoted as a practical technique in several marketing texts, it is not universally praised: One qualified stated that he favored to feel of SWOT as a “Sizeable Squander of Time.”

The problem with SWOT is more significant than the fact that it wastes time. For the reason that it mixes plan era with evaluation, it is possible to lessen the assortment of procedures that are regarded. In addition, individuals who use SWOT might conclude that they have completed an adequate job of planning and ignore these types of smart factors as defining the firm’s targets or calculating ROI for alternate approaches. I have noticed this when business faculty pupils use SWOT on cases.

What does the evidence say? Potentially the most notable indication is that I have been unable to find any evidence to assistance the use of SWOT.

Two experiments have examined SWOT. Menon et al. (1999) asked 212 supervisors from Fortune 1000 businesses about the latest marketing techniques carried out in their corporations. The conclusions confirmed that SWOT harmed effectiveness. When Hill and Westbrook (1997) examined the use of SWOT by 20 businesses in the Uk in 1993-94, they concluded that the system was so flawed that it was time for a “product recall.”

One particular advocate of SWOT requested: if not SWOT, then what? Borrowing from corporate strategic planning literature, a much better choice for planners is to follow a official composed procedure to:

  1. Established goals
  2. Produce alternate techniques
  3. Appraise option techniques
  4. Watch success
  5. Achieve motivation amongst the stakeholders throughout every single step of this procedure.

I describe this 5-phase process in Armstrong (1982). Evidence on the value of this planning course of action, attained from 28 validation reports (summarized in Armstrong 1990), confirmed that it led to much better company performance:

  • 20 studies discovered greater general performance with official planning
  • 5 located no variance
  • 3 found formal planning to be harmful

This help was obtained even nevertheless the formal planning in the scientific tests usually employed only some of the actions. In addition, the methods ended up normally improperly executed and the problems ended up not often best for official planning.

Offered the evidence, SWOT is not justified less than any conditions. As a substitute, use the in depth 5-step planning method.


Armstrong, J. S. (1982) “The Value of Official Planning for Strategic Decisions,” Strategic Management Journal, 3, 197-211.

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

Hill, T. & R. Westbrook (1997), “SWOT Investigation: It truly is Time for a Product Remember,” Prolonged Selection Planning, 30, No. 1, 46-52.

Menon, A. et al. (1999), “Antecedents and Effects of Marketing Strategy Building,” Journal of Marketing, 63, 18-40.