This article is part of a continuing series on developing a marketing plan which will cover establishing your starting positionsetting optimal goals, analyzing the challenges you’ll face, and developing strategies to achieve your objective.

In our four-part investigation of marketing plan development we’ve discussed the importance of having a deep understanding of your resources and intentions.

With that information in hand, you can begin to focus on situational analysis, an examination of the obstacles facing you and the advantages you can leverage to overcome them. What is currently working for you, and what needs improvement?

Ultimately, your marketing plan should help you understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie and how best to use your resources to achieve your goals.

There are several types of situational analysis frameworks, but among the most used is SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths: internal characteristics or assets that give you an edge on the competition
  • Weaknesses: internal areas you are lagging behind or barriers to entry you haven’t overcome
  • Opportunities: external prospects for improvement
  • Threats: external risks and challenges facing you

Understanding your internal situation allows you to appropriately focus your resources. Knowing the competition helps you draw up a plan to differentiate yourself from them, and develop a strategy for carving out your connection to the target audience.

Be Prepared

There are any number of issues that will arise from future competition, substituted products, suppliers gaining too much bargaining power over you, or consumer taste shifting.

Situational analysis is vital for contingency planning. It helps you prepare for foreseeable outcomes and, at the same time, adapt to the unexpected.

Your goals will always just be goals if you don’t have the right tools in place to tackle them. Once you understand your position in the current market, your opportunity for growth, and the challenges you have to overcome, you can set measurable objectives for reaching your goals.

Do your due diligence. Set a smart strategy supported by incremental tactics and you stand a much better chance of turning objectives into accomplishments.

Are you interested in creating your own SWOT analysis and understanding other ways to differentiate your brand and set a strategic position for success? Check out our Blueprint for Successful Branding.