A SWOT analysis is a framework used in strategic planning and marketing. It provides you with the knowledge to create plans to improve your business.
SWOT is defined as an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a critical strategic planning tool used to isolate an issue, conceptualize a workable solution, and then remove that issue as an ongoing concern.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are divided into four sections within a SWOT matrix. Notes are placed under each heading in order to define the heading’s relevance to the issue being analyzed.
- High-Level Representation: The SWOT analysis doesn’t define separate action items, or define a total strategy. It merely states what variables should be considered.
- Redundant Information: Don’t allow bullet points to become cluttered with too much information. Companies must focus on specific and quantifiable bullet points.
- Respect Opinions: Some of these bullet points can be seen differently by different participants. Ultimately, this is valuable to the business and gives everyone a different perspective on the problem.
The SWOT analysis example below clarifies the internal and external factors and their relevance to the business’s operations. First, we’ll review the SWOT analysis example, and then we’ll review the individual action plan that emerges.
|1. High-quality products|
2. Strong R&D
3. Strong engineeering
4. Good sales network
|1. Long lead times|
2. High manufacturing costs
3. Slow to respond to customer requests
4. Slow to respond to market trends
|1. Market is growing|
2. R&D projects required
3. Customized products needed by market
4. Regulations and restrictions are easing
|1. Susceptible to overseas competitors|
2. Increased competition
3. New technologies making products obsolete
4. Competitors have fresher ideas
Let’s say that part of your swot analysis example produced these results:
- Strengths: You have no trouble getting marketing dollars for any campaign that produces results.
- Weakness: You haven’t taken advantage of digital marketing.
- Opportunity: You could aggressively take advantage of the growth in your industry.
- Threat: You have emerging competition from extremely internet-savvy competitors.
Translate your SWOT analysis into actionable strategies:
Use your marketing budget to create a robust digital marketing campaign and track results. This would use a Strength to offset a Weakness. It would also allow you to leverage the opportunity for growth and reduce the threat from emerging competitors.
Once you’ve identified all the possible connections, you’ll need to prioritize your alternatives. For example, a connection other than the one above may produce better results and require less money to implement.
When you’ve completed your SWOT, you’ll have a better insight into how your marketing activities will help the business overall. Additionally, you’ll have all your stakeholders on agreeing to a set of strategies for reaching your marketing goals.
Businesses must be honest in their assessment of their company’s strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, it’s natural to focus too much on what we do best and not enough on what needs to improve. Do not allow that to happen. Take the time to be honest with where your company needs to improve.
- Company Strengths: This could be used to combat those threats in the market where competing technologies may make the company’s product offering obsolete.
- Eliminate Weaknesses: The company should focus on eliminating its weakness of long delivery times and;
- Capitalize on Opportunities represented by the market’s growth. After all, the company can’t close orders if it takes too long to ship finished goods.
- Minimize Threats: The company might work on its weakness of high costs in order to make sure the threat posed by its competition is minimized.
A SWOT analysis plan is beneficial. It forces everyone to clearly define the internal and external attributes the company must confront. Success implies the company will capture its opportunities while eliminating its threats.
|1. Strong brand name|
2. Customer oriented
3. Differentiation and innovation
4. Largest merchandise selection
5. Large number of third party seller
6. Large number of acquisitions
|1. Easily imitable business model|
2. Losing margins in few areas
3. Tax avoidance controversy
4. Limited brick-and-mortar presence
|1. Expand physical online stores|
2. Penetrate or expand its operations
3. Backward Integration
4. More acquisitions
2. Employee treatment & workspace conditions
4. Aggressive competitions
|1. Globally iconic|
2. Top technology
3. Brand of choice
4. Proficient research
5. Sustainability made possible through Liam
|1. Lack of marketing & promotions|
2. Lack of competition
3. High priced products
4. Incompatibility with other software
|1. Consistent customer growth|
2. Qualified professionals
3. Expansive distribution network
4. Lack of green technology
5. Smart wearable technology
6. Utilize artificial intelligence
|1. Bullied by counterfeits|
2. Increasing competition
3. Market penetration
|1. Brand recognition|
2. High-quality standrads
|1. Dependency on American markets|
2. Customer perception
2. International expansion
|1. Bad publicity|
2. Increasing competition
When you’re ready to create or update your marketing strategy, what is the first thing you should do? Evaluate your budget? Review your products/services? Update your marketing metrics? Identify your buyer personas? Profile your competitors?
Those are all things you need to do. However, you first need a framework for understanding how your business fits in relation to its customers and competitors. An excellent approach for defining that framework is to perform a SWOT analysis for marketing. It will give you the insight you need to become more competitive and help your business grow.
A SWOT analysis for marketing helps you understand internal and external factors. This will have the biggest influence on whether you reach your marketing goals.
Step 1: Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Look at the strengths and weaknesses within your own organization. Consider your skills, resources, and performance based on your existing marketing strategy. You can also consider global factors like:
- Financial resources to support marketing operations
- Physical resources such as your facilities and equipment
- Human resources such as number of marketing employees, their roles, and level of expertise
- Current processes that are in place to perform marketing tasks and the tools to support them
Step 2: Evaluate Marketing Activities
- Effectiveness of your website, social media and reputation
- Where you rank for critical keywords in the search engines
- Effectiveness of your content marketing strategy
- Relationships with internal stakeholders, customers, and vendors
- Effectiveness of your marketing materials
- Analyze performance and customer data
- Ability to respond to market changes
Deciding whether to name each of these factors as strengths or weaknesses is the next step. It’s crucial to include internal stakeholders in brainstorming sessions. For example, you may love the company’s website. But, if the website isn’t producing a steady flow of leads, it needs to be labeled a weakness.
This is an opportunity to evaluate the website’s design to find opportunities for improvement.
Step 3: Identify Your Opportunities and Threats
During this part of the analysis take a look at the following.
- Market trends
- Economic Trends
- Political, environmental and economic regulations
- Competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
- Customer expectations
- New technologies
- Distribution channels
- Marketing channels
- Market regulations
- Advertising costs
- Underserved markets
Every industry is different, but the forces that drive profitability are similar.
The biggest mistake managers make is “trusting their gut”
It doesn’t matter how long you have been in business or how well you know your market. You need facts to make business decisions. In today’s business environment, everything is changing faster than ever.
A SWOT analysis isn’t something you do once. You should use a SWOT analysis whenever you need to make decisions about marketing, your workforce, your product line, or any other component of your business.