I have often spoken about moving to ‘smarter marketing strategies’. Mostly, I use this term to explain the move away from unsuccessful marketing strategies that aren’t producing the results you want in the time you want. But to create a smarter marketing strategy, you must first incorporate tools that help you identify where you are succeeding, and which areas need development. And that’s where a SWOT analysis comes in.
What is SWOT Analysis?
A SWOT analysis identifies your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The results help you to make informed decisions and create a robust marketing plan.
By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can spotlight what your business does best and strive to improve the areas that need work. In addition, by exploring opportunities and threats, you can adapt to changes in the market and stay ahead of the competition.
So, “What is the Difference between SWOT analysis and SWOT Matrix?’ The answer is little! A SWOT Matrix refers to how you lay out your analysis in a matrix grid. Semrush provides a good illustration together with some helpful questions to ask yourself as you complete your SWOT analysis
Is a SWOT Analysis critical in business, and why?
We all have a nasty habit of comparing ourselves to others – even when we know better! But have you ever considered how your competitors see you and your business?
Conducting a SWOT analysis for your business will help clarify your market position.
For example, identifying why you win a sale over your competitors is a strength you should consider. But, equally, working out why your competitors are making sales where you are not, will highlight potential weaknesses that could threaten your business.
Top Tip! Including team members in this exercise is a great way to get another perspective on your company and may highlight areas you have yet to notice or deem important.
When should you conduct a SWOT analysis?
First things first. A SWOT analysis is not a one-time thing! Using the learnings from two- or three-year-old research to guide today’s business decisions would be unwise. Just think how much has changed in the market and your business over that period. So instead, consider conducting a fresh SWOT analysis either on a yearly basis, or before any major directional decisions are taken. Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you see if you are in the correct position to make those changes or if they could make your business vulnerable.
Let’s look at the SWOT in more detail and break down its parts.
As mentioned in the matrix above (and in case you missed it!), one of your biggest strengths is your business’s USP! Therefore, it’s the first go-to strength that should be listed in your SWOT analysis. There’s only going to be one business that does the things you do in the way you do them (well, that’s the aim anyway!)
When filling out your Strengths category, think about the following:
- What makes your product/service stand out above the rest?
- Is it something no one else does or has?
- Does your product/service have something extra that the others in the market don’t have?
It’s helpful to look at these strengths from both your perspective and your competitors.
And remember to also look at the strengths that you bring to your business and those of your team members.
Identifying your business’s weaknesses is not always a comfortable experience. However, being as honest as you can about it now, will pay off in the long run!
You should also consider including members of your wider team to help identify any gaps in your strategy that you may have missed. Or, engage with someone outside your organisation who can see things with a fresh pair of eyes.
As I said, it is not always easy to do, but once done, it will help you identify areas that can be worked on and improved upon so that they don’t stay in the weaknesses box for long!
Something that springs to mind when considering weaknesses is a Marketing Profs webinar I attended recently. They said more than a third (37%) of B2B marketers claim sufficient internal resources.
Does this statistic surprise you? Do you face similar problems within your business? If this is the case, this could be considered a weakness when conducting your internal assessment for your SWOT analysis.
However, it doesn’t have to stay that way! Remember, any identified weaknesses are areas that can be improved upon. Therefore, the sooner you find the solution, the sooner you can move this from a weakness to a strength.
One of the most frustrating things about Marketing can be the pace at which the landscape changes. The speed at which you may need to pivot your strategy to keep up with the latest trends can be dizzying. But in this ever-changing landscape, multiple opportunities can arise for you and your business.
Following the latest and predicted trends can give your strategy an edge over your competitors. But remember, it doesn’t need to be a significant change each time; even small opportunities can create the lead you need.
For instance, have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone asks you a question, and you don’t have the answer? When this happens, you can take one of two routes:
- You can try to bluff your way through with some made-up or half-truth response, which often folks can ultimately see through and may do more damage than good!
- You can tell the truth and say, ‘I don’t know.’
This second tact, provides an excellent opportunity to learn something new that may be beneficial by opening up new opportunities! For example, it might lead to collaborating with another business or providing your client with a response that your competitors need help to provide!
You don’t know until you go looking.
Much in the same way as you need to look out for opportunities, it would be best if you also were on the lookout for threats.
They can arise in any area of your business, but having an idea of where they might crop up next will help you to stay ahead of the game and, more importantly, ahead of your competition!
Identifying potential threats early will also mean that you are equipped to deal with them quickly before they can damage your business, reputation, or growth.
From what we’ve discussed here, I hope you can see how beneficial conducting a regular SWOT analysis can be for your business. Indeed, the results can guide you and your teams to work towards smarter marketing choices.
If you’d like to discuss your SWOT Analysis and how it can help your business move towards a smarter marketing strategy or are looking for outsourced support, please get in touch. I’d love to chat with you!