If you’ve ever attended a marketing workshop, one of the first principles you may have learned is the SWOT analysis. SWOT is common in the business world, but it’s absolutely gospel in marketing land. A clinical name like SWOT may make you want to tune out right about now, but don’t. If you want to truly know where your company is at and where it needs to be, some simple research can aim you in the right direction.
SWOT stand for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Any business guru will tell you that every company on earth faces these same four factors. But if you don’t take the time to look into them and make decisions based on them, you may as well put potential decisions on a dart board, close your eyes, spin around a few times and throw.
If you’ve never done a SWOT analysis from the marketing viewpoint, now is a great time to start. Before digging into the Marketing Toolkit resources, gather your leadership team, get everybody in a positive, productive mindset (maybe with coffee and donuts) and look at your company’s:
Strengths – What are you really good at? How can you get even better at your core competencies, or better leverage your strengths to earn new business?
Weaknesses – Oh, those dreaded weaknesses. Everybody has them but they are much harder to uncover because we tend to ignore them or compensate for them. Nobody really wants to delve into their weaknesses but this is the first step on the road to improvement. Ask the questions nobody wants to ask of all those who are in tune with your weaknesses – inside and outside of your company. Hear them out and figure out a plan on how to improve.
Opportunities – Your markets are changing, and mostly for the good. What new opportunities are either out there now or will be soon? What are specifiers jazzed about right now? What do your suppliers see in their long-term business? You can’t possibly know everything, so talk to people who have an inside track on what’s coming in the next year, two years, five years. Your goal is to meet today’s need, recognizing future needs and being agile enough to adapt.
Threats – You probably have a good idea of who your competitors are now but what else is coming? Do you know what they are saying about you? What are the myriad of factors that affect your business day-to-day? Are there regulations, mandates, new competing materials in your future that could impact your bottom line? Do you review there regularly and analyze how they will affect your company?
A true SWOT analysis take time. Some companies hire consultants to lead them though the process. But if you create a well-thought out plan, assign a project leader to carry it out and then analyze you results, you will have a really clear picture of how these four factors affect your business. Then you’re ready to create your marketing messages and get out there to uncover new opportunities. There are many variations on this theme, and nearly unlimited tools online, ways to graph your SWOTs and how to conduct the analysis. A little Googling will yield an abundance of resources.
Director of Communication & Marketing, NPCA