A Guide to Analyzing Your Business' S.W.O.T.
Posted by Corey Smith on Jan 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM
What is a SWOT analysis? It is a fundamental concept in a start-up company and directly affects the marketing plan and demographics being targeted. SWOT is simply the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to your specific business.
The SWOT analysis is a very in-depth critique of your business that requires extensive market research. As a business, you must brainstorm and identify all of the aspects of this analysis in great detail to clarify your goals.
Understanding Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Identifying the strengths of your company will be an exciting analysis of what your company does best in its industry. An answer like, “We are the best at everything: customer service, product quality, market research... everything!” will not be productive in truly identifying the key concepts that make your product or services ‘the best.' Consider your strengths from both an internal perspective, and from the point of view of your customers and people in your market.
When looking at your strengths, think about them in relation to your competitors. For example, if all of your competitors provide high-quality products, then a high-quality production process is not a strength in your organization's market, it's a necessity. For example, recently there has been a massive demand for organic and Non-GMO food products. Companies like Oiko’s Greek Yogurt noticed this shift and took advantage of the demand by marketing their Greek Yogurt as a healthy and nutritious alternative, that is delicious too! This instantly made their brand a recognizable force within the food industry.
Questions to Help Determine Strengths
- What advantages does your organization have?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon, that others can't?
- What do people in your market see as your strengths?
- What factors mean that you "get the sale"?
- What is your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Weaknesses will have to be an honest discussion of what your company will not have time to focus on and what target markets may be missed by your marketing plan. In a perfect world, your business would have enough time and a big enough marketing department to reach every demographic. This seems like it would be a superb idea, but in actuality, it can be very harmful to your brand identity.
To promote and maintain your brand identity you must have a focus and excel at a practice that has a demand in the consumer market, which will inevitably create weaknesses. But if you are an organic food producer, it would be unwise to try and target avid fast food consumers.
Questions to Help Determine Weaknesses
- What could you improve?
- What should you avoid?
- What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
- What factors lose you sales?
This might be the most exciting part of the SWOT analysis process. As you might already assume, this will take some in-depth research as well. Identifying all of the events, products, and trends that can help your brand reach new demographics will raise awareness of your product.
Questions to Help Determine Opportunities
- What good opportunities can you spot?
- What interesting trends are you aware of?
- What useful opportunities can come from such things as:
- Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale
- Changes in government policy related to your field
- Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on
- Local events
Threats to your business might come in many forms, several of which you might not be able to identify because it is impossible to tell what your competition or trends might do in the future. This section might become an ever-expanding list that you will learn to constantly research and tackle throughout the life of your business. For now, let's just focus on the immediate threats to your newly forming business.
Questions to Help Determine Threats
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products or services changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?
If finding your SWOT proves to be more difficult than you anticipated or you need a company to partner with to help you through the process, we've got the manpower and expertise to assist you.
Updated November 12, 2016 for relevancy and accuracy.
Written by Corey Smith
Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."