SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool. Meaning, it helps organizations make smarter decisions.
These decisions may provide a competitive advantage, reduce resource waste, decrease expenses or increase profits. Every business wants to make more money so decisions must move towards this goal.
Marketing is designed to bring in more leads for sales and profits. While many focus on budgets, ad revenue and so on… marketers should include SWOT analysis into their strategies.
Because this tool will highlight the right areas to dedicate time and resources. And where to pull the plug.
Where to put company focus…
The first aspect of SWOT is ‘strengths.’ In marketing, think of what the company is doing right. This can be a variety of things…
- Does the company have a strong brand reputation?
- Is it known for its amazing customer service?
- Do they have a sizeable and active email list?
- Have previous marketing campaigns gone viral?
- Does the company website get thousands of views a day?
Start by brainstorming. You already have an idea of what your firm does well in terms of marketing. Even if it’s just a basic idea, start there.
Don’t think a strength is too trivial to add during this section. What may feel like a feeble benefit now may be a contributing factor to success later.
Say people are complimenting a new logo design for the company. It’s definitely an ego boost to the designer. But consider why the logo is getting praise. Are people more responsive to the colors? The typography? Perhaps this can be weaved into future marketing initiatives.
The point of locating strengths in marketing is to feed into it. If you know what you’re doing right, you can milk it for all its worth.
Where to cut the cord…
Some stakeholders continue to milk where there isn’t any left.
Once upon a time, the company ran a marketing campaign that was wildly successful. People lined up at the doors the moment the flier hit their hands. The buzz was so great business was booming for months.
And when that campaign was run again six months later?
No new customers. No attention. No buzz.
The allure had disappeared and customers have moved on. Yet leaders continue to try and rehash this campaign to make it soar again.
Businesses have to know when to cut their losses. By spending time, resources, and funds into a bottomless pit of economic despair, the only one hurt is the company.
These are weaknesses. That is the next step in SWOT. And it’s exactly as it sounds. You’ll search out weaknesses in current or past marketing efforts. You may have to…
- Allocate funding elsewhere
- Change marketing channels
- Adjust strategies
- And let go of people who refuse to adapt to change
No one is a failure when they stop throwing money at futile marketing channels. It’s smart business.
But that can only happen when you openly look at what is not going right. Business analysts are often hired to address weaknesses in processes with an unbiased eye. Hiring someone may be necessary during this section of the SWOT analysis.
Look to the future…
The next step is configuring opportunities. This is also the next step in SWOT.
In marketing, opportunities come in many ways.
If an article goes viral, plenty of opportunities may come knocking on your door. People may want to interview the company. Perhaps feature them on the radio or in podcasts. Big name publications may repost the article, providing exposure and traffic your way.
In that case, you can anticipate opportunities and be reactive to it. But marketing managers can also facilitate opportunities. It’s possible to form partnerships for various marketing campaigns.
The point is to be open-minded and proactive in securing these chances. Then turn them into a benefit for the company.
Threats are everywhere. If you run an email marketing campaign, people may decide to flag your company emails as spam. This can make it much harder to reach people’s inboxes. And after many reports, you could be facing a legal issue.
The final letter in SWOT is focused on addressing threats. These can be legalities, political, personal or professional threats. Competitors are threats to business, but they’re also inevitable. We handle them by ensuring products are differentiated and valuable to customers.
But other threats can ruin a business. Lawsuits can. Bad press and negative reviews can be a killer. But threats have yet to happen. This is why, in marketing, it’s possible to keep an eye on threats to mitigate damage. Or to set up a plan of action in case a threat becomes reality.
Also, consider how current weaknesses may become threats. Assess how much impact those threats can have on the livelihood of the firm and act accordingly.