SWOT analysis is this incredibly valuable and easy tool yet many small businesses either don’t know about. Maybe it’s because the word “analysis” brings up a mental image of data, research labs, and journalistic studies.
But none of that is necessary for SWOT. You only need three things:
- Something to write with
- A topic (in this case, your product)
- And a basic understanding of SWOT
The knowledge you uncover during the SWOT analysis will help you understand essential information about your product. The kind of information that can turn an unsuccessful product launch into a smashing hit. And it limits the risk of failure caused by silent, lurking weaknesses.
And what about opportunities? After — or even during the launch — did you watch opportunities slip through the cracks? Maybe you had the chance to be promoted by a top influencer in the industry. Maybe a story went viral and you could’ve easily cruised alongside it to get more positive attention. But the opportunity passed without you.
SWOT analysis can help you address potential possibilities and form a plan to act in the moment, instead of feeling uncontrollable regret after the opportunity is gone. It’s the type of process companies can use to zero-into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the product.
What is SWOT analysis in the simplest term?
SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You break down the analysis into these four categories. In the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what you can take advantage of during the launch. But also what you can do to reduce the chance of failure.
Failure depends on your definition. It could be not having a specific amount of units sold. Or you don’t get any pre-orders. But it’s typically a measurable result. Many factors can negatively impact the launch but with SWOT, you’ll make sure the product itself won’t be at fault.
Strengths are what makes your product stand out among the competition. Unless you’re going extremely niche, chances are you do have competition. That’s why it’s important to capitalize on the strengths before, during, and after the launch to get the most headway.
You can start with the mission statement or the USP (unique selling proposition). What makes the product unique? What does it do so well, people are going to fall over themselves to get it? Why is it time for this product launch?
In this section, you’ll be focusing on discussing every single strength or good thing about your product. Consider what makes it marketable from your customer’s mindset. What makes it desirable to customers? The more you think about the strengths from the customer’s perspective, the better your results will be.
Why bother doing this? Because you only get one shot to capture a person’s attention. And if you spend those few precious seconds discussing lackluster details, you’ll lose them. The right attraction and attention are essential for any successful product launch.
Weaknesses are cracks in the armor. They’re the little kinks that will turn a customer away from your product. Obviously, this section will outline the complete opposite of your product’s strengths.
Weaknesses exist for every product. Ignoring them will only strip away your success. Everything from lack of originality to poor packaging can be a weakness. But the biggest weakness is weak words.
Every company relies on words to sell their product. If you’re unable to quickly and effectively explain why your product is worth the money, you’ll lose out on prospective sales.
Again, think about this from a customer’s perspective. What would make them not want to buy the product? What would hold them back from clicking on that “buy” button? No matter how small or minuscule the weakens seems, write it down. You want to address these cracks before they break and ruin the entire launch.
The earlier you do this, the more likely you’ll be able to fix the issues. Because if you don’t, someone else will expose them; either the companies competing with you or ruthless customers who are itching to leave a bad review.
For once, we’re not looking at this part of the SWOT analysis with the eyes of a customer. Now, you’re looking at this product launch with the eyes of a salesperson. You want to do two things during this section:
- Identify opportunities to increase sales/success
- Create opportunities to increase sales/success
Opportunities are often deemed an outside influence you can’t control. They come, they go, and the only thing you can do is hop on, right? Not true! You can create opportunities months before the product reaches a customer.
You can create a sales funnel where you offer something free in exchange for interest, pre-orders, or sign-ups. Many companies host webinars about a topic — related to the product — to gather interest before a launch. They’ll also build an email list to sell directly to people who have shown interest (easier to convert into customers) when the product is ready to go.
Instead of waiting for an opportunity to pop up, create one. In this section, you can brainstorm possible opportunities to get attention, interest, and sales as a means to boost sales when the launch goes live. But make sure these ideas make sense for your product. You wouldn’t do a webinar about teeth cleaning if you’re selling flower arrangements, right?
People who use SWOT analysis believe weaknesses and threats are the same. They’re not. They’re more like two sides of the same coin.
Weaknesses typically already exist. Threats are lingering but haven’t made their mark yet.
If — or when — they do, you may have a catastrophic problem to deal with ASAP. One threat can completely undermine all the time, money, and research you’ve put into this launch. It can be something simple like an angry customer from earlier who actually did leave 1-star reviews about your product everywhere. Or it could be flaky manufacturers who send you prototypes later and later, resulting in a pushed back launch date.
Threats to your product launch are something you can see coming… but haven’t arrived yet. You can’t account for every single thing that could go wrong. But you can make a list of the top 3-5 major threats and create a plan. This plan will be activated only as a safety measure to protect the launch. Basically, it’s your savior.
The disgruntled customer left those reviews and now people are talking about — what can you do to counteract against the bad publicity? Or if your manufacturer is late with the final product, what can you do — if anything?
As you can see, a SWOT analysis isn’t an over-the-top study involving hundreds of hours of research. It requires at least one person who’s willing to honestly discuss every aspect of their product to propel their launch.
Not doing this analysis can be fatal for the launch. You leave yourself vulnerable to threats and weaknesses. You let opportunities slip on by. And you don’t capitalize on the most attractive bits about your product.
Don’t be one of those people who later realizes how much more impactful their launch could have been. Do a SWOT analysis now and leave the regrets at the door.