We all have two scales of personal development – the one that springs from how we personally evaluate the way we grow and the one that arises from how good we fit into the outer world. After we find out where we’re standing on each of them, we become aware of our point on the general scale of possibility to be successful. The same works with the businesses: two scales that define which marketing strategy you would likely use to gain success.This is not a kind of self-development philosophy – it’s strictly about how you need to think about SWOT analysis.
In this article, we’ll talk about SWOT analysis particularly for your business needs. However, as I’ve mentioned above it can be helpful for your career growth as well. The acronym SWOT means strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Therefore if you are performing SWOT analysis then you need to analyze your business from those four sides. This would help you to realize your point on the general scale of businesses and build a successful marketing strategy.
Learn more about the most effective marketing strategies here.
On the first scale – the one of the inner evaluation – stand strengths and weaknesses. You need to ask right questions and answer with the high degree of honesty in order to become as objective to your business as you can. Also, asking other people who are aware of the current state of your business can help to come up with an objective point of view. On the other – the one of the outer evaluation – stand opportunities and threats. This where you need to look out of the borders of your business and try to find out which passes are unlocked and which are still to be conquered.
Where to start with the SWOT analysis for business?
You have few ways to go about it. In any case, don’t worry – you wouldn’t need a lot. A sheet of paper and a pen or a text file on any device that you can easily share with your team later. You can perform the SWOT analysis either by creating a four-square grid or just by making a list of the four sections to be completed one after another. The shape doesn’t matter in this case – only questions that you ask yourself to take the right direction.
If you have never tried to perform SWOT analysis for business, you can find some help and inspiration in a bunch of templates available for free on the web.
But remember that the performance of the SWOT analysis can be badly influenced by the subjectiveness of those who are doing it. That’s why usually the best choice is to hire a business consultant from outside. At the same time, for some reasons, you may not want to do it. That’s why we are going to take a close look at each of the parts and make it as easy as possible for you to perform by yourself.
Get your hands on practice
SWOT analysis can become a highly useful solution for making a comprehensive evaluation of the market from both internal and external positions. Businesses often lack this multi-sided approach taking into consideration only the inner conditions and being unable to step out of the borders of their business. With the SWOT analysis, one can learn how to develop the right analytical approach to your business in general and, therefore, to build an effective marketing strategy.
Think about what you have tried and found effective. It’s your experience what has to talk here. What has worked for you? What is your leg over the competitors, your unique advantage, your precious skill? What do you consider the main reason that makes your clients choose your company among existing options? Those are the key questions to ask yourself. However, I’m convinced that you can add up more – as many as needed to unlock the insights.
Strengths entail your unfair advantages, key resources, and activities that have brought you where you are (learn more about lean and business model canvases here). Don’t look at this section plainly from the point of your business situation but try to extend it to the perspective of both your customers and competitors. It’s not so complicated as you may think. Practice to ask right questions and you will get what you need.
Examples: maintaining accessible costs without compromising on quality (from the customer’s point of view), effective direct and indirect selling (comparing to lack of face-to-face selling on the competitor’s side).
This section may become challenging because there is nothing more difficult than to look objectively at the results of your work. Indeed, it’s a key to critical approach without which your business strategy would never be as effective as it can. As soon as you realize it I’m sure you will do everything to make it through.
Where can you find help? Make an effort and recall complaint of your customers. Even if you used to disagree, think about it one more time. What if everything just looks different from customer’s point of view? (Of course, it does but you need to realize it on your own.) You and your customers can both be right having actually different forms of the truth in your minds. When you realize that there’s a gap you will be able to directly look in the eyes of your weaknesses (and successfully get rid of them later).
Examples: high expenses on the office rent, lack of strong partnerships.
Strengths and weaknesses are all about your own marks, how you feel about the whole process of growing your business, your inner scale of growth. Nevertheless, it’s more personal than the opportunities and threats, you have to try to get rid of as many illusions as you can and, therefore, lessen subjectiveness. Another option as I have mentioned before is to hire a consultant that doesn’t any personal attachments with you and your business, which make possible for him to stay objective.
Your current business situation is predetermined by a set of external factors. If you don’t consider them, you will lack a substantial portion of the whole picture. However, if you do want to make it right and get your lessons you need to understand the current state of the market well enough. Relevant trends and problems can both become your opportunities to fit in.
Examples: increase in technical awareness among customers, existing (in the market) options that are similar to your product are inferior in accessibility and quality.
Which of the external conditions have prevented you from reaching your goal? Which of the market tendencies has badly influenced your business situation and the process of growing your business? What does make the products of your competitors better than yours? This section isn’t just about the existence of the similar products to your one – it’s also about what your competitors are good at, why your customers can prefer their products to your ones. In order to succeed in this section you need to perform competitor analysis (learn more about how to make it right here) that can reveal real strengths of your competitors.
Examples: a crowded market with the products that are superior to your what you offer, a strong partnership between key competitors.
Opportunities and threats are important parts of the puzzle without which one can’t consider strengths and weaknesses as a complete picture of where your business is standing now. They are predetermined by the external conditions and require a profound knowledge of the market and your competitors with their products. If you want to succeed don’t start without preceding market research.
The outcome of your SWOT analysis isn’t the list or grid filled with the features but a plan of the actions you need to take. It’s important to remember that if you perform the SWOT analysis and nothing follows after, it’s useless. You may think that now you are aware of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and you will keep all that in mind while growing your business. But in fact, you won’t. If you don’t process all of them into the real plan right after performing the SWOT analysis, you won’t benefit from it. Indeed, the SWOT analysis is an essential tool for creating marketing strategy only if applied instantly.
As Sun Tzu said in his Art of War:
“…if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but do know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. “
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