What is a SWOT analysis and can you really do one on your own business?
Recently I ran a series of sessions on how to write a marketing plan. To really make sure the participants fully understood and developed the skills necessary, the sessions were broken down into the individual components of a marketing plan. This allowed us to spend quality time on each section, both individually and as a group, so as to fully grasp its importance. The group had been tracking along quite swimmingly until we reached the SWOT analysis where nearly half the group stalled. As in life, anything that requires inward reflection can be really difficult, but couple it with attempting to capture as many external possibilities as you can and label opportunities or threats and the brain can freeze.
A SWOT analysis is an essential component of any business or marketing plan and helps you put some perspective around the strengths and weaknesses the business or brand currently has, even if it’s in incubator stage, and the opportunities or threats it may encounter.
The simplest way to approach a SWOT analysis is to break it up into two distinct perspectives;
Outward facing or external analysis covers the opportunities and threats and allows you to identify any macroeconomic factors such as political, regulatory & legal issues, technological advancements, social or cultural influencers and economic issues that may provide opportunity or threaten your business and/or market. For example, an upcoming election, exchange rate fluctuations or changes to regulations. This analysis should also cover off any microenvironment considerations such as your competitors, consumers, suppliers, retailers or distribution.
Inward facing or internal analysis covers the strengths and weaknesses and should, when you have completed it, give you a thorough understanding of your businesses capabilities to enable you to capitalise on identified opportunities and minimise any threats.
It is advisable that you revisit any business or marketing plan regularly and in particular keep across the SWOT analysis to ensure you, as a business, are still in touch with the external forces at play and in the same position internally as when the plan was written. Staying on top of a SWOT will ensure you can react quickly if anything in the market or your business changes and can have an impact on what you are trying to achieve.
If you need help with your marketing plan, contact us, we’d love to help you.
Reference: Kotler, P (1997) Marketing Management. Analysis, Planning, Implementation & Control, 9th edition, Prentice Hall International New Jersey
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