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Ultimate Guide To A SWOT Analysis

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

A SWOT analysis in a really powerful tool and something you will often see used when developing marketing strategy.

An analysis of your business’s Strengths and Weaknesses and understanding the Opportunities and Threats within your market give you a clear picture of where your business is right now, as well as the wider market in which you operate.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses

The best place to start with your SWOT analysis is to look at your business’s strengths and weaknesses. It is also helpful to do this with consideration for what you are trying to achieve, so that you understand your strengths and weakness in relation to your goal.

Look at your competitors when considering your strengths and weaknesses. How do you match up against them? Are there things they do particularly well that you need to improve upon, or can you spot strengths that you have over your key competitors?

It is best to get a small group together who represent different areas of the business. They will be able to input from different perspectives and allow you to cover individual elements of the business as well as the overall picture.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a big team around you to brainstorm with. If you are running your business independently then you have your eyes on every area, so just make a list of all the elements you want to consider, i.e., sales, marketing, finance etc.

The opportunities and threats in your market

A PEST analysis provides a good guide for looking at the external factors that might create threats or opportunities for your business.

  • Political – think about laws and changes to regulations that might impact your business or the way you operate

  • Economic - How is your business being affected by the current economy? Are you noticing any trends in buying behaviours as the result of its current state?

  • Social and cultural – Think about your customers and how social trends might affect their buying behaviours or needs

  • Technological – Do you know about technological advances in your industry? And how are you using technology in your business

Consider ‘challenges’ when you are reviewing the Threat element of your SWOT. Looking at the challenges both inside and outside your business can help you to identify threats that may occur.

You may find that your weaknesses, challenges and threats can also be your opportunities, so don’t be afraid to use the same content in different areas of your SWOT.

What to do with your findings

Conducting your SWOT analysis is only part of the overall process. What is important once you have done the legwork is to pull the information together into something meaningful, that will help you in the development of your marketing strategy.

Start by looking at what your priorities area. For each element of your SWOT, make a small list of priorities based on the findings, thinking about issues you need to address quickly, where you might find some quick wins, and what can be held off until a later date or the result of further work.

Now you can use the information that you have to ask some questions, which will help you develop your plan. Think about;

  • How can we use the strengths that our business has to take advantage of the opportunities that we have identified?

  • How well are we communicating our business’s strengths? Is this something we need to do more of?

  • How can we overcome the weaknesses identified? Turn this into a plan of action and think about how you can then use this to eliminate the threats you have identified

You should now have a good idea of what is needed to take your business forward and be able to collate this into a plan or the start of your marketing strategy. If you are outsourcing your marketing strategy to a marketing agency, they may have done this work for you and will produce a plan based on their findings.

Remember, your business and your market are ever changing, so it is a good idea to do a SWOT analysis every six to 12 months in order to understand where you are and what might have changed. It will also help you to identify where your strategy might need to change based on internal or external factors.

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