Knowledge is key to running a successful business; knowledge about your customers, your competitors, your own operation and the wider business environment. A SWOT analysis will help you gather the information you need to make a proper assessment of your business and your market.
A SWOT analysis is a simple but powerful tool for identifying:
- The strengths and weaknesses of your operation.
- The opportunities and threats you face in your market area.
- A clear picture of how well your organisation is running and the wider marketing and sales environment you are operating in.
Business analysis; your strengths and weaknesses: Identifying your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses should be straightforward, particularly if you talk to a range of people when putting your SWOT analysis together. If you have employees, you’ll find they have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. Customers, suppliers and other business partners can also give you feedback on your performance.
Work through a list of the different elements of your operation. For example, finance, staffing, operations and marketing are key areas you can examine.
Your SWOT analysis will be more useful if you look at your strengths and weaknesses in terms of what you are trying to achieve and if you compare yourself with your key competitors. Where do you have a competitive edge or a problem?
Market analysis; opportunities and threats: You should talk to employees, existing customers, suppliers and other business partners about the main opportunities and threats facing your business.
Ask them about all the people and organisations that affect your business and how they are changing. Competitors, customers, suppliers and distributors will all have an impact on how successfully you trade.
Carrying out and using a SWOT analysis: A brainstorming session with your team members may be the best starting point for your SWOT analysis. You must be open minded and willing to accept some criticism of your business. Remember, the idea is to get a realistic view. Likewise, ask your customers for their honest feedback about your products and service standards.
If you want to take a more formal approach to SWOT analysis, you could pay for professional consultant to visit your business. Whichever approach you choose, your assessment must lead to an action plan. This should focus on how to gain opportunities that play to your strengths and how you address weaknesses in your business, to deal with threats that face you.
Your marketing strategy should also aim to protect your business against threats. Building strong relationships with existing customers and making sure that your products and customer service stand out can be key elements of your ‘difference point’ with your competitors!
Did you find this information useful? Download or print out our PDF…it may come in handy! This also includes part one and two of this series of blogs – Preparing a Marketing Plan Checklist, Marketing Plan and SWOT Analysis PDF
You can also read more about our marketing hints and tips on our blog section here.
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