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Six Steps to a Great SWOT Analysis

Have you considered doing a SWOT analysis with your team? A lot of business owners and their team find that sometimes it’s a challenge to know:

  1. Where to start
  2. Identifying the best path forward
  3. Understanding the necessary tools
  4. Defining their message

When you’re looking at your marketing foundation, the very first thing you need to do is evaluate the current state of your marketing efforts. 

That’s where a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis comes in. It’s a great tool to help you make a key strategic decision. It’s simple and easy to use and you can do one with a group or by yourself.

But, keep in mind, a SWOT analysis can help provide more details around  WHAT you need to work on, but it won’t outline details about  HOW to move forward. Instead, the strategic plan derived from your SWOT will be your course of action. Specifically, the SWOT framework helps you to: 

  • Build on what you do well (strengths)
  • Address what and where your business is lacking (weaknesses)
  • Take advantage of possibilities for success (opportunities)
  • Understand threats to minimize risks (threats)

You can best prepare for the SWOT analysis by ensuring  you understand two things:

  1.  What your competition is doing, and
  2. What your customers and your staff think. 

You can be pretty fairly certain your competitors are doing the same thing.To help you get started, we’ve created a SWOT template for you with questions to get the ball rolling. Here are some tips to get started on creating a great SWOT analysis.

Lead With Your Strengths

This is not the time to be shy. Make a list of all the things you do well as a company. Ask yourself: 

  • What are some brand promises that your customers can expect from you every time? 
  • Do you provide outstanding customer service? 
  • Do you have an innovative company culture?
  •  Does your sales department have outstanding personal relationships with customers? 
  • Is your product the best on the market?

One thing to note: your strengths (like your weaknesses) are the things within your business you have control over, and they often stem from internal actions or policies. Unsure of where your strengths lie?  Most often your strengths are the  things your customers continue to positively highlight —so make sure to survey your customers  before you start your SWOT analysis.

While you are working on your strengths, take note of a very important subcategory: Superpowers. A superpower is a strength that you uncover that sets you apart from your customers in a way that’s meaningful to them. This is a specialized quality that your business does best in the industry and what helps put you above your competition.

Embrace Your Weaknesses

This part of the process may not be the most fun, but it is truly as vital to understand your weaknesses as it is your strengths.

One thing to keep in mind: make sure that the listed weaknesses are based on facts and not just opinion. To maximize your SWOT results, it’s critical to be honest about the blockers that may be keeping you from your goals. Ask yourself: 

  • Are there skills you or your team don’t have that you will need to be successful?
  • Are there any specific points of failure you can look at? 
  • Do you notice any patterns as you list these?

If you’ve already spoken to your customers (or at least have some idea about their viewpoints and opinions)   take some time to review any complaints  and determine if those indicate a potential weakness.

In order to become an even stronger company, use  your complete list of weaknesses as a playbook for areas you’ll need to improve.  

Review Your Internal Factors (Strengths and Weaknesses)

Before you move forward, it’s time to take a breath and step back so you can  thoroughly review your comprehensive list of  strengths and weaknesses. Remember, these are the parts of your business that are internal, and you have control over their change..

Take a few minutes with your team and review what you’ve written. Are you missing anything? Are there some that seem repetitive that you can combine? Once you are satisfied, it’s time to move on to the next part of your analysis.

Use Opportunities For Future Planning  

Your opportunities are defined as a set of circumstances that make it possible to do something.

Looking for opportunities means looking at the competitive landscape  you exist within as well as the economy in general. Ask yourself:

  • Is there something your customers are asking for but you are not giving them? 
  • Is there something your competitors are doing that you could do far better? 
  • What are the needs in your industry that are not being currently met? 

Referring to your list of strengths and weaknesses, you may find an opportunity to fill that gap. Can you turn a weakness or a strength into an opportunity?

Identify Your Threats and Prepare for Them

A threat in a SWOT analysis is anything that could harm your business or limit your opportunities. Because a threat is an external factor, you’ll need to look at your competitors as well as the economic landscape and any current trends. Ask yourself:

  • Have you lost one or more customers recently? Why? 
  • Are any coming trends going to affect your business negatively? 
  • Are there new competitors now, or on the horizon? 
  • How will you prepare for new competition? 
  • What else could put your business at risk?

You’ll be using the previous parts of your SWOT analysis as well as current information to identify any factors that represent a threat.

Find the Patterns and Create a Plan of Action

Now it’s time to create a strategic plan based on the information and patterns you’ve identified in your SWOT analysis. 

First off, take a look at your weaknesses. Is there anything you can eliminate or turn into a strength right away? Is there an opportunity that you can take advantage of quickly? Don’t miss this low-hanging fruit even as you consider the longer-term strategy,

At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of the factors affecting your internal and external situation. From there, you can begin to create a plan of action 

Creating a strong marketing foundation is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. With it, you’ll have the base to tell the world who you are and why they need your product or services. 

After you finish your SWOT analysis, you may want to know how you personally stand among the four corners of a strong marketing foundation, which include: brand and identity, customer relationship management (CRM), online presence, and email marketing. If you’re unsure, you can take our short, free quiz. We’ll get the results back quickly and you can move forward with your strategic marketing roadmap.

Of course, if you still feel stuck, set up a free 15-minute call with one of our experts and we’ll get you on your way to building an amazing marketing foundation that’ll take you exactly where you want to go.

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.