Did you know that companies that plan ahead end up growing 30% faster than those which don’t? Sounds pretty easy, right?
However, trying to plan without conducting a SWOT analysis beforehand is oftentimes lacking efficiency. After all, how can you start planning if you don’t take into consideration internal and external factors that could influence your strategy?
We’ve already discussed the importance of performing a competitor analysis, but, in order for your plan to be airtight, you also need to consider internal factors such as your business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as external ones like opportunities and threats that your business could face in the marketplace.
Ready to better understand the context in which your business operates and to upgrade your plan for better results? Then, keep on reading!
What Is SWOT Analysis?
An acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, the SWOT analysis is a framework used to evaluate both the external and the internal environment in order to optimize strategic planning.
Thanks to this analysis tool, you can depict an accurate image of your business’ context and ditch preconceptions and speculations. As such, this strategic analysis tool will take your business to the next level as it will help you establish tangible plans.
While there are many DOs and DON’Ts of conducting a SWOT analysis, the only big mistake would be not conducting a SWOT analysis or only conducting it once. That being said, the external environment is constantly changing, and your SWOT analysis needs to be adapted simultaneously.
Hence, this diagnostic tool is a cornerstone of building a fact-based digital marketing strategy, as it essentially helps you establish what can be improved at an internal level while also scanning the ever-changing external environment and responding proactively.
How to Do a SWOT Analysis?
The basic SWOT analysis template consists of a square divided into four quadrants. Divided into internal and external factors, the SWOT framework can help you scan both the micro and the macro-environment.
Still, undertaking a SWOT analysis is not just about distinguishing internal and external factors. There are other steps that need to be considered for the results of this process to be maximized.
Keep reading to discover the steps you should follow if you want to create a valuable and informative SWOT analysis!
By now, it is well-known that the first step in any project is establishing objectives, as the framework or the plan should reflect the business’ aims.
Naturally, if you want your SWOT analysis to be insightful, you need to establish clear objectives. A SWOT analysis can be as general or specific as your objective is.
Are you conducting a SWOT analysis for your website? Or for a specific campaign? Are you introducing a new service?
No matter the initiative, for getting useful results, you will need to evaluate your business’ current situation. Nonetheless, this will be easier if you have set objectives and know which areas to analyze.
2. Select Brainstorm Contributors
In order for a SWOT analysis to be effective, brainstorming is necessary.
Think about it. If only one person conducts the SWOT analysis, the final result is likely to be biased. However, if different people with diverse opinions and roles gather together to undertake a SWOT analysis, it will result, without doubt, in an objective and realistic view of your business. And that is the beauty of diversity.
That being said, it is important to choose people from different departments so that information is gathered from across the business and informed decisions are taken.
3. Conduct Research
Research is crucial for an accurate and up-to-date SWOT analysis. Again, by dividing research among the SWOT participants, the chances of the analysis being objective and factual increase.
When gathering information on strengths and weaknesses, you are focusing on internal factors, therefore on things that are in your control.
However, when it comes to external factors, it’s more about scanning the macro-environment for opportunities or threats, such as social or market trends.
Moreover, don’t forget to consider the competitor analysis when conducting research!
4. List Strengths
Despite strengths being in your control, it may be difficult to identify them. Essentially, they give your company an edge over others.
Here are some questions that will help with distinguishing your business’ strengths:
- What do you excel at?
- What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
- What internal resources do you have?
- What do you do better than the competition?
- What do others see as your strengths?
From a powerful brand to a loyal customer base or even to cost advantages, strengths can be tangible or intangible. Therefore, listing all the strengths you can distinguish will help with prioritizing and maximizing them.
5. Figure Out Your Weaknesses
Also within the company’s control, weaknesses are what hinder a company’s progress and value. In order to change or enhance these factors, you will need to go in-depth and identify the underlying causes. So, you need to dig deeper, as just listing weaknesses will give you superficial results.
Here are some questions that will help you put together an insightful list:
- How strong is your brand?
- Are there any limited resources?
- What factors that are controllable hinder your company’s performance?
- Which areas could perform better?
- What resources do you lack?
- Do you have limited research?
Identifying weaknesses is crucial as it is the first step in fixing them to optimize your performance.
6. Define Your Opportunities
Opportunities are favorable external factors that can help your business gain a competitive advantage. To identify opportunities, you need to scan the macro-environment. There are various circumstances that could help your business prosper. You just need to identify the right ones for your business.
Here are some questions that can help you distinguish what kind of opportunities suit your business’ agenda:
- Have there been favorable changes in the market?
- How is your industry perceived?
- Are new opportunities on the market becoming available? Do they suit your goals?
- Have there been shifts in trends or in interest rates that affect your industry?
- What do you perceive as the ideal opportunity for your business?
7. Do Not Forget About Threats
Threats consist of factors outside your control that could cause damage to your business. While threats are uncontrollable, identifying potential ones will undoubtedly help with making informed decisions if you find yourself in that type of situation.
Moreover, in today’s ever-changing and dynamic markets, establishing possible threats is no longer just an option, it has become a necessity. Besides, this way, you can set up a contingency plan.
Here are some questions that will make identifying threats easier:
- Has there been an increase in competition?
- Who are your competitors and your potential competitors? What are their advantages?
- Has there been a shift in consumer behavior?
- What uncontrollable factors could hinder your business?
- What shifts in the political, socio-economic, or cultural sector could affect your progress?
8. Develop A Strategy
The framework wouldn’t reach its full potential if you wouldn’t develop short and long-term strategies based on your findings.
If you have established your objectives, this will be really easy as you will know what you are working towards.
For example, you can use the identified strengths to maximize your opportunities and to minimize threats.
After all, once you become accustomed to the micro-environment, tackling the macro one becomes way easier.
Upgrade Your Business Strategy with A SWOT Analysis!
This strategic analysis tool will not only help with scanning the micro and macro-environment, but it will guide you in maximizing your strengths and minifying your weaknesses.
The SWOT framework is an effective free tool that aids with setting up a fact-based and realistic strategy.
At CadenceSEO we understand the work that goes into a successful marketing strategy. We work with your team to properly research both your business and the market and formulate an airtight strategy.
Want to get started with your SWOT analysis? Book a free consultation with us today!