“Analysis is the Critical Starting Point of Strategic Thinking”

~ Kenichi Ohmae (Japanese theorist, management consultant)

In building a strong Strategic Marketing Plan, analysis is where it begins. Understanding where you are currently will help identify how and where you will be going.

All companies must identify and understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). If you have experienced a SWOT Analysis project in the past, you know it can be a daunting process. Our SWOT Analysis Tool helps guide you through the process and sets the foundation for what your business will have to overcome to be successful, grow, and thrive.

There are many areas to examine when you dive deep into the internal and current happenings of your company. Many areas dictate how you will progress toward your goals for success.

  • Will you overcome a huge obstacle that is currently affecting your bottom line?
  • Will you be able to grow at a rate that is desired?
  • Do you have the right resources in place to grow / succeed?

Let’s Get Into It

Your SWOT will focus on your company’s current situation, identify what areas need to be improved to move forward, and identify any hazards that may hinder you in the future.

Let’s examine the internal factors pertaining to what you have, how you can reduce the chances of failure, identify what / where you are lacking, and evaluate the speed bumps that could throw you off course.

Strengths

Strengths, we know them well, right? Most companies have a good idea about what they do well, but are the strengths written down? Anyone write down the why or how the company performs at its best?

Understanding that strengths are distinguishing you from the competition. Think about these as advantages your company has over other companies who work with the same types of clients or in the same industry as you.

  • Are you employees more knowledgeable / experienced?
  • Is your company’s brand reputation stronger?
  • Has your leadership proven the most capable?
  • Are you proactive in ALL your relationships?

These areas may be the beginning of the motivation you need to advance your staff, expand or grow your brand / marketing materials, or to identify the strongest lead generation methods for your company. If you can’t identify the following, you should start here:

  • What do you do better than any competitor?
  • What core values drive your business?
  • What unique resources do you offer (certifications, degrees, experts, etc.)?

Once you’ve looked hard internally, turn your perspective to what your competitors would see as your strengths.

  • What factors prove you win the project / client over them?
  • What resources prove you can better serve the client?
  • What value proposition strengthens this?

Any aspect of your company is only a strength if it brings clear advantage over the competition. If you perform competitive research and find your competitors provide the same high-quality services and cannot see any differentiators, then high-quality service is not a strength (it’s a commodity that everyone offers).

So, ask yourself, what makes your company stand high above the others?

Weaknesses

Don’t be afraid to dig and uncover your company’s weaknesses. Being honest and identifying the areas of weakness means you will be more successful knowing where your limitations lie.

Weaknesses reside inside us all – personally and within our companies. Focusing on the lack of resources, systems, processes, or areas of improvement should not be a negative project. Identifying them and building a plan for improvement is the way to go!

Like strengths, look at how the competition see you:

  • Do you lack marketing resources to build a strong brand?
  • Are there weaknesses in thought leadership / knowledge of industry basics?
  • Is your company known as a cheaper option?

Take time to examine weaknesses to understand, clarify the areas of your business that need a plan of action, and build a plan to become stronger.

Conclusion

A SWOT Analysis isn’t a tool that you do once and put it on the shelf. It is a part of your overall marketing / company strategic plan to utilize when something changes or could change the way you do business. By understanding the four categories: strengths, weaknesses (INTERNAL), opportunities and threats (EXTERNAL), you are already ahead of many companies.

Read Part 2: External
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