Friday, April 25, 2014

Do You Know Your SWOT?

SWOT analysis is one of the most basic--and useful--evaluations you can undertake in preparing and implementing a marketing plan. The basic SWOT grid looks like this:

Strengths and weaknesses generally vary from company to company. For instance, Ford's improved financial situation proved to be a strength during the recent recession, when many competitors were weakened and some needed bailouts. Today, the U.S. car companies are using their strengths to address opportunities such as improving fuel efficiency and selling into global markets.

As another example, Apple's expertise in product design and innovation is a definite strength in the tech world, where me-too products are all too common. Now Samsung, long known for its efficiencies and quality, is looking to make product innovation into a competitive strength.

What about opportunities and threats, both current and projected? Analyze opportunities in terms of how you can apply your strengths and exploit rivals' weaknesses to achieve goals such as growth or market share. And defend against threats by addressing your weaknesses, using your strengths, and building on your rivals' weaknesses.

Another important point: strengths and weaknesses are dynamic, not static--so you must update your analysis of your own capabilities and those of your competitors. Same with opportunities and threats, which may emerge and evolve at any time.

One of my 2013 posts identifies four ways you can learn from your competitors:
  1. Understanding what makes your rivals so successful.
  2. Identifying their weaknesses and their strengths.
  3. Finding out how and why their resources and strategies give them momentum.
  4. Adapt or fine-tune your strategies and tactics based on a deeper understanding of your competitors.
To see a brief SWOT analysis in context, take a look at the sample marketing plan from my latest Marketing Plan Handbook, available online here.

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