SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a method of assessing a business, its resources, and its environment. In my case, MARKETING DEPARTMENT. In doing so, it is a good way to better understand a business and its markets, and can also show potential marketing propaganda in the future.
The essence of the SWOT analysis is to discover what you do well; how you could improve; whether you are making the most of the opportunities around you; and whether there are any changes in your market—such as technological developments, mergers of businesses, or unreliability of suppliers—that may require corresponding changes in your business.
FOR A START:
Making it happen
Take time to consider that what you believe are the strengths of your business. These can be seen in terms of your staff, products, customer loyalty, processes, or location. Evaluate what your business does well; it could be your marketing expertise, your environmentally-friendly packaging, or your excellent customer service. It’s important to try to evaluate your strengths in terms of how they compare to those of your competitors.
For example, if you and your competitors provide the same prompt delivery time, then this cannot be listed as a strength. However, if your delivery staff is extremely polite and helpful, and your competitor’s staff has very few customer-friendly attributes, then you should consider listing your delivery staff’s attitude as a strength. It is very important to be totally honest and realistic. Try to include some personal strengths and characteristics of your staff as individuals, and the management team as individuals. Whatever you do, you must be totally honest and realistic: there’s no point creating a useless work of fiction!
Try to take an objective look at every aspect of your business. Ask yourself whether your products and services could be improved. Think about how reliable your customer service is, or whether your supplier always delivers exactly what you want, when you want it. Try to identify any area of expertise that is lacking in the business. as you can then take steps to improve that aspect. For example, you might realize that you need some more sales staff, or financial help and guidance. Don’t forget to think about your business’s location and whether it really does suit your purpose. Is there enough parking, or enough opportunities to attract passing trade? Your main objective during this exercise is to be as honest as you can in listing weaknesses. Don’t just make a list of mistakes that have been made, such as an occasion when a customer was not called back promptly. Try to see the broader picture instead and learn from what happened. It may be that your systems or processes could be improved so that customers are contacted at the right time, so work on boosting your systems and making that change happen rather than looking about for someone to blame. It’s a good idea to get an outside viewpoint on what your weaknesses are as your own perceptions may not always marry up to reality. You may strongly believe that your years of experience in a sector reflect your business’s thorough grounding and knowledge of all of your customers’ needs. Your customers, on the other hand, may perceive this wealth of experience as an old-fashioned approach that shows an unwillingness to change and workwith new ideas. Be prepared to hear things you may not like, but which, ultimately, may be estremely helpful.
The next step is to analyze your opportunities, and this can be tackled in several ways. External opportunities can include the misfortune of competitors who are not performing well, providing you with the opportunity to do better. There may be technological developments that you could benefit from, such as broadband arriving in your area, or a new process enhancing your products. There may be some legislative changes affecting your customers, offering you an opportunity to provide advice, support, or added services. Changes in market trends and consumer buying habits may provide the development of a niche market, of which you could take advantage before your competitors, if you are quick enough to take action.
Another good idea is to consider your weaknesses more carefully, and work out ways of addressing the problems, turning them around in order to create an opportunity. For example, the pressing issue of a supplier who continually lets you down could be turned into an opportunity by sourcing another supplier who is more reliable and who may even offer you a better deal. If a member of staff leaves, you have an opportunity to reevaluate duties more efficiently or to recruit a new member of staff who brings additional experience and skills with them.
Analyzing the threats to your business requires some guesswork, and this is where your analysis can be overly subjective. Some threats are tangible, such as a new competitor moving into your area, but others may be only intuitive guesses that result in nothing. Having said that, it’s much better to be vigilant because if potential threat does become a real one, you’ll be able to react much quicker: you’ll have considered your options already and hopefully also put some contingency planning into place. Think about the worst things that could realistically happen, such as losing your customers to your major competitor, or the development of a new product far superior toyour own. Listing your threats in your SWOT analysis will provide ways for you to plan to deal with the threats, if they ever actually start to affect your business.
After completing your SWOT analysis, it’s vital that you learn from the information you have gathered. You should now plan to build on your strengths, using them to their full potential, and also plan to reduce your weaknesses, either by minimizing the risk they represent, or making changes to overcome them. Now that you understand where your opportunities lie, make the most of them and aim to capitalize on every opportunity in front of you. Try to turn threats into opportunities. Try to be proactive, and put plans into place to counter any threats as they arise. To help you in planning ahead, you could combine some of the areas you have highlighted in the boxes; for example, if you see an external opportunity of a new market growing, you will be able to check whether your internal strengths will be able to make the most of the opportunity. For example, do you have enough trained staff in place, and can your phone system cope with extra customer orders? If you have a weakness that undermines an opportunity, it provides a good insight as to how you might develop your internal strengths and weaknesses to maximize your opportunities and minimize your threats.
The basic SWOT process is to fill in the four boxes, but the real benefit is to take an overview of everything in each box, in relation to all the other boxes. This comparative analysis will then provide an evaluation that links external and internal forces to help your business prosper.
Every week, in marketing, I got to do a SWOT. It is a never ending thing for me since I have to base some decisions of whether or not push through with this or make a new one. At the start, it'll be so much pain but in the end it'll be like the usual routine office work.
This article is taken from www.blogs.bnet.com