If you are in business, odds are good that you have done a SWOT analysis. It’s an exercise in evaluating your company to determine its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, like a great sales team or technological savvy (S), or on the flip side, unskilled labor or lack of investment in software (W). Opportunities and threats come from the outside. They might be a growing market for a product (O) or international competition (T).
There are lots of great templates that coach business leaders through a SWOT analysis. The Harvard SWOT is an easy-to-follow one pager that asks simple questions.
The problem I see, as a marketing expert, is that after companies do these SWOT analyses, their leadership does not take the essential next step. They fail to determine how marketing can enhance strengths, diminish weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities and eliminate threats.
My suggestion is to analyze marketing efforts as you analyze your company in general. There’s a ton of evidence to show that this is not being done–business experts constantly harp on the fact that small businesses die on the vine because they don’t put enough time and effort into marketing. In a recent survey, nearly 30 percent of venture capitalists polled said that not marketing at all or marketing poorly is one of the top six reasons companies fail. In another story about business failure, three out of the five reasons business closings were marketing related:
Look at your current marketing plan and assess its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and determine how your marketing plan can be tweaked, fine-tuned and even expanded to better support the changes you are making in your company because of a SWOT analysis. If you do, odds are better that your company won’t be among the 50 percent of new businesses that close within four years.
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