The world of digital marketing is constantly changing. With new developments each day, it’s crucial that you stay on top of your game. Do you want to understand how internal and external factors are affecting your business? A SWOT analysis can help you find the answers.
Have you heard of a SWOT analysis before? Perhaps you’re aware of the concept but still wondering how it can help YOUR business initiatives and growth goals?
In today’s article, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know about SWOT analysis and how it can help you to define your digital marketing plan.
What is a SWOT analysis?
Whether you’re a startup or an established company, a SWOT analysis is a simple but powerful tool to help you develop your business strategy.
Conducting a SWOT analysis allows you to understand the current state of your business and inbound marketing strategy before you make any decisions to move forward. Essentially, it requires you to take a long, hard look in the mirror (the company mirror, not the one in your bathroom) and ask yourself: what’s going well and what isn’t?
A SWOT analysis helps you to understand the different internal and external factors that can affect your success as you work towards your marketing goals. It helps you to understand:
- How to move your business and inbound marketing strategy forward
- Potential opportunities that you’re missing out on
- Challenges that you’re facing now or might face in the future
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
What does SWOT stand for?
The marketing world loves a good acronym, so here’s another one to add to your glossary.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Let’s break those categories down a bit.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors. They’re aspects of your business that you have control over and can change. Here are some examples of each:
Strengths are positive internal attributes, for example:
- Things your company does well
- Qualities that differentiate you from competitors
- Internal resources such as knowledge, skills, reputation, and network
- Physical assets such as equipment, technology, customers, etc.
Weaknesses are negative internal attributes, such as:
- Things your company is lacking in
- Weak business processes
- Gaps in your team
- Resource limitations
Opportunities and threats are external.
These categories cover things that are going on outside your company, in the larger market.
Opportunities are external factors that could bring you success, including:
- Growing market and trends
- Press/media coverage
- Upcoming events that you could use to grow your business
- High lead generation and engagement
Last but not least – threats. You might not like to think about threats to your business, but recognizing them is a key factor in finding success. Threats include anything and everything that poses a risk to your company.
- Emerging competitors
- Negative press or media coverage
- Changes in attitudes of customers or in consumer behavior
- Developments in technology or regulatory environment
At this point, you might be wondering why you need to think about all these things. There’s a good reason, we promise!
Why should you perform a SWOT analysis?
Performing a SWOT analysis on your company allows you to organize and analyze your top strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Identifying these things is the first step towards understanding how to move forward.
You’ll be forced to see your business through new eyes, so take off those rose-tinted glasses!
By analyzing your business, you can determine a clear action plan that’ll help you understand how to define your digital marketing strategy.
SWOT analysis can be used in many different scenarios, not just as an overview of your business. You could apply it to evaluate the potential strengths and weaknesses of a planned content project or an upcoming advertising campaign.
Who should conduct a SWOT analysis?
To perform an effective SWOT analysis you should gather a group of people who can offer different perspectives on the company, including founders and leaders. Try to involve people from different departments, from sales and marketing to production and development. This way you’ll have a comprehensive overview of how your business is operating.
You can even do a SWOT analysis if you’re running a business alone. Try to find additional points of view so you can ensure the analysis isn’t biased.
How to perform a SWOT analysis
Did we mention that it’s super easy?
All you need to conduct a SWOT analysis is a pen and paper. You’ll need to divide your paper into 4 sections, one for each category: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It should look something like this:
Of course, if you prefer to work with an organized template, there are plenty available. Hubspot has one you can find here.
Ready to go? Let’s take a look at the steps involved in a SWOT analysis.
- Gather people from different areas of your company to ensure a diverse range of perspectives
- Brainstorm ideas for each section (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). It’s a good idea to ask people to do this individually first, to prevent thinking as a group.
- Together decide on 3 or 4 points for each heading and add them to the SWOT table
- Create an actionable plan based upon the strengths and weaknesses you’ve listed from your current efforts. It should take advantage of opportunities in the market, and also account for potential threats to your strategy.
How can I use my results to define my digital marketing strategy?
In a digital world that constantly changing right before our eyes, as digital marketers, it’s imperative that we understand it and find our niche.
Take a look at your strengths and determine how you can use those strengths to take advantage of your opportunities. Next, analyze how your unique strengths can help you to combat external threats. You can also think about how external opportunities can help to combat your internal weaknesses, and how you can minimize those to avoid future threats.
Now, when you begin planning your digital marketing strategy you’ll have a clear set of goals in mind to continue moving forward.
SWOT analysis example: Starbucks
You might be surprised that a globally successful business like Starbucks might need to conduct a SWOT analysis, but they do!
Regardless of how successful you are, the market is constantly developing and changing, and new threats and opportunities are always emerging. Even Starbucks has to stay on top of their game somehow! That’s how they keep us addicted to those delicious, sugar-filled frappuccinos…
Let’s take a look at some of Starbucks’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Okay, now it’s time to create an actionable plan for Starbucks (for the sake of this example).
To keep moving forward and retain its strong market position, Starbucks should continue making improvements and advancements in the company. If Starbucks were asking us how to define their digital marketing strategy with the results of our SWOT analysis (which they’re not), we’d say:
- Integrate creative marketing and branding strategies that strengthen Starbucks’s brand image as a contributor to community development
- Reduce prices to increase scope of audience
- Diversify products and services to suit local markets
- Combat imitation and rising competition by advancing technology and developing innovative solutions
Want to read more case-studies to get a comprehensive understanding of what a SWOT analysis looks like in practice? Bplans wrote a great article covering 6 very different companies, and how they used the SWOT analysis for growth.
Remember, if you’d like help with your content analysis and planning
you can always ask us for a free consultation.