Now, there are a lot of cogs and gears that go into creating a well-oiled marketing plan. There are budgets, digital marketing tactics, goals and objectives, a SWOT analysis, and many more.Did you know about 40% of B2B marketers don't have a documented strategy? Let's change that. #swot #marketingstrategy #marketingplan Click To Tweet
Creating a proper marketing plan is crucial to the growth and success of your business. Yet, about 40% of B2B marketers don’t have a documented strategy.
The backbone of your marketing plan comes from evaluating your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — also known as a SWOT analysis. What is a SWOT analysis? You’ve come to the right place.
Business Marketing Strategy: An Overview
To understand the importance of a SWOT analysis, we need to look at the bigger picture first—your entire business marketing strategy.
A strategy is essentially a plan for your business’ marketing efforts. Your business marketing strategy is both the research and the plan put together in a seamless way for your business.
Your marketing strategy is your marketing objectives and goals put together in a combined, comprehensive plan. Base your plan on solid, reliable market research. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to market to them. The easier it is to sell to them, the easier it is to find the right marketing tools.
A great marketing strategy identifies target customers and helps you to understand their needs and wants. This information, in turn, will allow you to create actionable tactics within each marketing area.
The two fundamental parts of your marketing research are going to be:
- Segmentation and targeting
- A SWOT analysis
Both of these will help you determine the basis for your marketing strategy through quantifiable data. You’ll know who you want to be talking to and how you plan on talking to them. You will understand the areas in which your business may need to adapt or where it outshines your competitors.
The Foundation: Your SWOT Analysis
Performing a SWOT analysis is crucial to the success of your overall marketing strategy. To know why let’s have a look at precisely what a SWOT analysis is.
A SWOT analysis is a framework for identifying and then analyzing your marketing performance through the lenses of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We perform a SWOT to examine the external and internal factors that can impact a marketing decision. This marketing decision may be one that your business either wants to make or needs to make.
When Should You Do A SWOT Analysis?
It’s vital to perform a SWOT analysis at the beginning of a strategic marketing planning exercise.
A SWOT analysis can help identify potential opportunities before they fare missed when performed in the early stages. Or identify threats before they become unavoidable.
Imagine how much money you could save if you identified your business’s core marketing strengths before spending a nickel. That’s what a well-performed SWOT can do for your marketing efforts. Knowing this information before implementing a marketing plan will ultimately become fundamental to your marketing strategy’s success.
Here are the fundamental elements that make up a SWOT analysis, followed by a few leading questions to guide you:
- Strengths are the internal factors and resources that will aid in a successful outcome.
- Where does your business excel when it comes to marketing? (e.g., blogging, video, podcast, ads)
- What are your best-selling products?
- What does your organization have the money, time, and resources to market successfully?
- Weaknesses are internal factors and resources that will negatively affect a successful outcome.
- What marketing projects never seem to get finished? Why? (e.g., lack of time, not enough money, the idea doesn’t seem to fit the product)
- What resources do we need to meet our goals?
- Opportunities are the external forces that your business can capitalize on or use to your advantage.
- Is there an expert we know who can help us execute our goals?
- Where are there cross-promotional opportunities?
- Is there an emerging technology we could use to attract our customers? Or an emerging channel where they’re hanging out?
- Threats are the external forces that could potentially jeopardize your business’ success.
- Is there a competitor crowding your space or taking market share?
- Did COVID-19 (or natural disaster) disrupt your traditional marketing efforts?
Performing a SWOT Analysis
If you’re thinking, wow, this seems useful. You’re right. Marketing is only one area where a SWOT analysis helps with decision-making. You can perform SWOT analyses for:
- Your entire business
- Overall business strategy
- A particular product or service
- A look at your customers
- Your different marketing channels
- Before launching a product (or program)
As long as you identify what you’re analyzing before you get started, you can analyze anything with a SWOT.
We recommend doing a SWOT for each product and service along with your business as a whole. Understanding internal and external forces affecting your business helps you dive into the details of how you’re going to market each one.
SWOT: Analyzing Strengths
Evaluating strengths involves digging deeper into the internal factors that can affect a successful marketing strategy.
At this stage, you’re analyzing what characteristics make your business attractive to your target market. Put your products and services against those of your competitors, pinpointing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Different areas of your business may have various USPs.
Business strengths include an innovative service or product, an impeccable reputation in the industry, or something a simple as being conveniently located.
Ultimately, you’re going to want to identify the strengths that will be attractive to your target audience and use those. Correctly identifying what your strengths are can aid you in:
- Increasing word-of-mouth referrals
- Increasing traffic and conversions on your website
- Creating content to direct potential customers through your sales funnel
A perfect example of a business strength might be that your business has tons of positive online reviews. In this case, your marketing strategy needs to include getting those positive reviews in front of as many potential customers as possible. It will help you stand out amongst a sea of competition.
SWOT: Analyzing Weaknesses
It’s never easy to analyze our blind spots and where we’ve come up short of reaching our goals. Yet, that’s where the GOLD is. Weakness is where we can improve. It unlocks the door to opportunities that have been under our noses all along.
A weakness is anything that may hinder you from achieving a marketing goal. A good starting point is to analyze previous marketing campaigns and identify the tactics that went wrong.
The most crucial part of identifying weakness is understanding that these are things that are entirely within your control.
For example, maybe your business doesn’t use video for marketing. If you find you’re losing out to a competitor over and over who does use video, this may be a marketing weakness you need to shore up. It may mean your new digital marketing strategy needs to include video. Or, perhaps the research of previous efforts wasn’t detailed enough to correctly target your niche. Thus, you missed the ball on reaching the right audience.
You may find that previous marketing strategies and tactics failed to ‘show off’ your USP to your audience, resulting in underperformance.
One of the most common things that fall under the weakness category is that businesses lack a skilled labor force or an expert in a particular field. After identifying this weakness, a company can decide to hire in-house or outsource to a professional.
SWOT: Identifying Opportunities
Identifying an opportunity means looking outside your organization for any possible factors that may allow your business to succeed and prosper. Opportunities can be anything from competitors underperforming or dropping the ball, new markets emerging, or even a new trend within your industry.
Opportunities are beyond your control, but ultimately, they will affect your marketing strategy, meaning you need to pay attention to it (e.g., industry trends, potential partnerships, etc.). It’s not uncommon to struggle with finding opportunities. Another tactic is analyzing who could help you resolve your weaknesses.
Sometimes, opportunities may not be noticeable in advance, so you need to remain vigilant as the market shifts.
SWOT: Identifying Threats
Like weaknesses, business owners often resist targeting threats. Why? Because threats threaten the success of their efforts. Yet, the risk of failure is why threats are so critical to project planning and execution.
Shining a light on external factors outside of your direct control allows you to create contingency plans for handling threats when they come up. Failing to consider threats leaves you with tremendous blind spots as you execute your marketing strategy.
Think objectively. Could there be a new competitor in your industry? Is your sector at risk of being disrupted (like taxis, newspapers, and the music industry)? 2020 presented many worst-case scenarios that likely didn’t factor into many SWOTs in 2019, including global pandemic, inability to meet with customers in-person, dependency on eCommerce, and digital solutions across all industries.
Identifying threats allows your business to take a serious look at the risks to your marketing strategy’s success. Threats are always my favorite stage because, on the other side of identifying threats is developing solutions, resulting in a much more resilient approach.
The more out-of-the-box you can be at this stage, the more proactive you’ll be when (if!) it happens.
Building Your Business Marketing Strategy
As you can see, a SWOT analysis is fundamental to building a successful marketing strategy, as it can be the foundation on which you base your strategy, and eventually, your marketing plan.
A marketing strategy cannot go without a SWOT analysis; it would be like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread!
The next step in your marketing journey is moving from your strategy to your marketing plan. Women Conquer Business offers a range of services to help you develop a marketing strategy, create a SWOT analysis, and develop short-, medium-, and long-term goals to shore up weaknesses.
In addition to solving hairy marketing operations problems, I host one of the best business podcasts for women, the Women Conquer Business podcast, which provides actionable strategies, business how-to’s, and real-world advice from subject matter experts and entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business. But if you want the REAL story, I am an uber-nerd who loves dad jokes, building seamless systems, and helping leaders find more joy in their work.