You don’t need an MBA degree to effectively carry out SWOT analyses, although having one would be a definite advantage. All you need is a systematic SWOT analysis approach and the discipline to follow it. Knowing your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats helps you come up with more appropriate courses of action, especially for marketing activities such as research, promotion, lead generation, and others. Here is an ideal way to conduct a SWOT analysis.
- Look internally. The first half of the SWOT acronym stands for “strengths” and “weaknesses” which refer to internal conditions in your business. This implies taking a long and hard look at your brand, your business processes, and your company as a whole to see which areas you excel in and which aspects you need to improve on. For example, one of your company’s strengths might be having a sound brand that captures your mission and vision while a weakness might be that your lead generation process veers away from your company values.
- Examine external factors. Your interaction and relative position with your competitors and customers constitute much of the second half of the SWOT analysis, which relates to “opportunities” and “threats.” These external factors include such things as a competitor’s telemarketing activities, shifting customer preferences, new industry regulations, changing technology, etc.
- Draw some insights. After you have identified every possible internal and external factor that currently affects your business, you now determine how they interact. This means determining relationships between internal and external conditions to see how they impact one other. This will help you define problems, discover solutions, and set objectives as you go along. In our example, one vital insight might be that our lead generation methods do not adequately represent our brand and thus affect how our customers and prospects view the organization.
A SWOT analysis can help you assess and redirect your marketing efforts to address changing conditions. It should be conducted using a number of perspectives to really get the full business picture. Also, a SWOT analysis should be written down preferably in tabular form for a more thorough and insightful assessment.