Use SWOT to Pinpoint Business Strengths and Weaknesses


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Chris Ryan of Fusion Marketing Partners wrote an excellent article on SWOT analysis, SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT analysis helps you find blind spots within your organization or plans. A detailed SWOT analysis will help you discover opportunities. Sometimes a SWOT analysis may appear to be a difficult task to accomplish but Chris explains how SWOT analysis works and provides marketing and sales examples to help you get started.

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  • Excellent presentation. I especially appreciated the slide that talks about how easy it is to overlook our blind spots.
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  • As Sun Tzu put it so eloquently in The Art of War (highly recommended reading for the Winning B2B Marketer), “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
  • According to the creators of the method, SWOT essentially tells you what is good and bad about a business or a particular proposition or category.
  • The four dimensions are a useful extension of the basic list of pros and cons that many of us use to guide decisions. According to the creators of the method, SWOT essentially tells you what is good and bad about a business or a particular proposition or category.
  • Socrates was right when he made the observation, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and this statement
    applies equally to the individual, the team, the department, and the organization.
  • Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel, wrote a famous book titled, Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company. The huge success of the book is no doubt due to its excellent advice, but also to the way the title and theme of paranoia resonate with entrepreneurs and
    business people of every stripe. Who doesn’t experience paranoia given the tough economic climate, international competition and rapidly changing technology? However, it is not enough for you to be paranoid. You need to understand why it is that you should be paranoid. Frankly, many people do not ask these tough questions because they would prefer not to know the answers.
  • At the first stage of the process, you are only asking questions, you are not attempting to create action items or set strategic direction. Do not draw conclusions at this point and do not make any business decisions based on your answers. The point is to get all of the relevant input out on the table
    before you attempt to organize the data and use it for planning purposes. Every SWOT analysis I have participated in has generated far more data than it is possible to work with. After the initial brainstorm and data collection phase, you will need to synthesize the data into the most important and relevant points.

  • The outcome of SWOT analysis is dependent on your particular needs and objectives. However, in general, you are looking to use each of the SWOT quadrants for issues as demonstrated above.
  • Visit the CBM website often for more information about each of these important planning attributes.
  • Use SWOT to Pinpoint Business Strengths and Weaknesses

    1. 1. Use SWOT Analysis to Pinpoint Strengths and Weaknesses Chris Ryan
    2. 2. “Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map.” - Wayne Calloway
    3. 3. Know Your Competition It is necessary to know your opponents (business competitors) because they’re: – Strengths represent threats to you – And, their weaknesses represent opportunities for you to exploit Marketing is war: To win at war, you must be acquainted with yourself, your enemy, and the battlefield.
    4. 4. The Need for SWOT Analysis • SWOT analysis came from research conducted at Stanford Research Institute between 1960 and 1970 to learn why corporate planning failed. • Fortune 500 companies funded the initial research to find a way to overcome poor planning.
    5. 5. Critical Insight to Support Planning A SWOT analysis is a subjective assessment of data that is organized by the SWOT format into a logical order that helps understanding, presentation, discussion, and decision-making. Read Chris Ryan’s article on SWOT analysis here!
    6. 6. SWOT Categories A SWOT analysis always focuses on four categories: 1. Strengths – What are we good at; where do we excel; where do we have a unique advantage or significant head start? 2. Weaknesses – What are we not good at; where are our vulnerabilities; where are we less than adequate; where have we been ineffective in comparison to the competition? 3. Opportunities – Where can we take advantage of current market trends; where can we exploit our strengths and the competition’s weaknesses; what are the possibilities for a big win; what excites us the most? 4. Threats – Which of the competitors are coming on strong; where are the market trends working against us; what are the gaps that can be exploited by our competitors; what scares us the most?
    7. 7. Expose Your Blind Spots Every individual, and every company, has one or more blind spots. Your ability to discover these blind spots is critical to the achievement of your marketing and sales goals. However, it is not just weaknesses that you must discover, but also your strengths, opportunities, and threats.
    8. 8. Ignorance is Not Bliss Ask the tough questions: 1. What are the weaknesses in you, your department, your marketing strategy, the company? 2. What are the internal and external threats that can take you off your game or take you out of the game altogether? Note: Marketing & Sales are tough. Root out your weaknesses and find ways to minimize and/or overcome them.
    9. 9. Performing the SWOT Exercise • Perform the SWOT analysis on two levels: – Macro (the entire company or division) – Micro (your department) • Perform SWOT analysis to ensure all relevant issues are on the table. And, be sure to: – Gain consensus from necessary stake holders – Guide the actions that have the greatest chance of achieving your objectives
    10. 10. Achieving the Right Outcomes Use the 4 SWOT quadrants to address issues that will help you achieve the right outcome: 1. Strengths – How do we maintain our strengths, build on them, maximize our advantages, and create greater leverage in the marketplace? 2. Weaknesses – How do we get the team (or company) to recognize its weaknesses, fix what is fixable, mitigate what is not fixable, or utilize outside resources to bring us up to par? 3. Opportunities – Of the many opportunities we have, how do we prioritize them given our strengths and weaknesses? Where can we get the greatest return on our human and financial investments? 4. Threats – Which of the threats against us are most likely to derail our business; how do we minimize or counter these threats; what can we do to get out of the line of fire?
    11. 11. An Example of SWOT Analysis
    12. 12. Summary • Know your competition. Capitalize on your opponents weaknesses and recognize their strengths. • Gain critical insights through your own SWOT analysis, with the goal of creating positive change to improve decision-making. • Expose your blind spots. This will help you achieve your marketing and sales goals. • Perform the SWOT analysis at the macro and micro level. Get all relevant issues out on the table. • Ask the tough questions and achieve the right outcomes.
    13. 13. Free SWOT Analysis Template Free SWOT Analysis Template Get started faster. Download this free SWOT guide and template to accelerate your decision analysis.
    14. 14. About the Center for Business Modeling CBM is the leading provider of proprietary software and planning tools. We offer an online peer group of subject matter experts and practical user-friendly resources. Our tools are designed to accelerate your business’s profitability and growth. Click here to learn more about the Center for Business Modeling Follow us on Twitter: @Ctr4BizModeling LinkedIn: modeling
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