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When working with a new client, I usually start by conducting a detailed telephone interview in which I learn all about the client’s products or services, the benefits they provide, the things that set them apart, their competition and much more. Although no one is ever surprised when I ask about their strengths, nearly everyone is surprised when I ask about their weaknesses. But as the SWOT analysis illustrates, in marketing it is important to understand both.


What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a formal way to assess your business’ potential by listing the good and bad things about the business from both internal and external viewpoints. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats,” and a SWOT is laid out in a grid like this. Strengths and weaknesses are the internal factors, while opportunities and threats are the external factors.


  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3


  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3


  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3


  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

 What types of things should you analyze for your SWOT?

  • Strengths & Weaknesses – Factors under your control, such as business location, reputation, customer list, specialized expertise, distribution and branding.
  • Opportunities & Threats – Things happening in the broader business environment, such as political and regulatory issues, social and cultural changes, suppliers, and the weather.

How can you turn your SWOT into marketing strategies?

The basic idea is to do something about your weaknesses, and leverage your strengths to pursue the opportunities and reduce your exposure to the threats.

 Here are some examples:

  • Strength: Strong brand recognition
    Opportunity: New markets caused by shifting demographics
    Use your strong brand name to launch new products targeted to these new markets.

  • Strength: Highly skilled in-house designer
    Threat: Changing fashions
    Strategy: Have your designer create new models or versions of your product that take current tastes into account. 
  • Weakness: Outdated e-commerce website
    Threat: New players entering your market
    Strategy: Make updating your website a top priority, and ensure the new site provides the best user experience available.
  • Weakness: Prices are perceived as too high
    Strategy: Work to bring your prices down either permanently or temporarily through promotions, or rebrand your product as a luxury item.        

In marketing, knowledge is one of the keys to success. A SWOT analysis will help you create your marketing strategies by forcing you to look at your business in a different way.


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