Marketing 101: The SWOT Analysis

When implementing any new marketing strategy, it is important to conduct a SWOT analysis for your business. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is pronounced the same way as SWAT, but unfortunately it isn’t as interesting as Samuel L. Jackson in a bullet-proof vest breaking down a wall. To get a better understanding of what SWOT means, let’s expand on each topic.


What are the strengths of your company that set you apart from your competitors? Start by making a list of things that you do better than other companies in your industry. This could be a marketing or sales strategy that has worked, or it could be a product you offer that no one else sells.


What are some of the areas internally and externally that you can implement change? Write down different processes that you don’t perform very well, or areas in your company where people or resources may be needed to fulfill a role. Pinpointing your weaknesses will help you move towards running a more efficient and productive company.


Is your company maximizing the potential of it’s products, services, and relationships? There could be a new form of marketing, a new product you could sell, or a chance to strategically partner with another company. Some opportunities may be more beneficial than others so take a good look at all available opportunities and prioritize the ones that will benefit your business. Assess the possible risks and rewards associated with each option before you make any definite decisions.


What external factors pose the biggest threat to your business? A competitor could be offering a new product, or a new company may be expanding into your region. It is extremely important to assess each threat and come up with a plan for how you will respond as a company. At times it may be hard to assess the immediate risks of certain factors so always try to be proactive rather than reactive.

Take this scenario for instance:

Joe’s air conditioning is doing fairly well in terms of revenue generated, but Joe knows he can do better. He performs a SWOT analysis to determine where his company is doing well, and how it can improve. Here are his findings:

  • S- Joe’s company sells the most energy-efficient air conditioners within a 50 mile radius. He also offers discounts and pricing that are much more affordable than other HVAC dealers in his region. His vendor awarded him with the highest rating for dealers in his county.
  • W- Joe only advertises using traditional marketing. He is unfamiliar with technology and doesn’t have a website for his business. When he searches for his company on Google nothing comes up, and his biggest competitor is always in the top spot for the “organic” or Search Engine Optimization portion of the search engine results page.
  • O- Joe’s distributor is willing to co-op, share in the cost of, Internet marketing campaigns. His competition is participating in Search Engine Optimization on Google, but Joe could gain market share if he did Pay Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Search Engine Optimization or both.
  • T- A new dealer has opened a shop 10 miles away from Joe, and is being offered the same co-op deal from his distributor. This dealer already has a website and is interested in doing search engine marketing, which would take away from Joe’s possible market share. Joe develops an aggressive Pay-Per-Click strategy to maximize his exposure and lead generation and supplements it with a modest Organic Search Engine Optimization strategy for incremental growth over the next two years.

After analyzing his SWOT analysis, Joe found that he could create much more revenue by establishing an online presence, and he could immediately take market share from his biggest competitor by starting a PPC campaign. Joe acted before the new dealer, and dominated the online market for both organic and paid results within a year of starting his campaign. Joe had to hire two new technicians due to the business generated through his Internet marketing campaigns.

Here is my challenge to you: After you read this, create a SWOT analysis for your company being honest with yourself and coworkers. Sometimes it can be hard to admit weaknesses, but highlighting your strengths and weaknesses, developing a strategy, and executing will pay off. Just remember…Samuel L. Jackson is watching!