Marketing Teacher’s Approach to SWOT Analysis.

Why is there a need for an advanced approach to SWOT Analysis?

SWOT analysis is a marketing audit that considers an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Our introductory lesson gives you the basics of how to complete your SWOT as you begin to learn about marketing tools. As you learn more about SWOT analysis, you will become aware of a number of potential limitations with this popular tool. This lesson aims to help you overcome potential pitfalls.

P = Personal experience.

How do you the marketing manger fit in relation with the SWOT analysis? You bring your experiences, skills, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs to the audit. Your perception or simple gut feeling will impact the SWOT.

O = Order – strengths or weaknesses, opportunities or threats.

Often marketing managers will inadvertently reverse opportunities and strengths, and threats and weaknesses. This is because the line between internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats is sometimes difficult to spot. For example, in relation to global warming and climate change, one could mistake environmentalism as a threat rather than a potential opportunity.

W = Weighting.

Too often elements of a SWOT analysis are not weighted. Naturally some points will be more controversial than others. So weight the factors. One way would be to use percentages e.g. Threat A = 10%, Threat B = 70%, and Threat C = 20% (they total 100%).

E = Emphasize detail.

Detail, reasoning and justification are often omitted from the SWOT analysis. What one tends to find is that the analysis contains lists of single words. For example, under opportunities one might find the term ‘Technology.’ This single word does not tell a reader very much. What is really meant is:

‘Technology enables marketers to communicate via mobile devices close to the point of purchase. This provides the opportunity of a distinct competitive advantage for our company.’

This will greatly assist you when deciding upon how best to score and weight each element.

R = Rank and prioritize.

Once detail has been added, and factors have been reviewed for weighting, you can then progress to give the SWOT analysis some strategic meaning i.e. you can begin to select those factors that will most greatly influence your marketing strategy albeit a mix of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Essentially you rank them highest to lowest, and then prioritize those with the highest rank e.g. Where Opportunity C = 60%, Opportunity A = 25%, and Opportunity B = 10% – your marketing plan would address Opportunity C first, and Opportunity B last. It is important to address opportunities primarily since your business should be market oriented. Then match strengths to opportunities and look for a fit. Address any gaps between current strengths and future opportunities. Finally attempt to rephrase threats as opportunities (as with global warming and climate change above), and address weaknesses so that they become strengths. Gap analysis would be useful at this point i.e. where we are now, and where do we want to be? Strategies would bridge the gap between them.

Some of the problems that you may encounter with SWOT are as a result of one of its key benefits i.e. its flexibility. Since SWOT analysis can be used in a variety of scenarios, it has to be flexible. However this can lead to a number of anomalies. Problems with basic SWOT analysis can be addressed using a more critical POWER SWOT. POWER is an acronym for Personal experience, Order, Weighting, Emphasize detail, and Rank and prioritize. This is how it works.