In what Heather has likened to therapy, a “SWOT” analysis systematically examines our relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Ready?
As we discussed earlier, you’re not the only wonder in web town! (I know: Surprise!) So to refine and improve upon your content, and one-up your competition, you first need to truly know thyself, and second, you need a fearless reality-check on where you stand relative to your competitors.
This is where SWOT analysis comes in:
- Strengths: Even if your business is in its infancy, it still possesses certain strengths from the get-go. For instance, can you sell your products at 10-percent less than your competitors? Do you offer unique, fun products not found anywhere else? Besides your intrinsic strengths, consider your external advantages: Do you have a great supplier who ships products fast and works with you on payment terms? That is definitely a plus in the strengths column! Try to come up with ten strengths your company has. If you’re stuck, ask for the opinion of a trusted colleague, friend, or even a client: you may be surprised by how wonderful other people think you are!
- Weaknesses: Just as your business has inherent strengths to bring to the table, the reality is that it — like all businesses — has weak spots. There is at least one internal vulnerability that you need to acknowledge and eventually overcome in your marketing materials (more on that in a later post). For instance: Are you a brand-new company competing against an established one? Are your prices slightly higher because you can’t buy in volume like the big boys? Again, list your top ten weaknesses.
- Opportunities: Time to take heart! These insights and visions — opportunities — are what motivated you to start up your business in the first place, right? Did you see the beginning of an emerging trend, and notice that there are very few sites offering what you want to sell? Do you have scads of contacts from your last job that you could leverage as your own, first few clients? From an SEO standpoint, opportunity can mean that you can optimize for terms and concepts well ahead of — or better than — your competitors. Revisit your strengths: what opportunities present themselves from them? Write down five opportunities that your business has, right now.
- Threats: Real or perceived, threats do exist and it is wise to acknowledge the worst-case scenario and make a plan to work around it. It could be an ex-employee who starts up a competing business. It could be that your supplier doubles their price of an essential product or service. This does not mean your competition will take over your market share and drive you out of business. But it does mean that you should be aware of such threats, and make a solid plan for surviving them! Again, list your top five perceived threats.
Whew! Great job! Now that you’ve done your SWOT analysis, try putting everything you’ve listed — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats — into a matrix, like so:
Now, don’t you feel better, knowing where you stand and where you need to focus your efforts? Next week, we’ll delve deep into how to profile your perfect customer and thereby craft precision benefits statements! Stay tuned!