So you have an awesome product, a great product that will change how people do things. It’s time to get the word out with a well executed marketing plan. You’re thinking of all possible channels like newspapers, popular blogs, social media and press releases. But before you market your product or service to people it is important to remember that features are good, but it’s the differentiators that matter. A SWOT analysis of you and your competitors help you identify these differentiators. It will help you to say the right thing to different people and help you to answer those very important questions, what makes you different and Why Should I Choose You? What is a SWOT analysis? SWOT stands for:- Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats SWOT analysis of Apple in 2013[/caption] Competitor analysis Competitor analysis is critical for any marketing plan and SWOT analysis provides the perfect way to do this. Usually a PEST analysis is done before a SWOT analysis to provide the details for opportunities and threats section. Once you have the complete SWOT diagrams of you and your competitors you can make better decisions regarding your marketing plan. Once you identify the weaknesses of your competitors you can highlight them in your landing pages, advertising campaigns and press releases. Look for common weaknesses in your competitors and include them in your marketing so it would be appealing for many people and also for people looking for alternatives. PEST analysis Opportunities comes in many forms, hence the value of doing a PEST analysis. PEST stands for:- Political Economical Social Technological factors A controversial example of this is Disney’s trademarking of “SEAL TEAM 6”. They saw the opportunity and quickly moved to make some profits. They later retracted the application bowing down to social pressure. It’ll be a bit hard to clearly identify opportunities and threats of your competitors, but listing down the known ones won’t hurt. This will enable you to identify potential opportunities and seize them if they matches your strengths. Identify your weaknesses Probably the biggest advantage of doing a SWOT analysis is that it enables you to identify your weaknesses. Weakness is a comparative thing. For example you might have real-time collaboration in your application, but if your competitors are doing a better job it then it is a weakness. In such instance it’s best not to talk about it in your marketing material. Finally it provides a visual summary of your product or service and how it compares with the competitors. It’s much easier to do a comparison this way rather than going through text manuals. The example above shows a SWOT analysis of Apple. Apple is a global brand with many high level projects, so the below SWOT diagram is a bit simplistic, but see how it quickly conveys the relevant information in an easy to understand manner. Creating your first SWOT diagram SWOT diagrams are sometimes referred to as SWOT matrices because they are usually presented as matrixes like the one above. But you can organize it any way that is comfortable for you. The important thing it to list down the things affecting the four critical factors. You can get started easily using a SWOT analysis template readily available on the Internet. Since you’re likely to share and collaborate with others when doing the analysis it is always a good idea to choose software that supports collaboration. If you already have Visio as your diagramming tool it is important to remember that Microsoft does support real-time collaboration via shared point. Now you have the templates, it’s time to fill in the details. Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal to your organization and can be filled relatively easily. Marketers might have to work with other departments to fine tune the facts and also to learn about future planned releases, branch openings etc. Opportunities and threats are considered external and likely to change regularly. A PEST analysis – a process to analyze political, economic, social and technological factors – is usually used to fill in the details for opportunities and threats. For example a technological factor like emergence of HTML5 can be considered as a threat to Adobe, which is responsible for developing and maintaining Flash. Similarly a political factor like turmoil in Greece can be considered a threat to any bank operating in Greece. Why skip when it’s simple As you can see filling a SWOT diagram is not a difficult thing to do. But it provides a good overall view of your business in a visual and concise manner, making it easy for the marketers. So definitely a must include item in your marketing plan. Are you already including SWOT analysis in your marketing plan? If not will you do it now, after reading this article? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator. Want to get your business featured on Tweak Your Biz? Check out #TYBspotlight.