The path to success is paved with obstacles. Knowing what your business’ strengths and weaknesses are is key to sorting those roadblocks out efficiently. The goal of a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis is to give you better insights into your brand. With that information, you’ll be ready to tackle a wide range of obstacles. In this article, we’ll break down how this technique can benefit your business and then go over the four steps to executing it, including examples.
Let’s get started!
What Is a SWOT Analysis (And What Are Its Benefits)?
“SWOT” is a fancy acronym for a process that involves taking a close look at your business or brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You’re probably already aware of what several of them are, but breaking all this information down into digestible points can give you a new perspective.
With a thorough SWOT analysis, you can gain insights such as:
What business opportunities are ripe to be exploited
What areas of your business need an overhaul
Which of your competitors represents the most immediate threat
You can apply this technique to a specific area of your business – such as your marketing strategy or product development – or to your brand as a whole. Either way, to get the most out of a SWOT analysis, you need to dig deep. If you focus on superficial aspects, or you don’t involve the right people in the process, you won’t get much out of it.
How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis of Your Brand (In 4 Steps)
Unless you run a one-person operation, you need additional team members in the room when you undertake a SWOT analysis. Visual aids that enable everyone to keep track of relevant points are also critical, whether you’re using a videoconferencing tool or in a physical room.
You’ll also want to put aside at least a couple of hours if you’re going to conduct a thorough analysis, which is precisely the point of the SWOT technique. Let’s kick it off on a positive note by talking about strengths.
Step 1: Break Down Your Strengths
Every business has at least one element that gives it an edge over its competitors, no matter how small it might be. Knowing what those advantages are is vital, so you’re ready to seize opportunities when the time is right.
It’s important that the strengths you identify are unique to your brand and not areas your competitors also excel in. Additionally, don’t forget to factor in elements such as access to resources, as well as efficient and effective processes.
To illustrate how a SWOT analysis works, we’re going to focus on a real-life business example – Netflix. It’s the dominant player in online streaming, but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have any weaknesses or face any threats.
Some of Netflix’s strengths include:
The first-mover advantage over other streaming companies
Vast swaths of data about the content its users like
The ability to produce content at a fast pace other streaming services haven’t been able to match
Excellent brand recognition
A SWOT analysis begins with your brand’s strengths because they are often the easiest to break down. We all like to focus on the positives but to get a clear picture, you need to be willing to look at the other side of the coin.
Step 2: Lay Out Your Weaknesses
Laying out your brand’s weaknesses is not an exercise in self-deprecation. What it should be is a study in self-reflection that enables you to figure out in which ways your business is vulnerable.
Some areas you might consider examining are processes that are lacking productivity and any elements of your brand that might prevent leads from converting. Be honest, as holding back will only hurt you in the long run.
These days, Netflix commands a 19 percent share of the global streaming marketplace. In the US, it reigns king with about an 87 percent share. Those two figures paint a positive picture, but once you look closer, weaknesses become apparent, such as:
It’s burning through cash at an incredibly fast pace to keep their content output going
It faces difficulty renewing licenses for key properties
Its content library varies wildly in quality depending on the region you’re watching from
It’s no longer the only viable name in town when it comes to streaming
Its interface is sub-par
It’s also important to understand that strengths and weaknesses shift over time. In its infancy, Netflix’s biggest weakness was lacking a broad content library. These days, that’s no longer the case. However, it does face some difficulty in renewing essential licenses because it has a lot more competition.
One of the main takeaways here is that a SWOT analysis isn’t something you do just once. As your brand evolves, you’ll need to return to the drawing board often if you want to make sure your business is on the right track.
Step 3: Define Your Opportunities
The first two steps of a SWOT analysis are an exercise in introspection. Once you have that information, you can begin to build plans around it, starting with opportunities for growth.
Opportunities can certainly include innovative technologies and products. However, also keep your eyes open for new target audiences, small advantages over competitors you can seize and expand, and even solutions to your weaknesses.
Taking into account Netflix’s strengths and weaknesses, some of its opportunities might include:
Publishing new shows and movies at a rate competitor can’t match
Using its wealth of data to create highly-targeted content to maximize user satisfaction
Focus on redesigning its interface to make it easier to navigate their library and find content
Targeting regions where other streaming services don’t have a foothold yet to consolidate their market share
When it comes to business opportunities, it’s important to keep an open mind but to be realistic. As an example, an out-of-the-box idea would be for Netflix to start investing in Virtual Reality (VR) content.
This is an exciting idea – Netflix has the cash, they can attract top talent to develop content, and they have the technical infrastructure to deliver it. The problem is, VR adoption is still very low due to costs and hardware requirements.
Diverting money away from mainstream content towards VR productions might be an interesting bet in a few years. However, for now, it could leave Netflix vulnerable as other players are also starting to sink cash into streaming. Remember to weigh the potential risks and rewards for every opportunity you propose.
Step 4: Consider Your Threats
Remember how we talked about roadblocks at the beginning of this article? In a SWOT analysis, they’re called “threats”.
Pinpointing your threats requires attention to your industry at large. New competitors, changes in consumer trends and behaviors, the sustainability of your processes, and the emergence of new technologies are all factors to consider.
Although Netflix remains in a solid position, the company is facing some evident threats, such as:
New streaming services constantly entering the field
Other prominent players starting to sink massive amounts of money into original content
Customers who dislike the idea of paying for multiple streaming services
The potential for stagnation if it can’t keep up its aggressive content output
Netflix hasn’t been the only big-name streaming service for a long time now. However, competition has never been fiercer. Players such as Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video might eat further into Netflix’s market share.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most people don’t have unlimited budgets for online subscriptions. At some point, a significant number of subscribers might have to decide which platforms to prioritize. Moreover, in some markets, streaming may have already reached peak penetration. Netflix may need to compete in regional markets if it wants to continue to grow.
However, none of these threats is anything new. There’s a reason why Netflix is famous for its aggressive investment in original content. It understands its vulnerabilities and leverages its strengths (in this case, tons of cash at hand) to offset them.
Although you might not have coffers the same size as Netflix’s, you can certainly learn from its example. If you understand what makes your business unique and what the current landscape in your field is, you will have a much easier time outmaneuvering the competition.
Every business has unique strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what those are is vital if you want to seize opportunities and assess threats effectively. The better you know your brand, the higher-quality products, and services you’ll be able to deliver.
The concept of a SWOT analysis is simple, and involves just four steps:
Break down your strengths.
Layout your weaknesses.
Define your opportunities.
Consider your threats.
Do you have any questions about how to conduct a SWOT analysis for your brand? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by Wan Wei / shutterstock.com
Shared to VMG on February 18, 2020, by Will Morris in Marketing – Will Morris is a staff writer at WordCandy. When he’s not writing about WordPress, he likes to gig his stand-up comedy routine on the local circuit.
RESPONSIVE WEBSITE DESIGN IS ABOUT DEVELOPING WEBSITES WITH OPTIMAL VIEWING NO MATTER THE DEVICE BEING USED.
Devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones all view a website differently. A responsive website allows visitors to experience the ease of reading, the ability to navigate, optimized graphics and content for faster loading no matter which device they are using. In today’s world of mobile-friendly, a responsive website ensures that your visitors will see your website in a clean and organized format without losing access to important information or have to worry about being able to read your website cleanly.
HOW IS RESPONSIVE DESIGN IMPORTANT TO TODAY’S USERS?
Over 46% of internet traffic is accessed using a mobile device such as a smartphone with social media and videos taking up the lion’s share. In addition, Apps from the Google Play and Apple App Store see a significant share of use. With the increase of mobile usage, websites must also respond to the demand and make it easier for users to find the information they need in a format that works. Responsive design taking over from mobile apps for smaller businesses to ensure visitors can read the content on their mobile devices.
RESPONSIVE DESIGN INCREASES CONVERSIONS
According to Google Analytics, if your site visitors have difficulty navigating your website, then the chances are over 60% will leave and go elsewhere. However, if the site is easy to navigate, then more than 70% are more likely to stay on your website.
Responsive web design has resulted in websites being able to be accessed everywhere so by ensuring your website is using a responsive design, your visitors will be able to view your site correctly across multiple platforms.
Database marketing gives your business a competitive edge. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) dashboard like Microsoft Dynamics can be used to leverage marketing techniques that drive sales. Too often there is a divide between operations, marketing, and sales teams. But a good CRM can pull these teams together with a singular focus—to target new clients, bring them on board, and retain them. Here’s how this can work.
WHY USE CRM IN MARKETING?
If your business is still using an Excel spreadsheet to track leads, or Outlook email to contact them, you are absolutely missing out on the efficiencies that come with modern CRM.
While we don’t mean to say these two tools aren’t terrific, we know that there are improved efficiencies in today’s CRM software that you might not be taking advantage of.
One benefit is that you can schedule automated drip campaigns to educate potential clients by sending them helpful content periodically. The goal in these instances is to stay in front of prospects, so they think of you first when they’re ready to buy. Eliminating manual processes is a huge time saver that allows sales to do what they do best (sell) and marketing to focus on the message.
That’s just one example of how CRM will increase your closed deals over time. You can also use it as a customer service tool to help your operations team stay on top of their client retention efforts.
But wait—there’s more.
HOW TO USE A CRM IN MARKETING
You can segment a large database into regions, which is incredibly helpful if your sales teams are responsible for geographic territories. Imagine running a report on how many businesses are in a region, how many of those companies have been contacted in the last six months, and whether or not those contacts converted into sales. If you’re trying to motivate a sales team, a simple report on prospecting effectiveness could go a long way toward that goal.
The functional reporting mechanisms found in Microsoft Dynamics are efficient and easy-to-use. We’ve found these tools not only help drive sales activities but also create a real sense of transparency around client interactions that improves overall company performance.
If you’re running an email campaign, Microsoft Dynamics can show you how many prospects opened your email, along with the click-through rate for any call to action messaging. Marketing teams will be able to track this data and hone their marketing messages around what resonates best in a particular market. Then, if marketing has a message that works, and the sales team is following up on that messaging – BaZinga! – You are going to improve your closed deals.
Here is the workflow on a typical automated campaign:
- Select a targeted prospecting list
- Develop the content to send
- Design a pleasing template for use in the email blast
- Schedule the campaign
- Analyze the click-through rate
- Leverage the sales team to call leads
- Measure the effectiveness of the campaign
- Clean out any unsubscribed or bounced emails
- Schedule the next campaign
Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Are you starting to see how a CRM in marketing can be a great integrator in your business? When you look at it this way, you’ll quickly understand that CRM is a great investment with a clear ROI. These platforms pay for themselves in closed revenue.
YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE DATA
So there’s only one tiny snippet of bad news – these efforts are only going to be as good as the data you’re utilizing. When you begin integrating a CRM in marketing, we typically suggest a list clean up before dropping all those Excel sheets into the platform. This is a foundational necessity for any future marketing and sales prospecting campaigns.
The keyword for using a CRM in marketing is “data,” of course. It’s a good idea to designate one person in your organization to manage database administrative tasks such as list uploads or report generation. That person will help you control the flow of information between marketing, sales, and operations so that the database has some consistency. Consider the CRM your link to a goldmine of potential business, so having someone available to set standards around data capture is not a bad idea. That way, even though your sales teams can update individual records in the CRM, the information they collect will be consistent.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS “C” IN CRM
Can you use the CRM to manage existing clients and not just prospects? Of course! If you don’t, you’re missing out on the full potential of the software, especially in the case of Microsoft Dynamics. Every potential or existing client interaction should be carefully tracked in the database. Ticklers can be set up to remind you to reach out to individual clients. You can even segment lists, so existing clients receive a marketing email that suggests a particular product upsell, while potential clients receive an entirely different message.
CRMs are also great project management tools; you can upload all related documents into one project room while tracking the activities by the project team members. You can invite team members to meetings while encouraging them to visit the project room to review specific items prior to the event.
With all the uses for a modern CRM in marketing, you’re probably wondering one thing: How can I get started?
Posted by IES – https://www.iesgp.com/blog/crm-in-marketing-how-crm-can-improve-your-marketing-power
LinkedIn can help you grow your business or career
LinkedIn is a valuable resource for career and business professionals to network; obtain resources and support; and build relationships with potential customers, clients, and partners. It’s ideal for home-based business owners, freelancers, and telecommuters, as it can help them build their business and career, as well as stay connected to the outside world.
Overview of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a social network specifically designed for career and business professionals to connect. Over 65 million professionals use LinkedIn to cultivate their careers and businesses. Unlike other social networks in which you might become “friends” with anyone and everyone, LinkedIn is about building strategic relationships. Thus, the number of connections is less important than the type of connections. In fact, LinkedIn stops showing your actual number of connections once you have 500 because it’s about quality, not quantity.
The site boasts members from just about every country and every industry imaginable. In fact, many Fortune 500 executives are on LinkedIn. The site has some advertising, but it’s not as invasive as other networking sites.
Working much like the “Six Degrees of Separation” concept, you start by connecting with those you know and who know you, and through them build a larger network for the purpose of gaining resources, finding freelance work or clients, and building alliances and partnerships. LinkedIn is ideal for building connections for freelance work, a customer base, potential partners, or simply to keep your job prospects open.
How to Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn has its own platform and system different from other networks, but learning how to use LinkedIn is no more difficult than learning how to use any other social networking site. Start by creating a personal LinkedIn account and profile. However, networking on LinkedIn is much different. You won’t find members posting cat videos or pictures of what they made for dinner. LinkedIn is a site for professionals, so everything is geared toward careers and business. As you build your profile and seek out connections, endorsements, and recommendations, you’ll want to be professional.
Create a LinkedIn Profile
All you need to get started is to create a LinkedIn login. You can also upgrade to one of the paid LinkedIn subscriptions; Premium Career, Business Plus, LinkedIn Learning, Sales Navigator (three levels), and Recruiter Lite. Using just the basic free services is sufficient for many employees and home business owners and gets you features such as:
Having a professional profile of skills, experiences, and more
Limited insight into who’s viewed your profile
Ability to see 100 profiles per search
Ability to save three searches
Upgrading increases some of these features such as seeing more information about who’s viewed your profile, the number of profiles per search, and the number of searches. Plus, upgrades can include additional features such as In Mail credits, which allows you to message people who are not connected to you, and premium filters, which make searching faster and easier.
Once you sign up for a LinkedIn account, either free or paid, you can create your own professional profile. Remember, this is a professional-minded website, so it’s important that information in your profile represents your business or career. LinkedIn is not the place to share cute baby photos or party pictures.
Some of the items you can add to a profile include the basics of your resume, a summary of yourself, your contact information, links to your website or blog, your previous employers, published books, and notable projects. Don’t forget to add a professional picture, as people are reluctant to connect with someone without a photo.
Because your LinkedIn profile is like a resume or business card, it’s essentially a marketing tool. For that reason, consider writing a benefits-oriented profile, so potential partners can recognize the advantage of working with you.
Once your profile is complete, you can publish it and start looking for “connections.” A connection is a person that you know or would like to know. Essentially, the idea is to create as many direct connections as you can by adding people within your own professional circle and branching out to include their connections. Your connections can also provide introductions to other professionals you might be interested in meeting. Connections can also endorse you for skills and provide you with recommendations.
Use LinkedIn to Build a Home Business
LinkedIn can help you to start and grow a home business. It provides you with an opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other professionals interested in sharing business and industry knowledge. It is an efficient tool for locating those who may contribute to the success of your business.
LinkedIn allows you to:
Have an online resume and business card where potential clients, customers, and joint venture partners can learn about and connect with you.
Get online endorsements and recommendations for your professional abilities and character. Get introductions to potential clients, customers, and colleagues.
Search available job postings placed on the LinkedIn website by members. While you can also search the web for jobs, through LinkedIn, the big benefit is that many job posts are exclusive to LinkedIn: They aren’t advertised elsewhere. Those postings often have a requirement that you have one or more LinkedIn recommendations. Additionally, there is a chance that someone within your LinkedIn network already works there or knows someone who does, increasing your chances for an interview.
Join various groups that align with your interests and participate in discussions. Having a group in common with another LinkedIn user is one way you can invite others to your network. Each group discussion contains its own job listings. Further, it’s a place to share your expertise and build the trust and rapport needed to cultivate new clients and customers.
Staying connected with the outside world isn’t the only benefit of LinkedIn. Learning how to use LinkedIn and maximizing all it offers can provide strong professional connections and boost your online reputation better than most other social networking resources.
BY RANDY DUERMYER
The Balances MB
The ‘perfect’ website (probably) doesn’t exist, but through a thoughtful process of design and the implementation of best-practices for the web, your website can have a powerful impact on your business, whatever the size. Design Consultation Perhaps the most important step in the process of creating a website, the design consultation is the opportunity to surface ideas. By understanding the purpose you have for your website, it is then possible to build your web presence to reflect both your business and your company culture.
Design recommendations are based on the discoveries made in the design consultation phase. Your needs and creative ideas are carefully taken into account and a costed overall recommendation is provided for your project.
Website Creation the nuts and bolts (code) of your website are then created, using current best-practices with adherence to web standards. Attention given to the technical details will make your website more visible to search engines and more easily updated in the future.
Review/Revise Throughout the project, your website goes through a process of review and revision. Often improvements are identified during the design process and are incorporated into the final design. You will be able to see the progress on your website as each element is ‘designed and refined’!
Launch The final part of creating your website is to ‘launch’ it! VK Media offers web hosting and domain name registration to get you started and will help you keep things up–to–date as you move forward.
How Much Will It Cost?
The true answer to this question is ‘As much as you are willing to spend’. Not very helpful, but true.
When talking price, a website is very similar to buying a car. The cost depends on the make and model and the features you select. Choices for a website can include the platform that it is built on, the functionality that you want/need and the extent of the content that your site will contain.
Read more on this page about some of the different variables that affect cost or skip right to the money part on our Services page.
‘Platform’ refers to the kind of underlying structure or back-end that is used to create the website. Some require a lot of technical knowledge about HTML and CSS while others have a very user-friendly back-end that allows non-technical owners to edit their site to some degree.
In general, it is less costly to build a static HTML website, especially if you use a template for the design portion. However, it can be more costly over the long haul, depending on how often the site needs to be updated since it will likely require the help of a professional.
CMS (content management systems) can require more of an initial investment, but they allow the owner to make changes on their own. The site might still need some professional tweaking now and again, but for the most part, owners are able to quickly learn how to do the most common tasks of updating.
There are different kinds of CMS on the market. Some are proprietary — usually when specialized for a specific industry — and require an ongoing monthly fee. These types of sites can have a low start-up cost, but owners should be aware of the drawbacks, which include the never-ending fee and the inability to move the site to a different server without losing all of the content or search engine juice that has been built up over time.
Open source CMS platforms include Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. These can be installed on many different hosting providers and have the benefit of being transferable, should the need arise. Open source solutions tend to be very responsive to the market and are able to incorporate new technologies and ‘cool things’ quickly. For example, when social integration became the next big thing, sites using open source platforms had integration widgets more quickly and in more variety than proprietary platforms.
We currently build custom HTML sites, HTML sites from templates, WordPress sites with customized themes and custom WordPress sites.
Functionality refers to the way that things work on a website. Every time something responds to a click or a tap, it is functioning and requires something a little special to make that happen. Some things are very simple to create functionality for — linking text, for example — while others, such as forms and photo galleries, take added expertise.
As you can imagine, it is more time-consuming to create a website with 20 pages than with just one or two, so the amount of content the site will have is a factor in determining the cost. Another variable is the type of content; a site with many images (in a photo gallery, for example) will take longer and be more costly. Clients can save money by doing some of the work themselves, either by properly preparing images for use on the website (size, resolution) or by installing some of the content themselves. We can help you decide what will work best in your situation.
When you first decide to create a website, it is good to draw up a site map. This just means writing down what you think the main pages will be (i.e. Home, About Us, Contact Us, etc) and then briefly describing what content will go on each page. Once you have a sitemap developed, it is easier to know if you have a spot for all the different types of content that you want on your site. Having a site map can help you break the project down into bite-sized pieces that are easier to finish up and get checked off the list.
As you develop your content, keep in mind that search engines really like content. In fact, they like to see lots of relevant, unique content on your site. If showing up in search engine results is important to you, then you need to be prepared to develop content.
Your content could include text, photos, videos, blogs, and social postings (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Yes, it can be time-consuming to create, but content pays off in the long-run as long as you keep it relevant to your brand and focused on drawing the client closer to your desired end result (buying a product, contact you for services, engaging with your Facebook page, etc.)
We can help you create content that is customer-focused and optimized for search engines (SEO), using best- practices and keyword research to guide the process.
Choices, Choices, Choices — Custom Design or a Template?
When cost is one of the biggest factors in the website project, one of the most important decisions will be whether to have the site custom-designed or to use a template (which can be customized with colors and graphics).
A custom design calls for more of an initial investment but allows you full control at the outset over layout and graphics. A custom website can be streamlined to include only what you want, where you want it. If having a unique look for your site is important, a custom design is a way to go.
Using a professionally pre-made template is a great option to save a bit on the cost and still end up with a great-looking website. Not all templates are created equally and we can help you choose and customize one that will give you a great looking website and be technically elegant as well.