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New year’s marketing resolutions already not working out as expected? It may be time your team did a SWOT analysis.

The new year is underway, and you’ve surely solidified your new year’s marketing resolutions, complete with initiatives and goals for the upcoming year. Are you already running into obstacles trying to conquer that lofty list? We suggest it’s time you take a step back and do a SWOT analysis to ensure your marketing goals are properly aligned.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

SWOT stands for strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is a process of identifying internal and external factors affecting your organization and its objectives. This can help you discover new marketing opportunities, enhance operations, and reinforce your positioning against competitors.

This simple analysis can be broken into two main components, internal (strengths and weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats). As can be easily assumed, the internal aspects – strengths and weaknesses – are those that your team has control over. The external factors – opportunities and threats – are factors that affect your marketing team, but that you do not have direct control over.

The key to conducting this analysis is to ask the right questions, and to be honest with your answers. The right questions will be unique to your marketing department and organization, but we have provided a couple example questions to help you get started.

While the the objective of this exercise is to evaluate your current marketing strategy, it may prove worthwhile for your team to involve external stakeholders (such as the head of sales). Involving individuals outside of the Marketing department- but with close ties- can help provide a fuller more comprehensive analysis.

Once you’ve decided on who will be involved in your Marketing SWOT analysis, your SWOT team will have to define your mission and objectives. Focus on what this analysis should answer. Once everyone agrees on this core tenet, it is time to jump into the analysis.

Strengths (Internal)

These are the areas that you marketing department excels in.

  • Do you have a competitive advantage? If so, what is it?
  • Do you have strong reach and awareness in your industry?
  • What does your marketing team do particularly well?
  • Is your strategy well defined?
  • What is unique about your organization/marketing strategy/department?
  • What do others say you do well?
  • What activities/campaigns/actions have been most successful?
  • How does your team keep up with evolving marketing trends and technology?

Weakness (Internal)

These are the areas that you should be working to improve. This is your opportunity to honestly assess the areas where you are performing suboptimally.

  • Where can you be more efficient?
  • Do you have the data you need to optimize your marketing programs?
  • Can you measure the return on your ad spend?
  • What knowledge/skills/information/technology are you missing?
  • What don’t you do well?
  • What can be improved?
  • Are you restricted by deadlines/staffing/budget?
  • What are common complaints form team members/organizations members/clients?

Opportunities (External)

Opportunities are the external factors and situations your marketing team can take advantage of.

  • What realistic opportunities are present?
  • What external changes will bring you additional opportunities?
  • What trends bring interest to your product?
  • Where is a rival company failing? Can you satisfy that customer base?
  • What can you do today that isn’t being done?
  • Does technology hold new benefits?
  • Can you take advantage of an additional vertical or horizontal market?

Threats (External)

Threats are external factors and situations that pose risks to the success of your marketing strategy.

  • What are your competitors doing that might cause you problems now or in the future? Including product launches and expansions.
  • What are problems with the current marketing strategy that might cause you problems now or in the future?
  • Do you anticipate changes in consumer taste?
  • Will changing technology hinder your effectiveness?

Asking the right questions and answering them honestly is the key to a useful analysis that will improve your marketing department’s operations. Apply your new insights to expand the impact of your strengths, and work to devise defensive strategies in the areas you may be struggling to master. By taking the time to do this analysis, you can start to better understand and adjust your marketing strategy for a stronger 2016.

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