How would you like to give your product or company the competitive edge? What if I said there's a way to gather accurate, fact-based data that could directly, positively affect your business performance?

You’d say bring it on, right? Well, allow me to introduce the SWOT analysis!

If you're looking for a quick fix, this ain’t it my friend. But if you're looking for a way to get an accurate overview of your product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and potential threats stick with us and we’ll explain how to conduct one.

And how you can use it to blow your competition out of the market.

But first, let’s take it back to basics…

What is SWOT analysis?

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  

Strengths: what sets you apart from the competition? Do you offer a feature unique to your product? Are you an innovator? Do you have an established, engaging social media presence?

Weaknesses: what is it that’s stopping you from having the competitive edge? Is it a lack of capital? Is your marketing strategy letting you down?

Opportunities: these are prospects or openings you could take advantage of to get ahead of the competition. They could be new developments in the market you serve, or a new trend or perhaps a popular feature you're sure you could improve on.

Threats: include anything that could negatively affect the business, internal or external. For example, evolving technology is always a threat! Anything that makes you especially vulnerable in the market is a threat.

How to conduct a SWOT analysis

You don’t have to be psychic to conduct a successful SWOT analysis (although that would definitely give you a competitive advantage) it’s not about being exact in your predictions, it’s about planning for any and all eventualities.

Specify an objective

It sounds kind of obvious but it’s worth reiterating, establish exactly what data you're trying to gather and assess, this way you’ll know precisely what to look for in the research stage.

You might want to run a SWOT analysis to decide if you should introduce a new feature or launch a completely new product, add a new department or outsource a specific process. It’s flexible enough to assess all kinds of different areas across the organization.

Assemble an elite team

You’ll want to assemble a team whose knowledge and experience closely match your objectives. Your team can include customers, stakeholders, executives, anyone you deem a match basically, the more feedback you can gather the better.

Research, research, research  

It’s time for brutal honesty. You need to carry out some truly unbiased research to find out where you stand in the market.

Be honest about your weaknesses, because, well, not to get all Mr. Miyagi on you, but your weaknesses could very well lead you to your biggest strength. Be just as honest about your strengths too, without this research you’ll never be able to compete or maintain your advantage.

Make a list  

Using a grid formation, or better still this free template! Use each square to condense your results (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) into short, snappy sentences. Always use the points that crop up most frequently in your research, these are the ones that’ll pack the most punch.

This template is a great way to visualize your success and find potential connections between each square, could your strengths be used to eliminate a weakness? Could eliminating a weakness open the door to a new opportunity?

Take action

Making plans and mapping out strategies is all well and good, if you actually follow through.

Now you have the results, what are you going to do about it? You're going to prioritize your list into an actionable plan you can tackle straight away.

Think about what you and the team can realistically address right now, then think about what you can tackle and how, long-term.

Make sure your action list is measurable. No vague statements like ‘increase productivity’’ thank you very much!e want to know how you’ll increase productivity, actions like ‘investing in a new platform, to make accessing client information easier’ or ‘investing in a PMA Team Membership plan, so everyone is aligned and has access to the same templates and vast library of content 😉’. Don’t forget to set goals and KPIs so you can measure the success of your objectives too.

Depending on the size of your team you could delegate an action to the specific person whose experience aligns best with the objective (someone who has buy-in preferably). Set an allotted time to sit down with this person and set benchmarks and measurable goals.  

Finally, create a timeline to begin the action and complete it. Breaking up the timeline into manageable chunks ensures everyone can see the progress unfold and your best laid plans won't fall by the wayside.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into SWOT analysis, we have a number of resources you can access in our members area.

We also have a number of articles you can access for free, all about competitive intelligence.
A really great starting point for your SWOT research. Want to know an even greater one? Get yourself Product Marketing certified, with Product Marketing Core and learn everything you’ll ever need to know on the subject.

You won’t be sorry!