Marketing a small business takes time, energy and money in varying degrees. Before you spend any of the three, it’s essential to first gain an understanding of what you have going for you – and against you.
Take a Swat at “S.W.O.T.”
A S.W.O.T analysis is a marketing must that serves as a business reality check and can help guide you in crafting your marketing messages. S.W.O.T. might seem like marketing jargon, but don’t be put off – or be intimidated - by the term. S.W.O.T. doesn’t have to be overblown or overcomplicated – and you can do it on your own provided that you keep an open and realistic mind while you’re working through the process.
What do you and your business do well? What qualities give you an edge over the competition? Why would anyone want to do business with you? Be realistic, and be objective! When determining your strengths, consider things like…
- Products or services that have superior quality over those of your competitors.
- Better customer service.
- Ability to deliver your products and services to your clients and customers faster than your competitors do.
- Cost-effective pricing.
- Scalable business plan that will enable you to take on new business without sacrificing quality and customer service.
- Adequate funds available to ride out slow periods.
- A prime location.
On the flip side, what aren’t you doing quite as well as you should be? Be honest! Though it won’t be fun to think about how you fall short, as a business owner, it’s critical to your survival. Think of weaknesses in terms of things like…
- No staff solutions in place to accommodate growth.
- Questionable product or service quality.
- Low brand recognition due to being the new kid in town.
- Price points that the market won’t bear.
- Lack of business management skills.
What’s happening in your industry and in your market that indicates opportunities for your business to survive and grow?
- A trend that’s sparking increased interest in the types of services or products that you provide.
- Social media networks for extending your reach beyond the local market.
- A wealth of complementary service providers who will likely provide referrals to your business.
- Local Chamber of Commerce membership for business development.
What’s happening in your industry and in your market that might adversely affect your business?
- Recent influx of competitors to your area.
- Demand for your types of products and services have decreased.
- Possible new legal requirements that could change how you operate and administrate your business (i.e. healthcare, accounting, environmental, etc.)
How will your S.W.O.T. help you in your marketing?
By thinking through your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, you’ll gain clarity on what features and benefits you should put first and foremost in your marketing messages. You’ll also know what not to mention in your efforts to promote your products and services. For example, if your turn-around time on projects isn’t as fast as that of your primary competitor, you wouldn’t want to focus on the ability to meet aggressive deadlines. Your S.W.O.T. will help you keep your marketing honest, so that you’re genuinely putting your business’s best foot forward rather than getting off on the wrong foot by making promises you’re currently unable to keep.