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Marketing 360® Blog

How To Use A SWOT Analysis to Evaluate Digital Marketing

Post By Brandon Lilly | Social Media Management

A SWOT analysis is a way of identifying aspects of your business.  It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.   Here is an overview, with a review of how you apply this analysis specifically to your marketing strategy.

The SWOT analysis has been around awhile, and it remains a useful tool for strategic planning.  If you haven’t heard of this before, here’s Brandon with an overview:

Here are some considerations on how to use this tool when you’re thinking about your digital marketing.

 

What are your marketing strengths?

As you analyze your offer, you’ll want to isolate advantages you have within your market.

Ask:

  1. Does my product fulfill a unique market need?
  2. Do I have production or quality advantages?
  3. Do I have price advantages?
  4. Is it easy for people to understand how my product benefits them?
  5. Is my product something that will market itself by being visible with consumer use or by referral marketing?
  6. Are people likely to write positive reviews about my product?
  7. Does my product lend itself to marketing on multiple channels, including social media?

You’ll have marketing strengths when:

  • Your product fills a market need in a unique, innovative way.
  • You have production or quality advantages that you can use to distinguish yourself from the competition.
  • You can sell your product at a lower price than your competition.
  • People can easily understand why they need your product (they either understand it immediately or with minimal explanation).
  • Your product has exponential popularity; buzz creates more buzz and people desire it because they see others using it.
  • Your customers are motivated to write positive online reviews about you.
  • Your marketing can use multiple channels in supportive ways that stay with consumers throughout the buying cycle.

 

What are your marketing weaknesses?

Every product or service has weak areas to consider.  Be honest with yourself about disadvantages you might face in your market.

Ask:

  1. Is the market need for your product uncertain?  Do you lack research or data that indicates a need for your offer?  Do you love your idea, but have no insight as to whether a significant consumer audience would love it?
  2. Is your product a “me too” concept or commodity?  Are you having trouble developing a unique value proposition?
  3. Are you uncertain about how to price your offer?
  4. Is your product a “solution in search of a problem”, where people may be uncertain of how they benefit from it?
  5. Is your offer the type of product where word of mouth marketing is unlikely to happen?  Does your product lack visibility when used?
  6. Are your customers likely to be tentative to write reviews or share their experiences with you?  Are there privacy concerns that may limit their ability to do so?
  7. Does your product have limitations when it comes to using varied marketing channels such as social media or search?

Weaknesses to watch out for include:

  • Considerable uncertainty with regard to market need.  There will be some uncertainty, but it’s a weakness if, for the most part, you don’t know if there is a target demographic likely to buy from you.
  • You’re trying to compete in a crowded market space.  Commodity products are challenging to market.
  • Your pricing structure is not competitive and/or you can’t associate higher prices with higher value.
  • The benefit of your offer is unclear and difficult to communicate.  Your marketing strategy and sales cycle may be longer and more involved if the value you deliver is not easily understood.
  • Your product is not something people tell friends about or show-off in public.  Products people use privately don’t benefit as much from word of mouth.
  • Your product does not lend itself well to major marketing channels like search or social media.

 

What are your marketing opportunities?

As you develop your marketing strategy, keep your ear to the ground for opportunities that will give a competitive advantage.  If the competition is slacking or – better yet – if there is no competition, it spells opportunities for your marketing.

Ask:

  1. Have we discovered a market need no one else has tapped into?  Do we have an innovation that doesn’t (currently) have competition?
  2. Do we have a production or fulfillment advantage we can leverage?
  3. Is the current competition overcharging?  Can we create a price advantage?
  4. Is the current competition doing a poor job of communicating value?  Can we create content that will help people realize our offer is the better choice?
  5. Is there a clear way for us to create buzz around our product?  Can we get people talking about this idea when the competition has not?
  6. Does the competition have a poor online reputation?  Do customer service or delivery issues seem to plague many businesses in this market?
  7. Are there ways to develop social media campaigns and tap influencers?  Are there keyword phrases that connect to our offer that would be easier to rank for?

Seek these marketing opportunities:

  • Blue ocean innovations.  You’ve found a solution to an existing problem that solves it in a new way.  Your idea is revolutionary enough that the competition is largely irrelevant.
  • A market where the competition has gotten lazy or complacent.  They don’t value their existing customers, so there will be people open to switching to a new offer.  They’ve stopped advertising, opening the opportunity for an aggressive campaign.
  • Poor online reviews for existing competition.  This dissatisfaction is golden opportunity to jump in an take market share.
  • Trends.  If your product can be part of a larger social trend, you can piggyback on its popularity.
  • Marketing channels the current competition has not bothered to create a presence on, so you could jump in and be the first to connect with a new audience.

 

What are the threats to your marketing?

Threats that derail marketing are around every corner, so prepare yourself.  Marketing is a dynamic process that requires continuous adaptation with a steady commitment to an overarching strategy.

Ask:

  1. Do you have the budget necessary to be competitive in your market?  Can that budget sustain you until you start to get market share and revenue?
  2. Will you be vulnerable to competitors and imitators that will be prepared to advertise aggressively and low-ball on price?
  3. Is the popularity your product will gain something that will be long-term, or is it likely to be short-term and trendy?  Can you capitalize on it at its peak?
  4. Can you move from a small group of early adopters to a level of adoption that will allow you to be profitable?
  5. Are changes in technology, including changes to online platforms like Facebook and Google, likely to impact your marketing?  Can you adapt to changes you can’t foresee?
  6. Are you comfortable with technology, or do you see it as a necessary vice?  Do people at your company use technology in their lives the way your customers do?  If not, how will you understand the consumer behavior you hope to tap into?

Watch out for these marketing threats:

  • A lot of businesses run out of money to market.  Make sure you have the budgetary resources to invest in a competitive marketing plan.  Bootstrapping is possible but risky.
  • If you have no competition at the moment because your idea is a new innovation, you will have it once imitators catch on.  Never lose sight of businesses trying to take your market share.
  • If you’re marketing a trendy item, make that part of your strategy.  Capitalize on the trend at its height, and be prepared to adapt when popularity wanes.
  • Be sure to have a marketing strategy that is independent of technology and tactics.  You may have to change the way you reach people, but your underlying strategy remains intact.
  • If you suffer from “technophobia”, you take on an inherent risk with digital marketing.  Make strides towards being comfortable with regards to technology.  In today’s marketing landscape, it’s unavoidable.

 

Wrap Up

A SWOT analysis is useful in both the initial stages of your marketing and as you progress through different campaigns and tactics.  Marketing is a dynamic process, so considering each of these elements can be ongoing.

Pay particular attention to your weaknesses and threats.  It’s natural to want to approach marketing with optimism, but those who do well are ones who recognized these elements early so they could take preventative action.

Need some help?  Contact our marketing consultants to discuss it.  We can help you run through this analysis and make recommendations that highlight your strengths and uncover your opportunities.