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Conduct a SWOT Analysis

By Debbie Gregory.

Gather Your Team

Gather a group of people from all areas of the company to perform the SWOT to ensure different perspectives. The sales team will have a different outlook than the marketing team or the engineering team. You can even pull in people from outside of the company to provide input as a customer or vendor. A SWOT analysis is very similar to a brainstorming meeting so the more creative and fun, the better the ideas you will receive from everyone involved.

You can begin by selecting one of the four sections and having everyone jot ideas down on post-it notes, then stick them to a large piece of paper on the wall. Organize them and then rank them by having the team vote on the ideas presented. You can stick colored dots to the post-its or place tally mark them. This way you can get a clear picture of what the company needs to focus on and how they should be prioritized. This should be done for each part of the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

After you have completed this part it is a good idea to discuss and debate each point further to make sure you have a clear path forward.

Questions To Help:

Strengths:  Internal factors that are in our control and are positive.

  • What are our assets (people, education, reputation, skills, etc)?
  • What are our physical assets (customers, location, equipment, patents, cash flow, etc)?
  • What do we provide that our competition does not?
  • What do our customers love about us?

Weaknesses:  Internal factors that need improvement.

  • What do our customers complain about our products or services?
  • Are we missing any key personnel?
  • Are we missing any key equipment that would make our company more attractive to customers?
  • Is there something we should be doing that we are not?

OpportunitiesExternal factors we have some control over.

  • What do our customers think of us? What is our reputation?
  • Are there any events we should be attending?
  • Is our market growing?
  • Are there any changes in regulations that might help us better serve our customers?

Threats:  External factors we have no control over.

  • Is our market shrinking?
  • Are our offerings outdated?
  • Is our market being flooded with new competition?
  • Are the costs of running the business going up?

 Next Steps

Once you have completed your SWOT analysis you are ready to put your strategy to work. Analyze your Strengths and make a plan to ensure you can take advantage of your Opportunities; as well as look at how your Strengths can overcome your Threats. Look at your Weaknesses and lay out a plan to work those out or minimize their impact on your business.

With an action list in hand, grab a calendar and place goals on it. What do you want to accomplish in a given week, month, quarter, and/or year? Make sure that your goals are clearly laid out, with specific deadlines, and make sure that they are reasonable and achievable. It is best to regularly check and make sure you are on track.

Your SWOT analysis will provide you a clear picture of your current abilities, the areas where you need to work on things, threats facing you in the market, and ways to take advantage of potential avenues for sales or increased revenue.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

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By Debbie Gregory.

When considering small business marketing ideas, the first thing you should think about is your audience. Who are they? What do they do? How can you help them do it better? Having adequate knowledge of your target audience helps make your marketing more effective and cost-efficient.

Establishing a buyer/user “persona” is vital to understanding your current customers and identifying potential future customers. This information allows you to produce what you need to meet the specific needs of your audience, be it products, services or content. Clickbait and countless sales pitches aren’t the way to gain trust from your network. Instead, make it your goal to reach your audience on a more personal level. Show them you understand them and care about their wants and needs.

To develop a good idea of who your customers/users are, you need to conduct market research. The best place to start is with your existing customers/users, and can be garnered from surveys, questionnaires and interviews. If you’re sending these requests out by email, make sure your emails are coming from a recognizable sender name, make sure the subject line tells the reader what’s in the email, and make sure the content is visually appealing with a clear call to action.

You can also utilize social media and in-person interviews. Offering a coupon or discount for their participation is a good incentive.

Be sure to analyze the data you collect to understand your ideal customer/user so that you’re in a better position to target your advertising campaigns effectively.

Additionally, use your website analytics to see where your visitors come from, the keywords they are using to find you, and what they’re doing on the site. This will give you further insights into your buyer/user persona.

Knowing your customer/user persona enables you to communicate with them more effectively, which should help you to grow your customer/user base, which in turn will grow your business.

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