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What is a SWOT Analysis? Let’s Start with the Basics

Posted by Emily Dumas on Tue Jan 22, 2019 08:15 AM

In order to win a market, you need to know where your company stands in the competitive landscape and where you have opportunities to grow. One analysis that can help your business grow is a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis allows you to dig into your strengths and weaknesses, and explore the opportunities and threats in your market. A SWOT analysis is not only great for business strategy, but it’s a robust competitive intelligence tool.

While it’s been said that strengths and opportunities are helpful, and threats and weaknesses are harmful, in fact, they are all beneficial in their own way. A SWOT analysis can be done for your own business, as well as for each of your competitors. There is likely a lot of information out there that can be used to generate these analyses. It’s important to highlight the most important market insights and not try to cram every piece of information into this competitive analysis. Now, let’s look at what can go into each section of your SWOT analysis.

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Strengths

Measuring your strengths can help you analyze where your company is doing well. Seeing it all laid out in one place can allow you to see your company’s strongest features. Your strengths can include successful product features, strong company management, overall growth, customer success stories, revenue, or campaign successes. To compile your list of strengths, consider the areas where you are uniquely skilled beyond other companies in your space.

As you’re filling out a SWOT for your competition, be sure that you leave bias at the door. Your competitors have strengths too; if they didn’t, you wouldn't consider them as competition. Fill out their strength section following the same mindset that you used when filling out your own. Where do your competitors excel that positions them above other players in your space?

Download our Competitive Intelligence Database Template to gather a holistic view of your competitive landscape

Weaknesses

Weaknesses can be analyzed similarly to strengths. For your own company, take into consideration missed goals, unsuccessful product launches, customer churn data, financial information, and other areas that you believe could use improvement. It may be tough to pinpoint a weakness, but all businesses have them, and they can be used to help you improve and grow.

When you’re analyzing your competitors’ weaknesses, you can take a look at their business model, customer reviews, and press coverage to gather intel on where they may have fallen short. As well, take into consideration areas where they need improvement. Perhaps they don’t have the same robust product features you do or don’t have a well-rated customer success team, weaknesses that are great to call out in your analysis.

Opportunities

A key part of a SWOT is the opportunities section. This is where you can analyze market changes, and position them as ways for your business to grow. Maybe a major competitor just closed their doors, or perhaps there is a regulation change in the market -- you could be the first to take advantage and change your product to meet the latest rules. Is there an area where you could invest more resources to be more in line with your competitors’ efforts? This section of the SWOT is the hub of potential for your business.

Now, when you are analyzing opportunities for a competitor, think about what they may be trying to do. Maybe they have a weakness such as lack of functionality with a feature, but, they recently gained some funding, so now they have the opportunity to invest in the feature. It’s important to analyze each competitor against the entire landscape to look at what opportunities are in store for their business.

Threats

This is where you can compile a list of threats that you are sensing from your market. Not just that X competitor has a better product than you, but dig deeper. This is where you can consider things such as changes in the market, technology changes, and overall standing in the market. How do your competitors and market, as a whole, pose a threat to you? Think through potential market shifts, economic downturns, emerging competitors, and other factors that could hurt your business.

When you are filling out a SWOT analysis for each competitor, this is where you can get specific for their threats. You’ve already filled out their strengths, weaknesses, potential opportunities, and now, you need to figure out what could potentially threaten their business. These may overlap with yours since you operate in the same landscape. But, their threats may be specific to them if they follow different rules or regulations on their product, or have a particular partnership with a company undergoing changes.

Performing a SWOT analysis on your own business as well as your competitors is a valuable competitive intelligence tool that will help you take your company to the next level. You will be able to analyze where you excel, where you need work, and plan your next moves using a competitive strategy. Performing a SWOT analysis on your competitors allows you to put yourself in their shoes and try to anticipate their next move based on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This information can also be used to enhance sales enablement material such as battlecards or competitor profiles, reinforcing your strengths and digging into your competitors’ weaknesses. Conducting a SWOT analysis will give you and your team the competitive edge needed to stay one step ahead of the competition.

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Competitive Analysis

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