How To Conduct A SWOT Analysis

SWOT is a strategic management tool. It's taught at the Stanford and Harvard Business Schools. And used by several multinational consulting firms.

SWOT should be one of the first steps in the preparation of a business plan, marketing plan or advertising strategy.

This section explains how creative and other professionals can use SWOT to satisfy their the lust for wealth and power. And help their clients prosper.

What is it? SWOT is an acronym for:

Strengths,
Weaknesses,
Opportunities,
Threats.

A SWOT analysis is a process to identify where you are strong and vulnerable -- where you should defend and attack. The result of the process is a Plan Of Action.

The analysis can be performed on a product, on a service, a company or even on an individual.

Done properly, SWOT will give you the BIG PICTURE of the MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS that influence SURVIVAL and PROSPERITY. As well as a PLAN to ACT ON.

How to conduct a SWOT analysis.

Part 1) Information collection.
You can conduct one-on-one interviews. Or get a group together to brainstorm. A bit of both is frequently best.

You'll first want to prepare questions that relate to the specific company or product that you are analyzing. You'll find some questions / issues / below to flick your switch.

Tip: Search for insight through intelligent probing.

Part 2) POA preparation and implementation.
There are two parts to preparing a plan of action. One is to digest all the data / info / insights you gained from step one. Next, write a plan of action, a list of things 2 do. Or an advertising strategy that takes advantage of strengths and minimizes weaknesses.

Here are some typical questions and issues.

1) Identify and list Strengths:

What are your advantages in attracting quality employees. In performing the service you provide. In making whatever you make?

What do you do well? Is there anything you do better than most? Better than anyone else?

Consider these questions from your own point of view, and from the point of view of the people in your target audience. Don't be modest, be realistic.

Be sure to consider the critical areas: people and technology, marketing, and finance.

2) Identify and list Weaknesses:

What should be improved?

What do you do poorly?

What should you avoid, based on mistakes in the past?

Again, consider these questions from an internal and an external perspective. Do other people perceive weaknesses that you don't see? Do your competitors do any better? It is essential to be realistic here, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.

3) Identify and list Opportunities:

Where can you find, or create, a competitive advantage?

What are some major trends in your business?
- Consolidation / Diversification?
- Specialization / Generalization?

Opportunities can come from such things as:
- Changes in technology. Such as computer software that lets you perform services that others can not.
- Changes in the types of businesses in your potential market, such as the demand for healthcare or telecommunications expertise.
- Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle.
- Changes in creative trends.
- Changes in demand for certain types of services, perhaps related to interactive / Internet.

4) Identify and list Threats:

What obstacles do you face?

What are your competitors doing that may result in a loss of clients, customers, market share?

Are the required specifications for your job, products or services changing?

Is changing technology threatening your position?

Do you have cash-flow problems?

Notes:

Conduct a SWOT analysis on your company.

Conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself.

Offer a SWOT analysis to current clients.

Offer a SWOT analysis to prospective clients. For free, or for a fee. Conduct the process professionally, which means one to two hour meetings with key employee groups, such as senior management / owners, marketing / sales, perhaps even HR and IT.

Prepare a report of your findings, to include your own insights, and a Plan Of Action. Ask the client for an hour to present a summery of your results to their key decision makers.

Your POA is a strategic document that prioritizes the actions your should take to address your SWOT's.

By providing this service you place yourself on a professional par with the very best.

Creative tip: This is a good brainstorming topic to involve the creative, account services and the client's marketing team.

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