10 November 2008

Do Marketers Care About SWOT Analyses?

On the first day of class, Intro to Marketing teacher and Scalent VP of Marketing, Kevin Epstein, taught me an old Stanford Business School trick: how to conduct a SWOT analysis. In short, analyze key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) before building any marketing plan.

Over the last few months, I've been working with various clients who are currently preparing for major product launches. As a result, we've been constructing messaging platforms – this exercise isn't easy!

Surprisingly, I haven't seen a SWOT analysis in action, yet. Are they too basic and cliché, or perhaps simply irrelevant? I beg to differ. Clients often get caught up in how exciting and wonderful new products or services are and assume customers or prospective customers will understand by osmosis. Even worse, they believe words like ROI, TCO, best-of-blank, easy-to-blank and speed-to-blank will bowl over the competition.

That's when PR people like me ask questions like: Why is this exciting, important or relevant? How are you different from and better than your competitors? Who is your target audience?

Again, this exercise isn't easy, but it is absolutely essential, especially if expect press, blogger or analyst coverage. And while being honest about your product and/or company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats may seem mundane, remember that customers, partners, investors and other target audiences are unlikely to understand the niche details of your product or service. In other words, if you're Target, you don't want to be confused with Kmart. Highlight strengths, such as local, faster, easier, largest community, and quantify them if you can. Pursue opportunities, such as "first to X" or "burgeoning need for Y." Next, devise a plan to bolster your weaknesses and mitigate (or try to avoid) threats. From there, you'll be in a good position to construct your messaging platform. Believe me, your PR people will love you for it.

No comments: