SWOT analysis has been around forever. I’ve sat through some really good ones – and a few that are best to forget. But I really think it is going to come into its own post-Covid and through the AI revolution.

For those who have never done a SWOT analysis, it is looking at the internal Strengths and Weaknesses of your own business in the context of the external Opportunities and Threats in the market that you operate in. By doing this we can identify potential strategies and actions to take the business forward.

Now SWOT can become a bit boring, a bit repetitive, a bit of a tick box exercise that you feel like you have to do, but really doesn’t provide any value. Well that is about to change…

Global events can change the external influences of a SWOT analysis out of recognition. For example, the covid pandemic in 2020 created so many changes to our lives in a short space of time. It has continued to change our working practises through adoption of new technology, remote working, change of business process etc. Some of these changes were profound and are here for the long term, its likely we will never return to how things used to be. And in that the Opportunities and Threats that arise changed almost out of sight – for some businesses anyway.

The growth of AI is another gamechanger that makes a SWOT exercise essential understand how the business will move forward. Changes like Covid and AI can make looking at your Strengths and Weaknesses very fluid, and as the O and the T change, there is the potential for an S to become a W and vice versa. SWOT suddenly becomes a company defining conversation.

There are other things to do which make the SWOT more productive. Get more people in on it, whether that is in your team or from other functions in your business. Get as many perspectives as you can. Not only will that enhance the exercise but will also get buy-in from people who feel they have been listened to. The SWOT is the ideal team game to play on Zoom.

But don’t try and build the SWOT together – that will just create a dull compromise that doesn’t help anyone. Ask everyone to do their own, based on their own perception of the S and W and their own research of the O and T. Collate all the responses and build a SWOT that you can debate and understand each other’s perceptions and priorities.

Don’t use single words or phrases – nothing worse than writing ‘Good team’ or ‘competition’. Define what it is about the team or the competition that makes them worthy of being in the analysis. Remember, the same thing can be in more than one section if you define it properly. I recently did this with a client who managed to categorise someone leaving the business as a S, W, O and a T!

Finally, once you have agreed the SWOT, then is the time to cross reference them – make them confront each other. See how your strengths are going to open up the opportunities and ward off the threats. Check how your weaknesses are going to make you miss on those opportunities or make you susceptible to the threats. This is where the SWOT comes alive. It’s what creates the actions and will ultimately create the strategies to move forward.

I hope that helps. I hope it inspires in some way to sit down with the team and create a SWOT. Look at it in a positive light, not as something you are expected it do. Done properly it can really facilitate change.

Now go to tutorial page and download Tutorial 5. There is also a link to a short video on YouTube that might help. Good luck!!

Chris Perkins is a Part Time Marketing Director or CMO, working with clients to provide marketing leadership, strategy and direction in a cost effective and affordable way. This course was created during the COVID lockdown in 2020 and was designed as a FREE to access resource to enable SME business owners and teams to create a workable business plan through a series of simple exercises.

If you require further help to manage your marketing strategy and execution, please email chris@oneobjective.co.uk