by Kenneth Rudich
Effective marketing? Don’t do it!
A competitor once offered me that gold nugget of a marketing tip. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for evidence of him following his own advice ever since.
Truth be told, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the competition regardless of whether you have been goaded into it or not. It’s important to know where you stand relative to them. Do you have a competitive advantage, a competitive vulnerability, the potential for improving your competitive position?
Gathering this information will help your strategic planning.
There’s even a method to guide the process. It’s called a SWOT Analysis, where the acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Only, in this post, I’m going to suggest a slight modification in how to use it. For our purposes, you’ll be enlisting it to see how well you measure up, whether favorably or unfavorably, with each key competitor.
And then you’ll incorporate the results into your strategic planning.
the conventional use
If you’re unfamiliar with the conventional use of a SWOT Analysis, let me briefly walk you through the basics:
- Strengths: your business’s internal characteristics that are favorable to achieving its objectives.
- Weaknesses: your business’s internal characteristics that could or do impair the achievement of the objectives.
- Opportunities: external conditions that favor your business, like new avenues for growth or expansion.
- Threats: external conditions that could or do impair your business, such as a bad economy.
If you look at the generic value chain for marketing, this analysis would investigate every aspect of it. Again, the idea is to inform the strategic decision-making process in some manner. For instance, you might focus on turning a weakness into a strength; or, if you can’t do that just now, try minimizing or avoiding the harm it could unleash.
If one or more external conditions are favorable to your business, you’ll want to assess how you might exploit them to advantage.
Okay, that’s the more conventional deployment for a SWOT Analysis.
a competitive swot analysis
A competitive SWOT Analysis operates under a slightly different mindset. It aims to assist in determining how well your business is positioned against each key competitor. So, it might ask questions like:
- How do your strengths compare with the strengths of each competitor?
- How do your weaknesses compare to the weaknesses of each competitor?
- Are there comparable functional areas where you’re strong and they’re weak?
- Are their comparable functional areas where you’re weak and they’re strong?
- Can you learn to turn a functional weakness into a strength based on their functional strengths?
- Is there an opportunity to advance your business objectives by exploiting their weaknesses?
- Is there a threat of them using their strengths to exploit your weaknesses?
- Are there any external threats that will affect all of you? How will it affect each of you?
- Are there any external opportunities that are common to all of you? Who is likely to pursue it, and what are the odds for success among those that pursue it?
- Given the totality of this information, are you positioned in the market – or can you position yourself – in a way that differentiates you from them, and/or puts you in a more favorable light than any or all of them?
This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. It uses the SWOT Analysis to compare and contrast for the purpose of eliciting strategically valuable insights.
as for the matter of effective marketing
If you are not one of my competitors, then by all means do it.
If you are a competitor, DON’T DO IT!
At least, that’s my advice.
Using a SWOT Analysis for Personal Strategic Planning