This is the second in a two part series. Read Part 1 here.
In the last article I talked about the importance of having a strategic marketing plan in place for your business. A marketing plan is essentially a road map to success and allows you to track progress and plan new marketing initiatives based on vital information.
Obviously a marketing plan should include your company’s vision, short and long term goals, budget, target market and marketing strategies. These will be used throughout the year to retain current audiences and attract prospective clients to your product or service.
If you want your marketing plan to go above and beyond, you should also undertake a thorough S.W.O.T. Analysis. Analysing your business’ past and present strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is vital to success. You should plan what you will do to build on your strengths and how you will minimise weaknesses and threats. It’s also important to identify any potential opportunities for growth in the market.
A thorough S.W.O.T. analysis will allow you to craft a stronger overall marketing strategy and helps you to distinguish yourself from competitors to successfully dominate your market.
So what exactly should you consider in each part of the analysis?
When it comes to listing your strengths, think about what your business does better than anyone else. Consider why customers might choose you over others in the market and try to refine your Unique Sales Proposition (USP). A great USP will inspire customers and creates an emotional connection between the brand and your ideal client.
So think about what is it that makes your business special – why should a customer purchase YOUR product over another? Maybe your product is quality certified, or perhaps you have the capability to deliver your product faster than competitors? Whatever it is, make sure you know your USP like the back of your hand, as it underpins everything you do in marketing.
It can also be helpful to think about your strengths from an external perspective – what do you think makes your business sell, and what might attract potential customers to you? This can help uncover hidden strengths, which can then be used to market your business.
While no one likes to admit weakness, it is vital to recognise and understand your weaknesses in order to overcome them. Try to be realistic and consider any and all things that may be letting your business down. Listen to customer feedback and consider what market leaders might be doing better than you.
Creating a new marketing plan every year is vital as it allows you to consider whether the weaknesses of past years have been overcome or whether they still pose a threat to the business. Once you have identified your weaknesses you can start devising strategies to reduce the impact they have on sales and business.
Opportunities for business growth are always emerging and it is up to you to identify and take advantage of these before your competitors beat you to it. The digital era is redefining the nature of business and opens doors across all markets.
One way to think about potential opportunities presented by the digital world is to look at your market as a whole and consider the supply-demand gap. Think about whether you are serving an over saturated market – i.e. does supply outweigh demand or vice versa? If supply in your market does outweigh demand, you need to work smarter and think about how you can value add to the business and continue appealing to customers.
Consider this example – one of my clients works in the printing industry, a highly serviced market in Melbourne. Sensing that supply was beginning to outweigh demand for traditional printing services, my client recently added an on-demand printing service to the business. This system is incredibly convenient – customers upload their chosen design or document online and the printer completes the job in the same day. By harnessing the power of digital, this local printer can now service the entire country, simply because he spent time researching where the opportunities were.
When finding opportunities, it’s also important to think about new trends in your industry, in technology, government policy and social patterns and consider the opportunities these could lead to.
In addition to your weaknesses it’s equally important to consider any obstacles or threats your business might be facing. Are there holes in the business that leave you open to competitors or are there external factors that could threaten your success? Perhaps there is a particular competitor that has been gaining traction in the last few months and is now threatening to take a larger share of the market.
Threats can come from a wide range of backgrounds and may be caused by new regulations, technological change or even social movements. Whatever the threats to your business are (and there will always be some), you should identify these and consider some strategies to overcome them in your marketing plan.
If you’re unsure where to start with a S.W.O.T. Analysis, download our free template here.
Anyone can create a marketing plan but, in my experience, the most successful businesses are those that constantly review and adjust their strategies. Regular monitoring allows business owners to ensure every piece of marketing collateral is working towards achieving business goals and will give you the best chance of success.
Don’t waste another year’s worth of time and energy by not having a clearly defined strategic marketing plan. It might seem like a lot of effort, but it will save you time and money in the long run, while simultaneously ensuring your business is equipped for growth and continued success.
Download our marketing plan template here to start turning your dreams into a reality.