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SWOT Analysis

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SWOT Analysis

What is SWOT Analysis?

SWOT analysis is a basic, straightforward model that provides direction and serves as a basis for the development of marketing plans. It accomplishes this by assessing an organizations strengths (what an organization can do) and weaknesses (what an organization cannot do) in addition to opportunities (potential favorable conditions for an organization) and threats (potential unfavorable conditions for an organization). SWOT analysis is an important step in planning and its value is often underestimated despite the simplicity in creation. The role of SWOT analysis is to take the information from the environmental analysis and separate it into internal issues (strengths and weaknesses) and external issues (opportunities and threats). Once this is completed, SWOT analysis determines if the information indicates something that will assist the firm in accomplishing its objectives (a strength or opportunity), or if it indicates an obstacle that must be overcome or minimized to achieve desired results (weakness or threat) (Marketing Strategy, 1998).

Elements of SWOT Analysis

Strengths and Weaknesses

Relative to market needs and competitors' characteristics, a manager must begin to think in terms of what the firm can do well and where it may have deficiencies. Strengths and weaknesses exist internally within a firm, or in key relationships between the firm and its customers. SWOT analysis must be customer focused to gain maximum benefit, a strength is really meaningful only when it is useful in satisfying the needs of a customer. At this point, the strength becomes a capability (Marketing Strategy, 1998).

When writing down strengths, it is imperative that they be considered from both the view of the firm as well as from the customers that are dealt with. These strengths should be realistic and not modest. A well-developed listing of strengths should be able to answer a couple of questions. What are the firm's advantages? What does the firm do well (PMI, 1999)?

A customer-focused SWOT may also uncover a firm's potential weaknesses. Although some weaknesses may be harmless, those that relate to specific customer needs should be minimized if at all possible. In addition, a focus on a firm's strengths in advertising is promotion is important to increase awareness in areas that a firm excels in. This method not only evokes a positive response within the minds of the consumer, but pushes the weaknesses further from the decision making process (Marketing Strategy, 1998).

Weaknesses should also be considered from an internal and external viewpoint. It is important that listing of a firm's weaknesses is truthful so that they may be overcome as quickly as possible.
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