18: Marketing Strategy 101: Use “SWOT” to make your business better


I’m currently in grad school, and one of the things we’re learning about this semester is creating a marketing plan. What goes into it, how to make one, and how to measure whether or not it was successful. 

There was one element that really stuck out to me, and that was the SWOT analysis. I think this resonated with me especially because I’m a new business owner, and I’ll tell you why. 

“SWOT” is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It might sound corporate and intimidating, but it’s actually a super helpful method for improving your marketing and making sure your business is set up to keep getting the customers you need to succeed. When you’re just starting out, this helps you form your identity - who am I? And why would clients hire me? 

Personally, I found this process super addicting. Once you do one, you’re going to want to do it on everything. I’ve heard of lots of people using this method on their personal life or their career.

It really doesn’t have to be super formal! 

Here’s a quick example. 

Say you’re a freelance writer. You know you’re better than most other freelancers when it comes to writing long form blog posts. You’ve written hundreds of them, and you have a near 100% client satisfaction rate with them. BUT, your weakness is that your competitor is better at sales pages, and you worry that this could work against you. 

You’ve also noticed a ton of conversation in the industry surrounding long-form blog posts -- everyone seems to want them. That’s good for you! It’s an opportunity to use your strength and capitalize on it! 

But you have to be careful because a lot of businesses who want to hire you might not be able to afford you - so that’s a threat you need to overcome by being choosy about your clients and only marketing yourself to industries you know can afford you. 

How to identify your business’s strengths 

  • What makes me special compared to my competitors?

  • What am I really good at? 

  • Maybe I offer a common service, but do I offer it in a unique way?

  • How can I capitalize on this strength to get more customers?

How to identify your business’s weaknesses

  • What do I not really enjoy doing? 

  • What do my competitors do better than me? 

  • What’s something a lot of people want from someone like me but I don’t offer?

  • Are there any ways to turn those weaknesses into strengths? 

How to identify business opportunities

  • Are there any external events or situations that could present a good opportunity for my business to succeed? 

    • Seasonality 

    • Industry changes 

    • News / events 

How to identify potential threats to your success

  • What external factors could put my business at risk?

  • Could any of my weaknesses be detrimental to my success if I don’t improve? 

To review…

  1. Strengths - what are you good at? How can you use that to market yourself?

  2. Weaknesses - what are your competitors better at? Are there opportunities to turn your weaknesses into strengths?

  3. Opportunities - always be on the lookout for opportunities you can use to your advantage

  4. Threats - always be on the lookout for potential threats so you can see them and avoid them before they become something that harms your business

Links & Resources Mentioned

Franzine Mackley