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SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

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When you are planning strategically with any company--online or offline--it is useful to complete an analysis that takes into account not only your own business, but your competitor's businesses and the current business environment as well. A SWOT is one such analysis.

Completing a SWOT analysis helps you identify ways to minimize the effect of weaknesses in your business while maximizing your strengths.

Ideally, you will match your strengths against market opportunities that result from your competitors' weaknesses or voids.

Basic SWOT

You can develop a basic SWOT analysis in a brainstorming session with members of your company, or by yourself if you are a one-person shop. To begin a basic SWOT analysis create a four-cell grid or four lists, one for each SWOT component:

Then, begin filling in the lists.

  • Strengths - Think about what your company does well. What makes you stand out from your competitors? What advantages do you have over other businesses?

  • Weaknesses - List the areas that are a struggle. What do your customers complain about? What are the unmet needs of your sales force?

  • Opportunities - Try to uncover areas where your strengths are not being fully utilized. Are there emerging trends that fit with your company's strengths? Is there a product/service area that you could do well in but are not yet competing?

  • Threats. Look both inside and outside of your company for things that could damage your business. Internally, do you have financial, development, or other problems? Externally, are your competitors becoming stronger, are there emerging trends that amplify one of your weaknesses, or do you see other threats to your company's success?


Advanced SWOT

A more in-depth SWOT analysis can help you better understand your company's competitive situation. One way to improve upon the basic SWOT is to include more detailed competitor information in the analysis.

Note Internet-related activities such as trade organization participation, search engine inclusion, and outside links to the sites. This will better help you spot opportunities for and threats to your company.

You can also take a closer look at the business environment. Often, opportunities arise as a result of a changing business environment.

Some examples are:

  • A new trend develops for which demand outstrips the supply of quality options. For example, early on, the trend toward healthy eating coupled with an insistence on good-tasting food produced a shortage of acceptable natural food alternatives.

  • A customer segment is becoming more predominant, but their specific needs are not being fully met by your competitors. The U.S. Hispanic population experienced this phenomenon in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

  • A customer, competitor, or supplier goes out of business or merges with another company. With the demise of many pure-play dot-coms, examples of this abound. As each went out of business, opportunities arise to gain the defunct business--customers.


You can also enhance a SWOT analysis through surveys. You can learn more about your own as well as competitor sites and businesses. Areas you can research include 1) customer awareness, interest, trial, and usage levels; 2) brand, site, and/or company image; 3) importance of different site or product attributes to your customers; and 4) product and/or site performance.

Whether using a basic or more advanced approach to SWOT analysis, you are sure to come away with newfound insights. Use these to increase your company's effectiveness and as input into your business or marketing plan.

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Bobette Kyle is creator of and author of the marketing plan guide "How Much for Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing."

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  • by Beatrice Sat Jul 19, 2008 via web

    I like how you describe what your weaknesses, strengths, opportunties, and threats are and how each one can be or not be beneficial for your business and I also liked how you put it together for your class, you had some good points about each of the swot analysis. I learned a lot from this and this will help me in school and my business.

  • by tweety Sat Sep 6, 2008 via web

    a very nice article togertherly put ina very nice manner explaining much about swot analysis

  • by onepunjabi Sat Aug 22, 2009 via web

    i felt article was informative but somehow lacking in the explanation of SWOT any ways nice read...........

  • by olivercrook Fri Nov 20, 2009 via web

    I think it is worth adding to this that it is essential to be focussed and specific in SWOT analyses. Think about specific business units, products / services etc. Strengths in one sector might be weaknesses in another.

    Always think about the implications of your SWOT analysis. Analyse what a strength of your business is, and then take it to the next level and answer the question "so what?"

    Finally, remember that a strength is only a strength if your customers / clients perceive that it adds value to them.

  • by ambilisrengan Fri Mar 19, 2010 via web

    i felt article was very informative but need more details in SWOT analysis.Any how it is excelent.

  • by sumeet Wed May 5, 2010 via web

    hi all ,

    i read but can't understand as much

  • by Christine Bregman Fri May 6, 2011 via web

    The more I used MarketingProfs content, the smarter I feel and ultimately look to my employer. I'm regularily amazed at how you are seemingly one step ahead of what I need. Being a MarketingProfs member then allows me to receive my needs in a compact ready-to-use package. Thank you.

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