Ah, the good-ole SWOT analysis… It brings up fond memories of my college days and my Business Marketing 101 class. It also brings back memories of countless strategic planning engagements with clients and our own executive team over the years. But therein lies the problem. This basic business exercise doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.
Why not? Companies change. Products and services evolve. Markets ebb and flow. Competitors pop up out of nowhere. New opportunities knock on your door every day. Which should you tackle? And how should your content marketing efforts support those efforts?
SWOT-ing may seem a bit old school, but the exercise still has great significance in 2019. And if you put a content-centric spin on it and get your content marketing team involved, it can help immensely with content planning and resource management. Let’s take a deep dive into how content marketers can leverage this exercise to strengthen your strategy, your team and your content marketing.
SWOT Analysis Revisited
In a SWOT analysis, you’re identifying both internal Strengths and Weaknesses, and external Opportunities and Threats. The overall goal in most cases is for you to come away with a clear competitive advantage and the specific opportunities that you should focus on going forward.
Within the context of a content marketing team, your team may have specific strengths and weaknesses that differ from the company at large, and there may be unique opportunities and threats that your team should consider when mapping out your future content marketing operational goals.
For example, let’s say that you recognize (through a SWOT analysis) that your team is very strong with writing, but has a weakness when it comes to video production. And you recognize how large a role video plays in today’s content landscape (an opportunity) and the obvious threat of competitors who are already dabbling in the video channel.
This simple analysis may be all that’s needed to help solidify the need for either a new hire that has a video production background or budget adjustments to bring an outside video service provider on board.
A SWOT-ing Guide for Content Marketers
Let’s look closely at each part of the SWOT exercise and perhaps you can use this as a guide to facilitate your own internal analysis.
For strengths, think about all the internal differentiators that give your company an edge over your competitors. In reference to content marketing, consider the strengths of your content strategy, your team, your content properties and the overall execution of your content programs.
Questions to ask:
- What are your company’s content advantages?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
- What unique resource do you have that others do not?
- What factors help you convert customers better than your competitors?
- How does your brand’s unique value proposition and messaging give you an advantage?
Consider all the possible ways your content marketing may fall short and how a competitor could leverage this.
Questions to ask:
- What area of our content marketing operation need to be improved?
- What internal obstacles get in the way of our success?
- Which content formats or types of content do we struggle to produce?
- Are there specific content channels where competitors are eating our lunch?
Strengths and Weaknesses: Where to Find Them
As a reminder, strengths and weaknesses are assessed internally. Here are some areas to focus on to help you answer the questions:
- Creative team
- Resources like a content marketing software platform
- Core competencies: what do you do best in content
- Content team culture
- Value proposition
Strength or a Weakness?
In this part of the process, it’s common that a team will identify something that is both a strength and a weakness. For example, you may list your organizational culture as a strength because you have a small-but-mighty creative team; however, it could also be a weakness if you don’t have enough resources. To decide where it goes, you may want to look at a more precise data point like efficiency or turnover.
Benchmarking is another way to help you identify which factors should be in each lane. For example, do you know if your blog is generating leads and how that compares to industry benchmarks?
You can also use the VIRO (valuable, rare, and cannot be imitated) framework to determine if a resource is really a strength.
Look at favorable situations that can give you an edge externally such as new products or services on the horizon, new technology, changes in government policy, shifts in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and local events.
Questions to ask:
- Are there opportunities to work with any new partners or influencers within our industry?
- What new product, service or technology trends have we recognized within our industry?
- Is there an emerging content channel or format that our audiences are using?
- Are there new markets or audiences we should be considering?
Quick Tip: When addressing opportunities, look at your strengths and ask yourself if they could become opportunities. You should also look at your weaknesses and whether by eliminating them, opportunities could present themselves.
For threats, you’ll need to brainstorm about external factors and competition that are a threat to your company’s growth.
Questions to ask:
- What are your biggest obstacles to achieving success?
- What are your competitors doing right with their marketing/content?
- What impact would major changes to Google, Facebook or other content channels have on our success?
- Is changing technology a problem?
- Could any weaknesses expose your company to threats?
Quick Tip: Remember that threats are external and usually related to competitive advantages that your competitors have or some kind of change in the industry that impacts all stakeholders.
Opportunities and Threats: Where to Find Them
When looking at opportunities and threats, you are focusing on external factors that you can’t control. Opportunities offer your company a chance to find competitive advantages; whereas, threats need to be protected against.
Here are areas to focus on that can help you answer your opportunity and threat questions:
- Use the PESTEL (political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal) framework to comprehensively consider all outside forces that could affect your company
- Know exactly what your competitors are up to
- Identify any current or future market changes (depending on your industry, these changes may be major or minor)
Ground Rules for SWOT-ing
Now that you have the framework for completing your SWOT, here are some ground rules that you may want to review with your team before you start the exercise. I suggest you put these in front of your team on a whiteboard or projected on a screen, so they don’t easily become forgotten.
- Accept only specific, verifiable statements (ex: be precise in talking about pricing advantages rather than just saying “it’s a good value”)
- Edit long lists of factors and prioritize them, so that the time spent is on the most important areas
- Ensure that items you’ve identified in the SWOT are present during future strategy formation
- Keep your discussion focused on the right level (ex: you are using it to assess your content marketing rather the company as a whole)
- The SWOT analysis can be used in conjunction with other strategic exercises like a unique value prop analysis or voice and tone creation
Final Step: Prioritization
After you finish the initial exercise, it’s time to prioritize. After all, content marketing teams are already slammed. Adding more projects on the pile might do more harm than good. Look at each area and rank each item based on the framework below.
Strength and Weaknesses Evaluations
- Importance: consider how important each factor is to the success of the company or product
- Rating: Is each factor a major or minor strength or weakness?
Opportunities and Threats Evaluations
- Importance: same as above
- Probability: how likely is an event to happen?
As you can see, SWOT-ing is a lot more than creating a matrix with what’s working and what’s not. It can really help you and your team come to an understanding of how your marketing stacks up against competitors, and find gaps and insights in your content marketing plan.
Once you’re done, you may find that some of your weaknesses revolve around inefficient processes or not using the right tools. So, why not explore DivvyHQ? Try it today for free. We’d love to help you create a strong content marketing operation and execute on the myriad of opportunities in front of you.