Recently I was hired by an established law firm to evaluate their marketing efforts and advise them on how the could achieve better results. I sat down to interview each of the key attorneys to see if everyone had the same vision for the firm and as I suspected, each attorney had varying opinions about what practice areas were in the best interest of the firm and how they needed to market themselves to achieve success.
This is not unusual for any business, regardless of age or size. Often times organizations spend time and money on advertising and marketing without a communications strategy or marketing plan. To the credit of the law firm, their former in-house marketing director had a marketing budget and spreadsheet tracking their expenses.
As a seasoned (older) marketer, I still believe in “Marketing 101.” More specifically, creating a balanced marketing plan based on a SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a great way to identify your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Thus, providing a blueprint for creating a strategic and balanced marketing plan.
SWOT Analysis Format
The SWOT format can be approached in different ways. However, for the sake of this exercise, start with 4 squares on a piece of paper with enough room to write 5-6 points under each. These don’t have to be detailed, but they should be well thought-out to get the most value. Note the diagram above for reference.
The first row should be internal strengths and weaknesses. Think about your company and things you can control. The second row (opportunities and threats) should include external factors, such as market trends, other companies, competition, and other factors that you may not fully control.
Now that you have created your square, let’s delve into more detail.
Strengths - SWOT Analysis
Defining your strengths is an important part of this exercise. For some, writing down strengths can be uncomfortable, but for others they may end up with a long list. If you fall into the latter category, try to pair your list down to the 4-6 strengths that define your brand. This helps to prioritize your strengths. Remember, strengths should be based on your company and should be internally focused.
Each strength should focus on a single area of your brand. See below for some examples.
Writing down your weaknesses can be difficult, but believe me, you will find this part of the process very revealing. It is essential to understand what your business lacks to help you make sound marketing and business decisions about things such as: your marketing message, target audience, workflow, staff and other resource needs.
Here are a few examples of weaknesses:
When considering opportunities, I find it helpful to review the organization’s strengths. Often times, the strengths help me to brainstorm opportunities. Sometimes the list of opportunities can be lengthy and daunting. Your goal is only to identify opportunities, it is not a to-do-list, so don’t be afraid to think big! Later when you are creating your marketing plan, you can prioritize your opportunities.
Here are examples of opportunities:
It is important when evaluating threats that you look beyond the obvious, such as competitors or economy. This does not mean that you exclude these from your threat list. However, you should expand thinking to include other threats, such as changes in political policies and new traffic patterns that may affect your businesses location.
Here are a few more examples:
· Internet. Provides potential clients with free access to marketing advice and
low cost graphic design and print resources.
· Profit Margins. Lower rates to remain competitively priced due to increase competition from local marketing businesses and online services.
· Facebook. Small businesses and start-ups are using Facebook to promote their services as opposed to hiring an agency to build their website.
Having a clear understanding of both internal and external factors is essential for any business to survive in today’s fast-paced, high-tech world. Whether you use the above
4-square format, or simply type your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats, on a single paper, you are on your way toward a more efficient marketing plan.