Looking Inward: Why Businesses Need a SWOT Analysis to Achieve Success

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It was 2013. I was a sophomore in high school preparing for my drum major audition. I waited as they called each of us up in front of the band one-by-one. I was confident that my audition would go well, that I had it in the bag. That was until I saw one of my classmates stepping up to the podium. She had the perfect salute; her eyes were filled with dedication and confidence.Then it was another candidate’s turn. Another flawless audition. One after the other, I went from thinking that I had this in the bag, to feeling certain that I fumbled it. Soon enough it was my turn and all eyes were on me as I stood at attention, ready to conduct the Star-Spangled Banner. I felt sweat dripping down my forehead as I shakily moved my hands in the air. Any shred of confidence I had before vanished as I compared myself to everyone else who auditioned. Adam had a great conducting pattern, Kristi was great at cues, Dylan had the best presence, and Tashina demanded the attention of the room. As I finished my audition, I remember thinking, “well what do I have to offer?”.

I didn’t get the position that year, but I was determined to get the position the next year. I looked inward and analyzed my own conducting pattern, finding areas of improvement and areas of success to work into habit. I watched the other candidates practicing, too. I saw the ways they were better than me, and the ways I had them beat. I asked band members for feedback, and compiled their critics. I put everything I learned into practice, and I’m happy to say that I finally got the position that year.

What I did as a high schooler is no different than what brands do today. Analyzing my Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats was the differentiating factor in my success and failure, the same way a SWOT analysis can mean a successful campaign, or a nightmare for companies and brands. There are endless benefits to conducting a SWOT analysis for your company: getting a better understanding of your brand, recognizing areas of improvement, seeing how you compare to your competitors, understanding your audience and how to retain them, and many more.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial factors of the SWOT analysis is learning about your target audience. When I asked my classmates for feedback and advice, I learned about so many elements that I was not aware of, in fact blind to. If I had not asked for feedback, or picked up on the social cues I was receiving, I would not have known what to improve and build upon. We often have the tendency to overlook our flaws or areas of improvement, or overshadow our successes and feel the need to fix something that’s not broken. Brands have this tendency too: looking at metrics and data not knowing the fundamental characteristics of their target audience. While some practices would work in one arena, it may not be the best decision in your current space.

It is important for brands to look inward and analyze their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and apply them to their target audience. It is equally important to revisit this analysis, and use it as a guideline or framework for campaigns. Knowledge is power, in all aspects of life, and having knowledge of the ins and outs of your company, will make all the difference.