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S.W.O.T. analysis & Marketing

February 6, 2011

They say Marketing is just to create a demand for a Product and then later satisfying the customer. We all Marketing Personals would wish it was true. As a Marketing person I would be very happy to get away with that. Just sell a Television to a customer with after sales service guarantee & a warranty for first few years and that’s it. No more and no less. Sales & Marketing would have been the easiest task in the company’s management jobs. No need to do all those MBA’s and Diplomas from those prestigious institutes in Marketing. No need to apply your brains in the Board room all day and night. It would have been even simpler for the Internet Marketing and Affiliate Marketers. Just place your message on the computer and send it to your prospects via email or other means. He will just click on the product and purchase it on the Internet by a credit card. Easier said then done. All the marketers would now have become millionaires just sitting at home. No need for going from house to house or from company to company selling your product. Direct selling would be dead then. I will be the most intelligent person in this universe. A genius perhaps rubbing my shoulders with movie stars, celebrities, and all those super intelligent persons who have made money like me by doing a tiny bit of work.

Unfortunately for most of us except for those who have God & the Holy Father on their side this is not true. Salesmanship & Marketing is not as easy as some make it out to be. It is not the Profession of Blabbermouths, Holland Sweeteners or Smooth Talkers forget about liars, cheaters or fraudsters as some people define Marketing as. Marketing is a noble profession consisting of intellectuals and professionals. It has lot of grey matter in it as much as in Finance.

Imagine yourself in a military barrack with the sound of Gunfire over your head deafening your ears .In the midst of all this you may hear the shouting of soldiers scurrying for cover, few shrieks of wounded comrades and sometimes total silence. Again the firing starts. A few miles away from this action place a meeting is being held of military commanders discussing different strategies of combat to defeat the enemy on a map. They are discussing ways to penetrate the enemy lines, the weak points of the enemy lines to attack and destroy the enemy, to avoid or weaken the enemy‘s strength and other strategies, all with the common aim to win the battle. For this they are with continuous contact with their counterparts in the battle field to know the latest status and positions through wireless and other communication network. This is how the battle is won or lost in a battlefield.

The Marketing war too is somewhat similar to a military warfare. The country is replaced with the company .The battlefield is replaced with the Market. The sounds of gunfire is replaced with the firing of the Marketing bosses who play the role of commanders on the marketing executives, & marketing executives who play the role of Soldiers , their shrieks with their  every sale loss . The Military commanders are replaced with the management sitting in the boardroom, with their laptops and plan to compete in the market to increase their market share. Unlike the Military warfare where mostly only two parties or countries are involved, in the marketing warfare the battle is fought between many companies big or small in the marketplace. Also unlike a military warfare where borders are well defined for the two countries to wage war, in the Marketing warfare the borders are not clear to the competitors. Therefore the battle is fought on different segments and fronts and on intuitive power of the management. No doubt the grey areas in the marketing battlefield are far greater than that of the military battlefield. So is the headache of the management of a company.

You have to have guts to be a salesman. You must be mentally very tough, able to work in a competitive environment both from inside & outside, able to deal with continuous pressure of achieving your sales target. For this you must be able to understand your environment, must have good analytical skills, able to gauge your competitor’s strength & weaknesses and then proceed to attack.

In the present marketing context, a management degree or a diploma is a must for every salesmen or marketing executive as it will help him to understand the complications of market and the marketing in much simpler way. It will make him stand apart from the conventional tobacco or pan chewing salesman who used to eat the brain out of his customer’s head. Educated salesman has replaced the previous street smart salesman.

Every management graduate in marketing knows what S.W.O.T. analysis is. It has everything to do with what we have discussed above so far.

S    —         STRENGTH

W   —         WEAKNESS


T     __        THREATS.

As a person facing the real world each of us must know ourselves from both inside and outside. Only then can we be able to cope with any eventualities, good or bad. We must able to know what our strengths are. A good physique, a good looking face, an orator ,manipulative, friendly, calm , stoic, intelligent, cheerful and so on. Our ability to understand and exploit our strengths will take us a long way in the road to success in our life.

What are our strengths and weaknesses? This question is asked to us by every interviewer in case we apply for a job or in any institute. Our ability to understand our weaknesses is as important as our ability to understand our strengths. It will help us to avoid embarrassment and humiliation in front of others. We may be too talkative, prone to cheating and dishonesty, liars, timid and weak kneed, short tempered, average or less in intelligence and so on. Few of these weaknesses can be cured, but for that we must recognize them.

Our ability to understand our Strengths and Weaknesses will help us to grasp and succeed in any opportunity we get in our life be it in getting into good institute, a good job or a business or a good partner .It will help us in seeking and exploiting the opportunities we get  in our career.

The animal kingdom is full with Preys and Predators. Every step we take lurks with danger. Either we prey on others or we become their victims. It may not be as scary as that yet we all live in a concrete jungle full with greedy business tycoons and sharks, cunning and sly competitors watching our every move we make in our life. A wrong step and they have us as their next meal.

The same SWOT analysis as I have discussed above has to be done in Marketing in a more detailed and comprehensive manner. For this modern tools of marketing are there to determine these four parameters of a company or even of its competitor. The SWOT analysis of the competitor is as important as that of our company if we have to compete in the market in any kind of goods or service. As a salesman of the Citibank credit cards my task is not only limited to promoting the strengths of Citibank credit cards but I must also be able to tell the weaknesses of my competitor say HSBC Credit card. But one this must be taken care of in marketing ethics, I must never give any inaccurate or misleading information to my customer of my product or that of my competitor’s. As a good salesman I must also the know weaknesses of Citibank credit cards as well as the strengths of HSBC Credit card in case the customer gets into an argument which is very common.. Nothing can be taken for granted, as today the customer’s product knowledge may be as good as mine.

In the senior management level where tenders worth millions and billions of dollars are passed the SWOT analysis assumes a great importance. Here the deals are quoted taking the competitors quotation too. Every thing has to be in its place in terms of Price, Quality, and Efficiency, Past record or Reputation, Financial Health etc. All these parameters are taken into account before the customer, private or government, before placing a proposal for a company. The company’s strengths are highlighted prominently, its weaknesses are countered effectively and any Threats of the competitors have to be taken care by highlighting its weaknesses in the front of the customer as well as countering its strengths. How it is to be done is yet another matter which the company’s senior management must take care of. Any opportunity that comes must not be missed and must be exploited to get the deal.

A company always uses SWOT analysis while testing its product in the market or during the product launch. It also uses it when its product is not as successful in the market as its competitor. A company must be aware of the strength of its product which it has to highlight in its advertising campaign and sales promotion to a considerable extent. For example Mercedes car proudly advertises of its superior German technology, Rolls Royce cars demonstrate on luxury and comfort while Toyota cars banks on economy. These are the Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.) of the product which the company cares to highlight because it knows that it is only the U.S.P. which can make its product sell in the market. What will a television company will have the U.S.P. ?  Picture Tube of course!   A computer company highlights its microprocessor speed as its U.S.P..

Similarly the company must understand it product weaknesses when launching it in the market both intrinsic and otherwise. This will help it to counter questions put up by the customer during counter sales. The company’s management must remember that its product weakness may become the U.S.P. for the competitor‘s product as it will highlight these weaknesses as its strength in its advertisement and sales promotion. For example, a poor quality picture tube of a company is exploited by its competitor who makes its superior Picture tube as the major feature in its advertisement campaign.

No company must give its competitor an opportunity to focus on its product weakness in the market. Also it must try to exploit the weaknesses of its competitor’s product. This is how marketing is done in the present day.

A Television company is about to launch a new product that has  some unique features like 3 D Surround Sound, A high definition picture , at a very economical price . The fear in the market is that it will sweep the share of the competitors due to its low price range. Superior technology at low price is its U.S.P. and is a Threat to every competitor in the market. Every company must be aware of such Threats by knowing what is happening in the market to meet any eventuality and counter any threat as stated above. Its Market intelligence agents must keep on giving it right information of what is happening in the market and of its competitor’s plans. It must not be caught napping as it will be fatal for its survival.

The SWOT analysis of product and of its main competitors is done before it is launched in the market to guarantee its success in the market. No product can be launched in the market before doing its SWOT analysis in the present marketing scenario. This is because the company is spending Millions and Billions of Dollars on the product launch and later on it’s Advertising and Sales Promotion. It failure will result in the heavy loss for the company.   By spending a fraction of that amount on the SWOT analysis can help the company to carefully plan on how to launch that product in the market, on how to effectively place that product against its main competitors and how to promote that product through advertising and sales promotion. In the present marketing scenario where cut throat competition is the order of the day , where uncertainty looms large in the minds of the marketing managers over the success of their products in the market, where product differences are very small and where changes and developments in the market are very common , SWOT analysis is a major marketing tool in the hands of marketing management to overcome these difficulties and project their product in a confident manner by reducing the risks involved its promotion.

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