How to Market Your Small Business Using SWOT Analysis

Many small business owners need help when it comes to marketing their small business. One of the tools that small business owners can borrow from from marketing gurus is called SWOT analysis. SWOT is a great way to begin to figure out how to market your small business.

Briefly, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal aspects. Both of these refer to things that you have complete control over in your small business. Opportunities and Threats are both external factors. They involve things that can greatly impact how you market your small business but you don’t have control over them.

The way to think about strengths is to finish the statement; “I believe our biggest internal strengths are…”. Strengths are not just core competencies. In order to leverage strengths for marketing your small business they should be a unique or particular advantage that your small business has vs. your competition.

As you might anticipate, weaknesses should be explored with the following concept; “I believe our bigger internal weaknesses are…”. Weaknesses are not just things that you don’t think you do well. In terms of marketing your small business, weaknesses are internal factors that your competition could exploit f they knew about them.

Opportunities can be described with the following; “I believe our biggest external opportunities are…”. By definition, opportunities that you see for marketing your small business must match some of your strengths. If the opportunities don’t align with your strengths then its not a real opportunity for consideration in SWOT analysis. It may be a real market opportunity but if it doesn’t align with your small business strengths then its not a real opportunity for you.

Finally, you need to be wary of threats. Threats are explored with the statement; “I think our biggest external threats are…” Threats are typically a combination of a weakness that you have combined with the strength of a competitor. This is particularly true if that competitor’s strength is aligned with a real market opportunity. It is critical to try and minimize threats when marketing your small business.

To successfully market your small business you must understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is also important to understand how they relate to each other. Strengths can lead to opportunities if they are aligned correctly. On the other hand weaknesses can expose you to threats. However, strengths don’t necessarily lead to opportunities and weaknesses don’t always lead to threats. Try and see how these market forces align for your small business.

Grow Your Small Business With Lead Generation Advertising

I used to advertise my brand everywhere, get my logo out there and people will see it and then come and buy my products. I nearly went bust; I was acting like Virgin or B.T. Brand advertising is for the big boys, not for small business. You should include your logo or brand in your advertising but the main focus for small business advertising has got to be lead generation.

What do I mean by lead generation? Lead generation is simply to get people who are interested in your service to contact you.

What is the best way to get interested customers to contact you? Offer them something free.

Here is how to really make the most of all of your advertising:

  • Come up with some freebies you can give away to your potential customers like a free report, survey, sample products, CD, DVD. The key here is to come up with something of perceived value relating to your products or services. E.g. If you are a builder and your target audience are home owners you could write a free report 10 ways to increase the value of your home or Top 10 D.I.Y. tips for DAD the information to go in these reports is already out there on the internet, you just need to go online and get it.
  • You then need to offer this free product in all of your advertising as follows: call today for your free report – 10 ways to increase the value of your home or email today for your free report – Top 10 D.I.Y tips for DAD. What we are doing here is getting interested leads to give you their contact details in return for a free product. You can contact them shortly after to ask them if they received your information and to ask them if they would like to buy from you.

I recently increased my response to an e-mail out by 3000% just by offering something free. It really does work.

Small Business Marketing Plan Revisited

Creating a small business marketing plan as a subcategory of your overall business plan is vital for evoking and accelerating business growth. When you have a plan, you are able to focus on the right things at the right time and measure your progress toward a goal.

Many business owners are resisting planning. When you’re running a business, you can easily be consumed by your day to day responsibilities. But failing to plan can be a great mistake.

Now, what is the essential function of marketing? To generate qualified sales leads. There are any number of methods that can be used to do that but how do you know which methods to use if you don’t have a plan?

And how do you know what your lucrative marketing activities are? How do you invest in those activities if you don’t know how big your budget is, or know what results you are trying to produce?

A marketing plan doesn’t need to be a huge document. First, start with your business goals for the next six months. You should already have these, for example your target revenue, if nothing else.

Now, what marketing goals align with those business goals? Ok, you want to make 100k. How many leads do you need to generate in order to allow your selling activities to close the deals necessary to reach this revenue target?

Next, what marketing strategies are necessary to meet your business goal? Will you need to get more publicity? Expand into a new market? Reach more people in your current market? Create a direct mail campaign? Create sales partnerships?

You must pick one or two that deliver on what you are aiming for and hit your target revenue. Now, determine what specific activities will achieve your strategies.

At this point it gets a little bit tricky. You must choose from a vast pool of marketing options/activities and you must choose the activities that will work best for the potential customer you want to reach. You might need to participate in trade show events where you get face to face with your market.

You might need to launch a new website, you might need to implement a referral program for current customers. The list goes on and on.

Whatever your activities are, put them together into your plan and create target metrics (e.g. number of leads collected, number of prospects you talked to, etc).

Finally, you end up with your marketing plan.

The next step, your sales plan, tells you how the leads generated by marketing will be converted to customers, and how back end sales will be made to those customers. Sales metrics include conversion rates, overall revenues, or revenue per customer/per square foot/per time spent in the store, etc.

The great thing is that now you have something to measure against and you can review things periodically to see if you are on track or if something needs to be adjusted.

This process or call it small business marketing plan, doesn’t need to take a lot of time but the benefits to your business can be huge. Having a plan will give you a lot more insights into your well oiled business machine or parts of your business that need some tweaking.