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Using SWOT Analysis
Key issues identified through SWOT analysis can feed into marketing objectives.
SWOT can be used in conjunction with other tools for audit and analysis, such as PEST analysis and Porter's Five-Forces analysis.
It is a very popular tool with marketing students because it is quick and easy to learn. SWOT analysis can be very subjective. Two people rarely come-up with the same final version of SWOT, so use SWOT as guide and not a prescription.
Simple rules for successful SWOT analysis include:
Be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership when conducting SWOT analysis.
Use SWOT analysis to distinguish between where you are today and where you could be in the future.
Avoid grey areas; SWOT should always be specific.
Always apply SWOT in relation to your competition i.e., examine whether you are better than or worse than your competition
Avoid complexity and over analysis; keep your SWOT short and simple.
Remember that SWOT is subjective.
Educators are initiators who create new curricula, programs, courses all the time—sometimes without a lot of thought about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT anaylsis can be used by instructors and administrators to plan for future curriculum changes and other new projects. Here are some examples of how some organizations used the SWOT analysis to make their products better and to improve services. In higher education, those services are courses and programs. The product is the the outcome of what the student learns.
Example SWOT Analyses
Del Mar College Physical Therapist Assistant Program:
Objective:—To develop advanced coursework for graduates who want to specialize in different areas of Physical Therapy practice
Strengths—Del Mar College and the Physical Therapist Assistant Program provides exceptional teaching and learning with highly qualified staff. The program graduates have a 100% placement rate in the local area with competive salaries. The program maintains strong connections with community and offers instruction at relatively low cost.
Weaknesses—The Physical Therapist Assistant Program has limited staff to market new courses that are not a requirment within the existing degree program. The program must find quality faculty to teach and cannot use exsisting staff due to their teaching loads. The program currently lacks continuing education course speakers
with "name recognition."
Opportunities—The Physical Therapist Assistant Program is receiving requests from many clinicians to offer credit and non-credit coursework. Advanced coursework could provide both credit and non-credit components. The field needs physical therapist assistants with advanced training because the entry-level education is not meeting the needs of the worlforce due to the time limitations of the program and accreditation standards.
Threats—The single biggest threat are the employers and CEU providers offering similar coursework taught by highly experienced faculty. These programs often have stronger marketing capabilities.
Strengths—Wal-Mart is a powerful retail brand. It has a reputation for value for money, convenience and a wide range of products all in one store.
Weaknesses—As the world's largest grocery retailer, Wal-Mart may become weak in some areas while attempting to maintain control of its "empire."
Opportunities—Wal-Mart may be able to take over, merge with, or form strategic alliances with other global retailers, focusing on specific markets such as Europe and China.
Threats—Being number one means that you are the target of competition, locally and globally.
Strengths—Starbucks Corporation is very profitable, earning in excess of $600 million in 2004. The company maintains a reputation for high quality products and a commitment to environmental leadership and ethics.
Weaknesses—Starbucks has a reputation for new product development and creativity that may be difficult to maintain. Their primary market is in the U.S.and their primary product is coffee.
Opportunities—New products and services, e.g., Fair Trade coffee, could be sold in their cafes. There are emerging coffee markets globally.
Threats—Starbucks is exposed to increases in the cost of coffee, dairy, and paper products. Additionally, their success has led to competition from imitators.
Strengths—Nike is a very competitive organization.
Weaknesses—The organization lacks a diversified range of sports products.
Opportunities—Product development and endorsement offer Nike many opportunities.
Threats—Nike is exposed to the international nature of trade.