How to Identify and Leverage Your Competitive Advantages
Just as a messaging exercise involves knowing how rivals talk about themselves and the channels they used, strategic planning requires insight into the competitive landscape. By really knowing your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses, you can establish a strong and differentiated position in the marketplace.
One of the most common tools is a SWOT analysis, which creates a summarized view of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A SWOT analysis is an easy and informative exercise to look at your business in a new and different way. It enables you to explore your strengths and weaknesses and identify threats and opportunities. How to do it: A SWOT analysis works when there are different perspectives and experiences. It ensures the process delivers real and honest insight and opinions, including those that may not be obvious or welcome. Using the four-quadrant template, a SWOT analysis can be completed individually and then shared with the group, or a SWOT analysis can be done together. Whatever the approach, the process should feature a healthy amount of discussion. SWOT questions: To drive a SWOT analysis, here are some questions to ask: Strengths: What are we good at doing? How are we better than the competition? How is the business differentiated or unique? Weaknesses: How does our business struggle? How could we improve? What resources do we lack? Opportunities: What new features or products could we launch What markets could we expand into? How could we improve or enhance our brand reputation? Threats: Where is our business vulnerable? What development could impact sales/profit? What are the rivals taking market share with better products? Here’s an example of a fictional software company: Strengths Best-in-class technology High-profile customers Executives with industry expertise Weaknesses A lack of sales and marketing activity Low brand profile awareness Inconsistent and unclear branding Opportunities Market conditions creating product demand No dominant player in the market Customers happy to be advocates Threats Rivals starting to get serious about market Speculation about clients being unhappy A SWOT analysis is an insightful and valuable exercise for any company looking to know where it stands. As important, it provides insight into how strengths can be capitalized upon and how weaknesses can be addressed.
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