SWOT: From the Eyes of the Consumers

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As marketers, we’re all taught about SWOT Analysis. (S)trengths, (W)eaknesses, (O)pportunities, and (T)hreats. It’s an important part of analyzing your business against the larger marketplace and your competitors.

But sometimes, what we see as our biggest strengths and weaknesses are not the way the market sees us. It’s easy to understand things about an organization from the inside. But do your customers feel the same way?

Here is another area where surveys and focus groups can help tell you a lot about the way your customers see your business. They may even be able to clue you in to opportunities for your business that you did not identify yourselves.

A good way to start is to invite a group of customers to participate in a focus group. If you have a local business, you can pull from the local community. If you have more of a national or global business, you can use web or video conferencing to pull in customers from a variety of different markets.

Get the conversation started by asking them a little more about themselves. Get them talking, then start asking about their direct experience with your brand. Why did they buy from you? What was their experience like? What did they like best? What would they change?

Then, from their point of view, find out who they see as your competitors. This may be obvious, but there may be players in the market that you thought were not a factor, but your customers do.

And finally, get them talking about opportunities. What could your company do better to help meet their needs? What else could you offer that your customers would like to buy from you? How can you get better than your competitors at what they do well?

The smartest marketers in the world listen to those around them. They know that they don’t have all the answers, so they find the answers any way they can.