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Problem-Solving with SWOT/TOWS

An amazing analytical tool to evaluate professional challenges is the SWOT: Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats.

However, to use it most effectively you must ensure that you are applying the core elements of a Strategic Mindset (Research / Analysis / Synthesis).

When you are analyzing positioning for yourself or your company, you can determine how well you rate against competitors. Therefore, the SWOT excels in reviewing both internal and external factors through Research & Analysis.  

The Internal Factors
These factors are related to your company's innate capabilities. Start with a review of concepts from Marketing Principles (Creating / Messaging / Distributing / Trading) and Management Strategy (People / Product / Cost).

Strengths

  • Strong points as an individual / company
  • Incorporating both objective and subjective perspectives 
  • Includes perspective of the company / customers / competitors

Weaknesses

  • Points that can be improved as an individual / company
  • Incorporating both objective and subjective perspectives
  • Includes perspective of the company / customers / competitors

The Environmental Factors

These are external forces that influence your company's capabilities. Considerations  can come from changes in technology, government policy, social demographics, and customer lifestyle. In-depth examination can be developed via the framework for PESTEL.

Opportunities

  • Chances for growth in the market
  • Domestic and international trends
  • Partnerships that provide increased access or benefits

Threats

  • Economic downturns
  • Shifts in market demographics
  • Competitor activities that may interfere with corporate goals and objectives

In order to cover the last element of Synthesis, it's necessary to use an additional framework to further leverage those insights as a TOWS Matrix.

That converts the range of research and analysis into actionable strategies. The resulting matrix maps four possible scenarios:

Strengths-Opportunities

  • Maximize internal strengths and take full advantage of opportunities.

Strengths-Threats

  • Apply strengths to minimize existing and emerging threats.

Weaknesses-Opportunities

  • Reduce weaknesses to take better advantage of opportunities.

Weaknesses-Threats

  • Eliminate weaknesses to bypass and avoid threats.

Include this last step to create a sound plan that deals with your competition and other factors in the marketplace as your Market Strategy.

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