If you’ve ever taken a marketing course, you’re likely to have learned about creating a SWOT analysis. And no, it has nothing to do with swatting flies. Although, sometimes it seems as if we might as well be, because so many times creating a SWOT analysis is truly a waste of time. Long-held as a fundamental skill in the marketing world, many are asking if a SWOT analysis truly is necessary. Is a SWOT analysis still used in the modern, digital marketing world?
What is SWOT
First, let’s have a quick refresher on the acronym. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis looks into how each of those four categories pertains to a certain product or service. I’ve created many SWOT analyses, but to be honest, the vast majority of them were to satisfy the demands of a college course or the requirement for a business loan. For the most part, my business planning doesn’t include a formal SWOT analysis as a separate document. The reason is simple. The way I see it, a business plan is already answering all of the questions a SWOT analysis probes into. I think a SWOT analysis is obsolete at worst and merely a means to an end at best.
When someone says to me that they think we should create a SWOT analysis, I tend to think that they’re being a little too academic and naive. For me, a SWOT analysis is nothing more than using words to describe common sense and gut-feeling. The real analyzing should take place with financial modeling. Enough with the SWOT swatting already. Sadly, in many cases, creating a SWOT analysis is as productive as playing the Google T Rex game.
So, in conclusion, to answer the question: Is a SWOT analysis still used? The answer is yes, but quite frankly it seems to be more a product of academic assignments than real-world, rubber-meet-the-road business advancement. Unfortunatley, people get so caught up with creating a pretty-looking SWOT analysis to impress a boss that they forget the real purpose of their business isn’t to impress the boss, but to move product and make money.