Know Thyself...Know Thy Marketing
Famed Athenian philosopher Socrates once told his students, "Know thyself." This simple statement has been used in business seminars and speeches for ages. It reminds us of the importance of understanding our own strengths and weaknesses before striving for goals.
Given this, we say, 'know thy marketing.'
Know Thy Marketing?
The first step in developing any marketing plan is to conduct a SWOT analysis. This is the modern version of "Know tyself." It is a tool to help a company examine first, their own strenghts and weaknesses. That is the meaning of the S and the W in SWOT.
Yet, far too often we come across clients who are paying an agency for marketing but do not understand this concept. In fact, few of these even have a marketing plan.
Worse, the agency who does their marketing does not have a plan! Nor did they use a SWOT analysis to learn what marketing is right for the client!
Hence, neither the client nor the agency charging them KNOWS THEIR MARKETING!
This is shocking considering that every business school teaches students about the SWOT analysis virtually on day one.
Seriously, how can any agency claim to be serving their client if they have not developed a marketing plan based on the SWOT analysis? At best, their marketing is shooting in the dark; at worst, it is a scam just to bilk small businesses of money.
How to Use a SWOT Analysis to Develop Your Marketing Plan
Because this is so common, especially here in Southwest Louisiana, we decided it was time to explain how this tool can help your business.
- S - Strengths
- W - Weaknesses
- O - Opportunities
- T - Threats
To know what direction to take your marketing, you must know 'thyself.' In this respect, know your business.
- What is your business good at doing?
- Where is your business weak?
- What are the threats that can prevent your company from growing and why?
- Where do opportunities lie and how can these be exploited to grow your business?
Also, it makes sense to do a complete SWOT analysis on each of your major competitors. This will show you gaps in their own marketing. These gaps are areas of opportunity for your company.
With this in mind, let us now consider how you would develop a SWOT analysis for your company, each element at a time. Bear in mind too that the SWOT analysis is just a tool to "know thyself." It is the foundation for your marketing plan.
Once the SWOT analysis is complete, you still need to put together a marketing plan.
Your marketing plan should include:
- your core values
- your goals
- the strategy you will pursue
- the tactics you will use to achieve your goals
- and key indicators to keep you on target toward reaching your marketing goals
SWOT Away Doubt and Know Thy Business
What is your business, that is, what problem do you solve for your customers?
Nearly every business offers several products and services, but some of these are more prominent than others. Some are more important to clients. Knowing which is the key to finding the right marketing strategy. The SWOT analysis helps you determine the direction your marketing should take.
So, let's get started.
The S in SWOT means strengths. Knowing the strengths of your business help you know where to put your marketing dollars.
For instance, if your sales reps always seem to perform best when speaking with men in their 30s, you may want to market to that demographic. If your business excels at providing emergency service, that is a virtue to promote. And if your company provides in-house financing, this could be something you want to emphasize in your marketing.
The point is, know your strengths because these should be placed front-and-center in your marketing efforts. If your marketing agency did not do a SWOT analysis, their marketing may not be hitting on your strengths.
This is not something anyone should guess at. It is not wishful thinking. Know thyself means know your strengths. Check the data. Ask questions. Know.
The W in SWOT means weaknesses. Every company has weaknesses. Few want to admit to them, but knowing them is the first step to overcoming them.
And these weaknesses can be overcome though careful marketing. Try to turn a weakness into a strength.
A story comes down from famed speaker Zig Ziglar.
He told of a Real Estate agent who was tasked with selling homes in a subdivision which was next to a railroad line. On the first showing of a house, a train went by and the couple immediately lost interest. What did he do?
He bought a big screen TV and placed it into the show home. Then he timed every client meeting to coincide with the passing of the train. He then sat the clients down to "watch TV" at a point when he knew a train would be passing. As it did, no one noticed. He then opened the curtains to show them the train and said that he would throw in a TV if they bought.
Since they did not notice the train with the TV on, the agent managed to sell the entire subdivision using this tactic. He turned a weakness into a strength.
Doing so can only come from knowing the weakness. Know thyself means know your company weaknesses.
The O in SWOT stands for opportunities. There are always opportunities in the market. But which ones are worth pursuing and which are better left to the competition to waste money on?
By finding every possible opportunity, you can tailor your marketing approach to include these.
For instance, when creating Google Ads, many agencies focus on the same commonly-used keyword combinations. But for every set of keywords, there are usually hundreds, if not thousands of others which no one uses.
Google Ads is an auction-style marketplace. If everyone is competing for the top keywords, everyone pays more and gets less. A wise marketer will look at the keywords not used because these will cost less and generate more clicks. The return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) will be far better using these ignored keywords and the results will outstrip that of the competition.
One of my first clients upon returning to Lake Charles was doing just that. He was doing his own Adwords and Google had him paying over $15 per click for using "near me" keywords for his services. This is a premium keyword meaning it costs more. Yet this keyword combination has little impact for a local business. Why?
Because if the website is optimized for local search, Google is going to show it when people ask for that type of business "near me." Bidding on this keyword is wasting money unless there is strong competition.
We did some keyword research and were able to save him about $13 per click. He is not getting far more clicks and far better results for far less money.
The point is, look for every opportunity then take advantage of those which are being ignored by your competitors. This will give you a definite advantage.
The T in SWOT means threats. Threats come mainly from competition, but sometimes they come from within your company. If there are weaknesses which are not addressed, these can threaten your marketing plans.
For instance, many agencies today sign clients up for social media because they can increase their profits. But just having a social media account is not enough. Failing to properly use it can have a negative impact on your company.
Consider one company we helped recently.
They have a Facebook business page that was created by a friend. And the friend helped by taking photos in their store and posting them to the page. But nearly every image was for products. And there was no interaction between them and their followers.
On checking out their page, we found that there were questions people had been asking for nearly a year with no response. How do you think that made their followers feel? How would you feel if your questions to a company were ignored?
And how would you feel if all you ever got from a company you followed were a daily barrage of sales? Eventually you would just tune them out, yes?
The point is, they HAD social media, but it was hurting rather than helping them. Their engagements were down and they were losing followers.
Know Thy Marketing
In this case, we explained what was not being handled right with the Facebook page. Our client was able to use that information to turn it around immediately. And in just a few weeks, their engagements were way up and their followers had grown by more than 400.
People liked the company, but they were feeling ignored on social media. This was hurting the business online and likely offline as well.
Part of the reason I decided to offer my services as a marketing consultant was to help local businesses learn about their marketing and make important changes where needed.
Since returning to SWLA in July 2019, I have helped scores of clients improve their marketing.
I've done this by simply looking at their current marketing and showing them how they could improve. I have conducted SWOT analyses for many and developed marketing plans tailored just for them.
If you need help with your marketing, even if you want to do it yourself, get in touch. I'm happy to review what you are doing and provide you with tips.
If you want to retain my services, I will teach you and anyone in your employ how to better market your business.
Get in touch today by calling 337-660-4774. Ask for Jeff. Or complete the form below.