SWOT and PEST Analysis - Examples, What They Are And Why They’re Important

When you are preparing a marketing strategy document, it is important that you take a detailed look at your current situation so that you can make the correct decisions in terms of taking your business forward. To do this effectively, you need to take a look at internal factors that you can control, and external factors that you cannot directly control.


One of the most effective ways in which you can do this is to carry out a SWOT and a PEST analysis. They are ideal because the help you to analyse both internal and external factors that could impact the success of your marketing campaigns.

Here's a quick look at what these terms actually mean:

Internal Factors: SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
External Factors: PEST - Political, Economic, Social, Technological

It's a very good idea to conduct this analysis right at the beginning of your marketing strategy. This is for the following reasons:

  1. It's really helpful to have a clear idea of your current situation before you decide on your next steps
  2. This type of analysis might help uncover important areas to focus on that you might otherwise miss or neglect to think about

Here is a more detailed look at both the SWOT and PEST framework so you can have a clear understanding of it before putting together your own analysis.

SWOT Analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
-- Elements that you have some direct control over

Strengths

These are the strongest aspects of your current situation. For example, you could include the following types of information in this section:

  • Ranked on the first page of Google for key search terms
  • Well known local brand that customers trust
  • Most customers come from word of mouth referrals

Weaknesses

These are the weakest parts of your current situation. For example, you could include the following types of information in this section:

  • Lack of customer database segmentation
  • Social media activity is irregular and ineffective at best
  • Weak internal sales and marketing skills 

Opportunities

These are areas that offer some potential if attended to properly. For example, you could include the following types of information in this section:

  • An extensive customer database that can be segmented and developed
  • A new product currently in development will be the first to market
  • Marketing budget can be increased by 20% if required for the next 12 months

Threats

These are the areas that could impact you negatively if not attended to properly. For example, you could include the following types of information in this section:

  • Search rankings can slip if new guidelines aren't understood and adhered to
  • Unhappy customers can spread their feelings through social media if they're not taken care of properly
  • If new product is delayed, a competitor can get to market first

PEST Analysis - Political, Economic, Social, Technological
-- Elements that you have no direct control over

Political

In this section, you would think about political issues that might affect your marketing plans. It might be that the Government or your local authority are making a big push in an area that affects your business, such as trying to make people more active or trying to make national businesses more attractive to do businesses with than off-shore rivals.

The key here is just to consider if there are any large movements such as this that can affect your own niche and marketing plans. For a small business, this section doesn't normally need a lot of focus - just have a think to make sure you're not missing anything really important. 

Economic

These are elements of a wider financial nature that are outside of your control but might affect your business and marketing. For example:

  • What effect is the current interest rate having on your customers disposable income? 
  • Does the current economic situation mean that businesses are more or less likely to use your particular service?

Social

These are socially based elements that are out of your direct control but that might affect your business and marketing plans. Areas to think about here are 'people' based, such as :

  • Demographics - which members of the population are experiencing the worst financial crunch? Does this impact your target market?
  • General trends - for example, if you are in the travel business and more people are holidaying at home rather than going abroad, how does this affect you?

Technological

These are tech-based elements that are outside of your direct control, but that might affect your business and marketing plans. For example, you might want to consider the following:

  • More people are using smart-phones to surf the web - how does this affect your website design and lead generation plans?
  • Social sharing through sites like Facebook and Twitter has increased exponentially - should you then plan to create highly shareable content?

Note on PEST: depending on your business, you might find that some areas are more important than others, so don't worry if any of the sections seems completely irrelevant to you.


In Sum

Hopefully this has helped you get to grips with the SWOT and PEST analysis and has shown you that they are nothing to be frightened of. In short, they are just ways of looking at the entire (current) picture so that you can make the best decisions going forward. Once you have completed this type of analysis, you'll be in a great position to carry on with designing the rest of your marketing strategy.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.