What is SWOT analysis and why it should be one of the first things a social marketer should do?
SWOT analysis is part of the macro marketing environment. In this type of analysis, marketers can point out the most important qualities, advantages, and disadvantages in a company’s social marketing plan.
When a company has an objective to fallow and a mission to accomplish, SWOT analysis comes in as a very handy tool for achieving these goals.
So, what is SWOT analysis? The abbreviation stands for:
Establishing these factors in a company’s social marketing environment is of extreme importance because it makes its mission clearer and visual. It puts things in perspective.
In the traditional and digital marketing SWOT analysis, a marketer would usually look at the company’s marketing environment from a profit-making point of view. They will be looking at how the product or service that the business offers can grow its market and respectively the revenue.
When a business is looking at the SWOT analysis from its social and green marketing point of view things are getting a bit more complicated. Not only will the marketeer have to look in the market and revenue growth but also the social and environmental impact of the business.
In other words, SWOT analysis in a social and green marketing plan would turn the attention to the business by identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to profit-making as well as the common good values, which might be all or some of the following:
- Human Dignity
- Solidarity and Social Justice
- Environmental Sustainability
- Transparency and Co-determination
These are the qualities that a company is best at. When a marketer is sure of what exactly the strengths in their organisation are, they can be pointed out as an advantage to their competitors. The strengths can be put as the main focus for the organisation’s action plan.
Let’s take as an example Patagonia. Their profit-making strengths are countless. Some are spotless reputation, effective marketing, and loyal customers. However, none of these would have been possible if it wasn’t for their social and environmental strengths: philosophy, eco-friendly operations, and purpose-driven strategies.
Without losing focus on the idea behind the brand, which is:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Patagonia’s values include transparency, collaboration and improvement.”
Patagonia are succeeding in growing their market share and with that their revenue and profit.
Weaknesses need to be identified, so the company would know where they lack competitiveness. Bringing to the fore the disadvantages would help an organisation identify their weak spots and plan on how to tackle these problems. Before creating an action plan the business must decide, should the plan include fixing these weaknesses or should they decide to take the company to a new direction.
Because social enterprises are working to achieve something more than just a profit it often is not “hey, it’s only business” and it becomes “personal”. Usually, this happens because the values are heavily rooted in the business foundations by the founders of the companies and all stakeholders and shareholders.
A pure capitalistic business will pivot around their mission statements in order to keep their business going, because the board, the stakeholders and shareholders do not care as much about ethical values as they do about maximising profit.
Over 70% of Patagonia’s market share is in the US. Usually, if a business is reliable so much on a single market, they will do anything to be in good terms with whoever is in charge of that market.
The principles and mission of Patagonia are in complete opposites with Trump’s administration ideals and politics. The founder of the company is an open critic of this and has risked losing the conservatives as customers. Which if my math is right should be valued at 50% of that market.
50%!!! Not many companies will be willing to take such a risk just to defend their ethical and moral values.
With the new administration, this weakness can turn out to be an opportunity.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses gives an organisation a clearer perspective of what opportunities might lie ahead. Today trends and customers’ minds are changing fast and new opportunities are emerging with not a lesser pace.
By being so vocal on his stand about Trump’s administration Patagonia might be facing a market share loss in the US but this could be used as an opportunity to expand globally where arguably the majority of the world share their opinion.
Advocating for social justice can be a strong marketing strategy but it can also be a threat as it might be seen as a political stand and we know in politics you are always wrong.
A threat is a potential for something bad to happen. A threat combined with weakness is a risk. More often threats are concerned with economic and political environments plus threats coming from competitors.
Social enterprises and entrepreneurs are growing in numbers by the day. This might be great for the flourishing conscious consumer movement, but it is a threat to Patagonia as newcomers might steal their clients.
Analysing threats and being aware of them, helps the organisation to find a way of dealing with them. It is important because new threats are emerging almost constantly. In the global market, laws and rules are changing constantly. Political scenes are also unstable and can be a threat (or an opportunity).
In conclusion, SWOT analysis makes a company’s social and green marketing plan clearer and therefore easier to implement. Some strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are obvious to the ethical marketeer, but a lot are not. Looking at every possible factor or situation and putting it down on paper calls for action. SWOT analysis clarifies the company social and environmental mission and the market environment!
One last important thing about SWOT analysis is that they need to be conducted on a regular basis, because of the fast-changing marketing scene.