How to Carry Out a Competitor SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a versatile business tool that can determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats relating to your organization.

You can apply it to the structure and output of your company as a whole or focus on the success of different departments and projects individually.

You might be thinking, fabulous; now I know what competitor SWOT analysis is, but I still have no clue how to use it.

Well, we’ve put together this comprehensive, step-by-step guide that highlights not only how you carry out a SWOT analysis, but also how to achieve quantifiable results from your investigation, so …

Let’s get started, shall we?

What's a SWOT Analysis?

Your strengths might include the things your company does well; your internal resources, tangible assets, and USP.

Conversely, to figure out your weaknesses, consider the things that are holding your business back, keeping it from reaching its full potential. Ask yourself, what resources/assets do you lack, what are your competitors doing better than you are?

Opportunity denotes untapped potential—underserved markets for specific products, room to grow and expand, and an emerging need for your service in a particular area.

Whereas, threats are the things that may hinder your progress towards such opportunities. Specific threats could include emerging competitors, regulatory changes, negative press, bad reviews, and poor customer satisfaction.

How to Carry Out a Competitor SWOT Analysis

Below we provide a step-by-step guide as to how to conduct competitor SWOT analysis, first up, you need to identify your competitors...

1. Identify Your Competitors

Start with your top five direct competitors and work your way outwards to include:

  • Indirect competitors. These will be key players within your industry or sphere whose products/services are different enough to your own that you’re not actively competing for customers.
  • Aspirational competitors. Your aspirational competitors are leading companies within your field. Although you don't compete with them, you draw inspiration from them.
  • Perceived competitors. These companies are likely to have come up during the sales delivery process, but won’t have turned out to be competitors in your direct niche.

Keep this list in an easily accessible Word Doc, so that you can add and edit as necessary.

2. Track Your Competitors’ Digital Footprints

A successful competitive analysis relies heavily on getting complete coverage of your rivals’ digital footprints.

In fact, as many as 77% of the businesses surveyed said that getting info on every aspect of a company’s marketing, products, customers, etc., is critical to winning against competitive solutions.

In this day and age, it's not enough to give their website a cursory sweep. You’ve got to wade in deep:

  • Follow their social media accounts.
  • Set up Google alerts, so you're notified whenever they're mentioned on the web
  • Pay attention to the feedback and reviews they receive

But how exactly, you might be wondering, does this data reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals?

Deducing Your Competitors' Strengths and Weaknesses...

Changes made to their website can be very revealing; how do they want the market to perceive them, what do they consider to be their own strengths, what are they marketing as their USP?

Content marketing activities can give you an insight into the keywords and demographics that they are targeting.

Plus, any news coverage will help you identify target news outlets for your own PR. You'll also gain a better understanding of what makes a story successful from watching those put out by your competitors.

If you see they're hiring, that suggests company growth. Specs for individual roles will show you in which direction. Do you have aspirations in that area; do you also have room to expand?

Review websites are a bit of a minefield. Research shows they're often skewed in favor of the negatives, which may provide a distorted view of rival products, but (on balance), you'll get a feel for what customers like and (dislike) about your competitors.

With this research to hand, you're in a better position to spot any gaps that need filling... which you could capitalize on if you move quickly enough!

3. Analyze Intel & Create a Competitor Analysis

Collating intelligence from a variety of sources provides a decent overall idea of what your competitors are up to. But it’s no good just looking, gathering all of this info and then letting it just sit in a spreadsheet on your desktop, collecting digital dust.

Actually use it! Analyze it! Ask yourself:

  • What does my company do well?
  • What do my customers love about my products?
  • What is my USP?
  • What are my key resources? What do I have and utilize to its best advantage?

Then, consider the flipside:

  • What could we improve upon?
  • What are the negatives that my customers consistently highlight in their reviews?
  • Could my branding be better?
  • What do I not have that I need?

Once you've ascertained this info about your own company or project, do the same for your competitors. Compare answers and see where your strengths outstrip their own, and where do you don’t quite measure up.  

4. Turn Information Into Results!

Translate data into action. Develop from your findings new strategies that will benefit your overall approach to business.

You should identify critical areas for change for each department. For example, your marketing team will want intel on competitors’ content strategies so that they can create new initiatives of their own, a more cohesive brand, more consistent copy, etc.

Your product team, however, need to see specs and reviews so they can make what you manufacture even better, even more appealing – and even easier for their colleagues to market!

Not Sure How You Can Action this Intel?

Ask Gosling Media! We're more than happy to help you conduct an effective competitor SWOT analysis.

So, if you've identified your next target market or have a new product to launch, and you’re unsure where to start, call us today and schedule a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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