12% more profit? Create prioritised business & marketing strategies

12% more profit? Create prioritised business & marketing strategies - Use a SWOT & Business Impact Matrix

One hour of your time to the core elements of your growth plan. Businesses with strategic plans are 12% more profitable (M3 Planning). Of 26,000 start-up business failures, 67% had no written plan (Source: Vertek Solutions).

There are two simple management tools that help audit a business and develop prioritised strategies that support business improvement and growth. They are commonly known as a SWOT analysis (or business audit) and a business impact matrix. Use them together to help you create the right prioritised business marketing strategies.


The SWOT analysis:

The first management tool, that most people are familiar with, helps audit a business and develop strategies that support business improvement and growth.

It is the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis tool, commonly known as a SWOT analysis or business audit. It captures a company’s internal strengths and weaknesses and considers a company’s external opportunities and threats.

A pragmatically completed SWOT will allow you quickly reflect upon your business and the market it operates within. You can create a SWOT analysis within 30-minutes although a comprehensive review of the external factors can take much longer and may even involve purchased research.

When completing a SWOT for your business be very honest and don’t wear rose-tinted glasses. 

Why not take 30-minutes now to complete your business SWOT. The value will be significant and may even change what you do from tomorrow onwards. As a simple example, by reflecting upon your businesses strengths and then looking at your market messaging your may suddenly realise that your company messages on your website and otherwise don’t include your strongest attributes and value.

Take a piece of paper and in the middle of it draw a vertical and horizontal line creating four large rectangles. Name the top two Strengths and Weakness and the bottom two Opportunities and Threats. Your sheet of paper will look like this:

Business Audit - SWOT

Start by reflecting on your company; its main strengths and weaknesses and write them down. If you think about your products, your price, your place, your promotion, your people and your processes (the 6 P’s) it will help you cover all of the main areas.

Then think about the external environment from your business's perspective. Where are the main opportunities in the market and are there major external threats to your business? Think about market growth trends, your competitors, changing customers and any relevant PESTLE factors (Political, Economic, Social and Technology, Legal & Environmental). Don’t forget to consider changing business models too. If necessary, spend some time online researching your industry and your main competitors.

To see the SWOT with PESTLE factors watch this video.

Once you have written down all your main SWOT points, grab a cup of tea or coffee and when you are feeling relaxed and in a reflective mood, shut yourself away and reflect upon what it is indicating to you.

Start by looking at the market opportunities, which are the really exciting areas for your business and the top one to three. Are you focused on them? If not, if you were to focus on them do your strengths support your success, or will your identified weaknesses hold you back?

What about the threats? Are there any that are already hurting you or have the potential to have a serious impact on your business going forward? To help your thinking please also refer to our blog '9 risks to small and medium businesses (SMB’s) and suggest pragmatic actions on how your company can avoid them'.

Think about what you want to achieve with your business going forward and use your SWOT to develop your strategies to achieve your aims. Leverage your key strengths, bridge important weaknesses, exploit attractive market opportunities and defend threats that are important.

The Business Impact Matrix

The second management tool is called a business impact matrix. Like the SWOT it is very easy to use and with a pragmatic approach will take another 30 minutes of your time to complete. When you have captured your desired strategies prioritise them using a simple business impact matrix. Reflect upon the strategies using two simple factors. How easy or hard are they to implement and what is their net financial impact on your business. Plot them on to a sheet of paper that looks like this:

Business Impact MatrixThis will allow you to relatively compare all your strategies and focus on those that are the easiest to implement with the largest impact first. The high impact items that are hard to realise can be planned for implementation when you have the resources and budget. Forget those items that have low impact and are hard to execute anyway. The red, amber and green colour categorisations will help you rapidly select your strategies. Drop the reds, consider the ambers for the medium term and start with the green strategies immediately.

Once you have selected your strategies seriously and relentlessly focus on their implementation. In an article by OnMessage according to Metrus Group less than 10% percent of all organisations successfully execute the strategy.

Best wishes with your SWOT, prioritising your strategies using the best impact matrix and the improved focus both will provide to your business going forward.

For further information on developing winning business and marketing strategies why not also read our blog '8 steps to strategic growth'. 

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