Hello local business owners, one & all!

The so-called curve flattens, more critical funds become available, more promise ensues.   Light.  Hope.  Yesssssssss

What can, should, we be doing now?  What will it be like when we welcome home our customers and communities, and then following that?  Without a doubt, it’ll be different, dealing with an entirely new set of circumstances.   There is no more ‘business as usual’ for many. 

If you haven’t done so already, it’s due time to hop up in the saddle, grab ahold of those reins and giddy up!

As you embark, remember your purpose, your passion, the reasons WHY you do what you do!  Your company’s mission.  One of my why’s is, and will always be, to help you succeed. 

It needs to begin with strategy.   Some level of strategic planning must go into defining the path, directing you, informing decisions, paving the way towards success.

What’s your marketing strategy? Your game plan to reach, communicate and engage with customers, prospective customers. This needs some love. It all begins, and ends, with them.

Personally, this excites me!  Strategizin’ time. As part of my ongoing self-awareness 😊, I’ve come to the realization that my brain is wired like a SWOT Analysis.  Go figure.  So many things make much more sense to me now...

Anyhooo …back to you.  SWOT This!  I hope you find this beneficial as you gallop (a controlled gallop) ahead. Whether new and insightful, or as a simple refresher.

A SWOT analysis is typically conducted early in a strategic planning process, to help with decision-making, informing your overall business and marketing objectives.

Now seems like a good time to, in the least, use it as a brainstorming tool.   ‘See’ where you should focus your efforts – by identifying your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  

There is plenty of information about SWOTs on the www, so read up, grab a template and have some fun with it.

I suggest you begin with Strengths.  These are internal factors that positively impact your business.  What’s your unique value proposition?  What sets you apart?  Your competitive advantage?  Make a list; this is a feel good!  Your customers, their reviews, are a good source of verbatim.

Then move to Threats.  These are external factors that negatively impact your business.  In large part, no matter the type of business, some Threats are common – not the least of which we are living. (i.e. economic conditions, covid19)

Third.  Weaknesses.  This one requires a good amount of self-reflection.  Be honest with yourself.  Embrace different perspectives, constructive criticism and insight from others; notably your customers.  Weaknesses are internal factors that negatively impact your business.  What’s holding you back from success (that you can control)?  What, specifically, puts you at a disadvantage relative to your competition?

OpportunitiesExternal factors that must be accounted for, in order to gain a competitive edge, in order to impact your business in a positive way.   To aid in your success, potentially to survive. Definitely to thrive.

Since joining SpotOn four weeks ago, I’ve been feeding my SWOT-brain a ton!  Having had a series of fruitful conversations with local business owners on this topic, here are some of the findings, specific to common Weaknesses and Opportunities.

Marketing Weaknesses – internal factors inhibiting SMBs success:

  • Reaching a broad and diverse audience
  • Promoting Unique Value Proposition
  • Acquiring new business
  • Capturing and leveraging data and information
  • Creating deeper, more meaningful relationships with customers
  • Efficiently managing, integrating information and communications
  • Legacy/disjointed business and marketing systems

Opportunities – external factors SMBs should address for success:

  • Online presence, or lack thereof, and brand reputation
  • Alignment with the consumer path to decision-making
  • Alignment with consumer interests and preferences

Once your SWOT is as comprehensive as possible, look back at your strategic marketing objectives.  Ask yourself, for each one, does it still make sense, and is it attainable?  If not, change the objective, switch to another one, or create a new one. There needs to be alignment, it’s the whole concept.

Four things, I’d argue are mission critical – keep top-of-mind, front-and-center, branded on your calf – whatever it takes to make it stick!

  1. Data is a tremendous asset– capture it, leverage it, to make your next strategic decision(s), and the one after that, ditto. ditto. ditto.
  2. Marketing Technology for local businesses has advanced – seek to further understand how it can help, embrace it, integrate it
  3. Where you’re weak, supplement it with others’ strengths – form strategic partnerships, alongside those with shared core values
  4. Bring the ‘consumer perspective’ into each and every discussion – they are the foundation of your business, instrumental in your success

If you concentrate on these things, positive impacts to your business will result!  You’ll evolve. Data Inspired. Optimization. Digitization. Customer Experience. Long term viability and scalability.

So, who among us will the first out of the gate with the flapping of the starter’s flag when business opens back up? I hope it’s each and every one of you, nose to nose!  I’ll be cheering you on.

You’ve Got This!

If you have any interest in having an impromptu SWOT brainstorming session – or just want to become acquainted and share ideas – give me a shout out. It would be my pleasure!

Be Healthy & Happy 😊

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