A SWOT for Your B2B Marketing Automation Strategy

20171115 bnr swot 351x200 A SWOT for Your B2B Marketing Automation Strategy

Deep dive: Perform a SWOT exercise for your brand

Now that you have the rough framework of a SWOT, let’s go through the exercise. Grab a piece of paper or white board and explore these concepts. (Note: I really do recommend that you get off your digital device and perform this exercise with a pen, pencil, or whiteboard marker.)

First, what are you going to SWOT? You can choose your company all-up, or a specific division or how you utilize your marketing automation platform. Choose one. We’ll call it “Your Thing.” For each category below, aim to write at least five items in each quadrant.

First, think through Your Thing’s Strengths. What does your company do really well? What evidence do you have for those proof of concepts you create? What garners you excellent buyer reviews or love letters from your customers? Write those things down. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to do this all on gut. Pull from your current marketing copy, as well as from industry analysts and customer testimonials.

Next up is Weaknesses. Now, as marketers, I know that we’re wired to constantly find a positive spin. But let’s get real here. I’m sure you have opinions or at least hunches about what doesn’t work so well with Your Thing. Write those down. Also go back to those customer reviews and feedback – what are the common complaints or issues? What does your customer support team receive a lot of calls about? Write those things down, too. You don’t have to engage in endless brand-flagellation, but do accurately identify your trouble spots.

Opportunities are fun. They can be aspirational – such as places you could market Your Thing, or potential customers you could reach. Also, ID brand expansion possibilities go here. For example, have your customers mentioned something they really want, or have you brainstormed great ideas but not shared them yet? Note those. Reach for the low-hanging fruit, of course – but also include your “stretch” goals ‒ those pie-in-the-sky ideas can’t become reality unless you speak them. This is your space to dream, so do so.

Finally, Threats. What real or potential things could threaten your business? This can be anything from someone stealing your idea (do you have a patent?) to an economic crash that may impact your non-elastic-good market, to a fiery tempered CEO. Some of it you may be able to see coming – other things, you can’t even begin to imagine. But try to think through a few disastrous scenarios and jot them down. And, again, be real. There’s no point in hiding the truth from yourself.

a SWOT analysis for your B2B marketing automation strategy

If you were creating a SWOT for your marketing automation platform (MAP) strategy, a strength could be that you have integrated your MAP with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

If you were creating a SWOT for your marketing automation strategy, a weakness is that you’re under utilizing the functions in the platform. This could be not setting up account, demographic and behavior-based segmentation for your lists. It could be not creating automated nurture programs based on those new segmented lists so that you are nurturing decision makers, influencers, tire kickers, and folks wanting to buy today all differently.

One of the biggest Threats to your marketing automation strategy is not using the product, or integrating it with your CRM so that you fail to connect your marketing efforts with sales and see the return on that investment. Another threat could be locking yourself into an all-in-one vendor technology stack that isn’t motivated to innovate, or address your specific needs.

Know what to do with your SWOT

Great work on completing your SWOT for your marketing automation setup or for whatever you choose to examine. Now go stretch your legs for a moment, grab a coffee, and return with your analyst hat on. Look at your list and see what stands out. Circle the big-ticket items. Draw lines and correlations between the quadrants. Jot notes in the margins. Brainstorm – ideas big and small.

The Opportunity in your SWOT for your marketing automation strategy is using your platform across the customer’s journey and across marketing. Are you using it for your branding efforts by nurturing industry and media influencers? Are you creating automated programs for your customers, making sure you help them successfully onboard with your product or service? As they engage more and more, whether attending a customer webinar or Tweeting your praise, you can assign them a lead score for becoming brand advocates and future referrals, as well as priming them for renewals and upsells.

It’s totally OK if you are creating a SWOT just for yourself. It can be a great tool to help you understand more about your brand or simply generate new ideas. But those SWOT results can also be invaluable to your colleagues and boss. I encourage you to share your results – to polish up your lists, remove those potentially thorny items (such as the mention of the CEO’s temper) – and turn your activity into action.

Also, as you drew up your list and made your analysis, I have no doubt your mind started wheeling with ideas. Don’t lose those – whether they be for new products or services, customer opportunities, marketing ploys, campaign slogans, or staff shufflings. The point of the SWOT is to take stock and get ideas going, so harness this energy and good work.

Add SWOT to your regular marketing exercises.

I am an avid fitness fan, and as such I’m accustomed working through many of the same exercises – pushups, sit-ups, and squats – over and over again. It’s not because I always enjoy them; but rather, because they work. Think of a SWOT in this same way. No, I’m not suggesting that you need to perform SWOTs as often as squats, but I do encourage you to try a SWOT at least once a year. You may be surprised at how each iteration garners new insights and helps you nimbly adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Bonus exercise: SWOT yourself

At one of my former jobs, part of the new-hire process included a self-SWOT. We had to assess our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats when we were hired, and then again at our 90-day review. It was a little strange at first, but the exercise proved to be a great mechanism to help me honestly assess my skills – and also to see what changed over the course of a few short months. I encourage you to try this. You never know when you may be able to use these findings, too. You can keep them in your back pocket when you’re preparing for your annual review, asking your boss to include you on a big-ticket project, or pitching for a promotion.

Back to you.

Has a SWOT ever helped you gain valuable insight? Share your experience here.

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