SWOT Analysis Example

See how SWOT analysis can help a small business create a marketing plan

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SWOT Analysis
SWOT Analysis Example. Photo: Ezra Bailey / Getty Images

You may have heard of a SWOT analysis, which is an analytical tool to assess your company's business strategy. The SWOT acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. This simple tool can be used to assess a project, product, person, or place and analyze for viability and other factors.

Key Takeaways

  • SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
  • It is an analytic tool to help organization leaders evaluate their business, the market, and the competition.
  • Insights gleaned from the analysis can be used to generate follow up plans and action items, and to guide future decision-making.

What Is SWOT Analysis?

SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It's an analytic tool to guide an organization in its evaluation of itself, or a product, process, or department. If you were to plot its components out in a matrix, you'd arrange them into internal and external factors, and positive and negative factors.

SWOT Analysis Matrix
Positive Factors Negative Factors
Internal Factors Strengths Weaknesses
External Factors Opportunities Threats

A SWOT analysis is an effort to give an organization a view of itself and how it fits in among its competitors and the marketplace. The analysis should be a realistic, fact-based, data-driven look at the strengths and weaknesses of the business or organization, and also of the industry and the competition. It's important to stay focused on facts and data rather than preconceptions or vague understandings for the analysis to be successful.

Let's see SWOT in action with an example analysis. We'll focus on a small business developing a marketing plan. The small business we're looking at is a dog grooming business.

SWOT Analysis: Delightful Dog Grooming

Delightful Dog Grooming's owners have decided they way to create a marketing action plan. They have decided to use a SWOT analysis to help them.

The first step is to populate the four categories of the analysis with descriptive statements about the item being analyzed.

Note that this SWOT analysis example is specifically focused on the marketing of this small business. While a SWOT analysis may be conducted as an overview of a business, it's particularly useful when it's focused on a specific aspect of a business's operations or as an aid for making decisions⁠. In this case, decisions about how best to market a fictional dog grooming business.


For your own business, you would work through each category of the SWOT by brainstorming alone or with your team to come up with real, insightful statements for each category that ring true for your business, such as in the following example.


  • Business has many return customers
  • Customer satisfaction⁠—customers say they like the service and give positive word of mouth by recommending grooming services to others
  • Do get some walk-in business
  • Mobile grooming van has eye-catching logo and gives some exposure when performing on-site services


  • Don't pay much attention to marketing⁠—dependent on word-of-mouth and website
  • Website purely informational and static
  • Don't have a marketing plan
  • Don't have much of a marketing budget


  • Take advantage of the increasing popularity of dogs
  • Increasing use of social media⁠—place some social media ads
  • Increase the amount of walk-in traffic
  • Local annual Pet Fair
  • Kennel clubs, rescue societies, local SPCA


  • Other dog grooming businesses in town, competition is increasing
  • One dog grooming business has a series of radio ads running and is also running newspaper ads once a week
  • Another competitor has partnered with the local SPCA to host a dog washing and grooming day every few months (by donation to the SPCA)
  • Expense of running media ads

Working Through the SWOT Analysis

Once the four categories are populated, it's time to start asking some questions that can help develop a plan for moving the business forward. Following are some questions you might ask yourself about the business under study. In this case, the questions pertain to the fictional dog grooming business example.

Do Strengths Open Any Opportunities?

  • Since customers say they like services and are willing to recommend them, could create some type of referral reward program to actively encourage referrals.
  • A loyalty program for repeat customers could be developed.
  • Could try to increase walk-ins by having an eye-catching window display.
  • Consider relocating business to a location that would get more walk-in traffic.
  • Look into setting up a booth at the local annual Pet Fair.
  • See if kennel clubs, rescue societies, etc. are interested in partnerships.
  • Increase the use of social media and investigate other low-cost ways of promoting the business.

How Can We Convert Weaknesses to Strengths?

From the lists of opportunities and weaknesses, it looks like social media could be a real marketing opportunity.

  • Instead of just having an informational website, the business could put up a Facebook page and open a Twitter account to try and reach out to old (and new) customers.
  • Because dogs are so popular, might be fun to tweet as a dog, e.g. ""Rover" could talk about how regular grooming makes him happy and healthy."
  • Pinterest or Instagram might also be good options: Pictures of cute pets are very popular.
  • Could also pursue setting up ads on various social media platforms. 

What Do We Have To Do To Exploit Opportunities?

  • Set up social media business accounts/pages. Set aside time or assign staff person to update social media accounts. Purchase a camera, and train a staff person to take photos of animals and post images.
  • Learn details about social media advertising, and start regular advertising campaigns.
  • Canvas staff for Facebook contest ideas.
  • Find out details of annual Pet Fair, such as when it runs and how much a booth/table would cost there.
  • Scout out some possible new business locations. Contact a realtor and ask about a more centralized business location where many people walk their pets.
  • And/or use mobile grooming van strategically. Take it out on weekends to popular dog walking trail locations and park it for the afternoon to advertise and attract business.
  • Canvas kennel clubs and dog rescue groups for possible partnership opportunities.
  • Contact window artists for quotes on a window display.
  • Decide on referral discount and customer loyalty schemes and notify existing customers.

How Do We Neutralize Threats?

  • Without a bigger marketing budget, we can’t run competing radio and newspaper ad campaigns.
  • Might be able to offset the competition's newspaper and radio campaigns through developing our online presence and running marketing campaigns on social media.

The Bottom Line: Results

This simple SWOT analysis has generated the seeds of an action marketing plan, providing clear direction for how this small business can counter their competitions' marketing efforts and increase its own customer base. With a little more work and planning, this business can begin to quickly act on the opportunities generated by the analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a simple definition of SWOT analysis?

SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It's an analytic tool to guide an organization in its evaluation of itself, or a product, process, or department.

What is the purpose of SWOT analysis?

The purpose of SWOT analysis is to help you uncover the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats inherent to your business in a clear, fact-based way. Once gathered, you can use this information to guide business strategies and make decisions.

Updated by Lars Peterson
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  1. Society for Human Resources Management. "What Is a S.W.O.T. Analysis, and How Does It Apply to an HR Department?"

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