In the article ‘Traditional marketing tools in a digital age‘ we looked at the humble SWOT analysis and how it is one of the most simple yet insightful marketing tools you can use. Once you have completed your SWOT analysis you are left with a heap of information which can be overwhelming and leave you thinking; what next?
Now you have broken down what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are, its time to turn these concepts on their head and create an actionable strategy.
Introducing the TOWS
The TOWS exercise helps to create links between the four different categories in a SWOT analysis. Here you will combine different categories to help you understand ways to give you a competitive edge or see how you can decrease the negative effects of a threat.
Its time to make connections between the different categories:
- Strengths to opportunities: This is your opportunity to identify what gives you your competitive edge and explore ways to use your skills or assets to reach your goals and take advantage of potential opportunities.
- Strengths to threats: Here you look at using your strengths to minimise threats, for example; utilising software to help keep track of data instead of relying on paper which can be destroyed easily and accidently.
- Weaknesses to opportunities: Look at weaknesses such as a low budget and limited technological ability as a business opportunity to outsource the best help available or brainstorm a creative bang-for-buck approach.
- Weaknesses to threats: You will need to work on reducing your weaknesses to minimise the potential of them becoming a threat. For example if your weakness is limited technical knowledge and the threat is emerging technology, an appropriate solution could be to undertake training to help you with your computer skills so that you don’t get left behind to your competitors.
From creating these links you are able to develop actionable goals or strategies. For example, in the case of strength to opportunity; you may have a have a background in marketing, so you are able to save money and resources and create your own marketing campaign and manage your own social media. Or in the case of weaknesses to opportunities you could look at scheduling your social media posts ahead of time to accommodate for being time poor during the work week.
There are free templates online that can help you map this information out in an easy to comprehend and simple manner.
By using the TOWS analysis you can identify strategic options for your business by breaking it down into smaller, easier steps.
Example of a TOWS table