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He's talking about the application in the real-world and bemoaning why it is still taught in universities and colleges.
Since our focus at Smart Insights is developing digital marketing strategies, my arguments are based on developing a digital channel-specific SWOT, but my five arguments showing the value of SWOT apply equally to development of overall marketing strategy.
So, a technique that can help inform strategy and communicate it more effectively has to be better than no strategy at all. The TOWS matrix approach has the internal strengths and weaknesses and external market opportunities and threats, but also the 4 types of strategy that can be reviewed for the future.
Just so I don't misrepresent Mark Ritson, or he doesn't misrepresent himself through his eye-catching headline, Ritson isn't saying that analysis or research isn't valuable, simply that SWOT is a poor technique. In my experience, many companies are too involved with executing campaign tactics to make the time to look outwards at the changes happening in the marketplace in a structured way.
Of course this is particularly important in the fast-moving environment of digital marketing.
Using the TOWs format, the SWOT analysis can be used in training and strategy development sessions to think through alternative strategies and priorities. Take one example from this diagram, discussing countermediation helps companies think about ways of increasing their digital footprint through partnering with or acquiring publishers, something I find is often missed in web strategy. After the SWOT has been created, companies can then summarise the key issues that need to be faced and look at the cost-benefit of different communications approaches and place them on a roadmap. Which way the coin falls depends on how it is approached, how well communicated the goals are to people taking part and outcomes are focussed on delivering against goals.
The problem with theory teaching is that often it lacks the real world application – I know from having done an MBA, the SWOT thing was just chucked in without giving any clear context and application. So if a SWOT project helps clarify what people have to do to contribute to the global goals to improve business performance, you’re likely to get greater buy-in than a fancy document that gathers dust because nobody knows how to apply it to their own roles and their team output. What I think Mark Ritson is referring to is an approach to a SWOT that is not customer led. I agree to some extent that this approach (or management guesses) may not be the most effective way to conduct a SWOT. The key point is that it’s your customers that inform not a bunch of managers with a whiteboard. SWOT is old, proven and has high value to anyone whoi wants to vet and filter some marketing issue.
ConceptDraw PRO provides export of vector graphic multipage documents into multiple file formats: vector graphics (SVG, EMF, EPS), bitmap graphics (PNG, JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF), web documents (HTML, PDF), PowerPoint presentations (PPT), Adobe Flash (SWF).
This example is created using ConceptDraw MINDMAP mind mapping software enhanced with SWOT Analysis solution from ConceptDraw Solution Park. Usage of them is covered by Creative Commons “Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives” License.
Ironbark Data Mining and Pivot Analysis is an intelligent and sophisticated add-on tool for the Ironbark Sales Analysis Module.
Data Mining allows for in-depth sales analysis with easy drill down of data for specific reporting. Bar Graphs, Pie Charts, Line Graphs and Pivot Analysis graphically represent the selected data. Data Mining and pivot analysis integrates with Sales Analysis and Customer Orders and Purchase modules. A SWOT analysis helps professionals to identify the positives and negatives in the organization and in the external environment. SWOT and TOWS Matrix Diagrams solution extends ConceptDraw PRO and ConceptDraw MINDMAP software with features, templates, samples and libraries of vector stencils for drawing SWOT and TOWS analysis matrices and mind maps. The SWOT Analysis provides information that is helpful in matching the firm's resources and capabilities to the competitive environment in which it operates.
TOWS Matrix is an effective tool which allows to analize the external opportunities and threats by means of analyzing the internal strengths and weaknesses of a company. SWOT analysis is a method of the making plan to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project. The "SWOT Analysis" solution gives simple visual support for all the steps of a SWOT Analysis process.
TOWS Analysis is a variant of the classic business tool - SWOT analysis, but it is directed more outside. A SWOT Analysis is a popular strategic planning tool used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in any businesses.
SWOT Analysis solution from ConceptDraw Solution Park extends ConceptDraw PRO software with SWOT and TOWS matrix diagram examples and templates, that help identify and analyze Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
TOWS analysis is a method of strategic analysis which is oriented on the study of the threats (T) which are danger for the company and new opportunities (O) which are closely connected with weaknesses (W) and strengths (S) sides of its activity. Restaurant Operations & Management Spreadsheet Software Library for ExcelThis series of nine pre-configured and customizeable Microsoft Excel restaurant spreadsheets organizes critical data from your daily POS system sales, labor reports and food and beverage bills. The entire set of nine Excel workbooks are $129, a huge savings compared to purchasing them individually.

Daily Sales Report: Designed to track your sales data from cash register or POS reports, the worksheet organizes daily and week-to-date results. Daily Sales Report plus Labor Summary: The worksheet tracks your sales data from cash register or POS reports and organizes daily and week-to-date results. Labor expenses are also tracked by department against the sales so you can check your daily and week-to-date labor costs as a percentage of sales. Weekly Sales & Prime Costs ($49): This spreadsheet takes this spreadsheet series to its logical conclusion by also accounting for your weekly food and beverage purchases as well as beginning and ending food and beverage inventories.
Weekly Food & Beverage Purchase Log: Summarize your daily food and beverage purchases on a single weekly log sheet. Employee Schedule & Labor Cost: This is one powerful tool that every restaurant operator should be using!
Food & Beverage Inventory: Counting and calculating your end-of-month food and beverage inventory is made as easy as can be with this spreadsheet. Menu Engineering & Profitability Workbook: This is a powerful and fully automated tool for assessing the profitability of your menu items based on their food cost, selling price and popularity. Weekly Sales Projection: This is an easy tool to help project daily and weekly sales by day-part. Payroll Accrual: Accruing payroll at the end of each month is unquestionably the most important task that 99% of independent restaurant operators ignore. Software company InsightSquared has used the Dreamforce 2013 conference to launch the latest version of its analytics tool aimed at helping smaller enterprises stay competitive. The turnkey SaaS solution can be up and running in under a day and incorporates three new technologies. Reports from the system can be generated using a straightforward point-and-click interface and offer immediate insights that can be used to boost sales performance from day one. Fred Shilmover, CEO of InsightSquared says, "We are taking sales and marketing innovation to a new level by making business intelligence powerful yet easy to use, which has never been done before. Visitors to the InsightSquared stand at Dreamforce 2013 will be able to register to get a sales report in 60 minutes.
I'd certainly agree, if it doesn't work in the real world, it shouldn't be taught, but I think it does still hold value if applied in the right way. The beauty of this tool is in its simplicity - you can engage non-digital specialists with the key issues facing a company without getting bogged down in analytics reports.
I'd agree with Mark that the conventional simple form of SWOT only looks at analysis, not strategy. It encourages analysis of the factors that impact a company, starting with customers, then competitors and other marketplace players like media and publishers. He points to these other ten marketing analysis techniques which I recommend taking a look at. Competitors can be eating your lunch through innovative use of digital tactics like search, social media and mobile marketing. You can argue that some of these may be obvious, but it can help senior management buy-in if these ideas are worked through by a team, rather than just presented.
For me the framework for analysis is rarely the issue, more the degree of focus and clarity from people doing the analysis.
People learn best when what they are being asked to contribute to is framed by the context of their day to day job. Starting with a segment of your market, ask your customers what factors do they take into consideration when they buy? From this ask your customers to evaluate your organisations strengths and weakness against these factors. Hi Brian, thanks for your detailed comments – adding a bit more context to what Mark R said and recommending the approach you have found it has worked. Just have participants honor honesty and you will win every time — as I have with my business over 25 years. This program contains a data mining wizard which enables users to easily customize and filter information for detailed flexible  sales reporting. Using a framework of internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats, it provides a simple way to assess how a strategy can best be implemented.
ConceptDraw PRO diagramming and vector drawing software extended with SWOT and TOWS Matrix Diagrams Solution from the Management Area will help design TOWS Matrix for your company without efforts.
It involves specifying the objective of the project and identifying the internal and external causes for the accomplishing project goals. SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing a project.
It allows you to analyze the internal environment (weaknesses and strengths) and to plan your own changes through the analysis of changes in the external environment (threats and opportunities). ConceptDraw PRO extended with unique SWOT and TOWS Matrix Diagrams Solution from the Management Area is a powerful software for effective TOWS analysis. The SWOT Analysis solution includes the SWOT matrix samples, and templates that allow users create own SWOT and TOWS diagrams. You can export your SWOT mind map into a MS Word document, which makes using SWOT mind map easier if you need to collaborate it with other people. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective.

All too often, POS data is automatically posted to accounting software without critical review by a manager, and then the ability to make timely decisions is lost.
The result is a weekly cost of goods sold (COGS) summary and a prime cost report which indicate your restaurant's total F&B usage plus Gross Labor in both total dollars and as a percentage of the current week's sales. This helps you schedule every labor hour of the day to provide you with instant feedback of the costs associated with your scheduling decisions.
Enter your restaurant's product list and unit prices in the inventory template, and thereafter, the form does all the math for you with totals by category.
Five worksheets are included to assess all your menu categories from appetizers to desserts.
Simply input estimates of customer counts and check averages for each meal period and the worksheet calculates sales totals and daily percentage contributions. But for small and medium businesses building up the kind of intelligence database needed can be time consuming and take staff away from the task of actually selling. Designed to work with the Salesforce CRM application, InsightSquared 3.0 has been put together based on feedback from experienced CEOs, along with sales and marketing professionals, in order to provide best practice reports and drive effective sales management.
Instant Sales Insight allows managers to clearly see the relationship between sales activity and conversions. We’re delivering industry-changing innovation and setting a new standard for what modern business intelligence should be".
But in this case I thought I'd comment since he's knocking SWOT analysis, a technique that I continue to use and recommend for creating digital marketing strategies. If SWOT analysis just includes the 4 areas of S-W-O-T as a four box matrix, then it's like to get left on a shelf and rightly ignored.
I'd also suggest you need a way of summarising the output from these more complex analysis techniques. Is it just for theory and best ignored in favour of tactics or other strategy development tools? SWOT analysis is a method of strategic planning which identifies the factors internal and external environment of the firm and divides them into 4 categories: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The tool helps planners be realistic about what they can achieve, and where they should focus. The new template for ConceptDraw MINDMAP visually supports identifying internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable.
Use the integration between the MINDMAP and PRO applications for fast drawing the SWOT matrix. Kitchen, Front of House, Managers, etc.) utilizing the labor report information from your POS report and salaried employee inputs. Use this report to manage both your labor and your purchases and to keep expenses in line with sales budgets. Compare the labor expense of each scenario with your projected sales to determine optimum employee scheduling. Use in reverse to determine how many covers or check averages are required to generate total sales. It can be many months before the implementation of a traditional sales intelligence platform bears fruit.
Sure Forecast ensures more accurate forecasting based on existing conversions and pipeline deals. The ConceptDraw PRO and MINDMAP software allow professional to make well-designed SWOT matrix in minutes.
Abbreviation SWOT definition: S = strengths, W = weaknesses, O = opportunities, T = threats. When the analysis is complete, output your data to a SWOT Matrix in ConceptDraw PRO for exporting to a variety of other formats: PowerPoint presentation, PDF, image files, etc. Then use the plan to create your actual weekly schedule and track the actual labor costs against your plan and actual sales for feedback. Thirdly the Smart Pipeline Manager makes it easier to spot high probability and high risk deals. Often named SWOT Matrix was introduced first at 1960s as examining tool of internal capabilities and possibilities of big companies.
You can begin a strategy to distinguish better competition value and to become successful in your market. Achiving best results form SWOT analysis can be reached when several employees will be involved at the process. Management, sales and customer service can all offer reasonable comprehension competitive situation.

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