The marketing napkin: Your SWOT

swot analysis

You might read this title and things about the American „Special Weapons and Tactics“ or the SWAT. Tall, strong men dressed in black and loaded with weapons. The movie Oceans 11 comes up in my mind when I think about them. But todays little meeting over a nice glass of wine is not about the special police from the US but about your personal SWOT analysis. But if you keep reading through this post, your SWOT can be your special weapon and bring you on top of your market.

This might become a little personal for you so you should sit down and relax now. Order a glass of South African Pinot Noir. We should order some cheese with it… Why I am writing about wine you might think. If you want to know why it is called the marketing napkin and why we order a glass of wine to get a napkin head over to this post: I invite you on a marketing date. 

The SWOT analysis is a basic analysis of your recent situation and of your future potential. The four letters stand for Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

The funny thing is every company small and big should have a SWOT analysis and no matter how big your company is it will always work and give you useful insights.

The analysis will help you to get a clear view of your expertise, of your competitive advantage, why the customer should choose you over the competitor, where you should improve, and the competitive advantage of others too.

This sounds pretty interesting doesn’t it? So let’s get this started. Take your napkin and draw a big cross on it. Now you have divided your napkin in four different parts. Draw one of the four letters in each part.



We start with a positive point: Strengths. What are your strengths? Think about it clearly what are you really good at. Are you a great technical photographer, are you great at networking or in client meetings, are you a great designer? No matter what this is the place to write down everything you are good at concerning your business (so leave out the dancing and cooking part). What are the things you are so good at you would like to teach others how to do it?


Now that we wrote down everything you are good at we have to look with an honest eye on your weaknesses. What are the points that make you feel uncomfortable, the things you know you are bad at, the things that make you procrastinate everything to do it „tomorrow“. What are the things you need to improve?

Let’s go back to our  example: Ellen is a great photographer at available light. Her weakness is the flash photography. She loves to sit and chat with her clients and creates a wonderful customer experience for them. On the other hand she has problems to sell to her clients. Ellen is very creative and design all her materials and even her logo herself. On the other hand she knows nothing about web coding and has a messy desk. Structure is a big weakness on her list. Her work-life balance is definitely a weakness as she loves working so much and shows so much dedication to it. Ellen’s mother is a bookkeeper which is a big strength for her and she doesn’t need to worry about the numbers. Ellen speaks English and Italian fluently which is a strength to work with international customers too. She is just starting out so she doesn’t have money to spend, which is a weakness at this point. Looking at the weaknesses we can easily see where Ellen needs help and that she might need to invest in a flash photography workshop and should read books about how to get things done and structure her business.

Do you see where this is going?

Let’s take a sip of wine and head over to the other two letters.


What are your opportunities? Think about the future and the chances you have to develop your business. Think about trends and events you might use for your advantage. What about competitions, about new business fields (like adding family photography to your wedding photography), speaking possibilities, teaching possibilities, travels you might have planned, new contacts in your network, new business partners. Think out of the box, this is just a brainstorm session but the broader you think the more opportunities might come up in your head.


What is threatening you in your business? Think about the competitors and their competitive advantage, he change of your market, the change of technology (and the belief that people don’t need an expert anymore because they can do everything themselves with their technology). What about your location?

Let’s have a look at Ellen: Ellen has many opportunities to go to networking events and meet new people, make new contacts and new business partner. Even a videographer called her if he could refer her to his clients. She never participated in any competition with her images to get her name out there and she is working on her first publication in a wedding magazine. Though now she just focusses on wedding photography, pregnancy and baby photography seems a great chance to expand her photography in the future. On the other hand in Berlin the market is flooded with photographers wich is a big threat to her just starting out. She should meet those photographers to make this threat an opportunity and get the referral marketing started. The prices might get lower and lower the more photographers start out. She needs to build a strong brand and customer referral system to become immune to the price trend.

To bring it all together just think about it: Ellen should attend a Flash Photography Workshop where she will meet other photographers that she sees as her competitors. She becomes friends with them and offers her help with design and translation of other photographers websites. The other photographer who becomes a close friend of her is so thankful for her help that she doesn’t only help her write the code for her website and she refers to Ellen for weddings when she is already booked. Just like that her weakness makes her turn a threat into an opportunity with the use of her strengths.

Write down your SWOT analysis and think about how to use your strengths to turn threats into opportunities and how to improve your strengths.  This will help you get a clear inside into your business and the points that you should work on and the points that make you an expert and make you unique. 

Do you have any questions or comments, just post them in the comments below.

I am looking forward to answer them.


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