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How to make SWOT analysis better and segment markets and customers much more effectively

This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook sees Angela Hatton, marketing consultant, trainer and published author and MMC’s Rene Power discussing The Product Manager’s Toolkit, how to produce effective SWOT analysis and segmentation for competitive advantage.

It’s the fourth part in a series of serialisations on marketing management, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).

Rene Power:

So you were encouraged to write a book last year, The Product Manager’s Toolkit. It’s not just for product managers. It’s for marketers as well.

Angela Hatton:

Yeah, it is.

Rene Power:

So what drove that and what sort of things are you talking about in there?

Angela Hatton:

Well the lady that I worked with on and off for a long time and she picked up a lot of my clients when I left, bullied me into it.
In fairness, I’d had a toolkit of analysis tools that I had generated as a big handout that I used to use with students doing the (CIM) planning and control papers, a diploma and case studies and all those kind of things.

And always people that had had it, had always come back and said how helpful it was and how useful it was.

And Louisa, who is my colleague and did the book with me, she’d found the same thing and just decided we needed to smarten it up and actually make it more accessible.

And I think the thing for me is just always making sure that market… again, strategic marketing… is soundly based. It’s science not art. It’s not the creative stuff that really makes a difference in the business. It’s the analysis that helps you understand your offer, what the customers want, the competitors and being able to do something with that.

And I’m also very aware and was becoming more and more aware in the last decade, I suppose, of work about how much data people were being swamped with.

But they weren’t turning it into information and intelligence.

That’s the job of those tools. They take data and they help you turn it into information which you can then use with insight because you know the industry and the sector and so on.

And it’s that interpretation bit that’s so important, which is really what we’re saying about competitor watching and noticing the ads for the customer service job. That’s a piece of data. If you then start to recognise that that company is also saying, they’re trying to expand and grow their share of market, we can now start to use that as information with insight.

Rene Power:

Right. It’s really interesting. And yes, modelling that forward and looking at taking in all the different data sources and all the different things that, particularly when you’re looking at competitors, what they’re doing in other countries, other markets, what products they’re talking about, what current themes are in there, and their PR. It all plays a part.

Angela Hatton:

Yes it does.

Rene Power:

It’s important to have toolkits that help you think critically but also act consistently. And I think the consistency thing sometimes falls by the wayside as well because if you don’t have a plan, it’s very difficult to be consistent and creative, isn’t it?

If you’ve not got any founding principles that sort of drive everything. And we talk a lot about that in things like content these days. But that still has to come from somewhere. There still has to be something that kind of drives all of that.
So the heart of it is a strategic plan that’s operating like a toolkit.

Angela Hatton:

Breaking down SWOT to make it more effective

You mentioned Mark Ritson earlier on and I know one of the things that he’s been talking about recently are things like SWOT. And I think there’s a danger that people have interpreted some of what he said as “Therefore the tools don’t work,” kind of thing.

I’ve always, always, literally for decades, I have always said that people should be licenced to use SWOT because it is the most dangerous of the management tools because people think they’ve done analysis when they’ve done a SWOT. Four boxes, strengths, weaknesses…

Rene Power:

Yeah, yeah.

Angela Hatton:

And what happens of course is someone sits down and says, “Oh, we’re going to do some planning. We better do a SWOT.” And so literally someone stands up with a marker pen, kind of thing and does the four boxes. And of course that, if it’s anything, is data. It’s certainly not information.

Rene Power:

It’s only what they think they know.

Angela Hatton:

And it is. Yes that’s right.

Rene Power:

And I took the same point, when I saw Mark’s 10 marketing, biggest, whatever language he used, and he was basically saying models and misconceptions and myths and things like that. And yeah, he was right to put SWOT in there because as it stands on its own, four boxes, it’s very subjective.

Angela Hatton: