Value Proposition Workshop: Analyze Your Own Company

Posted on Jan 28, 2011 by Kerry O'Malley

A SWOT Analysis is One Part of Understanding Your Own Company


ESTABLISH GOALS for future growth – where do you want to be?

After you’ve taken an honest assessment of your competitors and target customers – the world outside of your own company – it’s time to get just as honest about yourself.  This can be painful if your corporate culture does not foster regular opportunities for employees to communicate with executives in an atmosphere of trust.  Now is the time to really LISTEN to what your key staff has to say about everything that’s good – and everything that’s bad – within your organization.

Before you start on a SWOT analysis (strengths – weaknesses – opportunities – threats) it’s a good idea to make a list of your company’s growth goals.  Think of them in the short-term (2-3 years) and long-term (5-8 years.) This portion of the discussion will likely be driven by the owner, president, CFO, CEO, and possibly sales and marketing VP’s.  If your company is publically owned, you will undoubtedly have a mandated set of sales goals and growth strategies.  If it is not, this can be an enlightening exercise.  An owner may be surprised to hear what his top sales and marketing people envision for the future of the company.  Likewise, staff that does not communicate with the owner or president on a regular basis can be motivated by goals they were unaware of.

As you list each goal, answer these questions:

1.  What would have to improve within your organization in order to meet the goal?

2.  What would have to change entirely?

3.  What would stay the same?

Remind the team that it is much easier to improve upon an existing strength or system than to throw out everything and start over.  Sometimes that is exactly what needs to happen, but in most cases you will want your goals to center around what your company already does well.

The reason why the discussion about goals is important is because it is one of the components that will guide not only the creation of your value proposition, but also your brand strategy.  If top management is seriously committed to an aggressive goal, such as changing the image of the company, it will have to be backed up by an aggressive brand strategy.  Perceptions do not change if nothing changes.  This can also lead to the realization that while a goal sounds great, it is not feasible from a financial standpoint.

After you have your goals listed and agreed on by your team, put the flip chart sheets up where everyone can see them.  You’ll refer back to them as you craft your value proposition and brand strategy.

USE SWOT to analyze your company – where are you now?

The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to gather, document, and evaluate information so you can identify strategic options available to your company.  A SWOT analysis is very effective in visually presenting your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and of examining the opportunities and threats it faces.  Having your entire team’s perspectives will make the analysis thorough and much more valuable than if you tried to do it by yourself.  Done properly, SWOT gives you a bird’s eye view of the most important factors that will either help or restrain you from accomplishing your growth goals.

Instruct your team to think of the SWOT components as follows:

Strengths and Weaknesses are about conditions that exist within your own company. You have the ability to change or improve these. They will be about your capabilities, resources, and processes.

Opportunities and threats are conditions that exist externally. You may be able to profit from an opportunity, but will probably have little influence over threats. You just want to be aware of them. Think in terms of your industry, your competition, and your customers.

What do you do with the information you document in each of the SWOT areas?

Strengths – Capitalize Herein lies the heart of your value proposition.  You will look for ways that your company’s strengths meet your customers’ objectives in a way that is unique to you.

Weaknesses – Improve Remember that it is easier to improve an existing process than to throw it out and start over?

Opportunities – Invest If there is a significant opportunity that will help you achieve a growth goal, you may want to consider investing resources to take advantage of it.

Threats – Identify Again, there is not usually much you can do to change or eliminate a threat (unless you have the capital and opportunity to acquire your largest competitor!)  These are just situations that everyone on the Team needs to be aware of so they don’t get out of hand.

In the first part of your Value Proposition Workshop you examined your competitors and your target customers.  Now that you’ve documented the collective vision and knowledge and of your Team in relation to your own company, you should have a lot of data and a good frame of reference in which to craft your value proposition and brand strategy.

Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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