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How a SWOT can help with Strategic Marketing


We recently completed a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis during our annual company retreat. While many people have heard of a SWOT, less people know what to do with the results.

At Red Sage, we use the results of our SWOT analysis to determine our “Big Rock” goals for the coming year. By carefully examining our opportunities, weaknesses, and threats, we are able to closely align our big rock goals for the year to one of those. If you aren’t familiar with big rock goals, Ellen wrote about them in her 10-Step Strategic Process blog post.


As a company, we decided on seven big rock goals for 2015. Now, there were certainly more than seven strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the company, so what made us choose our primary seven goals?

First, we looked at opportunities and determined what would make the most sense strategically. Always align your big rock goals with opportunities that have the most potential for your company. Vette an opportunity to determine if the company wants to pursue it – even some ideas that have the potential to be profitable are not the right fit for your company. Then determine if any other opportunities can be sub-goals or supporting elements to reaching your big rock goal.

Next, we looked at our weaknesses. By identifying a weakness to improve as a big rock goal, you not only have the opportunity to change something about your company that may be hampering your business, but to also turn that into a strength that is marketable. Do not be afraid to look at your weaknesses – this is often where you learn the most about your company and improvements to make to guarantee success and profitability.

Finally, evaluating market or economic threats to your company can help determine those on which you can have an effect. This will not only help with stress levels, but it also gives a positive goal to focus your energies. While no one person (or company) can control the economy, there are threats that can be strategically leveraged into opportunities. Make sure you are putting your energy – mental and physical – towards those identified threats.

So, Red Sage conducted a SWOT to look critically at our opportunities, weaknesses, and threats, and decided which ones we wanted to make into big rock goals for the coming year. Is that it? Not quite.

At Red Sage, we recommend following the SMART goal setting guideline outlined in Heather’s SageAdvice post from last summer.

To recap, SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

All of our big rock goals are SMART goals. If the goals we have identified as action items do not fit the criteria of a SMART goal, we modify those goals until they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Doing this helps us set up for Step 2 of SMART Goal Setting – breaking the goals into supporting objectives.

We will break all of our big rock goals up into supporting goals and activities throughout the next year. Most of our time will actually be spent working on these small, individual things, all of which add up in our big rock goals.

Our entire strategic planning process starts by conducting a SWOT. Next we set our big rock goals. Finally, we determined supporting objectives to accomplish throughout the year.

step bystep

Download a PDF of our Infographic Here

Interested in conducting your own SWOT and SMART goal planning session? Red Sage facilitates strategic planning sessions with customers of all sizes. Call us at 256-560-0098 to get started today!


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