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A SWOT Analysis in Preparation for Your Direct Mail Campaign

As mentioned in the Planning Direct Mail help sheets, a useful tool to help examine your situation before you embark on a direct mail campaign is a SWOT Analysis.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats, and is a common tool used by many organisations to assist in reviewing what they are doing, take stock of the environment they operate in, and then move forward.

How SWOTting Up can Help Your Direct Mail Campaign

A SWOT Analysis can help focus your upcoming direct mail campaign by:
  • Reminding your group or organisation of the strengths it has, and the competitive advantages it could use to best advantage in a campaign.
  • Ensuring you were aware of any weaknesses or gaps that you need to avoid in your campaign – or that you need to address before embarking on direct mail.
  • Looking at the opportunities that a direct mail campaign could open up – or the opportunities your organisation wants to open up through the campaign.
  • Emphasising any external threats your organisation might face that need to be overcome or taken into account during your campaign.

Preparing to SWOT

Once you have decided to embark on a SWOT Analysis, it is important your group prepares properly and does it right.

Some tips to be best prepared for a SWOT Analysis are:
  • Set aside a good amount of time for the task – maybe two or three hours.
  • Tailor your analysis to your needs – make sure you have involved everyone who needs to be involved.
  • Make sure the person chairing the analysis is objective, and can deal with any uncomfortable issues that might arise.
  • Make sure the chair and participants are well briefed beforehand – that they know what they will be discussing and trying to analyse.
  • Emphasise the importance of participants being honest, but constructive.

The Analysis

  • Hand out individual pages to participants. Draw a square on each and divide each into four sections. Label the four sections as: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
  • Draw a copy on a whiteboard.
  • Begin by asking your group to consider the questions listed below from their own points of view and from the points of view of the people they deal with.
  • Have everybody fill in the list individually, and then fill them in on the whiteboard together.
  • Discuss.

Some points you might like to consider are:

  • What can you offer that nobody else can? Is it:
    • The size of your organisation?
    • Its reputation?
    • Its supporter base?
    • Your ability to network?
    • Past successes you've had?
    • The public awareness of your work?
  • Note all of your strengths and not just the obvious ones – do you already have an extensive database ready for use, for example.

  • Pinpoint the weaknesses that will stop you from reaching your direct marketing goals, and be honest – many organisations enjoy writing out their strengths, but are less keen to focus on their weaknesses.
  • Do you need to:
    • Improve your database?
    • Better cater for any response to the mail-out?
    • Work carefully within a tight budget?
    • Overcome flaws in creating a tight message that sells your work?
    • Better communicate with your current audience?

  • Look at the opportunities your group has for a direct mail campaign. Do you have:
    • A new or growing population – or geographical area - you can target?
    • A list of lapsed members or donors you could attract back to the fold?
    • A new product, appeal, scheme, offer, function or otherwise to offer?
    • An ability to deliver something unique?
    • A chance to make the most of new laws or regulations that have come into being?

  • Examine the threats your organisation faces that could hinder a direct mail campaign: Is there:
    • A similar/rival organisation active in the area?
    • A dearth of "new blood" in your area?
    • A new set of rules or laws that could affect the effectiveness of a campaign?
    • A similar campaign has just been run by another group?

After the Analysis

Your SWOT Analysis should bring to light the positives and negatives that your organisation faces when considering a direct mail campaign.

Once these are out in the open, it should be much easier for you to address issues, target objectives and better focus your direct mail campaign to:
  • Make the most of your strengths.
  • Target opportunities you've identified.
  • Address weaknesses that might hinder you, and.
  • Reduce or eliminate threats to your campaign.

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