Dana Fox, Client Strategist
8 Minute Read:
Last week, we talked about goal setting and planning for this year. We now turn to “How to Use a SWOT Analysis to Create your Marketing Strategy for 2023.”
This week is focused on conducting your SWOT ANALYSIS to successfully build on your goals and your marketing strategy for 2023.
How to Do a SWOT Strategy Session
Whether you and your staff are planning for specific future procedures, wanting to bring in new providers, expanding the scope of your work, team building, or trying to resolve conflict, the SWOT analysis process is the same.
Step 1: Information Collection and Analysis
The first step of your SWOT analysis should be dedicated to collecting information. List all your strengths that exist now. Then, list all of your weaknesses,
Be realistic but avoid modesty!
Then, conduct one-on-one interviews or get a group together to brainstorm. A bit of both is frequently best. I prefer making this a group activity as long as it is a safe place to voice one’s opinions or thoughts.
Prepare questions that relate to the specific issue that you are analyzing. You’ll find some questions and issues below to get you going.
- What do you do well?
- What unique resources can you draw on?
- What do others see as your strength?
- What could you improve?
- Where do you have fewer resources than others?
- What are others likely to see as weaknesses?
- What opportunities are open to you?
- What trends could you take advantage of?
- How can you turn your strength into opportunities?
- What threats could harm you?
- What is your competition doing?
- What threats do your weaknesses expose you to?
Some practices choose to use an outside and unbiased person as the SWOT facilitator to help search for insight through intelligent questioning and probing. We can provide this at Plastic Surgery Studios, so be sure to ask your sales consultant.
Step 2: List All Opportunities That Exist in the Future
Opportunities are potential future strengths. Once you have listed your opportunities, list all threats that exist in the future. Threats are both potential future weaknesses and opportunities at the same time.
Step 3: Plan of Action
Review your SWOT matrix to create an action plan to address each of the four areas.
A SWOT Analysis Discovers:
- Strengths that need to be identified, built upon, and leveraged
- Weaknesses that need to be addressed, remedied, changed, or stopped
- Opportunities that need to be prioritized, captured, built on, and optimized
- Threats that need to be countered, minimized, and managed
In some cases, part of the above needs to be acknowledged but ignored if you cannot do anything about the issue, such as government regulations, a pandemic, inflation, recession, etc.
A SWOT analysis can be very subjective, and two people rarely come up with the same final version of a SWOT analysis. However, it is an excellent tool for looking at the negative factors and figuring out how to turn them into positive ones.
Use a SWOT analysis/framework as a guide and not a prescription.
Simple Rules for a Successful SWOT Analysis
- Be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your practice.
- The analysis should distinguish where your practice or group is today and where it could be in the future.
- Be specific. Avoid gray areas.
- Always analyze your competition (i.e., better than or worse than your competition).
- Keep your SWOT analysis short and simple — but only as short and simple as the application or situation demands.
- Avoid unnecessary complexity and over-analysis
- When listing an opportunity (O) that is available to competitors, make a note of that as something you may want to pursue but will need to position yourself a little differently.
You may not be aware of what your competitors’ capabilities are or what their community relationships may be. Therefore, if you have similar opportunities, it may be a case of whoever gets there first or whoever might be better at networking and taking advantage of the opportunity.
It is pointless to say you have strengths (S) if your competitors are claiming the same strengths.
This relates specifically to marketing and not necessarily to claiming strengths that are really signature areas for you. Just be careful about describing these strengths in your marketing, so you do not look or sound like a “me too.” The idea is to claim strengths you do not think your competitors can.
What Makes a SWOT Analysis Work?
Due to the collaborative nature of a SWOT analysis, your staff will need these qualities to succeed:
- Trust — The questions that a SWOT analysis will raise, particularly in the weaknesses and threats categories, may be uncomfortable. Your staff must be at a point in their working relationship with you where weaknesses and potential threats can be faced openly and objectively. If there is ever retribution because a staff member speaks up, you can count on never getting meaningful feedback from anyone on your team again.
- Ability and willingness to implement change — Once a weakness or opportunity is identified, you will need to act as quickly as possible, provided you agree with the assessment. If you expect your team to believe you value their input, acting on their ideas is one of the most positive endorsements you can make.
- Diversity — The team conducting the SWOT analysis should be representative of your entire planning team.
- Time — Doing a thorough SWOT analysis and assessment will help your staff move forward in creating a workable plan. Give this enough time on your schedule to be meaningful, and turn the phones over to the answering service so you can focus.
Start Your SWOT With an Objective or Goal
If a SWOT analysis does not start with defining a desired end state or objective, it runs the risk of being an exercise for the sake of an exercise (i.e., useless).
Your SWOT analysis will need to be incorporated into your strategic planning for growth and marketing. If a clear objective has been identified, a SWOT analysis can be used to help pursue that objective.
You will want to identify items in each category:
- Strengths: Attributes of the practice that are helpful to achieving its goals
- Weaknesses: Attributes of the practice that are harmful to achieving its objectives
- Opportunities: External conditions that are helpful to achieving your goals
- Threats: External conditions that may be negative, but you have little or no ability to change them
Who Should Conduct Your SWOT Analysis?
For a SWOT analysis to be effective for a plastic surgery practice, everyone must be involved; however, the practice founders, surgeons, and any medical providers must be more deeply involved.
This isn’t a task that can be delegated to the frontline staff. It must include everyone. The person with the most to gain is the boss or owner of the practice; you have the most to gain or lose if it is or isn’t successful.
But plastic surgeons or leadership shouldn’t attempt to do all the work on their own either. For the best results, you’ll want to gather a group of people with different perspectives on the practice.
Select people who can represent different aspects of your business, from patient coordinators to in-house marketing to nurses, receptionists, and estheticians. Everyone should have a seat at the table.
Including Outside Voices
Innovative companies often look outside their own internal ranks when they perform a SWOT analysis and get input from customers to add that unique voice to the mix. I have also suggested this approach to practices. Getting patients involved in your analysis is very rewarding and highly effective in gaining a patient’s perspective.
If you are starting to run a practice alone, you can still conduct a successful SWOT analysis. Recruit additional points of view from friends who know a little about your practice — you can even include vendors and suppliers. The key is to have different points of view represented.
When Should You Do a SWOT Analysis?
Existing practices can use a SWOT analysis to assess their current situation and determine a strategy to move forward. But remember that things are constantly changing, and you’ll want to reassess your strategy, starting with a new SWOT analysis annually.
For startups, a SWOT analysis is an integral part of the business-planning process. It’ll help codify a strategy so that you start off on the right foot and know the direction you plan on going.
Purpose of a SWOT Analysis
- Reveal your competitive advantages
- Analyze your prospects for sales, profitability, and growth
- Prepare your practice for internal and external challenges
- Develop terms to describe your marketing advantages
- Allow for the development of contingency plans
A SWOT analysis identifies where you are strong and vulnerable and where you should defend and attack. The results of the process are, first, a clearly designed action plan and, second, a place to start your creative strategy. The SWOT analysis can be performed on a product, a service, a solo practice, or a group.
Done correctly, a SWOT analysis will give you the BIG PICTURE of the MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS that influence SURVIVAL and PROSPERITY, as well as a PLAN to ACT ON.
As we head into the rest of 2023, we encourage you to meet regularly with your staff and continue to support their interaction with you as you build your practice this year.
Much of this blog was taken from my book “Making the Cut,” published by ASPS in 2022. This was a guide for building and growing plastic surgery practices and career planning.
The first 10 physicians to schedule a 1-hour goal-setting call with me or one of our sales consultants before February 24th will receive a free book.
The appointment must be completed by February 24th.
Let Plastic Surgery Studios Help Guide You Through Your SWOT Analysis
To learn more about how Plastic Surgery Studios can help you, contact us today by calling our office at (888) 525-6360 or filling out the contact form below. Our team members are standing by to help guide you through this process and can help provide promising results.