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SWOT Analysis for Uncovering Core Competencies

When conducting the SWOT Analysis of your company, you will end up with a list (preferably long) of strengths. Some of these strengths are valid but may not provide any value to your customer. The useful strengths that add value to your customer solution and showcases your capabilities better than those of your competition are called core competencies.

Scenario: Your product is far superior than your competition's product; though a strength, it is not a core competency. The competition can reverse engineer (copy) and improve your design to improve their value position in the market. The competition may be in a reactive mode, but they will overcome that with their own core competency of rapid reverse engineering.

Still left unanswered in this scenario is: what is your core competency? It could be innovation, better development teams, better research to determine true customer needs, etc. You have to really analyze your strengths to determine the root cause of your strength. Likewise you can start to fend off the competition's core competency by making your product more "copy proof". If they have a difficult time reverse engineering your product, you have just neutralized their core competency of rapid reverse engineering.

In order to be a core competency, a strength must:
  1. add to the perceived benefits for a customer
  2. be difficult for the competition to imitate or implement

Some questions to ask when analyzing (not compiling) your strengths:

  • What are some advantages created by a strength or combination of strengths?
  • What value do these strengths add to my product or service that is unique or difficult to imitate by the competition?
  • Which of the four elements of marketing strategy (product, price, promotion and placement) or what combination of the four elements is driving a perceived customer benefit?
  • What are the main contributors to that element?
  • Does the customer value the strength or combination of strengths in the form of repurchase, loyalty, positive word of mouth, paying more or going out of their way to buy your product?

To read more on SWOT Analysis see the following post:
Using a SWOT Analysis to Develop Business Growth Strategy

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