What is SWOT and TOWS

Marketing Theory Video
3 mins


A lot of people are probably familiar with the SWOT analysis, a framework for identifying an organisations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can take this a step further with TOWS analysis, analysing what your strategic options are based on the findings from your SWOT.

Think of SWOT as 'where we're at right now' and TOWS as 'this is what we're going to do about it'.

In this 'So' video, the team discuss the meanings of SWOT and TOWS and how you can practically apply them to your organisation to overcome business problems and create action plans.

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So, what is SWOT and TOWS?

So SWOT, I think a lot of people are familiar with, which is strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. But then you then take that for a TOWS analysis and it gives you the strategic options you've got from the SWOT in the first place.


So let’s start with SWOT then?

So quite often, a SWOT is what you do, if you've done any kind of audit, so quite often, if you're doing any planning, you might do some sort of situational analysis, and you've got a load of insights in and information, and then you do a SWOT, and you go, what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses, where do we see the opportunities, where do we see the threats, so it's normally a summary of an audit.


So what about TOWS then?

So TOWS then takes that and says what are you going to do with it? Okay, so you've got your strengths and opportunities, how are we going to use our strengths to capitalize on our opportunities? We've got weaknesses and opportunities. Which weaknesses do we need to overcome to exploit our opportunities and how are we going to overcome them?

Strengths and threat, how can we use our strengths? To overcome threats and then weaknesses and threats, which weaknesses are really vulnerable to threats and we kind of need to think about them. So it takes your standard SWOT and it makes you think about how I going to deal with it? Rather than it just being a summary, it's then a kind of an action plan.


So, how useful are these two?

Surprisingly useful, actually. Quote often what I found is that, say we're having a business problem, going right, let's just stop a minute.

Let's write down strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. We suddenly take a step back and we think about where we really are at the moment. And then do a TOWS off the back of that. And it'll give you a plan of action.

Everyone thinks it's really obvious. But the reality is when you use it in practice, it makes you take that step back and it can give you some options you might not have thought about. It's a thinking tool. A tried and tested framework. You can apply to any situation and come out with something a bit more refined and well thought through.

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