The Strategic Planning Exercise You Need to Do Before Any Marketing Effort -


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Branding, Digital Marketing

The Strategic Planning Exercise You Need to Do Before Any Marketing Effort

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Ideal client exercises, audience surveys, brand personality quizzes…while these activities to discover and refine your brand and brand strategy are important, there’s one exercise that I don’t believe gets enough love in the online branding space.

I first learned this exercise back in my college public relations strategy class, and although it’s not a typical exercise you’ll see shared in marketing groups, this is an exercise that any marketing or advertising agency worth their salt is going to perform before beginning work on a rebrand or campaign because it is that foundational for helping identify all the aspects of successful marketing efforts including goals, objectives, and strategy.

What I’m referring to is a SWOT analysis, which I’m going to break down so you can easily complete your own analysis and gain clarity on the direction of your marketing efforts.


SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and primarily serves as a problem-solving exercise. So, if you’re investing time into your social efforts, but not seeing a return, conducting a SWOT analysis is a good place to start.

Or if you’re bringing in clients, but they’re a lot of the wrong types of clients, the first step for revamping your brand strategy and getting a clear picture of where you’re missing the mark should be through a SWOT analysis.


First, determine the focus of your SWOT analysis. What’s the problem you want to solve or challenge you want to overcome?

Then, create a 4-box grid with one box for each part of the SWOT analysis.

Give yourself room on an entire sheet of paper so you have plenty of space to list things out. You can bullet point your items, or you can write a paragraph, whatever works for you, this is your problem-solving process!

Next, we’re going to dig deep into each area…


Your strengths are areas in your business or in your marketing efforts where you’re doing well and seeing results and traction.

Now, notice how I didn’t say “where you feel you’re doing well.” This is not a guessing game. We want to use data and information we can source that is showing us that we’re doing well in a particular area.

Let’s use the example of boosting a falling client retention rate. You know that if you can keep more of the client’s you’ve already acquired, you’ll drastically increase your sales as well as your profit margins.

After pulling sales reports and looking at client data, you may find that your clients who completed a complimentary consult at the time of or before their initial purchase are exponentially more likely to become a repeat client and increase the amount their spending with your business over time.

Based on that information, we can infer that one of our strengths includes our complimentary consults. The more complimentary consults we can book early in the buyer’s journey, the more clients we can retain in the long-haul.


To find your weaknesses, you’re going to want to keep the lens on the area of your strengths, but now look at the surrounding dips in your data and areas where effort is currently exerted, but with minimal results.

So, to continue running with our example, let’s say we look at all the people who’ve indicated interest for a complimentary consult since we know that’s an area that we’re performing well in (and we want to see how we can maximize it!).

After pulling more data, we discover that the majority of the people who indicated interest in our brand but didn’t book a consult were people we made less than four points of interaction with. People who we could see had four or more interactions with us were the people who booked consults.

Therefore, we can infer that our weaknesses include a lack of audience awareness of our complimentary consults and inconsistent follow-up with our warm audience members (i.e., people who have indicated they know about our brand because they’ve interacted with us).


Now that we know where our strengths and weaknesses lie, we can identify the opportunities available for us to solve our problem that we’re focusing our SWOT Analysis on.

Another way to look at it is that your opportunities are the solutions that transform your weaknesses into more of your strengths or that eliminate the weaknesses around your problem.

Because we just identified that one of our weaknesses is the number of interaction points we’re having with our warm audience,  we can conclude that one of our major overarching opportunities is to increase our interaction points.

We can do this by building more awareness and increasing the level of follow-up with people who’ve indicated interest in our brand (this interest might be in the form of calling or emailing to inquire about services, visiting our website, or following us on social media).


Finally, there are threats, which are the circumstances that may hinder your ability to solve your problem or capitalize on your opportunities.

I want to note that many people who complete this exercise like to jump to their competition as being a threat, but that doesn’t really provide you with any direction to go in or action to take (since we can’t control our competitors), so I’d encourage you to think of threats that currently exist within your business and are contributing to your problem.

For example, some of your threats may be around the lack of time or resources available for increasing follow-up with your warm audience.

These are threats that can hinder your success in solving your problem, but similarly to your weaknesses, your threats present an opportunity to pivot and make a change.


Alright, now we’ve got all the areas of our SWOT Analysis mapped out,  the process should have revealed potential solutions to your problem that you can now create a game plan for.

To round out our example, for this SWOT Analysis I would look to do the following with my two primary objectives for solving my problem:

  • Increasing Awareness

    • Build and create a lead generation funnel that moves warm audience members to a booked consult (utilizing channels such as Facebook ads, emails, and/or Messenger Marketing)

    • Make the call-to-action to book a complimentary consult front-and-center on your website homepage and feature a call-to-action on every page of the website

  • Boost Follow-Up Efforts

    • Train sales consultants or managers to block off time specifically for consult follow-up and emphasize personalized phone call follow-ups in addition to text/email (whichever method fits for the potential client.

    • Develop an email nurture sequence that builds your know, like and trust factor, and moves a warm prospect further toward booking a consult.

    • Create a retargeting campaign for people who landed on a consult booking page, but didn’t convert to a consult.

When initially looking at your problem, it’s easy to jump to Band-Aid solutions like throwing a mixer, providing more perks, or giving more away to try and retain more clients, which are all valid ideas for helping nurture relationships and without question helps to boost retention, but with a SWOT Analysis, we’re digging deeper into the data and finding the root of the problem so we can create solutions that provide long-term and sustainable results.

Now it’s time to do your own SWOT analysis!



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