Random Acts of Kindness

There is another important date in February, 3 days after Valentines Day, one you may not be familiar with. On the 17th February it is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

The definition of a random act of kindness, or RAoK as it is often abbreviated to, is a selfless act performed by kind people to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to make people happier.

You know those supermarket vouchers you get through the post, the ones for random products, 20p off this or 10p off that. The mouthwash you will never use, flavoured water you do not like, the spread that is not your regular one. I used to just throw those vouchers in the bin, but over the last three months I have kept them. Then as I wander around doing my usual family shopping, I put the unwanted voucher onto the top of the corresponding product. There it sits waiting for the stranger, shopping for the product they really want and finding a money off voucher right next to it. I hope this cheers them up, maybe even inspires them to create their own random acts of kindness.

At home, on the wall, we have a yellow circle of card, about the circumference of a cup. Whenever my wife, daughter or myself recognise an act of kindness one of us has done, a description of the act is written on a rectangular yellow strip and my daughter then sticks it onto the edge of the yellow circle. When 12 strips have been added to the circle we have a completed sunshine. Next as a family we decide on an activity to do. Once it was “Let’s go to space Dad” which started a trip to Leicester’s Space Centre, “I want to see the Christmas decorations at B&Q”, “Let’s bake cookies” were others. It has not only allowed for fun activities for the family, it has made us recognise the wonderful kind acts that we do for each other, that were all too easy to take for granted, not recognise and not say thank you for. The more we find we recognise them, the more we want to do.

In an age of austerity, we can often forget that kindness is free. Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Imagine doing something for no other reason than to make another person happy. A search of RAoK reveals lists of ideas and I thought I would just highlight a few. Maybe you will do just one on the 17th? Maybe one on a different day, just to make a someone happy.

• Donate colouring books and crayons to the waiting room at the hospital, doctors etc.
• Write a letter to someone (teacher, parent, neighbour, etc.) who has made a difference in your life and thank them.
• Offer to watch someone’s children so they can take a break
• Tell a random parent you see that they are doing a good job
• Let someone go ahead of you at the supermarket
• Smile!
• Make goodies for your neighbours
• Let your partner sleep in, or even take them breakfast in bed
• Leave random sticky notes with fun or kind quotes on the bathroom mirror at your place of work
• Pick up some litter
• Go to a retirement home and visit anyone who looks lonely
• Leave nice comments on random blogs
• Compliment someone randomly (whether you know them or not)
• Hold the door for someone
• Draw a picture and hand it to a passer by
• Donate canned food items to the local food bank
• Drop change around a playground for children to find
• Volunteer somewhere; an animal shelter, homeless shelter, food bank

You can be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.

I would love to hear your ideas. What did you do? Did someone act kindly to you and how did it make you feel? Which ideas do you love?

Karl McCormack, Lecturer in the Staffordshire Business School

Happy New Two-Year! Best kept secret? Degrees that save you time and money…

Now, the thing about two-year degrees is that they are arguably the best kept secret of all time, excluding of course that exquisite and neatly wrapped Christmas gift you received from your loved one. What’s more, like Christmas, two-year degrees have been around for some time – well, not quite 2000+ years but certainly on and off since the Second World War when they were made available to armed forces personnel to assist with their transition to civilian life. So why is it that two-year degrees continue to fall under the radar of prospective students of higher education? Well, the real issue stems from the fact that few universities have risen to the challenge of providing alternative flexible pathways, such as two-year degrees, preferring the status quo of their inflexible semesterised academic calendar which for years has been the traditional means by which students have engaged in higher education.

In the good old days, before tuition fees, or even today if you are lucky enough to have sufficient financial means, the traditional semesterised academic calendar offers the luxury of three summer months of hedonism. At this point, many of you will have the words of Kylie Minogue ringing in your ears – for those who don’t, here they are…‘I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky….’ OK, so it seems like me, there are others out there who think that studying over the summer months (bar a couple of weeks of well-earned rest) is a good idea, yet there are few universities willing to offer them. The issue is that for a university to deliver two-year degrees, and other accelerated courses for that matter, requires a period of institutional transition and change management to change the out-dated and entrenched semesterised academic calendar, academic culture and supporting infrastructure. Effectively, the resistance to such change by many well-known established universities has meant that two-year degrees are offered by only a handful of forward thinking and progressive universities.

Staffordshire University is proud to have pioneered two-year degrees back in 2006 and to have continued investing in their provision ever since to accommodate the needs of students looking for something other than a traditional three-year degree, whatever their reasons. As a member of Staffordshire University’s academic team responsible for the delivery of our two-year BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance degree I have witnessed students from many different walks of life who have each graduated with excellent results. For example, there have been mature students that enrol on the degree with great trepidation but then relish the experience of studying and redirecting their career. Then there are the more traditionally aged students including those who are motivated to complete their degree quickly and to progress to their chosen professional accountancy qualification – believe me, the thought of becoming a professionally qualified accountant by the age of twenty-four can unlock significant amounts of drive and motivation! Employers also recognise that two-year degree students are always motivated and ambitious too. But there is a common thread that runs through all the conversations I’ve had with two-year students about why they chose a two-year degree and that is, at the end of the day studying a two-year degree saves them an immense amount of money – according to Jo Johnson, the ex-universities minister (aka brother of Boris), approximately £25,000.

Staffordshire University is of course an established leader and expert in two-year degrees and degree apprenticeships, with student satisfaction and employability being our key drivers. So when I read the criticisms contained within the Government’s 2016 White Paper that many universities still provide courses that are inflexible, based on the traditional three-year undergraduate model, with insufficient innovation and provision of two-year degrees and degree apprenticeships, I was confident that my university was in fact one of the few universities, very much at the forefront of delivering exactly the type of alternative ways of engaging in higher education that today’s society needs. I am also immensely proud of my Two-Year BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance team who achieved 100% student satisfaction in the National Student Survey of 2017 and also the university as a whole for being ranked No. 1 for employability in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey of 2017. Reflecting on these successes, I wonder what 2018 will bring – will the best kept secret now be unwrapped? For further details of Staffordshire University’s Two-Year Accelerated Degrees please visit:- www.staffs.ac.uk/accelerated-degrees

Wishing You a Very Happy New Two-Year!

Alison Maguire MBA (Ed), ACMA, CGMA, Cert.Ed., SFHEA.
Head of Department – Accounting, Finance and Economics

School of Business, Leadership and Economics
Staffordshire University Business School
B336 Brindley Building
Leek Road
Stoke on Trent
ST4 2DF
United Kingdom
Tel: 01782 294155
www.staffs.ac.uk

Social Media And Our Communication Skills

Social media opens vast possibilities for finding connections and interactions. It also is a very powerful tool to communicate ideas. The uprisings that we have observed during last years in various parts of the world were all organised by people getting together in social media platforms. Once the message is out, it can spread to millions within seconds. The latest #metoo movement on social media was so effective that it has been selected to be the 2017 Times Magazine person of the year.

However, this popularity comes with a cost. More connection does not imply more interaction. Having grown up with social media, the new generation prefers to communicate through an online platform than to have a face-to-face conversation. Real-life interactions, however, teach us aspects of non-verbal communication: being able to read and respond to facial expressions, eye-to-eye contact or changes in tone of voice. These abilities could easily be lost in digital communication. Besides, experts relate the rising occurrence of depression, anxiety and isolation among youngsters with their excessive exposure to social media.

While communicating through social media, we often do not feel the need to form grammatically correct complete sentences. This is particularly common for youngsters and teenagers who heavily rely on emoji, acronym or short expressions. However, over time, this convenience is likely to weaken their ability to write and to communicate in formal environments. In a world becoming increasingly competitive, these skills will be the essential assets for success.

So, while we are enjoying the benefits of social media, we need to remember that the real-life friendships and face-to-face interactions are equally valuable. A balanced use of digital and face-to-face interactions can immensely expand our communication capabilities and help us to utilise our full potential.

Mehtap Hisarciklilar-Riegler, Associate Professor, Staffordshire Business School

New project: Adoption of Sustainable Accounting Practices for Reporting

A new project to help small and medium business report on their sustainability has just started.  The overall aim of the project is to provide the necessary training and tools for SMEs to adopt sustainable accounting and reporting practices in a cost-effective way.

The project is led by Dr Souad Moufty of the Business School and is funded under the EU ERASMUS Plus Strategic Partnership Programme. Dr Aisha Abuelmaati and Prof Jon Fairburn will also be working on the project.

The project will first carry out a needs analysis in the six partner countries to establish a knowledge gap framework. This consultation will launch early in 2018.

The partnership will then produce a training course, and online training tool and a trainers guide. These will be supported both by the ECVET skills framework and by an achievements recognition framework.

Project Lead

Dr Souad Moufty e: souad.moufty@staffs.ac.uk

Tel + 44 1782 294257

Partners

Staffordshire University, Business School –

Business School PAR, Croatia 

CIVIC Computing, Scotland

Eurocrea Merchant , Italy 

FGUGREM, Spain  

Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bulgaria

AKNOW, Greece

Adoption of Sustainable Accounting Practices for Reporting -Report Asap

Funded under #ERASMUS PLUS and will run until Sept 2019.

The Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC

The English Premier League is a global brand. Stories abound of travellers from Stoke-on-Trent travelling to far flung corners of the earth, getting into a cab, pub, or conversation and being asked; “Where are you from?” the traveller responds; “I am from Stoke” only to be told; “I know Stoke FC!”, a list of players is usually reeled out including Peter Crouch and co, and from then onward, the conversation takes on a new dimension of familiarity and friendliness.

Peter Crouch Goal Celebration

 

English Premiership Clubs have fans in all corners of the world. Jerseys are sold in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia. Matches are watched on all sorts of devices and football players are household names with kids dreaming of growing up to be like their heroes or even just meeting them someday.

 

Beyond the pitch however, there is another dimension that is closer to home. Football clubs are generating huge revenues and investing these in a variety of ways with a huge impact to their local economies. For example, Stoke FC’s revenue was £11 million in the 2007/2008 football season and then Championship promotion boosted the Club’s revenue even more from commercial, match day and broadcast streams. In the 2015/2016 Stoke FC’s total revenues rose to £119 million, making them the 9th in the Premier League. The growth in the Club’s income since joining the Premier League has enabled it to significantly increase its investment in the region and grow the profile of the Club and the city at home and abroad.  Some key regional and social impact statistics for Stoke FC for the 2015/2016 season are shown in Table 1.

 

Table 1: Key Regional Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC Statistics (2015/2016 Season)
2,391 international visits
119,000+ domestic tourists
£7 million visitor spending
301 direct Club employees (FTEs)
£1.3 million spent on local community initiatives
£29 million spent on Club supply chains (some local)

 

In addition to the impact highlighted in Table 1, the Club has also expanded its stadium to boost match day attendance and attract more visitors to the region, invested in players from the UK and abroad to extend the reach of its fan base to other areas of the globe, invested around £4million into its academy providing local young people with opportunities to develop their football careers at the Club, and invested in the Community Trust to work with the wider community to target individuals who want to get back into education, employment or generally improve their health or mental well-being.

 

Not only does success on the pitch attract visitors to the region who spend on travel, accommodation and food and drink, there is the indirect effect from the supply chain and the induced impact from increased employee spending. Analysis from Ernst & Young LLP shows that Stoke City FC generated a total Gross Value Added contribution of 132 million to the region during the 2015/2016 season. £108 million was directly contributed via the club and its tourism, a further £13 million was generated via indirect effects in local supply chains and £10 million was generated via induced effects. This activity also attracts businesses to locate their operations within the area.

Staffordshire University students and staff with Tony Scholes (CEO of Stoke FC)

 

Granted that a lot of the players might not live in the region, the activities of Stoke City FC resulted in an estimated £66million total liability to the Exchequer in 2015/2016. The presence of Stoke City FC also supported many FTE jobs in the regional economy during that period. 301 people were directly employed by the club, 853 people were employed by relevant supply chains, 401 people were employed via tourism to watch Stoke FC, and a further 682 were employed because of induced effects.

 

Beyond these, the Club supports a variety of initiatives to improve the lives of individuals and communities, working with a number of stakeholders including schools, local government and wider supporting organisations (e.g. the premier league). Community activities are delivered by Stoke City FC’s Community Trust (SCCT) which was founded in 1989 and became a registered charity in 2004. Ernst & Young LLP estimate that around 10,900 people have participated in community and charitable programmes in 2015/2016. 119,600 day trips were organised and 304 people have gained at least one qualification as a result of the Clubs initiatives. During the period under review, 10,246 hours of volunteering community work was done with the result of £8.7 million savings for the local community on physical wellbeing and £2.9 million savings on mental well being from increased physical activity.

 

With these key statistics, it is not hard to cheer for our local team. The sporting and commercial success of the Club in recent years, which includes breaking their transfer record twice in the 2015/2016 season, has allowed Stoke FC to further embed itself as a key member of our local economy. We at Staffordshire University will continue to cheer for the club. You should do the same too 😊😊😊!!!

 

Staffordshire Business School Gets Full Marks in National Student Survey

Staffordshire University are pleased to announce that they have received 100% in the National Student Survey 2017 for their Accounting and Finance 2 Year Accelerated degree.

Earlier this year the subject area was also ranked 1st for Student Satisfied with Teaching in The Guardian League Tables 2018 and in the Complete University Guide we were number 1 in the Midlands for student satisfaction.

Karl McCormack – Course Leader joined Staffordshire Business School in 2010, and is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and has expertise in forensic accounting and fraud risk management.

Karl said:
“It is really good to see that our accounting students are having such a great experience on their course and at Staffordshire University. Our strong personal tutoring programme, staff enthusiasm and promotion of the Staffordshire Graduate Attributes all play a crucial role in these results. It must not be forgotten though that the dedication of staff, both academic and support, shapes the overall experience.”

 

Acting Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Dr Peter Jones, added: “These results are testament to the great work that our Accountancy and Finance team does in producing a fantastic student experience. To be ranked number 1 in the UK is a real achievement.”

 

The measures for teaching on the course were as follows:

Staff are good at explaining things – 100%
Staff have made the subject interesting – 100%
The course is intellectually stimulating – 100%
The course has challenged me to achieve my best work – 100%

In fact the course attracted 100% satisfaction ratings in no fewer than 20 of the 27 categories.

For more information on our Accounting and Finance courses click here

The Importance of Employability Skills – Get Ready for Employability Challenge!

Without a doubt, one of the main challenges for students today is that different employers look for different sets of employability skills. However, it can be difficult for students to think about their employability skills whilst at university given busy schedules and pressure to meet assignment deadlines.

At Staffordshire University we take employability promise seriously. We want all of our students to graduate with the right employability skills and experience to enable them to follow their chosen career path. We promise our students to equip them with relevant employment skills and we deliver on our promise. We are proud about the fact that 97% of our graduates are in employment after graduating. When it comes to employability of our graduates, we are proud to be No. 1* in England for graduate employability. To achieve this, we work in partnership with many industry-leading organisations to help them tap into our home-grown graduate talent as well as helping students develop their employability skills through various initiatives and practices such as mentoring and work-shadowing. Global Entrepreneurial Week (GEW) event held at Staffordshire University every year plays the key role in equipping graduates with relevant work-related skills.

At Staffordshire University, we are committed to helping students maximise their employability and ultimately finding their dream graduate job, by offering a range of career-related events. In particular, GEW is an annual event at Staffordshire University that brings together a range of industry leading employers on campus during which students can meet and network with employers to find out about employment opportunities. Organised specifically for students, GEW and FutureFest event is designed to inform students about the future world-of-work. The Staffordshire University is committed to helping students maximise their employability, therefore the program is centred on topics that can help students succeed in every step of their career development process.

However, whilst we are committed to bringing leading business experts to share their expertise with students, there is also an expectation from students to actively participate in this event in order to get the most out of this unique opportunity for their career development. How to make the most out of this event? Network, network, network. Forward thinking students always have their CVs on hand to give out to potential employers. If you have never written a CV, you could get a professional help from the Career Office, who would assist you in writing a professionally looking CV, highlighting your transferable skills, and any work experience you have to date.

GEW and FutureFest event will provide students with an excellent opportunity to meet employers, discuss job opportunities, better understand career opportunities across various industries, get industry insights from recruiters, network with Industry leaders or simply get inspired. So, if you’re looking for your dream job or just looking to further enhance your employability skills, come along to GEW and FutureFest event held at Staffordshire University on November 13. We look forward to active participation of students in GEW and FutureFest 2017!

Dr Katerina Thomas, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

www.staffs.ac.uk

 

*Joint with Bishop Grosseteste University, excluding specialist institutions. Source: DLHE 2017

What Next After Graduation?

Now you have completed an important journey of your life! It is truly a milestone and whether you have done it for yourself or for parents’/partner’s sake, the dedication, commitments and challenges have been great and will live with you for a very long time to come. From now on, anything that you wish to set as a target or challenge is within your reach! Some of you will be looking for jobs and others will make a decision whether to set another educational goal. A master’s degree perhaps, a PGCE or professional qualifications? Any and all are within your sight and sky is the limit for you! Whatever you would like to do, you are now the expert to confirm to yourself, yes, I can and I will do it…

Just to let you know that Staffordshire Business School offers a wide range of Masters degrees, just to mention few: MSc Accounting and Finance, MSc Digital Marketing Management, MSc International Business Management, MA Human Resource Management and MA Strategic Human Resource Management. Most of which attract a student finance loan of £10,280 to pay for the fees and your living costs. Because the University wanted to make it easy for those who wish to further their study, it set the Masters fees so low! Therefore, the £10,280 student finance loan is more than enough to pay the fees and goes a long way to cover significant part of your living expenses. For example, the fees for the MSc Accounting and Finance is £6,200 (for Home and EU students). The recipients of £10,280 from student finance will be left with £4,080 after paying the fees which they can use towards their living expenses!

Remember, if you are still finding it difficult to make this strategic decision about your future, your ‘former’ personal tutor, course leader and all other staff who taught you are only too pleased to discuss this with you. Of course the Postgraduate course tutors are there too to provide further details about their particular course.

Being the Connected University, the message is simple, do not hesitate to get in touch!

Arshad Hussain, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School.

www.staffs.ac.uk

3 Skills & Attributes To Focus On In The 21st Century!

As always graduation day was a very enjoyable and special day full of smiles, congratulations and a sense of having played a part (albeit a minor role) in someone’s life. This year I listened to Sarah Willingham, a fantastic entrepreneur, and as it happens a very inspiring speaker. Sarah’s story and advice was brilliant, poignant, uplifting and heartfelt and one word resonated with me and it was ‘Resilience’. “Remain resilient”, Sarah said.

I recalled my thoughts on employability attributes and skills in the 21st Century and how I can play a role in ensuring my students gain them. These skills go beyond disciplinary expertise and standard attributes such as:

• Oral & written communication
• Collaborator & networking skills
• Agility and adaptability
• Empathy and global stewardship
• Professionalism and self-regulation
• Critical thinking and problem solving
• Curiosity and imagination
• Initiative and entrepreneurialism
• Vision for the future.

I feel that there are three more attributes that are not focused on.
• Resilience
• Hope and optimism
• Grit

Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness. This ability to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever, not allowing failure to overcome you. But how do I impart this ‘rubber ball’ ability? I decided to myself 3 questions:

• Do I help learners see failure as opportunity for growth?
• Do I encourage and reinforce learners own innate resiliency?
• Do I ensure each and every learner knows “You matter”?

Hope and optimism – confidence about the success of something or about the future, the glass being half full rather than half empty. Winston Churchill’s famous quote describes it well “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Again, I asked some questions:

• Do I role model, teach, reinforce positive self-talk?
• Do I encourage a can-do attitude?
• Do I use examples that portray how others have succeeded or overcome adversity?

Grit – courage and resolve; strength of character. You’ve got to love that word, say it out loud. It’s about perseverance for long term goals and again highlighting this to students.

• How do I give learners opportunities to work on long-term, complex projects?
• Do I assist my students in identifying perseverance?
• Do I acknowledge the rewards of persevering through tough times?

Since asking these questions of myself I have starting to notice positive events, promoted seeking of new experiences, encouraged and role modelled the development of a positive attitude and self-belief and fostered a culture of listening. This has given a focus on my teaching. I have engaged in positive talk, maintained perspectives and developed a positive attitude.

So, what attributes and skills do you think are important and need to be added? How would you / do you develop them? What am I missing here? Let me know in the comments.

Karl McCormack, Lecturer – Accounting & Business

Click here for information on the courses available at Staffordshire Business School

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Do not waste your time with useless SWOT analysis

How to conduct a SWOT analysis perfectly to boost your business!

SWOT is a simple and popular tool for businesses – everyone knows it. Therefore you can find it in a lot of books, blogs or trainings – business students learn about it everywhere. Most entrepreneurs conduct at least one before launching their business, most of which are far from perfect. Most of which are far from perfect.

The secret of the perfect SWOT is the analysis. Which means that you have to invest time and effort. It is not an idea-generation tool. SWOT is a strategy development tool – therefore it is not enough to collect some ideas for each area. SWOT may be simple – but not easy.

Why does your business need a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a strategy development method – it is indispensable for any new business. Specification of the objectives of the enterprise, identification of external and internal factors that have an impact on the success and positioning yourself in the market – these cannot be achieved without SWOT analysis. Even if you do not write down you have (sort of) a SWOT in your mind. With identification of the strengths and weaknesses it determines every marketing decision.

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool, therefore it is a must before starting your business planning. It is not just for new businesses, it is a vital part of any marketing plan. The environment, the customers, the competition are constantly changing, therefore you should update your SWOT regularly. SWOT analysis is a perfect tool to assess the effectiveness and determine the future of the organisation.

When you diversify your business or enter new markets – you need a marketing plan for that. One market – one strategy. B2C/B2B, different countries, digital – the markets are different. SWOT is a tool for strategy development, therefore any new market means a new SWOT.

It is also a good feedback for your team (and for you), it can function as a starting point for team discussions about the future in a specific business situation. Though the factors are mostly factual, their evaluation may be subjective.

You may not always conduct SWOT, but when you do, do it right.

Steps of the SWOT
Identification of the factors. Or data collection. Every SWOT analysis begins with the examination of the company and exploration of its environment: you have to identify the strengths and weaknesses and spot the threats and opportunities outside. Most of the students stop here, but this is a mistake. Because there is one more step.

Scrutiny of the factors (aka analysis). You should evaluate and classify your findings. Are you able to answer these questions:
– Why is this factor relevant? What is the impact of this?
– How can we use this factor in our strategy?

Identification of the factors – sources of information for SWOT
1. Customer data and feedback. The number of prospects, contacts, leads, clients and repurchasing clients. The structure and the activity of your customers. Customer value (Do you know it?) as the most important one. The feedback from customers in any channels: from social media to formal complaints.
2. Performance indicators and team feedback. Production rates, growth, market share, RoI. Campaign indicators: reach, activity (e.g. shares), cost per lead, website data (unique visitors, bounce rate, time spent, shopping cart abandonment), mail/advertising response rates. Personal indicators of your team.
3. Your financial performance – sales results, income, value of the company, investment, or any other information about the financial background and resources.
4. Market research – collect customer information (primary/secondary, qualitative/quantitative). Check forums, blogs, social media. Conduct a questionnaire survey. You can also research the supply chain or any other stakeholder group.
5. Information from the competitors. Public information: price lists, homepages, social media sites, stores and web shops, advertisements, publications, financial reports. Request proposals, use their services.
6. Your mission, objectives, marketing and financial plans, previous analyses.

In the SWOT you summarise your findings by grouping them into four areas: strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Threats and opportunities are mostly external factors and trends, while strengths and weaknesses focuses on the business itself. The result is something like this:

Click here to download a SWOT template!

Do not stop here. Your SWOT is not ready yet. The SWOT is an analysis, you still have work to do: the analysis itself.

Scrutiny of the strengths and weaknesses
To evaluate them, first you have to answer three questions:
– Is it a competitive advantage?
– Are you really good at this?
– What is the perception of the customers?

High quality products can be a real strength of the company, but if the competitors (or some of them) are producing the same high-quality goods then quality does not differentiate your business. Should you even classify this as a strength? Yes. It is important to understand if you are good at something. Your team also need feedback (Your sales have a 90% closing rate, your customer satisfaction is close to 100% – can you tell your team that they are not a strength for the company?).
However only competitive advantages can give you the upper hand against your rivals. When anyone can achieve this, it becomes a necessity for the market.

Even if you are the best you still can improve. It is essential to understand that you are better than the competitors, but if your customers are not satisfied, you should improve. Can a 40% repurchase rate be a strength? A 4% sales funnel conversion rate? An 85% cart abandonment rate?
You can classify it as a strength – you can be the best with them – at this specific situation. Temporarily. But the decisions should be different in the case of a real strength of the company compared to a competitive-only strength.

It is also vital to examine the perception of customers. An unknown, but existing strength requires different actions than an alleged but non-existent one. Customers can draw conclusions without knowing the facts, for example perceived quality of a product is highly related to its price, country of origin or the retailer. Perceived value (→ satisfaction) of a product is based on customers’ expectations. Cognitive dissonance distorts our perception, customers are not rational.

When you are ready with this, take a look at the whole picture.
Which are the most important strengths of the company? Which are unique? Where to improve, what to communicate? Can the business save money on some strengths?
Can you deal with all the weaknesses at the same time? Is it vital to improve any of them for the survival of the company? Can something compensate the weaknesses?
You can use ABC (Pareto) analysis to classify your factors.

Draw your conclusions for strategy – you can start thinking about the implications here. What are the consequences of these factors to the strategic level of 4Ps? Branding, pricing strategy, communication strategy, product portfolio, partnerships – most of them are determined by the strengths and weaknesses.

Do not forget to communicate / discuss this with your team. It can be important feedback for them, a recognition of their results. You can also set targets with them.

Scrutiny of the threats and the opportunities
As for the opportunities, the most important question is the prerequisites. What should you do to capitalise on them? How can you make full use of all the opportunities? Can you start working on them now? Do you need money, knowledge, licence – or any other resource before you can act? What steps lead the opportunity to become reality?

Threats are more difficult. You should know:
– the odds of their occurrence
– the consequences (potential impact of occurrence)
– ways of prevention / protection

Rank them by importance (multiple the odds and impact): those with high impact or high probability need immediate action (prevention or preparation). The identification of the most vulnerable points will influence your marketing. Focus the company’s resources to the critical factors, and do the easy and obvious only for the rest.
It is also important to examine what you can do. Some threats can be avoided, others certainly become reality sooner or later. The objective of the analysis is to be ready. To understand the options and start acting. Sometimes it is just monitoring the environment and setting up triggers (reacting behaviour) – sometimes it is leading the changes (proactive behaviour).

Do you really need to conduct a quality SWOT analysis?
The real question is this: do you need any marketing for your success? Sometimes business works without marketing or DIY.

But whenever you work with a marketing expert, a consultant or an agency, you have to make sure that they understand your business and goals. SWOT – a quality one – is a good starting point for cooperation.

Andras Kenez