SWOT analyses--measuring Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats--highlight the various marketing conditions that can impact an organization. Because SWOTs divide these factors into internal characteristics--strengths and weaknesses--and external forces--opportunities and threats--they can be very useful when comparing two companies.

Comparison Objectives

Select specific objectives for your comparison before completing your analysis. Let the ultimate goal of your research be your guide. For example if you’re comparing two organizations to see which is best positioned to serve a particular market, you should look more closely at SWOTs that are somehow connected to that market. A broad generalized approach may work for a general SWOT analysis; however this technique may not provide enough information to help you effectively compare two businesses.

Prioritizing SWOTs

Once objectives have been set you can complete the actual analysis and start prioritizing the information. Rank each organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats keeping your objectives in mind. Things to consider: the realistic impact of each factor, the money and time needed to fix or leverage SWOTs, and the time frame decision makers are working within to accomplish their business goals.

Notes on External Factors

True opportunities and threats have the potential to impact all competitors in a particular market. A general SWOT analysis simply identifies these elements but when completing a SWOT comparison project this approach isn’t enough. You must consider how opportunities and threats affect each organization specifically, the implications of these effects and the resources each company has to address them.